Thursday, October 27, 2016


Bringing Art to the Students 

The Carnegie Picture Lab provides volunteer-led art history presentations and art instruction at least three times a year to every participating K-5 classroom in the Walla Walla Valley. The Picture Lab also supports the schools with library book donations, follow up activities, family fun nights, and field trips.

BRIEF HISTORY: Founded in the early 1970s as Carnegie Art Center's Picture Lady Program, the popular program was restructured when the original Carnegie Art Center building changed hands in 2009. With a new name, logo, and mission/vision statement, the non-profit organization expanded its board of directors and added new members with expertise in education, community outreach, communications, grant writing, finance, and leadership skills all with the goal of insuring the sustainability of the program for decades to come.

2016-17 SCHOOL YEAR: This year the students will explore portraiture and relationships with Mary Cassatt, printmaking with Ukiyo-e artists, and graphic color collages with Henri Matisse.

As a first-year volunteer, I signed up to teach three classes of 4th and 5th graders at Blue Ridge Elementary. I chose that school among the area grade schools because that is where my son attended K-4 many years ago, and it is also a feeder school to Garrison Middle School where I taught for 24 years. 

After the requisite volunteer training workshop, I was deemed ready to have a go on my own, so with the help of a Power Point slide show and several art posters, I introduced my eager students to the life and art of American artist, Mary Cassatt, who is most well known for her paintings of women and children. This segued into the art instruction of how to draw their own portraits where I demonstrated the basic guidelines for positioning the facial features and how to use a mirror to help draw their own unique features. This proved much more difficult than I had anticipated, so as a result few finished the project completely. But the photos below illustrate some solid first attempts at portraiture.

Students had a choice of materials to color their portraits; most chose chalk pastel over colored pencils or crayons. The use of pastels should probably have been a lesson unto itself, but I persevered and tried to give mini lessons to as many kids as I could in the time I had. 

These unfinished portraits show the relationship of the eyes, the nose and the mouth which was part of the art lesson. It was fun to witness the problem solving going on but also disappointing to see the self-doubt and inner critiques creeping in among these young artists. A dedicated K-12 art program would do wonders to allow kids to nurture the creativity that is naturally in all of us, but I'll save that for another discussion. At least they get an introduction to art three times a years via the Carnegie Picture Lab.

For more information about Carnegie Picture Lab, follow this link:

For more information about the history of the original Picture Lady program and the transition to the Picture Lab program, follow this link:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Walla Walla Branch of the Red Hat Society

There I was, seated by myself at the local McDonald's filling time until my next Carnegie Picture Lab presentation, when these two women sat down at the table just kitty-corner from me. I immediately recognized their outfits as those of the Red Hat Society, and knew I wanted to take their picture. But people pictures present an obstacle for me as I don't like invading people's personal space. And while asking is always proper photo etiquette, the resulting photos are often not as natural as a candid shot. So I did what I often do, adjusted myself in a casual posture as I looked at my cell phone, ostensibly viewing Facebook or a text message, but in reality taking several candid photos. 

As I left, I stopped at their table and complimented them on their lovely hats. A short conversation ensued about the local branch of the Red Hat Society during which time I realized that I recognized these two women. The one on the right worked in the Walla Walla School District for years while the other was my Eastern Washington University Supervisor when I did my student teaching some 28 years ago. I now perform a similar role for Walla Walla University supervising their student teachers and have often thought of Jackie Ormsby as I reflect on my own long teaching career. 
Talk about synchronicity!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've saved no money for butter.

For the remainder of the poem and more about the Red Hat Society, click HERE

Monday, October 24, 2016


Blue Ridge Elementary School

Blue Ridge Elementary School is one of six K-5 schools in the Walla Walla School District. It is also home to the district's Head Start/ECEAP Preschool Program. The mural of faces on the exterior walls of the main entrance was painted at least 25 years ago, and yet it still reflects the diversity of the school as well as the greater Walla Walla community. The self portraits were drawn by the students themselves and then transferred to the wall where they were painted in situ.

Even after all those years, looking at these faces always makes me smile. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Abeja Vineyard

October brings the last of the grape harvest in the Walla Walla Valley. From the looks of it, these were the last few rows of grapes left to harvest in the vineyard along Mill Creek Road. 

Friday, October 21, 2016


Fall Decor & More

With the summer flowers in the garden and patio pots all but spent, and colder, rainier weather forcing indoor pursuits, tis the time for autumnal decorating. Bring on the squashes, gourds, cornstalks, and colorful Indian corn. And if you don't grow these things yourself, Klicker's is where you can find them all, and more.

Yes, you can even buy bundles of dry cornstalks. Imagine that!

Inside the shop, I am particularly smitten with the antique buffalo check tin, but then I love anything red.

Trick or Treat!

Monday, October 17, 2016


A Hometown Halloween Ritual

I've photographed and written about Klicker's in all four seasons because if ever there was an iconic tradition in Walla Walla, Klicker Berries and Antiques would be it. 
On a recent cloudy Friday, with the threat of wind and rain imminent, families with young children and groups of college-age friends were still on the hunt in search of that perfect pumpkin. And even though the traditional giant orange squashes are not grown by Klicker's, and going to the closest Safeway or Wal-Mart would be much easier, it's way more fun to wander up and down the aisles of pumpkins, stopping to judge, measure, and imagine which one will become this year's prized jack-o'-lantern. 

Besides, there's so much more to do at Klicker's than simply picking out a pumpkin as these kids can attest. A pyramid of straw bales holds the giant metal slide that takes kids on a speedy ride down one side while a crowd of camera-ready parents and grandparents record the glee-filled faces. I even spied a college-age young woman taking her turn to the whoops and hollers of her friends close by.

Once is never enough!

Those who know me well, know that I love anything RED, along with old and rusty--
 especially as potential objets d'art for the garden. So this collection of Radio Flyer wagons definitely caught my attention. 
Here at Klicker's they are used to load up with pumpkins, the bigger the better.

Every season has its heyday at Klicker's, and by the end of next month this building along with the grassy field that's now filled with pumpkins will be filled with row upon row of Christmas trees. For now, it houses many of the old and antique items that will eventually fill several rooms in the main store which is in another building nearby.

When I saw this hot-air balloon wind spinner hanging from one of the beams in the Christmas Tree barn, I realized this was the closest I was going to get to photographing the real thing this weekend. Unfortunately, the weather forecast of wind and rain cancelled all but Wednesday morning's Kids' Day tethered lift. The Balloon Stampede, another long-time local tradition, had been scheduled to fill the Walla Walla Valley sky with hot-air balloons all weekend, but it wasn't in the cards this year. Hence this photo.

Remember those menacing clouds? By the time I ventured inside the store to take a few photos, the sky let loose in a flurry of rain and small hailstones which vacated the pumpkin field forcing shoppers into the store and me into my car, or, as seen by this girl, waiting pumpkin in hand under the overhang for the rain to stop.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Where in Walla Walla?

I love looking at and taking pictures of store windows. 
Most retail store windows in downtown Walla Walla change with the season. 
This particular window is always very eclectic, although I am not really sure what business resides inside.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Welcome to the 110th Season of the Walla Walla Symphony

What do you do with 130 orchestra students from Walla Walla's two middle schools and the high school? You invite them to perform in the Walla Walla Symphony's season-opening concert "American Classics" with guest string musicians Mark and Maggie O'Connor. 

Here the young cellists can be seen with their shiny red-brown instruments seated across the front of the Cordiner Hall stage with the violinists standing on both sides along the ramps and continuing in front of the stage. Under the direction of Julie Woods and Caleb Contie, the orchestra teachers at Pioneer and Garrison middle schools, the students performed along with the Walla Walla Symphony a rousing opening number entitled "Fiddler's Dream," an original piece composed by Mark O'Connor. 

O'Connor and his wife Maggie also played along on stage, and from my seat I could see a smile of sheer joy and pride in their faces as they heard the music come alive with these young Walla Walla string musicians.

This photo is by Greg Lehman for the Walla Walla Symphony
The audience was enraptured as well and expressed their approval with a thunderous applause at the end during which time the students exited the stage, instruments and sheet music in hand. After tonight's concert and yesterday's Master Class with Mark and Maggie O'Connor, these string students have had what could be considered a transformational experience.

According to the Program Notes, Mark O'Connor is a multiple Grammy winning musician as well as a six-time winner of the CMA Musician Of The Year award. He was also the youngest person ever to win national fiddling competitions, competing against all ages, amateur and professional, and still is the only person ever to win national titles (open to all ages) on fiddle, guitar, and mandolin. 

Along with his wife Maggie, they are co-directors of of the O'Connor Method Camp NYC. "The O'Connor Method was released in 2009 as 'an American-grown rival to the Suzuki method.' It takes an American Classical approach to modern violin playing, offering a technical foundation using American classics. The groundbreaking method is the first string methid to feature all American music, including violin duos, found in the advanced level of Books IV and V of the series." 

To this concert-goer, tonight's "American Classics" concert, including the students' first piece "Fiddler's Dream" followed by "Appalachia Waltz," "Strings and Threads Suite," and "Double Concerto, Movement 1 'Swing,' was a lively, toe-tapping performance by Mark and Maggie O'Connor and the Walla Walla Symphony. Kudos to all involved!

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Found, One Garden Glove

I don't know what it is about vineyards and garden gloves, but this isn't the first time I've found one single glove hanging by itself on the wires of a grape trellis. In fact, on a recent tour of Woodward Canyon vineyards, I spotted not one but two separate gloves, not mates, hanging at the end of different rows in different sections. Which brings me to wonder, were they abandoned or lost? And what is the difference?