Tuesday, May 8, 2018

It has been a while since I posted. Some thoughts are becoming more important, thus I am returning.

This new trend started when I met Farheen Rizvi. She is a scientist, specializing in math and computers. I believe she is an engineer. She works at NASA JPL. She sat at the same table as my sister Nicky and I at my nieces wedding: Zarha and her husband Mohammed were getting married. Farheen described her job to us. And a feeling of astonishment descended over me. This woman is brilliant, I thought. She has a very big brain. 

I recognized a difference in her from my sister and I. She displayed self confidence, knowledge and a strength we did not, nor do we now, possess. Another generation. I felt compelled to get to know her. Where did she come from? Who raised her? What gave this woman, any woman, such grace, knowledge and strength? It's not that I am not strong in some areas, nor do I not have some intelligence in some areas, too. But there was a difference and I do not know how to explain it really. But it sent me on a quest.

Farheen and I became internet buddies. We wrote through texting or email. I learned she has a brother, Adil Rizvi, and he too works at NASA JPL. He is an engineer. Every vehicle with the name rover attached to it had his hand on it. His work is sent out to the universe and explores planets, sending data back to Earth. She and her brother were encouraged by their parents to explore science. Their mother was a biologist, the father specialized in the Universe in some way, I cannot remember. He was so important in the field, that a Denver company recruited him from India, with offers of the best schools for his approaching high school ages, great job for the wife in her field, and he would be brought to the US, paid for and housed, and all legal arrangements through immigration. So Farheen and Adil went to high school in Golden, CO, then colleges, and now both work for NASA. Two generations of Indian Scientists here to benefit the United States and its exploration in science.

I discovered that in the movie Martians, the woman who manned the computer that kept track of all travel in space, that combed planets, was designed after Farheen's actual job! She was interviewed by the movie makers to be able to get as close to the truth as they could in a fictional movie. Hidden Figures, another movie about other women who loved mathematics and computers, who happened to be Black, worked in NASA during the John Glenn era of space travel. These women saved John Glenn's life with math on a black board, and computers that were so large they had whole rooms to be housed in. In spite of racism and legal segregation in the 1950's, these women did service to their country in exemplary ways and I am sure their foundations of work in NASA help Farheen, Adil and their coworkers today.

So I bought the movies, something I rarely do, but I needed to see them again and again to try to come to terms with the big brains in ways I never developed. I am not following this trail to denigrate my own brain. I have my own  contributions made through out my life, in small circles, but contributions none-the-less, that better the lives my hands touched. But I question why my goals were so small. It never occurred to me that math was something I could do. I have said over and over again "I hate math." I even called the technical aspects of photography, the math of photography. I was never interested in delving deeply into the F-stops, and other numbers of photography. Essence of a scene is what I saw, and what I captured. And sometimes I was lucky and did it right. But at some point I began to feel embarrassed. My photography friends were fascinated by even the math of photography and went to great lengths to get it right. And we would be in competition at shows, and if I won the prize and they didn't I would know in my heart it was an accident. Still makes the image beautiful, but with digital the crowd of photographers was growing. I started painting dots, and realized I felt better about this work. It was truly me, not luck. So I gave my good camera away. Sometimes I will take an iPhone photo, like it and make a card from it. That's okay with me. But I no longer think of myself as a photographer.

Lately, I saw a movie, Infinity. It is about another big brain, a man named Ramanujan. He lived around the turn of the 20th Century. Born and raised in a small country village in India, he loved math. He ignored other classes because math is all he wanted to do. When he didn't have paper, he'd go to the temple and write his math equations on the ground. He kept notebooks at one point of all the equations that came to him. His family were Braham's, the highest caste in Indian's caste system, but they were poor. He concentrated on math so much that he couldn't get into college because he failed in other subjects.

He went to work in a place that exposed him to another mathematician, who then helped him write to various English Colleges to see about publishing his notebooks, by now filled with inventive math he was inspired to write, from meditations, or dreams. He was known to say, "An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God." Just from the looks of the movie I'd guess he was Buddhist. He meditated every day. He did sand paintings, not with color, but sand alone, as part of his meditations. His God was female deity in the religion, which also caught my attention.

Ramanujan was accept at Cambridge, Trinity College, by a man named Hardy, a famous mathematician of his day. He was an odd duck. No human connections. He has a co-worker whose name I do not remember, maybe Smalls. I am sad I do not remember because he was very important in the story, another brilliant math man. The time and place Ramanujan entered was a hotbed of British racism, and snobbism. Hardy recognized this genius of a young man, so fought his colleges attempts at getting rid of Ramanujan. But Hardy was not a people person. He was neglectful in making sure Ramanujan got basics. Yes, a roof over his head, but no heat in the winter. No attempt at knowing the person, so he didn't know Ramanujan was vegetarian, which meant in the England of meat and potatoes, there was very little choice for him to eat, thus he basically starved. The war started and soldiers beat him up for being brown and not a soldier, and Hardy didn't even notice Ramanujan had bruised and sores and was a mess. So Ramanujan contracted TB and his illness was not noticed until he passed out. He was diagnosed with terminal TB, so he tried to kill himself, by jumping in front of a train. He was saved, and by now Hardy seemed to wake up. This was a human being he'd recruited who he neglected, and finally had a real conversation. Ramanujan had a wife he left to follow the math. He sacrificed in ways Hardy never realized. Hardy asked him why he does math and the quote above, "An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God." Hardy was an atheist. "If you cannot prove it, it doesn't exist," he said proudly. But now he is faced with this young man who sacrificed, starved, became ill, and was threatened with death, because of his love of math that he credits God (a woman if I understand the story right) with his genius. Interesting.

So why do I care about this story? I woke yesterday morning in tears, sobs over the suffering that Ramanujan faced. Racism was at the heart of it. The establishment tried its best to stop him. And what if they had? It was bad enough that he died so young. He stayed at Cambridge for a total of 5 years. His last year he proved a theory called Partician. I have no idea what that means but its lots and lots of equations. And at the end of this time he went back to India and his wife. On the trip home the TB flared again. He lived one year at home, and then died. His notebooks must have been displaced, or lost, because in recent years they were found. And lo, the equations in them have been the basis of work done with black holes, with cancer research and so much more.

So why am I writing this? All the individuals above who contribute to science, all whom had and have big brains, are brown people. Our country has tried to stop people of color from developing the big brains like Kathryn Johnson, Mathematician,  Dorothy Vaughn, Mathematician, Mary Jackson, Aeronautical Engineer, Ramanujan, Mathematician and yet they are remembered now. My friends Farheen and her brother Adil, work in the same fields, as Engineers, and are brown Indian (India), Americans. The doors were wide open to them. I cried yesterday mourning for Ramanujan and the cruelty he experienced. Racism has been a constant in my life too. How much more advanced we'd be in so many areas had we not put roadblocks up in front of brown people. Look at the ones who ignored the blocks, and pushed on anyway.

I am hoping the author of Infinity is true to his word, that lay people will be able to access the mathematic formulas that Ramanujan wrote. I hope I can learn something about math that doesn't chase me away, as it always has since I was a child. I do not truly understand why I am on this quest. Except, I have been doing art for years now. I have had the experience Ramanujan described in the movie of painting dots, and time and space disappearing, and when I become conscious again, I produced something that astounds me because I find it hard to believe that me, Shirley Keller, could do that. Also, I found a quote from Hardy, "A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns." Maybe the math isn't so foreign to me after all. I cannot wait until the book arrives today or tomorrow. And the adventure will begin.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

October 1st, 2016, 1st Saturday in Three Rivers, 11 AM to 5 PM.
Pick up Maps at Anne Lang's Emporium, 41651 Sierra Drive, Three Rivers to find participants in the days events.

Some of the features of this month are:
THE ART CENTER, 41905 No. Fork Drive.
1)  Deborah Dal Zuffo, artist, in person at the Art Center. She isn't always in Three Rivers so we are lucky to have her this month.
2) The Alta Acres Chapter of the Native Plant Society will be hosting their annual sale for the native plants they work on all year. They are located behind the Art Center, 10-3 PM. If you are CNP member, you may shop 9-10 AM.
3) New to 1st Saturday is Jerry Casey. He makes beautiful drawings.
4)  Jewelry, ceramics, handmade soaps, a strumming guitar player, fabric arts, are also presented at the Art Center.
5) Open studios, Historical Museum, gift shops and restaurants with original art to enjoy, good meals and snacks are all offered through out Three Rivers.

Be sure to pick a map at Anne Lang's Emporium or the Historical Museum.
Enjoy the day.

After the Debate

The debate is over and I've slept on it.

I am amazed how upset I got after reading Trump's threat about Jennifer Flowers. So I ranted on the post I did yesterday before the debate. A little embarrassed about how fearful I became. Well, I guess we carry fears from childhood and they pop up when poked. And mine was poked to be sure, not just from childhood but also adult experiences when young.

Hillary entered stage dressed full on red. Oh my. Tempting the bull was my first thought to go after her in a rage. And she had a genuine smile and kept it almost the whole debate even laughing and poking fun when appropriate. She was truly enjoying the whole event.

Trump was in blue and I think the impression was to be Presidential. And in anyone else it might have worked. But he gets angry so easily that the look meant nothing about 10 minutes into the debate.

What a relief I felt as I realized she really is tough in a way I could never be, and purposely poked, politely and with the biggest smile never leaving her face to show the difference in what leadership really looks like. And he threatened her. He was trying so hard to be nice and she was mean with ads that lie about him. He whined.  I was amazed.

She kept at facts. He tried to deflect. It didn't work. The focus group went from mostly favorable to Trump or at least open to him to 17 for Hillary and 3 for Trump at the end. The one black woman said his answers about race clinched her for Hillary.

Like one of the men in the focus group said, he was surprised at how hawkish she is and I too worry about that. She did vote for Irag war lie and I even knew just by reading papers and magazines it was a lie. But in my heart, I think if she had a way out of war she would take it. She has been a lifetime of work for women and children and in war, women and children especially suffer the most. She knows it. Seen it up close and personal. Terrorists are so needing to be stopped, and I cannot begin to think I know what paths to take. Jobs, schooling, good food, safe environments and democratic elections are what truly would prevent terrorism. But how do we get from here to that standard for the folks in Syria and elsewhere? She's been doing the work for  a long time and I am betting she will find a way. She will face Global Warming and Energy through the facts and encourage the scientists to find solutions and through the bully pulpit influence the jobs sectors to jump in with inventions and technology. And education, she whole heartedly believes in education for all and that it will answer so many problems we have in so many areas.

So I hope President Obama, Michele, Elizabeth, VP Biden and Bernie hit the trail for her now heavily. One debate isn't enough but it is a start. Bruce thinks Trump will not do debate's 2 & 3. He will find a way out of them. Getting people out to vote is the goal. The more the better. This needs to be landslide, not just squeaking by. A referendum on equal rights for all, message sent through out our country and across the globe. If that happens here, why not elsewhere? Does England really have to exit from European Union after it is all said and done? It is clear it will hurt them hugely and they began to see it and the Prime Minister seems to be slowing things down to a crawl to rethink things. Maybe if we have a landslide that will help them too.

Enough. Back to painting dots where I belong. It's a good thing no one reads this blog!!! :)

Monday, September 26, 2016


I have not used this blog to talk politics, nor have I used Facebook for that topic. My vote is private and mine to decide and really isn't anyones business. I have been a lifelong Democrat. Have voted once or twice for a Republican, or rooted for one who I couldn't vote for because I was not in their district or state. But mostly I vote straight ticket.

I live in a Republican county. Lot's of close friends who are Republican. We talk and share views, but we are respectful and careful. Friendships are valuable and worth more than party affiliations. I lived in the Bay Area, liberal heaven, is how I felt. I was raised in Los Angeles, a mixed bag. My family were very Progressive. So much so the FBI followed my folks for years and years. Even though the managers of their cases wrote in their yearly reports, these folks are not threatening the US. They are showing up at marches. They do stand for Civil Rights, but we see no sign of plotting against the country. J. Edgar Hoover signed off one more year to keep following them. 42 years he signed off on them. Talk about a waste of tax payers money.

I have a lot of fear when it comes to stirring things up. Friends fathers went to jail. My folks followed, our phones tapped, they showed up at my school even and harrassed my teacher. So I know where the fear comes from. And when I see how people treat one another on the internet it feeds into that fear, so mostly I stick to posting artwork I have made. And leave it at that.

This week, though, I posted a video of Meryl Strepp speaking about Hillary Clinton at the Woman's Conference, 2012, I believe. I think it was in NY. She tells of the women around the world whose lives were changed, even saved at times, because Hillary was present. I know she was present in the Civil Rights struggle. She showed up with Caesar Chavez when he needed backing at some point. She tried to get us real health care, not the kind that insurance companies dole out and we pay through the teeth for. It didn't work, but she sure tried. She attended a woman's conference in China, the first one in spite of all the men in power in the US, including Bill, telling her she cannot go. She is the First Lady. Unbecoming. Then they tried to tell her what she could and could not say. "Women's rights are human rights," Hillary Clinton.

Back to the video. My nephew writes a comment to me. He is part India/Pakistani from his father's side, and white Russian Jewish from his mothers side, my sister. He is a practising Muslim like his father and mother (may she rest in peace) who raised him and his siblings in that religion. All the women in that family cover their heads. The men have beards. They are all devote and raise their children the same, and they attend Muslim private schools.

So my nephew writes to convince me that I should vote for Jill Stein because she is Progressive. I know I should. That is how I was raised. My parents backed Charlotta Bass way back, when she ran as a Vice President on the Progressive ticket. She was a black woman, educator, and friend of our family. But, I cannot vote for Jill.  Jill may be the best person in the world. She might even be more qualified than Hillary, although that is doubtful. No one is more qualified than Hillary whether you like her or not. Jill is a thrown away vote. She won't even be on the ballot in many states.

Trump. Oh I wish I didn't have to write about him. I had to tell my nephew I cannot take a chance on this man becoming President. My Muslim Nephew will vote for Jill. One more vote for Trump in essence. He said, Shirley Auntie, lesser of two evils? That's why we are in the mess we are in? Well, nephew, I wish I could be idealistic but the stakes feel to high. I cannot allow a man in the White House who wants to threaten the lives of my Muslim family, saying they should not be allowed into the country, when my brother in law has siblings who come to visit, cousins who are coming back and forth to college, when my niece lives in London and might want to bring her family to visit us. I cannot stand watching Trump pander to African Americans while in fact really talking to undecided white people to prove he isn't racist, while he banned black people from his rentals. Part of my family is African American. My first husband and my children and my grandchildren all have African blood in their beautiful bodies. No. This man cannot be President. Or what about my hispanic family? My step daughter has birth family from El Salvador. Some legal, but maybe some not, I do not know. But the way he is talking rounding people up and deporting, I can see the grandmother in that family, who speaks little English be swept away without us knowing? The atmosphere Trump has trumped up is bringing the white racists out of the woodwork. They actually think they are main stream now!!! How did that happen?

So I told my nephew yes, I am voting for Hillary who has supported some things I don't like, the Iraq war lie, for one. Mistake. I knew it was a lie how could she not? But are we going to compound all the mistakes of the past and put a man like Trump in the White House? A vote for Jill is no vote. How is that going to help anybody?

I didn't say this part. I truly feel at the bottom of my heart that all the negatives against Hillary are really because she is a strong woman who would not break, even when her husband acted the ass, like many men do, but these two are front in center for all to see, berate, belittle. Trump felt he is free to threaten to put Jennifer Flowers in the front row of the debate tonight. I cannot even begin to express how horrible I feel about him doing that. Being a woman, one who was cheated upon in a marriage, I can easily put myself in Hillary's shoes, but at least my humiliation was only in front of family and friends, not the whole world. And for Trump to think it funny, or to try to threaten her with it, or just did it thoughtlessly until one of the women in his life told him to shut the fuck up, puts him in a catagory of folks who do not even belong at a dinner in the white house, let alone President of the United States.

The debates are in 45 minutes. My stomach is so upset. I feel so bad that this man has gotten this far and so many people are so behind him, even as he steals the money they give to his Foundation for Charity, and uses for his personal stuff, I just don't get it. I have never liked the idea of reality TV. All it seems to do is bring the worst out in people. That is not me. I like to find the good and I know it is there. George Bush for instance, didn't like his Iraq lie to start with, and the list is long, ending with his pick of Chaney as VP. But he honored Dorothy Haight, an African American woman who did a lifetime of good for lots of people and he gave her a medal. He signed the bill that made way for the building of the African American Museum on Washington Mall that opens this week. Good is in most if you look.

I am having trouble with Trump. I see the hurt he has put on so many: the folks who did work for him and he never paid them, the foundation money donated for charity and he used it to pay off law suits against him. He bribed a Prosecutor who was looking into his so called University. And all the people who gave him money in good faith for some kind of education in his University, and it turned out to be a fraud. And all the white racists organizations that are rooting for him, and he has encouraged their support. Surreal. I watched Cruz, bow his head and say he will vote for Trump. How could he? Trump lied about his father and insulted his wife. Did Trump give him money? What in the world is worth selling out your father and wife for? McCain another one. When Donald insulted McCain's service that was it for me. I am not a Republican. I think McCain's policy are harmful to women, to poor people to the middle class. And his choice of VP was laughable. But the man served his country. That should be good enough. Then he was a POW, and when given a choice to leave because his father has connections, he stayed in prison camp with his comrades and was tortured for years. Trump had the nerve to diss this man. How could he have gone on to win the nomination after that? What is wrong with this country?

The debates. I fear for Hillary. How can they even debate issues? The man doesn't care about issues. He wants attention, period. So he will turn this into a circus and then the media will blame Hillary or Mr. Holt the moderator, and Trump will announce he is the winner. He started already: Holt is from the biased media. WE all know he is a Democrat. Wrong. Lester Holt is registered to the Republican party.

I do not know if I can watch. 100 million people are scheduled to watch. My hubby just came to get me. Thank God for Solitaire on my iPhone!!!! I am sending good thoughts Hillary's way. Instead of celebrating the 1st woman, wow!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Creative Play: Creative Play: SpiritHillArtStudio now on Etsy


Creative Play: SpiritHillArtStudio now on Etsy

Creative Play: SpiritHillArtStudio now on Etsy


Photo: Shirley Keller at the home of Nora Valencia, teacher of cooking class, 12/2014.

Many of the items in my new Esty Store named SpiritHillArtStudio, were inspired by Oaxacan artists. Long ago I saw wood carved critters painted in dots and I never forgot them. So when I began to paint old rusty items like horse shoes, or saw blades, or shovels, I had those animals in mind. Then a daughter of the heart sent me a piece of linen with Aborigini art, and I realized that in many ways what I was doing is old as the hills of Australia. Someone reminded me that Pointilism was also used as an art form. The painting "Breakfast in the Park" is an example. All of these folks came before me and I now actively search the wonders of the Internet to learn more about them and look at their work by the hours.

I do not compare what I do to any of the above. Most of my work is done upcycling objects that might be thrown on a junk pile, and repurposing them into art. Also, I came to art late in life, so I do not have certain skills that I have learned from childhood. I am now learning how to draw as I go along. Much of my work is inspired by children who hail from Omo Valley in Niger. They paint their faces and bodies with clay stained with colors of flowers, such talents at very young ages.

My art is like my family. Over a 50 year period, we pulled in people into our family circle that hailed from around the globe. Colors, religions, cultures, marriages, birth, adoptions, and just because the heart insisted, have integrated themselves into our clan. "There is always room for one more," insisted our elders, and so we have made it so. Thus, it makes sense to me that even in my ignorance of the influences, the art process I have been on managed to install itself from around the world. Now that I realize it, it makes me smile.

In December, 2016, I return to Oaxaca, to hopefully learn from Silvia Fuentes, painter and carver. I look forward to the experience. Everyone I met in Oaxaca did art in some form or another, what ever their day job was. It was inspiring to be in such an environment. I so look forward to more.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

SpiritHillArtStudio now on Etsy

Just opened a store on Etsy. I call it Spirit Hill Art Studio. You can find it at the following link: www.etsy.com/shop/SpiritHillArtStudio

Delia helped me begin the process of uploading items to sell. That was a five hour process just to upload 7 items. I spent another 4 hours the next day uploading the next 5 items. Today I made a banner, and added a photo of my studio. I fixed the policies of my studio, and set up links to this blog and facebook. It's a lot of work, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Lessons I have learned: Taking photographs of your art teaches you about quality of workmanship. Being persistent is the only way to get through the details. The first time rarely works. The third try is the charm! If it can go wrong it does, but not quiting is how you get around that. I love Delia's brain. Wish I had it. Must pack up stuff on Etsy and not try to sell elsewhere. As soon as I do someone will buy the item packed at the bottom of the box. The good thing about that is you sold it! HA!

The Banner I made for the Etsy Store

Picture of Spirit Hill Art Studio

Now on to painting another glorious hubcap!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thoughts years in the making....

An experience stands out and will always be for me why I was at the Arenas Gallery. Delores Witt, octogenarian artist, a person I greatly admire, admired my photo of the Great Blue Heron. She didn't just compliment me. She returned to the 16x20 image four different times. Three times we engaged in conversation that added up to the following:
1) "You have an eye."
2) "This looks like a painting."
3) "You should concentrate on photography and take it seriously."
4) "Many of us might have been in the same spot and not see what you saw and missed the light."
The fourth contact I found her close up, looking at the photo, her fingers following the lines that light made around the bird and in the reflection of the water. She studied it hard, and did not know I was there.

Why does it matter what Delores Witt thinks? She is an artist. An elder in our community who I have noticed when her painting is in a show. It almost always has a red dot on it (sold), or wins the prize if there is one. Her work stands out, the brightest of colors, not always the conventional ones picked, skillfully painted, and framed. I find myself crossing the room to her art the minute I walk into a gallery. I listen when elders will take the time to teach. She took the time, not once, but four times to engage in my art. That means something. It took away the grief I'd felt all night for loosing my sister. Delores brought me into the present moment. I needed that. I appreciate it. Maybe art had little to do with it. I don't really know. But she made the show for me, and I thank her for it.

Not long ago Delores came to my studio. She looked around at the dot art on found objects, and said, "Try this on canvas. See what happens." I took her advice and am beginning to find dot painting, on whatever the canvas is: repurposed thrown away objects; or on clay mono prints; or canvas; it is at the core of my being. Fun. :)

Tulare Impressions 2016 - Tulare Historical Museum & Gallery

The Artist's Reception will be held on Thursday January 14th, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
at Tulare Historical Museum, 444 West Tulare Avenue, Tulare CA 93274.
Email me at sblairkeller@sbcglobal.net for information if you wish.

This piece has gone through quite a process. Since I spent time with Efrain Fuentes in his studio in Oaxaca, Mexico last December, I see all my artwork in a new way. Dots fill my imagination. 

"Swallows" began as a clay mono print. I framed in a plain wooden frame. Then painted the frame and did a small amount of dot work on it. It has been hanging in my studio for months now, always plaguing me because it just wasn't finished. But how, I did not know. 

An invite to the "Tulare Impressions Show" appeared. Swallows are big in Three Rivers. They build mud nests along our bridges. They used to fill the catfish ponds until dried out from end of Spring to end of Summer, either using Three Rivers as a resting place on northern migrations or staying until the southern migrations were necessary, having generations of babes here. The most vibrant of the swallows are the Violet-Green Swallows. An ah-ha moment brought inspiration and for a week I added acrylic dots to this piece, both on the clay mono print and the frame. Now it has the depth and richness it was missing and today I deliver it to Chris Harrell, Curator, to enter it in the show. 

I must mention this as another piece in memory of Mr. Richard Burns, Park Ranger, and birding/nature mentor, to any of us who met him on our walks along Kaweah River Drive. He is remembered every time I identify a bird. I only have the skill because of his patience and inspiring lectures on birds and all that encompass our National Parks, here and around the country, on hours of walks, sharing his vast experience in his humble, but enthusiastic way, along the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River. He is missed.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

That Extra Dimension 2015

Meet "MY PICASSO"! He is a ceramic mask made of black mountain clay. He is glazed with beads for eyes and he hangs on the wall. He will be entered in That Extra Dimension 2015 show at Arts Visalia throughout the months of July. The reception will be held July3rd, 6:00 to 8:00 P.M.

Marn Reich came up with the idea of a 3 dimension show. She approached Arts Visalia, and Kevin Bowman their curator okay'd the idea. Marn did the work to invite artists to participate, did the advertising, and Kevin hung the show. Normally we did show over the past several years in September but change is good. This year July.

When this show comes up I think of Nancy Jonnum with her quirky birds and animals, always a hit in this show. She is missed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


It is hard to remember exactly when I discovered I loved dot painting. Access to old things and trying to figure out what to do with them pushed me to realize I could make them into art instead of passing them off to someone else to dispose of. Rusty tools, horseshoes, hubcaps, old wooden boxes, wall plates for switches and plugs, have provided me with hours of pleasure decorating them with dots. To my amazement people love them, and I am having  a hard time keeping up. What a great problem to have, too many people want the dot repurposed art than I can make. Fun!!!

Below are some pieces that hang on the walls outside my home, waiting for new owners. Hope you enjoy them.

Garden Tool $20.00

Horseshoes welded triple $25.00

1932 Chevy Hubcap $50.00
Switch plates $20 a piece
Any colors you desire: electric sockets, phone wire plates, dimmer switch plates, and more. Will do commissions.

Peacock of metal and rocks: $65

This turtle represents my Oaxaca experience. Efrain Fuentes let me paint in his workshop in the village of San Martin Telecate, an hour ride from Oaxaca. I sat with his cousin, Raquel and we painted all afternoon. Efrain worked on wood carvings and on painting multiple finished carvings, switching off pieces to let them dry, and stopping occasionally to see what I was doing and to make suggestions here and there. Wonderful experience. 

Monday, April 27, 2015


There is so much happening in Three Rivers May 2nd and 3rd. 

1st Saturday in Three Rivers will host open studios, artists with popup tents along 198, The Redbud Festival and the Redbud Garden Club. Pick up maps at Anne Lang's Emporium and the Historical Museum to find your way throughout Three Rivers.

At The Redbud Festival find arts and craft booths inside and outside, quilt show, music, food, children's art show, children art activities, and a Drawing. All of it at the Memorial Building. The Drawing prize packages will be on display. For only $2 a ticket  you will be supporting the Jonnum-Young Scholarship Fund to aid aspiring artists going to college.

The Redbud Garden Club hosts their annual native plant sale to support the wonderful work they do to provide public gardens for our community and maintain them through out the year. For examples look at the Fire Station and Post Office near the Village Market.

1st Saturday presents two open studios on Saturday: Jackie Gerstel's just past the Memorial Building with her crochet jewelry. Jackie specializes in color and style. The Gerstel's love to share their river view from the deck

The second studio is my studio: Spirit Hill Meditation Garden and Art Studio. Dot art and ceramic masks are some of what I will share. Jeri Burzin will bring her photography and multi-media artwork and will be set up on our deck. I really look forward to spending the day with Jeri, talking art and hosting all who come to our place. Children very much welcome. I offer them a choice of kiln goddess as a free gift.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

There is so much going on this coming 1st Saturday, December 7, 2013, 11-5 p.m.
Pick up guide maps at Anne Lang's Emporium, or the Historical Museum and find your way around Three Rivers.
45 artists will be available to share their creative process.

At my studio I will ask children to pick out their very own kiln goddess (free). I tell them about the process of firing ceramics and the role kiln goddesses play.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Getting ready for 1st Saturday in Three Rivers. November 2nd from 11:00 to 5:00 Spirit Hill Meditation Garden and Studio will be open to visitors. We are hosting artist Lisa Finley who will show her mosaics, acrylic paintings, and more. We look forward to a wonderful autumn day and hope many from the Valley will come to Three Rivers to see autumn leaves that brighten our hillsides. And enjoy how the leaves find their way into our artwork.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Creative Play: Bird Watching Series - Ceramic Masks


Bird Watching Series - Ceramic Masks

This series of masks are inspired by the years of bird watching I have been doing since moving here to Spirit Hill. I still love the mask form, but the birds seem to be taking center stage, in place of noses, branches of a tree taking the place of the mouth, and so on. What struck me this week as I finished another mask, looking over the ones waiting for firing, that what is really happening here is that I am capturing the birds, but also the watchers. 

Cornell University provides a way for people like me to be "citizen scientists," counting birds at our feeders, or wherever, to help them keep track of migrations, and problems in the environment, for birds, and therefore, humans. Every November through April I count the birds at my feeders and record in the data base Cornell provides. It seems this year for the first time in many, I found it hard to make time to do the counts. Art has taken over my life. An open studio every month, coordinating 1st Saturday in Three Rivers, prepping for artshows, and more, interfered more than I'd really like. 

But then I looked at the art: birds, birds and more birds. I doubt Cornell would think these masks a substitute, but these birds have all come to and/or flew over my yard, and I only know them because of Cornell's Project Feeder Watch so I have to give them full credit for the inspiration. It all ties together when I sit on Monday night and make the next mask. I do promise Cornell, I will do better when Project Feeder Watch returns next November.

 Acorn Woodpecker
 Canadian Goose
 Cooper's Hawk
 Borrowing Owl
 California Quail (artistic license with colors!)
 California Quail
 Raven Again...
And Raven Again.

Western Bluebird, Great Blue Heron, Great Horned Owl, and Oak Titmouse are waiting in the wings to be fired. Let's hope the Kiln Goddess: A dotted dragon with teeth, protect them and they come out whole and as colorful as I hope. For now, as Marn Reich says, "They are dust held together with the artists imagination." :)

You can email at sblairkeller@sbcglobal.net or call me at 559-561-3463 if you feel one of these masks must be yours. 

1st Saturday in Three Rivers July 6, 2013

Summer is here and it is hot more days than not. Soon July's 1st Saturday in Three Rivers will be upon us. I look forward to hosting people here on Spirit Hill. Below is the poster spread about town, and around Visalia and beyond thanks to our friends at the Art Consortium who willingly take posters from us each month to be displayed where ever they can find a space.
The deadline is June 15th to inform me of your intent to join us. I find spaces for artists from other towns to display their art. Last month a plein air painting, Joy Collier was set up at the Pumpkin Hollow Bridge. Two artists had tents in front of the Kaweah Commonwealth: Jami Beck, jewelry, and Darren Thomas, wooden portraits. There were two younger artists in front of Colors: Steven Higgenbathem, age 13, photographer of the wilds of Wyoming and the critters that live there. Another child of 9 was selling beaded bookmarks to raise money for her horse event. Jamie Otega transformed her tent into a magical spot. Not to be missed. A writer, Sophie Britten, was signing autographs for her latest book at Anne Lang's. And so much more all over Three Rivers to entertain our guests.

So what is in store for July 6th? Check out our blog at www.1stsaturdayTR.com, after the 15th to see who is joining us this month. I never really know. Lately, last minute calls to join us appear. So check us out and be surprised as I am each month.