Art Open House

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

What do Froggie Beads, Meridian Press prints and Wine-ing Cats have in common? Besides being featured on Create on the Side, they’re also part of the creations available from the talented artists featured at Reno Open Studios.

Wine-Ing Cats Reno

Wine-ing Cats by Michele DiFonzo

This year 31 visual artists, coppersmiths to photographers, open their studios to the public.

Best of all, Reno Open Studios is arranged in a true open house format.  Since the studios are located throughout Reno and Sparks, you can easily manage to visit a couple of studios between your usual weekend errands.  Or better yet, grab a friend and make a day of it.

Reno Open Studios-Dates and Hours

October 6th, 7th and 8th, 2017-Note some studios are not open on Friday. Check the website for details.

Hours 10:00am to 5:00pm each day.


Keep Calm & Read On

British researchers asked people wSundance Booksho were feeling stressed to engage in one of the following activities: reading, listening to music, taking a walk or having a cup of tea or coffee. Of the entire group, the readers demonstrated the most reduced stress levels with heart rates lowered by 68%.

It’s always gratifying to discover that one of your favorite pursuits is actually good for you. Now if only researchers could prove the health benefits of watching classic films…Since today happens to be Independent Bookstore Day, it is perfect day to pursue new literary horizons.

“There are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity.”

Real serendipity seems like a distinct possibility at Reno’s own Sundance Books and Music. Imagine spending time in an elegant white two-story home that is all library. Not only do they have a helpful staff, impressive selection of popular and local titles, they also have a frequent buyers program.

Like local indie stores during this one day celebration, Sundance Books & Music will have exclusive literary swag unavailable during other times of the year. After you’re re-stocked with good reads, you can stop by Bibo Coffee or Too Soul Tea. After all if reading is good for you, a cup of coffee or tea with a good book has to be even better for you.

Sundance Books and Music-121 California Avenue, Reno, NV 89509

Hours-M-F-9 to 9, Sat & Sun: 9 to 5


Sun Dance Dragon

Will the dragon be there? I don’t know, but if you don’t go you’ll never find out!

More Art…Less Stress

heart image“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”  Twyla Tharp

Drexel’s College of Nursing & Health Professions ran a study in which 39 adults ages 18-59 spent 45 minutes making art with paper, markers, collage materials and modeling clay. Cortisol levels (that’s the stress hormone) were measured before and after the art exercise. 75% of the participants showed lower cortisol levels after their art making endeavors.

Doesn’t it make you wonder about the remaining 25%?  Were they too Type A to get into it?

In a former life, I worked in foreclosure department spending long hours on the phone with miserable souls with very limited options…pay or get out. One of my colleagues (I’ll call him Harper) would slip away to an empty cubicle to spend his lunch hour working his Sci-FI novel every day. I don’t know if Harper ever published his novel. I believe his lunch hours spent in an alternative universe was beneficial since he was a calm presence in a department of the often-frustrated dealing with the usually-desperate.

While certain artistic pursuits might not fit well in a cubicle environment (especially anything involving clay, paint or welding), sketch pads, colored markers and notebooks are portable and office-friendly. In my work tote, I keep a spiral bound notebook handy for flashes of inspiration (like this one) as well as a small knitting project. So even if you can’t completely transform your cubicle into an art studio, find a way to keep your creative pursuits within reach.

Connecting with a childhood hero


A few of my favorite things including a spiderweb necklace.

“I think the best writing is often done by persons who are snatching time from something else—from an occupation, or from a profession, or from a jail term—something which is either burning them up, as religion or love, or politics, or which is boring them to tears, as prison or a brokerage house, or an advertising firm.”

E.B. White’s essay “Questionnaire” May 1942

Childhood pleasures rarely survive the transition to adulthood.  I wince when I think of the sitcoms I adored as a kid. I want to ask my ten-year-old self “What were you thinking?”

Fortunately great writers weather the test of time.  I loved “Charlotte’s Web” as a kid and for a long time a neon pink and white plush pig named Wilbur presided over the many paperbacks on my shelves. As a small town girl, the farm setting fascinated me especially since I didn’t have to do the chores inherent in country life.

Many years later when I discovered a book of his essays in a thrift store, I hesitated. What if the beloved storyteller of my childhood turned out to be a literary bore?  Reading his essays, I strolled with him through New York City and along the coast of Maine without missing a step.  I highly recommend “E.B. White Writings From The New Yorker 1927-1976” Edited by Rebecca M. Dale

Ladies if you’re not certain whether to fall for a city boy or a country gentleman,  you can have both with this author who wrote for “The New Yorker” and owned a salt water farm in Maine.  And he’s only a few pages away!

Sue &TED’s Excellent Adventure

FullSizeRender (1)I recently had the opportunity to attend a TEDx conference in Reno. While there was no magic phone booth or time travel involved, it was a mind-altering experience with incredible people that even included some excellent bands that Bill & Ted would have approved.

“Really living life is a choice I make every day.” Sherry McConkey

TED conferences are day-long events featuring speakers and musicians spanning a variety of viewpoints and genres. Our speakers included a healthcare CEO, a professional magician and a professor of sexuality from Smith and topics ranged from child abuse to the growing isolation of our elder population.  Creative types often long to converse with like-minded souls.  I can’t guarantee that all of the speakers with resonate with you, but it will get you thinking.

“I have the responsibility to honor the freedom of my soul” Lacey Strum

Each round of speakers included a musical performance.  In between songs, the performers shared their journey with the audience.  In between her haunting vocals, Lacey Strum told of how her life was saved by the prayers of a friend.  Jon Forman admitted spending most of Jr High trying to be BB King.

“There is a void in the symphony of life when you’re silent.” Jon Forman

TED events are all about conversation. Unlike many performances where the star

The Novelists

disappears into a waiting limo afterwards, the speakers and musicians were very accessible.  I congratulated lead singer of The Novelists on a great set while a mature woman beside me exclaimed, “I bought your CD because we’re on the same path!”

I overheard a gentleman suggest to his friend that they sneak aboard the hotel shuttle in order to continue the discussion with the speakers. Not a bad idea, but I had two kids and a pot of spaghetti waiting at home for me.

If current time and space constraints prevent you from attending a TED event, check out the recorded sessions on-line.  Better yet, you and a friend agree on a selection of speakers and meet for lunch or coffee to discuss.

Be excellent to each other.

SW Ever After KindleSpeaking of excellent now is an excellent time to pick up a copy of Ever After while it is still part of the Kindle Count Down which ends February 14 at 12:00AM PST.

Of Writing Trends and Hemlines

160_F_3395555_fotofolia sunsetIf you’re in a quandary about what to write or simply need a shot in the arm for the new year consider the following:

“I don’t like labels and -isms. They are for people who raise or lower skirts because that’s the thing you do for this year. You write as you write, in your time as you see your world. One form is as good as another. There are a thousand ways to write, and each is as good as the other if it fits you, and if you are any good.”  Lillian Hellman

Wishing all of you inspiration and exciting projects in the new year!

New Horizons

Pad of Paper & PenJune is the month a new beginnings for many graduates and newlyweds.  For all those new grads and recently marrieds, I extend a heart-felt congratulations.  In her 1996 Wellesley Commencement speech Nora Ephron advised,

“It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be like anything you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.”

To me her remarks speak perfectly to the pursuit of a creative life.  Unlike many professions and trades, creative pursuits don’t have an established series of steps that must be followed.  Today writers have a variety of routes to publication which can be both liberating and overwhelming.

Often with the demands of work and family, people are tempted to set aside their dreams until things are less “complicated”. They believe life will be easier when the kids are finally “in kindergarten” “away at college” or “out of the house and married”.  As someone who has balanced a writing life with a two kids and a fulltime legal career, I admit it has been complicated and messy.  As a writer who has interviewed a number of authors, musicians and artists, I can tell you the creative life is challenging for everyone even single folks, retirees and empty nesters.

But as Ms. Ephron said “Surprises are good for you.”  I can’t predict how you may profit from pursuing a creative life.  But I can tell you that it will enrich your life in ways you would never imagine.