• Tuesday, March 12, 2019 7:50 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 7:32 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    I was flipping through a magazine when a line jumped out at me: “We fall in love with objects not only for what they are, but for what they allow us to believe we can become.

    It was three summers ago when I spotted a set of six vintage long-stem aperitif glasses at the Bigelow Block Sale on Queen Anne. I picked one up. I blew on it, though it wasn’t dusty. I set it back down. “Ah,” I said, more of an exhale than a word. I didn’t want to seem too interested.

    I continued to walk up and down Bigelow because, as any shopper knows, joy is in the pursuit, not in the prize.

    Unless the prize is six vintage long-stem aperitif glasses that belong to a woman who wears a turquoise pendant, turquoise rings. Her love, her pride, for her home was obvious, but her car still had Arizona plates. All this meant to me was that maybe, just maybe, she was moving back to the desert and I’d be able to get a really sweet deal on the glasses.

    The second time I passed the glasses, I knew I had to have them, a response I have never been able to talk myself out of when it hits, and near the corner of Boston and Bigelow it hit hard.

    I told myself I’d gift one to each of my friends, but every December I convince myself my friends would probably not love the fragile stems as much as I do.

    The oddest thing about seeing the glasses is that during all the years I was actually looking for vintage long-stem aperitif glasses, I could never find one. Not at a rummage sale. Not at Goodwill or Value Village.

    I was remembering all this, when the glasses caught my eye for the third time. The way they gleamed felt like a sign—nothing smaller than a billboard.

    But this is not what made me walk closer.

    My own mother had aperitif glasses, but I can’t remember ever using them, and I have no idea what happened to them. The glasses brought back a whole stage of my girlhood. Suddenly I was no longer an adult writer with deadlines of her own, but thirteen again scribbling, “So, Diary, I met this boy today and he is sooo cute.”

    When I finally decide to buy the glasses, the sale is slowing down, with some people folding up their tables already, but there were my vintage glasses, unsold, flashing me knowing smiles. I imagined that along with those smiles would be tête-à-têtes cozy and intimate, so many things to talk about.

    Some of my friends keep telling me that it’s getting too expensive to live in the city, that they need to down-size and move to god-knows-where, so I’ve decided I don’t want to burden them with any more “stuff.”

    And though I would never label a vintage long-stemmed aperitif glass as “stuff,” I know there is a personal fine line between treasure and tchotchke.

    Besides I need the entire set now that I do believe I have developed into someone who will serve aperitif at her small, but stunning get-together.

    Even if this is Belltown, circa 2019, basically an Amazon campus, which must hold the record for the fewest vintage long-stemmed aperitif glasses.

    But I’m okay with that. I have become.

    Mary Lou Sanelli

    Mary Lou Sanelli, writer, speaker, and dance teacher, lives in Seattle. Her forthcoming novel, “The Star Struck Dance Studio (of Yucca Springs)” is to be published in September, 2019 (Chatwin Books). For more information about her and her work, visit

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 1:45 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Hats off to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, one of our outstanding regional art museums. Its current feature exhibition of the work of Alfredo Arreguín glows on the walls in the midst of our dark winter days.


    Alfredo Arreguín populates his wonderland of jungles and seascapes with animals, fish, insects, and birds. Then he embeds in this dense matrix of colors and shapes the faces of well known political activists, writers, poets, friends, and occasionally, himself. The faces deeply disguised within the vast details of the paintings, point to Arreguín’s belief in the harmony of nature, the balance of life, and the crucial place that we have within it, rather than outside it. His work has never been more timely or important. 


    Arreguín’s several themes, nature, Madonnas, and portraiture overlap and intersect. In every detail of these intricate works, he contradicts the angry rhetoric of racists creating arbitrary divisions in our beautiful world.


    Leaping salmon and whales remind us that the survival of the Southern Resident pod of orcas is hanging in the balance. As the whales dwindle in response to environmental degradation, and the salmon fail to complete their migration upstream because of dams, Arreguín’s paintings celebrate natural processes and inspire us to protect our Salish Sea. 


    Arreguín’s life story is unusual. He was born in Morelia, Michoacán Mexico, as an illegitimate child, and passed from one relative to another. On a few occasions, he had the opportunity to be immersed in the jungle, experiences that made a deep and permanent impression on him. He also had enough educational opportunities to learn art as he moved from Morelia to Mexico City. But by extraordinary serendipity he was invited to live in Seattle by a family he met when they were lost as tourists in Chapultepec park. As a result, he came to the U.S. in January 1956, and gained citizenship with their sponsorship. After serving in the army in Korea (where he introduced himself to Asian art), he attended the University of Washington, earning two degrees, then found his way as an artist by the mid 1970s in the style that he still practices.  


    He began to appear in major exhibitions almost immediately. The National Museum of American Art acquired his work in the early 1990s. “Life Patterns” includes works from Bainbridge Island Museum of Art’s permanent collection, promised gifts, and loans from private collections and the artist himself, for a total of almost fifty works for this 50 year retrospective.  


    Arreguín began honoring Frida Kahlo many years before she became a pop icon. They share a love of folk art, peasant expressions, nature, music, and the sensuality of life. Arreguín transmits folk art patterns and their motifs in one layer of his dense jungle tapestries, but more than that Frida as well as Arreguín embraced the spiritual significance of ordinary people’s beliefs in Mexico, beliefs that survive transformed to this day. 


    Likewise Arreguín’s love of literature and language pervades his paintings, sometimes literally in his homages to his Seattle friends Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher, other times more subtly as in his homage to Pablo Neruda. Also look for his portraits of indigenous environmentalists, well known activists, and revolutionaries.


    In addition to this featured exhibition, the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is also showing a traveling exhibition of 53 artists’ books titled “Borderland-Arkir Book Arts Group/Iceland which addresses the concept of land. It is supplemented by a selection of the Artists’ Books from the Collection of Cynthia Sears, the visionary founder of the Museum. Artists’ Books are a particular passion of Sears. She has also promised two paintings by Arreguín to the Museum from the Sears-Buxton collection, and already donated the signature Arreguín painting “Salish Sea” of 2017.


    In addition, don’t miss Kait Rhodes multimedia glass sculpture of a red polyp titled “Bloom,” and the exhibition “Heikki Seppa: Master Metalsmith,” thirty metal works, both jewelry and sculpture by a giant in the field. Finally, to celebrate the Museum’s 5th anniversary, there are selections from the intriguingly diverse works donated to the Museum’s permanent collection (which includes another painting by Arreguín.)


    So within this fairly small space, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art offers an experience for everyone, world class artists and an embrace of many media, both experimental and classical. Even in the bistro there is an exhibition—Pamela Wachtler’s paintings and monotypes “Impressions of Place.”


    It is hard to believe that the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is only five years old. What a success it has become and what a gift to our art community. Only a short walk from the ferry, it is free of charge and open seven days a week.


    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications.


    “Alfredo Arreguín: Life Patterns” is on view through February 3 at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art located at 550 Winslow Way on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Open daily 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. For more information, visit

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 1:42 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 1:39 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    We have friendships for many different reasons. 

    And for many of us, this has little to do with reducing our relationships to likes and followers. We are looking for…more.

    I have terrific women friends. Wise, wonderful, and fun (for the most part).

    And I have James. His most admirable quality is that he is without pretense.“What’s on your mind, darling?,” he’ll say, flashing a smile, which I believe is the most generous way to begin a conversation, before lowering his gaze as if he’s about to hear one of life’s sacred secrets.

    Or, you know, whatever is bothering me.

    “You have to keep a bit of mystery to yourself.” We were talking about how drunk everyone is on selfies “in the same way the Russians guzzled the vodka,” he said, “and look what happened to them.”

    There are few conversations in life when, regardless of the subject matter, when it’s as if all your thoughts and emotions are aligned with all of your friend’s thoughts and emotions. Our whole conversation reminded me of the day I was waiting in line at Whole Foods and chatting with the guy behind me. We were talking fruit in season, that kind of thing, except he kept looking at his phone.

    I tried to overlook it, be cool, be current, but it always feels like being put on hold. Even now I think of him talking and scrolling at the same time, and I see a gutless way to communicate. I wanted to shout we do exist without our phones.

    Because we do. We really do. WE are the real thing. And these days it seems like most of us are missing it.

    I came right out and asked him what is so important that he has to be in on it even as he lays produce on the conveyor belt. It was one of those ridiculous things I hear myself say sometimes, knowing I’m being brash, but I say it anyway.

    And that’s when his girlfriend (wife?) jumped in, “This is just how it is now.”

    As if I knew nothing. At any rate, she reminded me that since I do have more years behind me, I’ve attained more success, too, more independence. So I can enjoy a little harmless chitchat, and, okay, a little harmless flirting, without checking in. My flesh may be softer but my attitude is firm: If I’ve learned one thing, it’s how one shared idea, opinion, or observation can lift us out of ourselves and make everything around us seem more, dare I use the word, connected.

    And, yes, I may very well be hoping for a miracle. But if you are shopping at Whole Foods you are certainly paying enough for a miracle.

    So I say thank goodness for James, who is one of the most successful business men I know, yet he still knows how to leave his phone off for however long it takes. Life may be going on at a hectic pace around the two of us, but he’d never let something as expansive and beneficial as our friendship be dwarfed by something small and addicting as a phone.

    Oh, I am thrilled to know James is free to take a walk later. He will pick the route and I will take his arm.

    And we will talk.

    Mary Lou Sanelli

    Mary Lou Sanelli’s Write of Way has been a part of Art Access since 2004. For more information about her and her work, visit

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 1:37 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Believe You Me

    Old-timers in the Depression when they were young

    never thought things would get so bad so quick

    wondered how they could go so far wrong

    rambled around tried a little of everything

    built a hutch to raise rabbits to sell till

    they got sick eating rabbit couldn’t sell a one

    tried keeping chickens in the cellar a night or two

    then they stole a little rusty chickenwire

    to fence them in around their old dead car

    they thought would never start again until

    they got evicted with those hens smell and all

    drove off one winter night with the windows down

    . . . 

    As For Today

    Doing the same things over

    in season a farm life goes by

    a certain order an expectancy

    mowing hay to rake and turn

    several cloudy days to dry

    pulling a wet calf into lamplight

    that now with the start of her

    too late to go back to bed

    too stirred for radio news

    slow boiling water for coffee

    as for today raking leaves

    out from under the slow dying

    maple that could be felled

    cut and stacked but not yet

    that even so might spring back

    . . .

    With the Farm Gone

    What’s left but this oasis this

    cluster of sheds and outbuildings

    surrounding house and barn once

    hard to build uneasy letting go

    the home now they’re thinking of

    jacking off its foundation onto

    a trailer to tow away park on a lot

    the barn to maybe pull apart

    to label stack and sell out-of-state

    to someone to put up with fields

    that still reach away forever with

    cows so it looks halfway right

    and here with fencerows torn up

    scraped away now all one field

    plumbed and wired subdivided for

    new owners what they like to call

    Sherwood Acres A Leisure Development

    with the woodlot already logged off

    to make the down payment on

    each new home’s cathedral ceiling

    set smack in the center of

    its one acre lot landscaped by

    a bulldozer that’s carved undulations

    along a winding deadend drive

    that flattened the outhouse and filled it

    and the well with handmade rubble

    a stone fence picked out of fields a little

    every spring to let the plow ease by

    Paul Hunter

    Paul Hunter is a Seattle poet and fiction writer who works on farming articles and reviews for Small Farmers Journal. He recently published, Clownery, a book of autobiographical prose poems.

  • Thursday, November 01, 2018 12:08 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    “Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India”

    Seattle welcomes from Jodhpur, the capital of colorful Rajasthan, the largest collection of objects from a royal kingdom ever to leave India! “Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India,” on loan from The Mehrangarh Museum Trust, fills the fourth floor special exhibition galleries of the Seattle Art Museum. But it starts with an immersive wedding installation on the third floor!

    The installation, based on a royal wedding procession of the “homecoming” of the bride, includes an elephant mannequin with a gilded ‘howdah’ and elaborate adornments, as well as horse mannequins with full regalia and jewelry. The bride would be hidden from view in a curtained palanquin. Video projections present the procession of the 2010 marriage of Yuvrain Gayatri kumari Pal from the former royal family of Askot in the Himalayan foothills to Yuvraj Shivraj Singh son of the current Majarajah. A wall of famous “paag” or turbans contain many layers of symbolism and make the most of the double height gallery.  

    The current Maharajah His Highness GajSingh II ascended to the throne at the age of 4. Adapting to many changes in the status of the former Princely States, he has succeeded in reinventing his role as a private citizen.  Reflecting his ability to innovate while honoring tradition, one major theme of this exhibition is “tradition and continuity.” The royal homecoming procession is one example of that. 

    At the entrance to the fourth floor gallery stunning photographs present the landscape in Marwar-Jodhpur as well as the history of the Rathores who ruled from the 13th to the mid 20th century. In the same gallery a dramatic gilded palanquin evokes royal processions and a large cradle for Krishna makes a reference to spiritual loyalties. 

    As we enter the “The Rathores of Marwar” paintings depict the descent of the Rathore kings from the Hindu god Rama as well as worship of the Goddess Devi and many portraits of the Maharajas. 

    “Conquest and Alliance: The Rathores and the Mughals” presents the long relationship with the Mughals both in battle and in court, through intermarriage and cultural exchanges. For example, the builder of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, is the son of the marriage of Akbar’s son and a Rajput princess. In this gallery a full scale 17th century Indian court tent Lal Dera fills the space, alongside references to military weapons and other objects exchanged or altered by the many years of serving in Mughal campaigns all over India. 

    The wedding installation links to the theme of the “Zenana: Cross Cultural Encounters” the role of women as bearers of culture. Far from simply being enclosed in the “Zenana” or women’s quarters, royal women brought new cultural traditions when they married into the Jodhpur court. The Zenana here features a full pavilion, as well as textiles, jewels, and dresses and invokes the musicians, dancers, and artists who lived or visited the women of the court. A personal shrine to Krishna made of silver includes a small statue of the deity: it was the focus of a daily ritual.   

    The “Durbar: Rathore Court” marks the era after 1707 when the Rathores were liberated from Mughal control as the Mughals weakened. Many artists came to Jodhpur from the Mughal Courts leading to a flowering of creativity in painting, textiles, tents, arms, and jewelry.   

    In a sequence of alcoves, a selection of devotional paintings introduces Krishna and his familiar frolics with gopis, but don’t miss in this gallery the trademark watercolor of the exhibition, “Shiva on his Vimana” (aircraft!—a huge bird). 

    The last section of the exhibition “The Raj” presents the final diplomatic and cultural exchange of the princely court, with the British Empire. All of the princely states worked with the Raj, rather than resisting it. We see this most obviously in the portraits and photographs of the Maharajahs of this era, with dress and jewelry that bring together traditions from India and Great Britain. 

    Also showing cultural exchange is the Umaid Bahwan palace where the family now lives, designed in the 1920s by Henry Lanchester, an English architect, who combined Art Deco and Indian motifs. A large part of the palace today is a hotel, another innovation of the current Maharajah. He has been a major catalyst for tourism in Jodhpur by renovating the Mehrangarh Museum, not to mention sending this exhibition to the United States (it is making only three stops). 

    “Peacock in the Desert” is a perfect title for the exhibition. The exhibition, like India itself, is full of elaborate objects, stunning color, and fascinating history. To expand our experience, the museum has organized a film series, a Diwali family festival, presentations on South Indian court dance and saris, and a program on the “Songs of Rajasthan.” Check the museum website for more details.

    Susan Noyes Platt

    Susan Noyes Platt writes a blog and for local, national, and international publications. “Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India,” is on view until January 21 at Seattle Art Museum, located at 1300 First Avenue in Seattle, Washington, Friday through Wednesday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Thursday from 10 A.M. to 9 P.M. For more information, visit

  • Thursday, November 01, 2018 12:05 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Thursday, November 01, 2018 12:02 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    Last week, I arrived in Port Angeles to teach a choreography class. I’ve known the director since she struggled with the idea of opening a studio. Her dance journey has been like witnessing a beautiful becoming.

    It’s been a long drive from Seattle. I’m eager to stretch, but I’m so taken by what happens next it literally stops me in my tracks. A little boy watches his sister’s ballet class as intently as someone viewing their own version of joy. He copies every move the girls make. I know his excitement, his readiness, as well as I know my own.  

    His mother is lost in her phone. So I tell the boy that I hope he takes class, too. This prompts a sudden lift of mom’s chin. I say what I am thinking anyway, “Boys make wonderful ballet dancers!”  

    Not in Port Angeles,” she said, as if ballet isn’t something her son should get too close to. The boy looked at me, at his mother, back at me. He jammed his fist into the palm of his hand. It was like watching a leaf wilt on the vine.

    I’ve grown used to arriving in studios where I can feel as if every move I make is not just visible to the parents but spotlighted. But even so, I know—and knew then—that I had to say something more. It wasn’t an overwhelming feeling, more like a ripple in a larger pool of ripples. But I could not have predicted what was about to come out of my mouth.“You are a natural born dancer!” 

    The boy smiled happily, if tentatively, stopping for a quick look at his mom who seemed a little stunned. The truth is that all children are natural born dancers. It’s only later that we learn to suppress the desire to move to the music we hear. 

    I know what it means to simply accept what I am called upon to do: teach a good class. And I do this. But I suppose what happened that day is that the belief that only girls should take ballet leaned a little too far in. Until a huge part of me screamed, “Don’t say that! Dancing is for everyone!” 

    I would not have put it like this, of course, but I had a deep sense that this bias would help shape this boy’s future.

    There is a magic inherent in a dance studio, in being surrounded by people who look like they’ve found what makes them feel most alive. I think this is what the boy wanted for himself, to move enjoyably through space. But I suspect he may have to learn to do it in other ways, most likely on the ball field. 

    And I cannot know if playing ball will make him as happy as dancing seemed to make him. Any more that I can know why his mother was so offended by it.

    But if I let myself remember what must have been happening in this little boy’s mind to make him look so happy, I suspect I found his mother’s response asked of me something that I found impossible to give—silence.

    Mary Lou Sanelli

    Sanelli, a writer and speaker, lives in Seattle. She is a regular contributor to Dance Teacher magazine. Her latest book is A Woman Writing. For more information about her and her work, visit

  • Thursday, November 01, 2018 11:53 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    duck, tree, reflection

    the cold shimmer

    of winter

    a glass window

    in which

    the shadows

    of a tree


    a lattice of shadow

    in which a duck

    must see

    her own reflection

    as she moves

    her feet

    under this web

    of water

    Alan Chong Lau

    Alan Chong Lau is a poet and painter exhibiting his art locally at ArtXchange Gallery in Seattle, Washington.

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