Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Robin Sings in Winter

Photo Credit: Audubon Magazine
It's the day after Christmas. I step outside to balance some thank-you notes in the mail slot in the half open 'man door' to our garage. I pause a moment to see if the forecast precipitation is coming down as rain or ice pellets. As I turn to go inside, something catches my ear. A robin is singing a full-blown song. What? A robin singing on the 26th of December, and the temperature is in the 20's?

Each year I track the last time I hear a robin sing in the fall, and then the first time I hear the song in the spring. So far this year, the latest robin song I heard was in early December.
Usually it's early March before I hear it again. In between, the robins from the far north that winter here, travel in flocks looking for juniper and holly berries. They cluck, but don't sing. During this time I long for that first song, heralding the earth's rebirth. You can hear the robin's song at this link..

I don't consider this an example of climate change, especially not this year. The weather has been cold this month. Not out of the norm, but on the colder side. We've already had shovelable amounts of snow, right on schedule.

So what is it that incites a robin to let loose with its happy warbling? One website says (about European robins) that a robin singing in winter is well fed. Maybe that's it. No matter that it's about to rain, snow, or ice, he or she is happy and thankful. There are plenty of berries to be had, many fellows to socialize with, and a safe place to roost until spring. Maybe, like the robin, we should be lifting our voices too, in thanks to the Almighty for our friends, our food, and our glowing firesides. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Maine Talents - Ralph Moxcey

We've been spending time in the 'midcoast' part of Maine recently, as we're thinking of relocating there. One thing that attracts us is that the area seems to be teeming with multitalented people doing all kinds of arts and fine crafts such as sculpture, poetry, weaving, novel-writing, woodworking, painting, ceramics and music. Is Maine more artistic than other states? I don't think so, but we are struck by how many people have made the choice to move there to live some variation of the artist's life.

One of our favorites is Ralph Moxcey. A former Boston advertising executive with Hill Holliday, Ralph is a sculptor who lives with his wife Wendy (herself a poet) in Bremen, Maine. He doesn't have a website but his beautiful wood and metal sculptures can be seen in several galleries. Above is a photograph of one piece that is in the Stable Gallery in Damariscotta, Maine. A link to his page there is here.

Here is a 'blurb' about Ralph from another website dedicated to sculpture,

Throughout his lifetime, Moxcey has been a maker of things, an outdoorsman and a naturalist as well as an artist. His interest in creating wildlife sculptures began as a hobby when he was working in the world of advertising. Since his retirement in 1990, sculpting has become his major focus. Moxcey's work is influenced primarily by the natural world and its inhabitants. Intrigued by their grace, form and simple beauty, he keeps the lines of his animals, birds and fish as simple as possible, maintaining the essence of his subject while leaving no doubt as to its identity.

During his career in advertising, a span of more than 40 years, Moxcey received numerous awards including Andys, Cleos, Hatch Awards, the One Show Award and Art Director of the Year. He is most proud of his L. E. Sissman Award, which is presented to a career advertising man or woman who also finds time to pursue some form of fine art in a serious way.

As winter approaches, the issue of heating one's studio becomes important. Ralph has to make a daily decision whether or not to heat up his studio since it takes so long to get it warm. Sometimes it's not worth it. And he often cuts stone outside to keep the stone dust in his studio to a minimum. That's dedication!
Bronze Sculture by Ralph Moxcey - "Falcon"

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tenth Arab Dance Seminar .... only 12 spots left!

This post may be totally repetitive, for many of you reading this are friends with me on facebook and are on my e-mail list. case someone doesn't know, I'm teaching traditional and modern Khaliji (Arabian Gulf) women's dances at the upcoming Tenth Arab Dance Seminar, to be held from November 1-3, 2013 ---- in Las Vegas.  Hosted by the cultural powerhouse Karim Nagi, this intensive weekend of dance instruction and cultural immersion has been a consistent sell out every year. As of today, only a dozen spaces are left. If you are interested, please visit the website - you can register right there:

This year the topic will be "Storytelling and Theater". As a writer and choreographer, this is one of my favorite subjects - how to bring storytelling into your dance as a soloist...and how to create group choreographies that bring Arab culture to life. Cassandra Shore, director of the Jawaahir Dance Company, has been putting on acclaimed full-length Middle Eastern themed dance theater productions for decades in Minneapolis. She is joining the faculty for this seminar. This is a unique opportunity to learn not only her amazing dance technique, but her take on this important topic. If you aren't in a dance troupe, there is a lot here for you, for we will also touch on how a soloist can tell a story with her dance, and how it's done in the Arab world. A very rich topic indeed.

At the Arab Dance Seminar, each teacher presents a three hour (!) session in his or her dance specialty. There are also panel discussions and classes in music, language and culture. At the end of the seminar, together we have a 'hadraa' and 'zar', a chance for the participants and faculty to meditate, try some Sufi breathing techniques and perhaps a little trancing, if the spirit moves.

We teachers are multicultural voyagers who love to share our adventures on many levels.
This year's lineup:

Karim Nagi - Dabkah (Lebanese line dance)
Amel Tafsout - North African
Cassandra Shore - Egyptian
Kay Hardy Campbell - Khaliji

In addition to our dance specialties, each teacher will contribute to discussions about music, culture and language. It's been a joy to be part of this event, starting with the first Arab Dance Seminar, way back in 2005. I feel that in this setting particularly, I can share many facets of my cultural knowledge and artistic passion in a friendly and fun atmosphere. All of the instructors love to take part in the ADS. The participants are particularly interested in the cultural frame and underpinnings of the dance, so that makes for a perfect atmosphere.

Here is the promotional video - filmed at the very first one that was held in New Haven, CT in 2005. Yes that is me teaching the 'Khaliji' class.The other teachers: Nourhan Sharif of New York, Karim Nagi, and Amel Tafsout.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Horsing Around Fez - Reposting from The View from Fez

The View from Fez is one of my favorite blogs. Below is the latest entry, about a horseback riding overnight outing one can take in the mountains near Fez. A link to the blog is here. I would like to sign up, right now!

Horsing Around Fez ~ A Photo Essay

Leave the densely packed Moroccan city behind and head for the hills on horseback, suggests Suzanna Clarke 

Horse riding is a leisurely and enjoyable way to take in the vibrant spring growth and spectacular landscapes of the Fez-Boulmane region. Our weekend expedition began on the top of Mt Zalagh - the mountain not far from Fez. On our obliging mounts, we meandered into the valley below, through olive groves and fields of flowers replete with gambolling lambs, kestrels flying overhead and friendly waves from farmers along the way.  

Our small party camped out overnight, and in the morning we were greeted with a sea of cloud below, which made us feel literally on top of the world.

Dinner and breakfast were locally produced fare. There are few things that enhance the appetite more than fresh air, a beautiful view and the prospect of another day's riding.  

Suzanna Clarke's horse riding trip was arranged through the Centre Equestre Ain Amyer. 
It included horse hire and equipment, a guide, food and accommodation and transfers to and from Fez. For more information, phone 06 61 174404 or contact

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beauty Made By the Unseen - Art by Saudi Women

A group of ten Saudi women living in the U.S., all of them artists, most of them students, will be featured in an upcoming art exhibit in Minneapolis entitled "Beauty Made By the Unseen."  The exhibit will be held at the Vine Arts Center (2637 27th Ave. South, Minneapolis) from March 8-10, 2013.

The exhibit will include works in oil, acrylic on wood, watercolor, and digital media.

The artists, all originally from Saudi Arabia, come from across the United States - California, Florida, Chicago, Texas, Minnesota, Virginia and Massachusetts. Many of them will be traveling to Minnesota to attend the exhibit. This will be a rare opportunity for Americans to see the artwork of Saudi women and to meet the artists in person.

The publicity for the event states, "Their art shows their journeys of self-discovery as part of their learning process while they are away from home. They try to find artistic voices that truly reflect who they are. These voices not only represent the individual artist, but also portray a picture of the new Saudi woman as she opens up to the world. The art in this exhibit will further illuminate how their transitional path in America changed the way they see themselves and how they deal with western culture. Their art will reveal to us their real concerns and issues."

The exhibit's opening reception on March 8th, International Women's Day, will feature a lecture by Dr. Mody Alkhalaf about women in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Alkhalaf is the assistant attaché for cultural and social affairs at the Saudi Embassy in Washington. She is also an advocate for women's rights.
Dr. Mody Alkhalaf will speak at the opening
Magied Alsqoor, a graduate student from Saudi Arabia who is pursuing a Master's at Minnesota's University of St. Thomas in educational leadership, got the idea for the exhibit last summer. "I have been involved in Saudi students clubs in MN since 2006," he writes. "We had no activities at all to introduce Saudi women to the community here in Minnesota." He worked with artist Hend Al-Mansour and the board of the Arab American Cultural Institute to organize the event.


Vine Arts Center - 2637 27th Ave. South, Minneapolis

Friday Evening, March 8, 2013
4:00 - 7:00 PM - Public Reception
6:00 - 7:00 PM - Public Lecture by Dr. Mody Alkhalaf about Women in Saudi Arabia

Saturday, March 9, 2013
2:00-6:00 PM - Availability of Artists

Sunday, March 10, 2013
10:00AM - 2:00PM - Availability of Artists

The event is being organized by the Arab American Cultural Institute in Minnesota and is sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Washington DC.