Category Archives: Misc

Small but Important Elements of Being with Others

I’m reposting this…..just because.

World of Possibility

In Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block wrote that the key to creating or transforming community is to see the power in the small but important elements of being with others. Community and belonging have been at the center of my interest for quite some time and I’m learning to pay attention to and learn from present day interactions that provide keys to creating and transforming community. But, I’ve not thought much about past interactions from my childhood. When I did, my neighbors Kate and Ollie came to mind.

My visits with Kate and Ollie were filled with conversation.  Each time I knocked on their door, Ollie would graciously welcome me inside even though my visits were random and unannounced.  I would sit in their overstuffed chair, we would talk about our day. Kate was not well. I remember how lovingly Ollie cared for her.

What memories do…

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Love ….Again


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the soil of appreciation

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”

Dalai Lama

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What’s this on the cover of Janice Fialka’s new book?


Why it’s my painting “A Conversation with Katie!”


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Visual Expressions of Meaning

Last post, I shared a bit about the important difference between explanation and expression and some of my experiences with these differences. I also promised to share what happened when I invited students in my college classes to visually communicate the meaning of their learning experiences.   Here are a few amazing expressions of knowledge and insight.

Pam’s visual expression….. in her own words (condensed)

It’s name is the USS Contemplation.  Each mast contains a genre and the sails equate the outline of what I have learned during this quarter. 

The mirrors placed throughout the ship represent  ”reflections” of what we have learned.  A couple of the mirrors are placed so that individuals can see themselves.  This is to show that we have not only learned about giving speeches but have also learned things about ourselves.  I find myself  thinking and contemplating  that if the attitude of support, encouragement and kindness were displayed by the majority of people in our communities, in spite of our differences, just how much could be accomplished.  People finding common ground and working together, building each other up, helping each other, growing together for the good and betterment of everyone’s future.

Want to see more?>>>>> keep going….


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Making sense of our experiences

Sometimes, you run across an idea that jumps out and grabs your soul, not once, but again and again, resonating in thought and practice. The result is a rattling, a seismic shake-up, a new possibility that dares you to experiment with your own interpretation of the idea.  That’s what happened to me when I read Peter Reason’s and Peter Hawkins’  ‘Storytelling as Inquiry.” Reason and Hawkins take apart and reveal differences (and opportunities) between explanation and expression.

Explanation, wrote Reason and Hawkins,  is the mode of classifying, conceptualizing, and building theories from experience. Here the inquirer stands back, analyzes, discovers and invents concepts, and relates these to a theoretical model….orthodox science is an exercise in explanation – endeavoring to answer the question of what and why.

Expression is the mode of allowing the meaning of an experience to become manifest. It requires us to partake deeply of an experience, rather than stand back to analyze. Meaning is part and parcel of all experience – although it may be so interwoven with experience that it is hidden. It needs to be discovered, created, or made manifest and communicated. We work with meaning when we tell stories, write and act in plays, write poems, meditate, create pictures…..

Soon after I read this back in 2002, I started experimenting with a fresh understanding of expression and meaning by inquiring into my own experiences in pictures, in my case visual art. I ‘tried’ to enter the experience,  sense its shape, color, patterns and make it visible. Below is one example of my inquiry.

Later,  I experimented more with ‘expression’ when I invited participants in my college classes to communicate the meaning of their learning experiences.

More about this in my next post.

Reason, Peter & Hawkins, Peter 1988, “Storytelling as Inquiry” in Peter Reason (ed), Human Inquiry in Action: New Developments in New Paradigm Research, London: Sage.


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Grant Opportunity for Ohio River Valley Artists

Heads up local artists. The Fast Track grant application process is open until February 1, 2011.

I can speak from experience. I’ve received this grant 3 times over the years.  It’s not a huge amount of money but, I’ve been pleasantly surprised each time by the interest and passion this gift of support generates. It is well worth the effort. So, go for it!

More details:

The Artist Fast Track grant program is open to artists and craftspeople, part-time or full time with professional experience who live and work in the Ohio counties of Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Coshocton, Columbiana, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Washington or theWest Virginia counties of Wayne, Cabell, Mason, Jackson, Wood, Pleasants, Tyler, Wetzel, Marshall, Ohio, Brooke, Hancock.
Artists and craftspeople may apply for grants of up to $500. You may not apply for more than one grant in the state fiscal year period, July 1 to June 30.

Download information at the link below.  To request an application, write to Bill Howley, project director at


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Living Sculptures

Theo Jansen’s website

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Where do we go, when we allow art to move us?

The following post was authored by Heather, an artist, writer, thinker and part-time fairy-wing-wearer who, I’m happy to say,  is a student in my Art History Class. On her blog, Art Moves Us, she chronicles her inquiry into art.

Before I started this inquiry question of “How does art move us?” or “What causes art to move us?” I already knew that art did in fact move us. I had learned that from many moments of awestruck physical reactions to art. I also feel like art can move us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It can stretch us, shape us, color us, mold us, and reflect upon us (isn’t it funny that art can do to us the very same things that we do to art?).

Now I seem to have journeyed into the realm of “Where do we go?” or “Where can art take us?” and I love it! I feel like using quotes from “Oh! The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss, but that is just what pops into my head when I think of those two questions. The possibilities are endless. Physically art can take artists around the globe and back again, as they explore new inspirations to paint. It can take viewers around the globe too, as they follow exciting exhibits or museum trails. Emotionally art can take us to places of healing, places of struggle, places of beauty or peace. Mentally art can teach us things that we may not have known before. Spiritually art can open us.

Art can move me from a solid stance of black and white, this is right/wrong/left/right/mine/yours/weird/normal and smack into a place of gray or color where anything is possible. A place where those words no longer exist. A place where we find ourselves asking, “What is right? What is wrong? What is left? What is right? What is mine? What is yours? What is weird? What is normal?” A place where we cannot seem to answer those questions. A place where we don’t seem to care that we can’t answer those questions.

Art can move us apart, and it can move us together.

Continue reading the rest of Heather’s post.…..


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New Collage “Claudia Smiles” (I hope)

Claudia Smiles

From the April 17th collage workshop I presented in collaboration with Skip Werline in beautiful Washington, Kentucky. The event was hosted by Ohio River Valley Art Guild. The guild’s director, Claudia Moose is an incredible artist but when a watercolor painting doesn’t turn out as intended she takes a paper cutter to it. She cuts these long, triangle shaped strips, places the strips in a cardboard box and offers up the watercolor remains to whoever comes along and notices. I did. Claudia said it would make her happy if I could find some use for them.

After working on this collage for a while, I invited three other artists in the room to take turns adding, creating, enhancing the work. It turned out to be a remarkably joyful feeling to watch each artist add her personal touch to the piece I had started. Well technically,  Claudia started it all. Thanks Claudia.


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