Basel-Mia-Part I: PreRamble and Peripheral Vision

Real-time accounts are done. Critics have spoken. Recommendations circulated. Shortlists. Longlists. Wishlists. Best. Worst. Huh’s? Who’s who? Where were they? Prospects, qualified or discarded. Follow-up emails layering in boxes. Art, sold. Not sold. A lot.

the sky is the anatomy of my body.helliuntree.2017.ernesto neto

According to Artsy the five days of the 16th annual Art Basel-Miami project (referred to as the 16th edition) reaped over $3.5 billion in sales. One of the biggest sales, “Another Storm” by Lee Krasner at estimated $6.5 million.

lee krasner.another storm.paul kasmin gallery. photo from website
SOLD OUT!  one of ten limited edition posters at while supplies last

With no easy option to travel from the remote northern California coast and arrive in Miami in time for a Tuesday cocktail reception, I traveled on Monday.

Allowing for unexpected dress codes throughout the day, Patagonia pants, a few button shirts and several textless t’s would be enough. Walking shoes that didn’t stir up last year’s plantar fasciitis, my preferred means of transportation.

walking shoes

The beach was left to an aroma or line of sight walking to and from art. No need for the shorts, sandals or work-out clothes rolled into the smaller compartment of my carry-on. Aerobic sessions were on pavement treadmills set to the rhythm of the streets between destinations.miami17_scope_view1 copy

Once I realized everyone was being googled before or immediately after introductions (it really is awkward to shake hands with someone and check their bio with the other hand) wardrobe isn’t noticed…until it matters.

ugo rondinone.bass museum

Best practices accumulated from other events come in handy:

  • a back pocket-sized Moleskin or Rhodia
  • avoid using pen
  • if lines on your calendar are hour marked leave space around them
  • have at least one portable power charger
  • remember, the cables for the iPhone and portable power chargers are different.

Leaving a fluid calendar allows for unexpected opportunities aka on-the-spot invitations to something you couldn’t get into on your own, weren’t asked to attend or felt totally busted when you didn’t know about something that everyone else was applauding or criticizing.  Not ‘everyone’ in its true definition but the ‘everyone‘ referring to Baselmialites.

Breathing space on the calendar also allows for a reboot to maintain attention to people including eye-to-eye contact and not eye-to-I-watch-to eye contact. It’s a siesta from being always on.

The likely chance of someone canceling me would also allow time. On a sadder note, my mother-in-law in her final days of Alzheimer’s kept me mentally prepared to head back home quickly.

ArtBasel floor plan

There was plenty to see for free. The street is a great museum.  Self-guided tour. No fee. Open 24/7. Phones discouraged.

Anonymous Installation or repair at a corner on Collins Avenue.  I call this ‘streetcrossing’
facade of SLS hotel

Installations take over vacant spaces or fill massive tents. Block-long pop-up pavilions that billow along the shoreline of Miami Beach from 8th to 12th St. provide structures for satellite fairs. Fairs that orbit around ArtBasel at the convention center.


Public institutions include ICA and the Bass.  Restaurants with art week menus. Shuttles. Hotel lobbies. Facades. Steps. Driveways. The Unexpected. South Florida becomes a 24/7 interactive city of art during these days in December. Kind of like Burning Man. Pack in. Pack out. But with a lot of spending, enhanced wardrobes and commercial opportunities.

bass or burning man?

Avoiding real-time social media thumb pressing while walking the main and side streets of Miami is the best way to watch and experience this Miami migration.

eva and adele

Public transportation is a great way to get around when walking is unreasonable. Performances on buses and trolley’s or through windows offer moving front row seats. Perhaps, this way-to-get-around choice takes more time but the fare doesn’t change because of traffic patterns. Getting to the airport is half the price of a small bottled water at one of the fairs. And it makes for curious conversation in the UBS VIP lounge.

at times there is just no need for directions

I airbnb’d a place with no lobby and a front door with broken lock. No oversized umbrella drinks. No fuss. A simple studio north of “the fair” allowing me a three to six-mile walk every day.

Comfortable Queen Memory Foam Bed
37th and courtesy of ocean girl

Big bed. Wi-Fi. Fridge. Sink. Shower. Loud neighbors. Barking dog. No familiar faces. Quieter streets outside the windows than most other places. $70. a night with easy access to all the goings-on.

artsy installation and performance.the bath club

On Tuesday, ticket pick-up for VIP’s opened at 11 a.m. inside a pop-up UBS tent. art21 had reserved second level VIP access for their guests which included a silver canvas tote bag filled with pamphlets, timelines, maps, schedules and a well-designed bottle of juice.


The plan? Sit with an Americano under a cafe umbrella. Write in a notebook. Highlight in pamphlets. Let the afternoon happen. At some point, I’d hear from Lieven, my plus 1 to the art21 hosted reception at five.


Behind the empty corridors inside the Miami Beach Convention Center the action at ArtBasel was all about set-up.  Transforming a convention center that also hosts boat shows and expos into one of the worlds most upscale aggregated art galleries.


miami17_friends_daelyn farnham install
building booth H10. director daelyn farnham.altman siegel,san francisco. laeh glenn (l), trevor paglen (r)

I  met Lieven Bertels at a casual dinner when I visited Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas. Their new project, a multifaceted art and performance space to be housed in the Kraft Cheese factory undergoing major renovation, The Momentary is expected to open early 2020.


An international musicologist and curator recently hired as Executive Director of The Momentary, Lieven gave me a flashlight tour. Our spirited conversation made for instant friendship. We talked about Miami. Since I was going alone on this trip I offered up my plus 1 to events I was invited to.

The Kraft Cheese Factory in Bentonville, Arkansas. Site of The Momentary. Est. 2/2020

I finished the juice but hadn’t made it to the Americano when Lieven called. He had VIP access to the preview at SCOPE. He wanted to visit a Brussels gallery. While the fair was not on my list for this trip it would be fun to go along.

miami17_scope_vogelsanggallery copy

The additional walk under warm Miami skies with whispers of ocean-scented breeze was a great way to continue an expected low-key morning.  This was a part of Miami Beach I was familiar with a from a time when rocking chairs on porches seemed to float in synch with the waves before they were replaced with all-day happy-hour bars. Before retro was a reference.

At 16 years old I took my first flight on Eastern Airlines to visit my grandmother. She, like most others from the Bronx, widowed and aging were part of the “snowbirds.” She spent three months a year here long before it was South Beach. The name is the same. Nothing else.

Housed inside a beachfront pavilion Scope, like all fairs, identifies it’s own unique position in an increasingly crowded art world.

scope. 8th and ocean from

Time for lunch before our next stop…


…and photo opps before meeting friends of Lieven …miami17_friends_lieven_lunch copy

a few blocks down.

miami17_untitled_entrancebanner copy

Untitled, founded in 2012 is a newcomer to the art fair universe and also positions its mission unique to its brand.

I had not been to an Untitled fair.  I was impressed by the vibe and the venue. Spacious corridors that provided a chance to stand back and participate in art.  Attending artists in informal conversations.

miami17_untitled_artist_jodypaulsen_faghags copy
south african artist, jody paulson.smac gallery.untilted

VIP day is a destination for the art in-the-know population.  It is safe to assume that new collectors, seasoned collectors, influencers, advisors, and buyers are woven into the fabric of the crowd. People figuring out each other is not pervasive or rude but can be apparent.


Artists are excited to be here and talk about their work. Gallerists are here to talk about why something is an important acquisition.  Advisors are here to give their opinion and recommendation.  Collectors are here to buy. They all huddle together and break apart as necessary.

miami17_untitled_artist_jodypaulson_olivia copy
artist passion extends off the canvas
steve wilson. museum 21c hotels

An aisle over…bitforms gallery hosting Rafael Lorenzo-Hemmer.

miami17_untitled_artist_rafaellozanohemmer_olivia_lieven1 copy

His explanation of “Sphere Packing” is compelling. A solo show of his work will be at the Hirschhorn in D.C. in 2018

Finally, at untitled at The Hole gallery, a solo booth of work by Eric Yahnker.

eric yahnker.the hole.untitled
eric yahnker.the hole.untitled
eric yahnker.the hole.untitled

Next stop. Design Miami. Where furniture and art are vitamixed’. Sit in. Rock in. Eat on. Sleep on. Roll in. Light up. Walk on. Wrap yourself in. Furnish a room. Build a house. Just about anything for a dwelling at every step except for charging stations! Camera out of battery. Spare batteries, both out of power.

It’s all here at Design Miami not to be confused with Miami Design District across town.

A third Americano. Another bottle of water. Some ‘see-ya-tomorrows’ before the short walk on Meridian Way to the home of Dennis and Debra Scholl.

tina kukielski during an art21 trip to the mallin york.novemebr, 2017.

I met Tina Kukielski, Executive Director of art21 at dinner following Trevor Paglen’s opening at Metro Pictures in September. My husband and I rely on art21 programming as a resource. In our opinion, it is the most relevant platform for understanding art and artists of our time.  Tina and her team at art21 are radicalizing art education. We are also fans of Trevor Paglen. Trevor was recently acknowledged by the MacArthur Foundation.

tornado. trevor paglen.altman segal gallery.ArtBasel

During our chat, Tina suggested I join the  Art21 Contemporary Council.  Their offerings in Miami encouraged me to go.  Aside from early access to receptions, tagging along with Tina was extraordinary. Her aura of knowledge and passion educates and infects.

Loilita Fierro, art21’s extraordinaire creates and manages these incredible events.  As the go-to for art21 Lolita has or will find any answer for members. She Invites ideas and listens to the vision of everyone she meets.


 Lolita Fierro with VIP (photo courtesy of William Fierro)



The Scholls condo, in a nondescript white building, was at the end of the hallway with an understated entrance. Art did not crowd the walls like at the fair booths nor was any of it for sale. Each piece had breathing space to view with a respectful position to its companions.  The collection was a treat to see.

miami17_scholls_art_aboriginaltrees copy
the hallway.twenty commissioned memorial on trees

At times the art was the background for the people. Other times the pieces were the main attraction.


The time at the Scholls was invigorating and encouraging.  Engaging with people doing great things with their efforts to bring contemporary art to a wider audience locally and internationally. Building awareness of issues of our time through art and performance.  Sharon Hoffman, wife of John Hoffman helped Hank Willis Thomas realize the For Freedoms project.

john hoffman.dennis scholl


miami17_scholls_tina_fred_lieven copy
lieven bertels, tina kukielski, fred bidwell at the home of debra and dennis scholl












The Bidwell Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit private operating foundation was established in 2011 in order to support artists and arts institutions by sponsoring projects, programming, and exhibitions that encourage creativity and innovation. The Transformer Station, a new space for contemporary art in Cleveland is part of this foundation.

And time with artists and connecting people.

hank willis thomas.justin brice guariglia.lieven bertels
Hank Willis Thomas is an artist my husband and I respect and follow. Having the opportunity to spend time with Hank and learn more about his significant projects addressing art needed for our time was a highlight of my Baselmia.  He is actively identifying new definitions of art essential for a broader audience to participate in.
HWT Raise Up
raise up (portion). hank willis thomas. 21c museum hotel.bentonville, arkansas

And, Justin Brice Guariglia who kept me so captivated by a passionate discussion that almost everyone was gone when I looked away.

miami17_scholls_friends_hank_justin_lieven copy
sneak peek of Justin’s tattoo.

Ask Justin about his current installation at the Norton Museum, Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene. Talk to Hank about For Freedoms. The passion and determination spread by these two artists is contagious.  They and their work provide a sense of hope, fairness, awareness, and inspiration during the stressful times we live in.

Meeting artists and creators driven to make changes did not stop on Tuesday.  More coming.

Leaving Scholl’s to hop cross-town to ICA arriving late did not mean late for dinner…

edward and nancy kienholz.the soup course at the she-she cafe.ICA
miami17_ICA_art_everywherestudio_info copy
ICA theme

Again, above, below, side to side, art.

robert gober.untitled.ICA

In from all its creative inspiration.

miami17_ICA_art_install1 copy
fischli weiss.installation.ICA

Before or after inside or out there were familiar faces, curious work, fast bartenders and a cozy atmosphere despite the ICA must-see status on VIP night.


miami17_ICA_mark_scupture copy
always someone to talk to if you felt alone. segal

And of course, the charming Eva and Adele who you can depend on to be seen throughout the world at art events offering their own style of performance.


Around 10 p.m. Lieven and I walked past the line-up of signature stores for a vacant rather than try and identify which Prius was our Uber?  Prada had a party going on. Abstract not Abstract the collaboration between Jeffrey Deitch and Gagosian was attempting to close. I gave up trying to figure out if things were open or just watching parties behind one-way doors. A 360 view of art events piggybacking and overlapping. Hands waving for any mode of leap-frogging.

I had been on a liquid diet for ten hours. When the taxi stopped at Lieven’s hotel I chose to walk the twenty blocks home when I found a 24/7 spot with a vegan bartender.  Sitting in a corner with my back to the street I tried to absorb calories and thoughts from my first day in Baselmia.

Thanks for coming along.

Part II coming soon. Inside Basel. Standing close to genius.Performance. The prize artwork missed by the crowd. Meeting with one of today’s artist game-changers. And more photos.  More people. Stay tuned!

mika rottenberg.bass museum





Shuffling Tokyo into Kyoto-More Than Just a Word Scramble

While a simple shifting of letters can transform Tokyo into Kyoto, the experience of these two Japan’s is vastly different.

river walk with umbrellas
over Kamu river.Kyoto

Go to both but soon you will realize once is not enough.

at nijo temple carving kyoto blog
above the gate at Nijo

Initially, let the overwhelm guide you. Succumb to the mechanics and efficiency of the pavement and population. Be hypnotized by politeness. Be patient in chaos. It is our chaos, not the chaos of being here.

train line sign kyoto blog
one of various subway line guides
density of language
you can find it if you can name it
tstutura bookstore
we understand english kyoto taxi
outside Kyoto station

Meander narrow streets. Absorb the density of an unfamiliar alphabet. Adapt to ways of every day. Drown in this landscape of people and place.

kyoto morning2
kyoto from the Miyako hotel

Kyoto. Go. Once is not enough. Return to unwrap its veils. Get closer to its soul.

faces woman shop streetcleaner in morning kyoto blog
Early morning shopkeeper
bellringing kurama
At Mnt. Kurama
traffic cone in bamboo blog pic
Dressing a road bumper
morning run over kyoto bridge kyoto blog
Morning run over the Kamu

Packing up from TABF and leaving Tokyo allows us to deflate.

TABF closing day

Visiting Kyoto, for me, is like seeing a movie, a play, reading a book over and over. Each visit I see through a different lens. I hear different sounds. Feel different moods even though I walk the same streets.

temple field trip
Field trip on Mnt. Kurama
sculptures in nijo garden kyoto blog
In the gardens of Nijo Castle

monks in starbucks

faces mom and son on train kyoto blog

There are over 1800 shrines and temples in Kyoto. We have seen the ones you’re supposed to see. Ones we researched. Ones we learned we missed. Ones we stumbled upon. For gardens. For Buddha’s. For reflections on water. For gates. For climbs. For meditation. For sounds. For trees. For monks. For a Shojin meal. To light candles

staues children at kurama
Mnt. Kurama
reflection atmoss temple
Saihi-ji.The moss temple
mnt.kurama roof blog pic
Mnt. Kurama
lighting candles blog pic jpg
For special souls. Mom.Dad.Ari.Sophie.Hedy

We approached our fourth trip to Kyoto casually, quietly. Other than Sao-ji , the “moss temple” which requires advance tickets, we left our five days fluid.

advance ticket saoji kyoto blog

Maybe we’ll do this. That would be nice. If we have time. Should we go there again? That sounds interesting. We don’t have to do that again. Let’s find something new.

Maybe we’ll bike along the river. Let’s plan food a little better. Let’s connect with friends we don’t know of a friend back home.

Let’s see what we find. Let’s move slower. Maybe visit one thing each morning. Walk the afternoon. Be together. Be light. Appreciate. Try to calm. Be aware. Breathe.

river walk

kyoto gate for kyoto blog

mezzuzah on door kyoto

lantern path at kurama kyoto blog
The path up Mnt. Kurama

And so we welcomed Kyoto and Kyoto embraced us.

paper mache dog kyoto blog

mnt kurama entrance statue kyoto blog

faces matcha maker


frog coin pond

While I reference and share some of the places we visited, I devote this post to the feeling of Kyoto. Share the faces. Things I felt and saw. Hope they magically pop out from a two dimension presentation to stir up joy and spirit and appreciation.

toga explaining chant

monk closeup starbucks sign

faces child on scooter kyoto blog

It was an odd time to be away from home. Fires raging to the north, south and east of us. Friends and family scurrying in the night to evacuate. Our little main street in Gualala becoming a safe haven for people fleeing with perhaps one suitcase. Without a plan. Fear and sadness filling a crowded space between passengers in cars. Families broken apart by death. Unknown future. A world-class industry devastated. Communities that look like the one outside your window annihilated. Singed animals. Loyal pets who ran in fear leaving owners to make hard decisions. Puppies waiting, standing guard in piles of ash. Falling trees engulfed in fire stopping cars, people trying to escape. Frenzied wildlife, an audience, and symphony to our coastal town governed by Mother Nature frantically searching.  A new-found sense of caring for helpless foxes and bobcats and creatures of the nocturnal looking for water, food, and cover. Familiar kennels under mandatory evacuation.

The safety net of Gualala, CA. October 9.

The ocean opening its unconditional cool and freshness beneath vapored skies. And the wind, most times a drama to watch now an apocalyptic slide show.  I read about this from a distance,  on a device as if it was removed like the hurricanes in the Caribbean and states out of familiarity.  And I am at a distance from my neighbors and cousins and friends and places I buy fresh fruit and vegetables and my mother-in-law helpless in a home in her own world of Alzheimer’s. And the kennel Woof! goes to evacuated on our first day in Kyoto with staff members who lost their homes.  Eerily, we made a different decision for this trip and he was safe in Virginia.

The blue spot between the smoke cloud cover-home.

How do I put my footing in Kyoto make sense? I hope that Kyoto in its magical way helped me find that resolution. I hope in some way it helps anyone in turmoil of questions without answers, priorities and lifting heaviness.

morning run
An espresso and iced-tea  run through Kyoto
moss temple buildings

mezzuzah on door kyoto

Kyoto. October 2017. Intentionally, without much narrative for you to interpret in a time when we need to make sense of our own stories or create them, inspire our thoughts and feelings and see what we can with our own eyes.

calvino and coin laundry
Brain and laundry on spin cycle

Maybe that is the reason we were in Kyoto.

nijo reflection kyoto blog
Reflections and light installation

and all the reasons to come back home and be grateful.

journey home faces billymark
Long journey home begins with Shinkansen Train from Kyoto to Tokyo
Woof! First night in Alexandria home

Because we do not know about tomorrow.

weeping cherry
Kyoto. October 13.
burningtree santa rosa
Santa Rosa. October 13th.




tokyo v4 + tokyo artbook fair II-2017

2017. October. Again, we are in Tokyo.

tokyo metro mapThis post is not meant to be a guide to or review of Japan.  Well, not the kind with opening hours, must-sees and landmarks.  What has struck me this time is the beauty in diversity.  In the space between language barriers. In the beauty of creating.

scatf maker at tabf

Perhaps, the streaming of daily news and events over the past year, fears and insecurities that wake us before morning have made me seek remedies from being kind, aware and mindful. Recognizing beauty in front of me, around me.  An increased sense of obligation to create and share. Recognize overt and hidden talents of people across a spectrum of skills and choices. Acknowledge. Encourage. Appreciate. Inspire. This is in our power.  This is how we medicate helplessness from headlines and backstories.

making naan

boardwalkstillI am not running from shrine to shrine.  I am not navigating mechanized crowds through stop lights and cross-walks.  I am not searching for restaurants.  No subway stop sampling of neighborhoods. I am satisfied being absent of must-see lists or 72 hours in Tokyo recommendations letting my own awareness guide me through the hours.

faces cirle dress

tokyoumbrellaandbikeThe first time I visited, Tokyo was overwhelming. In a way, disappointing.  I was looking for ‘authentic’ Japan, not avenues lined with generic signs of luxury. Eating was challenging. Fish stock in one form or another is often the first ingredient in dining options. Not good for vegan life or if bending the rules, vegetarian.

upon at dusk
later the same day-pushing through the call of sleep

The language is difficult to interpret.  In other tongues, I mumble sounds or see hidden words in different arrangements of familiar letters. Add my own pronunciations and use hands to translate”this is deliciousoso, scuz-a-me, where is subwayo or choo choo?  Me, vegan, make a fish face and use my hands to say no.

uhm…doesn’t look like breakfast
breakfast foreign language decipher
figuring it out

With a different alphabet, I stare at phrases thinking they will focus into a phrase I can understand. I  rely on images . On packages of sealed food, pictures of berries and nuts mean a better selection than pictures of a smiling chicken or fish. I learned to take a couple of zeros off currency and figure out a short taxi ride is not $1000. I hold loose coins in an open palm and slide my hand over to cashiers. At ATM’s I look for an English text box but often withdraw too much or too little. I learned not to open the door of a taxi. The driver does it from a control on his dashboard.


breakfast of champions-tokyo version

indian restaurantAfter a few days of my Tokyo #1 visit, 2008, I began to understand the magic of the city but too close to departure.  Magic tied into the way the city operates.  The politeness. The patience. The attention to detail. Big animated smiles that monopolize faces. Organization and cleanliness. An absence of American urban rush hour havoc. A politeness that glides people through the day.

kids with accordian zine 1It’s not that Tokyo is my favorite place to visit over and over again.  The first two trips were to visit friends who hosted and chauffeured us inside and outside of the city.  I learned the metro system from taking trains in wrong directions. Getting stopped at turnstiles. Figuring out underground mazes. Tokyo started to make sense.  The third and fourth trips were for the Tokyo Art Book Fair (TABF) where billy was juried into the fair and welcomed into the international section.

set-up, 2017!-warehouse terrada, shinagawa

stupidhairluckymove1Tokyo started to come together. The fair, four days, brought us into a Tokyo different than before. Rather, TABF brought Tokyo to us. A destination where local Tokyo and visiting foreigners spend time with artist made books and the artists who create them.  Where language needs little translation. “How much? ” “How do you do this?” and “Where are you from?” start slow conversations that find a way to connect, not frustrate.

bambiislandandartist A ubiquitous visual language taking place on multiple floors up and down rows lined with tables of vision and product executed by passionate and humble art-makers.

faces family of 3

There is no interruption or impoliteness from cellphonespeak.  Giggles and clapping hands of enjoyment animate communication. Misunderstood or not understood words don’t matter. Art is the subject.  Art is the understanding.  Fingers pointing to pages and flipping through books. Gently handling a fabric button. T-shirts and bags with simple illustrations. Explanations that transcend language barriers. Viral passion for art, and words. The individuality that brought people together shlepping weighed down with suitcases and duffel bags. From Germany, Korea, Singapore, America, Norway, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Paris, London and throughout Japan.

Art-makers morphing into a single we make art culture.

To share–to have a purpose–to bring boxes and bags and hooks and tape to show vision in three-dimension. Helping visitors experience art in traditional forms and new forms. To inspire. To spread a contagious mood of creativity, confidence in individuality.  To remind us of the beauty inside of us and inside others. Or simply to enjoy an autumn afternoon on the way to or from somewhere.

tabf outside crowd

free bike

faces elevator girl


There is no language barrier to smiles and sharing of art.

I observe. As I scan the flow of participants and visitors it reminds me that art connects people. How important this is now, more than ever.  When asked where are we from there is no reference to politics. No snickering. No judgment. We don’t ask questions of our artist neighbors from Korea. There is the only curiosity of the art and appreciation for the artists who have traveled here.

Finding the unexpected on the anniversary of my mom’s death.  My mom who built a menagerie of Bambi relics over 70 years.


The venue, a warehouse set-up is different from last year’s open campus forum.  Creating some challenges in getting in and out and intermittent rain heighten Japanese patience, its own art form filling the canvas of the street.

tabf outside line 1

people on bikeWhat has struck me this trip is the beauty of diversity.  Of foreigners bringing art for people to absorb. Dynamic and in-the-moment sites rather than checking off have-to-see sights from stickie-note tabbed pages in guidebooks. I have seen those sights in past trips, not all of them but that’s okay. Still, I take short escapes to see the Louise Bourgeois “Spider” and a visit to our favorite ceramics gallery.

spider at roppngi hills
the beauty of the ceramics at this shop and the beauty of you-can-only-get-it-here

Food has been better this year.  It still takes planning but the expansion of fresh salad restaurants and vegan cafes gives us default. Fruit stands and natural food markets are not as spread out as before. Yes! to the Happy Cow app and pocket wi-fi.

8ablishIt has been a difficult year for us. Not for “us” as in “us” but from events that are part of “us” being “we.” Primarily, billy’s mom with advancing Alzheimer’s forcing her move from our home after four and a half years.  billy’s half-day visits with her every other day stir up anxieties that play into decisions for us to travel, be away. And the unexpected interruption from discovering and treating a Melanoma billy identified on the side of his face. billy’s prep and production for new work and inventory and collaborations fill days and nights. Travel to and from our remote home extends the travel. We navigate doubts and concerns like everything else that makes us “we.” Plus, the “woof!” who is glorious and unconditional but requires extra effort and coordination while we are gone.

woof going to sitter
woof! off to sleepaway camp aka babysitter

billymark tokyo 2017

billy umbrella 1And here we are, Tokyo v4. I hope the photos and words bring you to into this world of beauty and kindness and inspire you.  For now, more than ever it is a time to make art and create…to see beauty and happiness in faces.

Join the faces.

We are all artists with our own stories and vision. We all have something to share, to connect to soothe our fears. Pick up a pen.  Grab a brush. A bottle of glue. A recipe. Tape. A piece of chalk.  A sharpie.  Leave your doubt at the door. Create!

and when the day is done…..

faces child asleep

folded book dream

“So, how was the trip?” (Inca Trail, December, 2014)

Two days back and struggling for words until I had an email from a colleague early in the morning asking me, “So, how was the trip?  An unleashed stream of consciousness locked for days powered out.  Saved for later interpretation and process it freed me to begin my sharing.


I have read that once you are able to put the overwhelming into words it loses it’s divinity. The intention of the awesome, the majestic or even the essence is to leave the recipient speechless because it is there in the middle of that energy where there is engagement with the divine, a very personal and wordless experience. Important to note that my use of the word divine here is giving respect to, acknowledging and grateful in being able to feel, embrace and trust the unexplained.


Dozens of labeled plastic bags filled with what-if’, don’t forgets, all weather preparation, reservations, confirmation numbers and directions across cities and altitudes are now wrinkled, half filled or empty. Shoes are a new permanent color of dirty. There are snags, stains and cuts in clothing. Prescription and over the counter med containers are also empty. One home crafted walking stick from California redwoods left behind to our guide, Marko, as a relay of wisdom and achievement. Over a thousand photos have been lifted from SD cards, at this moment only to have xx.xx.xx jpg as identifiers.

MP.machupicchu.huayanapicchu1MP.incatrail.viewfromtop1MP.incatrail.groupstart1 MP.incatrailmorningwash.jess.linds MP.incatrail.sanctuarydayroomMP.incatrail.nightcamp1

Bruises and pains are dissipating.

The exhaustion and lessening patience levels from the thirty-three hour journey home drained from the body into familiar pillows and beds. Stomachs grateful for our basic familiar kitchen ingredients. Returns of stresses and to-do’s left behind are embraced with a new outlook and sense of personal control. Yet, each diluting moment seems to have been replaced with one of these “essences.” Wordless overwhelming moments continue. The pulse felt in the bottom of my feet as they made contact with the ground in the Andes below, in the middle of and above the clouds beats strong as I now walk my familiar California soil. There is a connected heartbeat between the mountains, the unexplained and my internal pilot light.

MP.incatrail.cake MP.incatrail.billybackstrecth MP.huaynapicchu.rope1 MP.incatrail.goodmorning.tea

It has taken me time to get to the issue at hand. Blogging, recording, retelling, sharing and trying to answer the question, “How was the trip?”   I realize that all the blogs I read, all the questions I asked, the chronicles, the diaries, the daily episodes and all the information I sought out as I prepared is not the task at my hands upon returning.

walking sticks MP2Lindseyhat MP.incatrail.cloudforest1MP2MarketCorn MP.incatrail.finish.group1MP.machupicchu.huayanapicchu1

After Day #3 of acclimatizng in Cusco I walked into the mountains and at that moment for the next four days there was no separation between minutes, hours, days, steps, elevations, fears, joys, doubts, pride, determination, insecurity. The unexplained danced with reality. Loved ones from the past hitched into our minds and walked beside us at dfferent times. Shadows alongside us had heartbeats. Every mountain seemed to stretch their arms around us. Clouds cooled us. Sun warmed us. Fog created a clarity. The sky wet us and dried us. Rocks provided grips and grass provided footing. Flowers provided moments.

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The world inside the Andes provided mystery and courage. While there were questions each step of the way there were answers. Permission was given to let the non answered questions just be or wait to be answered when the time is right.

There was a new felt joy witnessing the awe my two daughters and husband were experiencing. There was concern in their challenges. There was a level of pride not felt before.

So, how do I capture the essence and share it without the explanation? It is in that place where the real trip lives.


I spent hours selecting a small group of photos for this writing. They were all taken at a time during this trip. They do not need explanation or captions. The story in each photo is for the reader to feel, experience, interpret and personalize.  They are not in any sequential order.

Subsequent writings will witness a specific piece of the trip. To share. To relive. To make sense of. To question. To remind.

My love, pride, appreciation and gratitude to my daughter’s Lindsey and Jess and my husband, Billy cannot be limited by words. We will always make memories.

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Finally, to pachumama who allowed me to walk through her heart and soul while feeling my own.


Days #3-#4-The Less Thought of Acclimatizing and No Mas Pizza

We all stood at the passport check. The control clerk asked, together?”

“Yes, family.” I say.

He looks politely confused and asks “What kind of family” waiting for me to explain the role of my husband and two adult daughters I think quickly and respond, “dysfunctional but happy.”

Bop, bop, bop, bop on all four passports. We are in Cusco!


I digress here to talk about acclimatizing. It is the top subject everyone brings up as they prepare for adapting to Cusco flying from sea level to over 12,000 feet in the Andes. Air gets thin. Expect faster heartbeats, labored breathing and cramps. We will be at the highest at the end of the week as we hike up to almost 14,000 feet. This is why staying in Cusco for a few days is critical to a good trip. Not dissimilar from another kind of acclimatizing. Family acclimatizing.

This pertains to any number of people coming off of an individual year of stresses, strenuous travel from different places for three days, anxiety about preparation, packing and to and from airports and layover hotels and finally bop, bop, bop, bop…welcome to Cusco, we are all together for the next 12 days. So are our eating timeframes, boiling points, personalities, sleep patterns, openness to feedback, discomforts, and four way permutations of relationships. Acclimatize that!!! There are all sorts of medication for altitude acclimatizing. You just have to adapt differently for family.

The memories recalled later life are the ones sifted out from the real time experience. “Remember whens” probably will not include dad’s meltdown trying to figure out timing, Jess as the first to fall victim to “sorojchi” (altitude sickness), the lights that wouldn’t go out resulting in someone coming to our room to fix it at 2AM, sleepless patterns from exaggerated heartbeats.

Two things I recommend in family acclimatizing. First, not everything has to be done together. Second, meal choices and times should have rotating volunteers. Additionally, your kids are really are adults!

So we put this into effect on our first full day in Cusco following a volatile first evening. Everyone tired. Jess feeling really crappy and wrapped under covers. Lindsey doing her thing but sensitive to others. Billy in neutral state. Me watching over the dynamic and seeing how I can make it all Pollyanna. Dinner was a decision of bringing in from different places and having a community snack table. Thank you concierge for the connecting room with a middle common area. The preliminary discussion and plan for the next day. Not the best timing.

So, with a fresh look on Day #2. Jess waking up better. A late sleep in for some to 10:30 and Lindsey takes morning stroll in hotel followed by a good find for breakfast.  I suggest the meal management program as we design the day. Jess and Lindsey ready to roll. We all agree on any combination of group to do their thing. Meet in room at 5:30. Dinner at 6.   Lindsey and Jess decide on spa treatment to rest and relax. Billy and me to explore local craft markets and a walk through Cusco.

It was an easy day. Still mindful of the “after getting” or “not getting” soljchia we drink our coca leaf tea before and after meals, take it a bit slow and drink a shitload of water.


The craft market was a short walk. Cusco is clean and quiet. It is also very colorful. Locals approaching with baby llamas or adult llamas for photo opportunities. The soul and friendliness of the people an instant reminder to me of why I love South America. Everyone here is basically here for one reason, acclimatizing for Machu Picchu. It is not difficult to tell how people are getting to their destinations. Backpacks and shoes worn by everyone you pass are tell ale signs that indicate bus, train or multi day hike. Designer handbags vs., worn in backpacks. Sockless loafers vs. Gore-Tex.

MP2cocoa museum
the sacred cocoa leaf and it’s history and gift shop


me and my llama


weaving process from yarn
okay. some bakeries interpret baby cakes oddly
welcome to artisan centrale market
special spot to buy blankets for friends early arrival twins back home
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view from “no mas pizza” restaurant

Rendezvous at hotel at 5 was met with happy moods, review of our different few hours since lunch and some snack local snack.

maize grande

We head out to “the pizza place” advance decision on schedule and in agreement.Walk is short. Seating is easy. Menu okay for different palettes.

We order. Perfect.

Twenty five minutes later the server return and in mix of Spanish and English not unlike mine over the past few days she says “No Mas Pizza.”

“You mean you’re out of some of the ingredients we asked for (we have one semi-vegan, one vegetarian, one mindful eater and one eating light after a not so feeling great night).

“No mas pizza.” What she meant was there was no pizza left and this is a pizzeria at 6 PM on a Monday.

There we sat with three half finished Coca-Cola’s and a decision. It was clear we wanted pizza. A clear moment of our flexible acclimatizing system now at risk of relapse.  Jess quick to fill in the silence recalled another pizza place down the block. Easy transition we thought.

Pachumama’s (the mother of the earth) was just fine and they also had a pizza menu but we were skeptical until we ordered and it was confirmed.

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After a fine dinner and good interaction and everyone feeling good we came back and light our next to last night Chanukah menorah candles. Discussions for tomorrow plan follow the same adaptability. Billy walks to get water and chocolate for all. Lindsey sewing a hole in my pants. Billy had the sewing kit. Two sisters in one bed playing cards which I remembered to bring.

7th night chanukah lighting on balcony
above the menorah

Billy reading.  Jess just won fantasy super bowl back home.  Lindsey cuddled  in quiet space with kindle. Cookies, chocolate and water on community table. Me just taking it all in as I write.

So keep in mind that while some family, friend or group vacations may need physical acclimatizing never forget that all need people acclimatizing. Understand the individuals and understand their contribution in making the group a blessed and downright lucky one that makes the memory of the time eternal.

Thank you, Lindsey, Jess and Billy for me the luckiest guy around.  xo


Ready.Set.Go! Machu Picchu. Getting to Cusco. Days #1.#2.#3.

“Hey, what are your thoughts of going to Machu Picchu next December?” “Dad! It’s only February, you’ve got to be kidding!” Both responded similarly. “I know, but it takes planning. A lot. All I need is yes, no and window of dates.”

Fast forward. Friday, December 19th Billy and I get to Atlanta from San Francisco. Meet-up is on Saturday. Jess from Baltimore. Lindsey from DC

girls on plane

Both in around 1PM. Billy and I the night before, midnight. 5:19PM flight to Lima. Overnight in Lima. Sunday to Cusco at 11AM. Arrive Cusco 12:30PM. Planning. Everyone has one bag. I checked three.

They say that Machuu Picchu is the place to forget everything and get lost in the magic and embrace the spirituality. Push yourself physically, mentally, intellectualy. Life changing. And then we start reading of all the things not to forget in preparation to getting to a place to forget. Odd. My stuff neatly compressed in a number of plastic bags, each labeled. Rain pants, gaiters, hat, short sleeved shirts, camera memory cards, meds over the counter, meds prescription , long sleeved shirts, base layer pants etc.

hiking bootsA greater number of bags, still not organized,

plastic bagsare labeled with items that start with “extra” or “for.” Rain pants –Lindsey; rain jacket-Jess; everyone- including (but not limited to) 25 granola bars, quick burst energy gummy bears, packets of instant electrolytes for everyne, throat lozenges, extra daypack, water bottles, obnoxious matching warm socks for sleeping, sleeping bag liners, playing cards, flashlights, guidebooks, bungie cords and carabiners. Even a portable home crafted menorah, candles and aluminum foil to catch dripping wax. Home baked zucchini bread sliced for quick grab and go. In a separate bag meant for ski’s are eight hand carved and oiled walking sticks made from branches of redwoods found along the way on the north California coast.  Billy packs his bag with extras for all from his logical and organized point of view and still has plenty of room in his bag.  Batteries, flashlights, individual bags of trail mix and prepares for Verizon out of country emergency contact while readying his mom while he is away and making sure freezer and mom miantenace is perfectly prepped.  We operate in balance.,

walking sticksMy master list compiled from required items, good ideas from multiple lists, blogs and recommendations. Ideas, don’t forgets and knowing my family. Final check in’s with each other.  “Dad, can you bring an extra pair of socks?” “Hi Dad, do you have my flight confirmation number?” “What time should Uber come?”

Prepping for rainy season was easy as we are in the middle of rainstorms in the Bay Area. Nice to know how all these tech type materials work and have real time learning lessons in differences between rain resistant, wick, waterproof, quick-dry and lightweight. A definite one-up over marketing.

My personality disorders come in handy in planning a trip very far out and making lists that have columns titled “need, suggested or ntw.” NTW is the not to worry column which basically means needed but will be provided by the trip leader (see second note on plastic bags above). Lists, check marks, spreadsheets, to-do’s, confirmation numbers, reservation dates et al. Fuel for a control freak.

The 90 minute delay text from Delta was concerning and comforting. Concerning because I could not see five feet outside the living room window and I got soaked going to the bank. Comforting because there was no need to “still be at the airport at original departure time” as our plane was not there. The extra time was one of those found periods of time that makes you wonder how the heck you would have been ready if it was not there. Not to mention shutting down work for almost two weeks.

Arrangements were seamless. Shocking. Arrival in Atlanta. Overnight in an airport hotel. Late night snack. Back to airport in AM and easy check-in. Even got a half hour at the gym since the wish-list of physical prep for this trek was barely filled.

Expected texts began Saturday morning. “At airport.” “Checked in.” “Checked bag all the way through to Lima?” “What time is the flight to Lima?” “Will text when I land.” “Where’s meet up point?” “Jess coming into A10 at 12:44. Lindsey coming into C55 at 12:52.” “Dad and Billy will meet you at E10.” “On train in wrong direction at airport.” “Hungry.”

By 1:30 PM we were all at E10. Smiling. More relaxed than all the days and weeks before. Enough chargers to fuel up the phones, different versions.  One of the marvelous things of parenting adult kids is that needs evolve differently as they grow up.  I remember soaking a Barbie doll in the bathtub and now I’m bringing rain gear for a rabbi and a kindergarten teacher for a hike in the Andes.

lima peru gateDay #1 basically continues into Day #2 or #3 depending when and who started where. We arrive in Lima. Slow process of passport checks. Slower process for two of the three bags at carousel #1. Short guy with a sign “Welcome, Gross Group (I’m used to it) was comforting. Billboards surround the airport made me think that Machu Picchu Tourism and Coca Cola sponsor the entire country. Overnight.

manhattan innThen to Cusco.

cocoa leaf teabag

I Never Read Either…..A Love Story Leads to a Book Fair

-basel #4

HALT sign

Before I write on I Never Read, the book fair itself, a short departure which tells of  the passion that created  and continues to drive this extraordinary book fair.

INR Faces 7

It would be simple to write a sweet story of Evaline Wuthrich and Johannis Willi.  Thomas Keller, while not one in part  of their love story is the third essential person in the love story of the I Never Read fair.

It is easy to struggle for written words to describe their passion, energy and devotion found on their faces, in their actions and in the people that surround them building, creating, tirelessly available  and selling to make I Never Read beautifully unique.

Let’s look at the beginning of their press release as it presents I Never Read.

Read…. differently.

In June 2013 the book fair I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel will take place for the second time. The fair focusses exclusively on print media, hereby distinguishing itself from other fairs and events surrounding Art Basel. Publishers, book sellers, artists and printers will exhibit their unique publication programs to an international audience, showing and selling pieces ranging from artist books, catalogues, monographies and journals through to zines. Thanks to guest appearances at “The NY Art Book Fair” in New York and “The LA Art Book Fair” in Los Angeles the I Never Read-Team has been able to broadly establish it’s fair within the past year, resulting in rising interest of participation. This year, over 80 participants from 20 different countries will take part in the show.

But how it and they started isn’t there.  When I asked Evaline and Johannes about their beginning their answer made me smile as I looked around at the set-up and the faces of everyone in the bare room.

We sat on the edge of the stage in a main room of Volkshaus.  The venue a carefully selected location only minutes away from Art B’ah’sel.  Unlike that fair the only thing separating the artists were the edges of wooden tables that seemed as if they were off the same assembly line in one run of inventory.  Resembling  a communal restaurant, this one for savoring publications.  Folding chairs were set up behind each table, two, sometimes three.  This main room of Volkshaus at one time was a radio station which explained the booth now used for performances and announcements and the padded walls hiding repurposed storage space.

setup tables early

Evaline looks as if she could be the director and producer, perhaps the writer as well for an art school documentary project.  A subtle sweet smile with focused eyes, knees up supporting a mac.  Johannes, while talking to you with a little more with 360 vision but not the double cheek kiss kind is making sure that each piece and person in the room was coming together.  He could  would fit right in at a local race where his friends would be able to pick him out by his colorful shorts.  When she is off the mac and he is off patrol it’s easy to see them as the binding of the book fair.

johannes and evelyn

Thomas, topped with a hat or baseball cap turned not quite backwards has a smile that takes up most of his face when he is not concerned about something.

thomas keller

I was prepared to ask Evaline and Johannes the back story of I Never Read.  Although, I met Johannes for the first time at the NY Art Book Fair last year where I chatted with him when I passed his table  I didn’t quite understand what he was doing.   He basically asked me why I was there and then asked  for any zines that he would be happy to take back to his home town of Basel to show at his fair during Art Basel week.  I shared that with Billy and returned with samples from his  collection and made our contribution.

Johannes seemed like a nice guy and the drive to get your art out in the “zine”isphere trumps the need to put too much research and focus on the distribution channels.  Several months later we met Johannes again as he had the zine table just opposite us at the LA Art Book Fair.  I had less conversation with him there than the one time chat in NY even though our tables were faced opposite each other.  On the last day there was a bit more dialogue between Billy and Johannes.  A few months later Billy received his email inviting us to show at the 2nd I Never Read Fair in Basel.

johannes side image

My English with traces of the places I have lived even though never out of the USA probably seemed more broken to Evaline and Johannes than their’s seemed to me. I had no prepared questions.

“So, how did you get this thing going?”  They looked at each other with an expression which  betrayed their disagreement on a shared version.

INR-Johannes Go Team

“Well, me met at a bar or something and she had this idea which I actually had before and then we thought how great to do it together and here we are!”

The smiles and a few chuckling mumbled words as they leaned into each other were not scripted even though they have probably been asked this many times before.  For a moment it feels as though you are the bartender watching this first encounter.

Johannes continued. “Actually, we know each other a very long time.  Back to high school But I was too cool for her and she was too cool for me so we never really spoke.”  He looked around the room, his arm not totally around her shoulders.  “And now we are really cool together. Totally cool.”

I looked around.  The tables were filling.  Wheels on suitcases sliding across the floor.  A little hammering here and there.  Tape bing torn by teeth, a very different sound than ducktape.   Staplers. Some loud impulsive exclamations during set-up crisis.  Borrowing this or that.  Grabbing an idea or giving one from next to you or behind you.  A careless bump into a box.

All of this going-on making the soundtrack of the this fair conducted and improvised by these art book artists and publishers, many of which have day jobs and several who are staying with friends or at bnbs well outside the $15.00 sandwich zone.  And while the languages were as varied as one would expect in an international art fair it was  the language of making art easily understood and easily communicated.

thomas with cap

Thomas was lining up the tables.  They were raw and beautiful.  Not attached by screws but pegs that kept them fastened and would make storage, set-up and breakdown efficient.  These were not rushed. In another room near the front entrance were bookshelves and cases.

Astonished and presumptive I asked him where he got them.

“Get them?  Like buy them in a store?  Oh, we didn’t get these anywhere.  We make these.  My father and me.”  He brushed some invisible dust off of one of the table tops as if he was cleaning  crumbs off an infant’s  chin.

“You made them?”

“Yes, yes.  You like them?  45 of them. Come look.”  He showed me how they were fastened.  How they collapsed and how they would be stacked. “My dad and me.  We make maybe two  a week.  But I’m very upset because it rained the day we needed to carry  many to our storage place and now with this, uhm, hmm, heat, you know like the damp weather,”  I sensed  that he that felt that he was not explaining what he meant. He used his hand to explain further,

“Warp?” I asked or stated

“Yes, yes, wvarp.”  He ran his hands across the wood  almost as if he was performing pilates on it.

In my mind it was easy to see his father and him struggling against time and weather.  Working together.  A dad giving his son’s dream some focus calming the anxieties of his youthful drive and passion. I met his dad on the last day along with Thomas’ girlfriend who was breaking down the tables using a hammer type of tool moving from one table to another as his father stacked wood.  This was the I Never Read book fair creation.

After that, I realized that the best way to tell the story of I Never Read is best told through the images of energy and passion of the I Never Read artists, the helpers and the helpers of the helpers with their sons and daughters and friends and friends of friends.

Putting it together.

artist prep inr 1

art unpack

inr artist setup 2

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breaking down table





INR setup artists with cartons

inr setup4And so the love story while it may include or even started with lovers at one time too cool for each other and friends the true love story is the love of artists and artists making books.  Giving them space ,voice, community and belief.

How cool is that?

next up.  the artists and the art