Friday, May 31, 2013

The Incredible Flexible You: Preschool Social Curriculum

It's Monday in preschool. If you scan around the room you might hear and see some things like this:

A group of kids are building a train track around the carpet. 3 kids are adding to the track, but little Jack is facing the wall stacking his track pieces in a pile to see how high he can get it. Jack's friends are not happy because they can't finish their track without all the pieces.
Ellie interrupts constantly at circle time and answers every question the teacher poses. 
 A group of 3 five year olds are playing in dramatic play. Each student is playing Mom, Dad and Baby. 'Mom' is cleaning the kitchen and 'Dad' is mowing the lawn. The little girl playing 'Baby' says, 'Hey Dad, I raked the leaves.' The other two kids turn and say "Hey! You're Baby you can't rake!"

Social skills can often be difficult to build in preschool students. Most special education classrooms are filled with SLPs, OTs, PTs, Intervention Specialists and paraprofessionals working on social skills in individual sessions, small group work and whole group. Social skills permeate all areas of the curriculum and having a consistant curriculum and vocabulary across the preschool day gives each specialists the ability to provided consistant instruction. The key is having a program that consistently builds on the concepts and vocabulary.

At the end of the spring I was contacted by the Social Thinking company. If you've purchased any of my social activities, you can tell I'm a fan of Michelle Garcia Winner's work. I regularly use their curriculum with my elementary aged students and was really excited to test out their new preschool curriculum, The Incredible Flexible You.

The program uses same terminology and philosophy as the programs for older students, but in language and scenarios more appropriate for their age. 

Back in the Fall at a local schools conference I attended a session, by Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC-SLP, about a this new curriculum, that wasn't even on the market yet. The Incredible Flexible You is a two part series that includes lesson plans, activities and music for preschool and early elementary aged students.

The basis of the program are 10 story books. They each feature four characters (Jessie, Ellie, Evan, and Molly) who experience social interactions in various settings. The problems and environments will be familiar to your students, making it easy to draw connections.

Volume 1 features 5 story books and curriculum for the following social skills: Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings, The Group Plan, Thinking with Your Eyes, Body in the Group and Whole Body Listening.

The program doesn't stop at just a book for teaching social skills. Each lesson is laid out with instruction to teach social thinking. Unlike teaching a specific social skill, social thinking is not expecting learning for mastery. Social learning is something we do all over our lifespan. When we teach the different concepts and how they go together we are teaching our students how the nuerotypical brain learns social information intuitively.

To use the program, start with introducing the vocabulary using The Incredible Flexible You Storybook for that lesson. For example, let's use the lesson: The Group Plan. Read the curriculum information including the definition and the reason for teaching the concept.

Prepare the activities (an apple game, obstacle course, egg game, and cooking items). Start by reading the story to your group. Stop at each point in the book where you see a 'teaching moment' indicated by the icon. Use the lesson plan to help you identify all the teachable moments. During circle time I also used the accompanying music. It made a nice interactive moment for all the students, even the ones who were a bit young for the lesson.

After you read the book you can use some of the structured activities you prepared in advance to reinforce the concepts. I didn't have time to cut out these apples for the lesson, so I just used the ones from my Attribute Apples Box.

Next use the ideas listed to facilitate dramatic play that incorporates the skills discussed in the lesson. The lesson plan guide even lists easy ways to incorporate the vocabulary into the classroom. For example, " Jenna is following the plan and sitting in the circle."

Send home the family letter to encourage carryover and consistency of the program.

Pros: The philosophy of teaching social thinkings, instead of isolated social skills is fantastic. I have needed a social curriculum that matches my elementary programs for consistency. I appreciate that the book give specific details for teaching moments, extension activities and carryover. This is an excellent way to help those who are not SLPs use to the program with ease and therefore 'buy-in' to the program. I love that I've been able to use it with my K and first graders too!

Cons: I work in an integrated program, meaning I have children of many different levels. The program is designed for more high functioning students with 'average to way above average language and learning ability'. While it's a wonderful program for some of my students its not one size fits all. I'd love to see another program developed to accompany TIFY that addressed those more foundational skills in a systematic way.

I guess the true test of any product I review is, "would you recommend it to your SLP friends?" Last week at our preschool meeting I brought in my copies for everyone to look at and The Incredible Flexible You program got added to our product orders for next year! I'd say that explains how I feel about it! This is one product you don't want to miss!

The Incredible Flexible You is available on the Social Thinking website. Version 1 retails for $99.50 including the music.

The fine print: This product was provided by Social Thinking for Review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions expressed are solely mine. 

Call to Artists: Art Bank 2013

Call to Artists: Art Bank 2013 

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities is seeking to purchase two and three-dimensional works of art including prints, drawings, mixed media compositions, paintings, photographs, ceramics, and moveable sculptures. To expand the District's collection further into new media forms of contemporary art, we strongly encourage video artists and other technological innovators to submit as well. Submission of works in series is strongly encouraged. Representational, conceptual, and abstract works will be equally considered.

Each artist is allowed to submit up to 10 images for consideration and all artwork submitted must be available for purchase and review upon submission (see calendar for dates). Artwork must be created with archival materials and be no larger in size than 96" in any direction. In addition to images of prospective artwork, a completed application must include:
  • An Artist Statement
  • A current CV or Resume
  • An Image List, declaring the retail price of each piece of artwork listed
To Apply:

To submit prospective work for review during the Art Bank 2013 acquisition cycle, please visit and open an account. Your account will be assigned a login password, to enable you to access Art Bank 2013 and any other open opportunities in Public Art.

Artist Eligibility:
This call is open to all artists who reside or maintain studio space in the Washington Metropolitan Area. However, preference will be given to District of Columbia residents.

For more information, contact Zoma Wallace, Art Bank Coordinator at or (202) 724-5613.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Opportunity for video artists

JUROR: Jason Eppink, Associate Curator of Digital Media, Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York
SCREENING DATES: Thursday, September 12, 2013, additional screening dates TBA
SCREENING LOCATION: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St, NW, Washington, DC 20009
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Friday, May 31, 2013, 5pm


Washington Project for the Arts announces an open call for video-based artworks to be screened at The Phillips Collection on September 12, 2013 with additional screenings dates and locations TBA. The screening series is part of Experimental Media 2013, a broader WPA program that includes the exhibition Cyber In Securities at Pepco Edison Place Gallery and a series of discussions bringing together artists, technologists, and policy experts to discuss privacy, security, and surveillance.

WPA is particularly interested in works that explore and examine privacy and surveillance in contemporary society, from satellite surveillance down to patents on human genes, from government watch lists to exhibitionism in the age of social networking, from anonymity in Internet culture to the growth in corporate micro-targeting. As moving images play an integral role in our contemporary surveillance regimes – whether government-run, corporate, or self-inflicted – video provides an ideal medium to delve into the changing nature of privacy and surveillance in our digital age.

One artist whose work is chosen for the screening will be selected to win the Kraft Prize for New Media, a $500 cash prize.

Submission Guidelines
The call is open to all artists regardless of geographic location. Artists may submit up to three works of single-channel video, with a maximum duration of 5 minutes per video, along with a CV. The selected videos will be screened sequentially in an auditorium to a seated audience. It is recommended that artists consider the viewing context when selecting work to submit.

Videos can be submitted as links to work on file sharing websites (Vimeo, YouTube, etc) or on a personal website. Videos may be password protected and a password supplied in the submission form.  The full length of each work submitted should be less than five minutes. Selected artists will be required to submit a file of the video to WPA so it may be included in the screening.

The final submission deadline is Friday, May 31, 2013 at 5pm. Work may be submitted through WPA’s website. 

Artists with questions regarding the call or who prefer to submit their work via mail should contact Blair Murphy, WPA Program Director, at 202-234-7103 x 1 or For more information, download the full call.

About the Juror
Jason Eppink curates events and exhibitions, creates interactive experiences, and throws raging art parties as the Associate Curator of Digital Media at Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. When he’s not doing that, Eppink teaches digital art at New York University and makes mischief in public space and online. GOOD Magazine proclaimed him one of the top 100 most important, exciting, and innovative people making our world better and changing the way we live.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kangaroo Island Photo Classifying {app review}

SLPs know that just one area of language can have many different levels of skill and difficulty. When you buy an app that targets just one area of language, you need that app to target multiple skills and levels of difficulty. Kangaroo Island Photo Classifying is the new Super Duper app released this month.  The app is really targeting one skill in many different ways. I found it can be adapted for very low level preschool students up to second and third graders by varying the 6 games included and the level of difficulty of the different categories included. 

Let's do a quick look through each of the app's different games. In Class-A-Roo, the kangaroo asks you to find something for him! After hearing the category, find the matching item.

The Picking Parrot game is a category sorting activity. After the student sorts all the items they feed the parrot a snack! 

Sink Ball is just like arcade Ski Ball! Make sure you shoot the ball down the right lane to score your points! Then grab your earned ticket and trade it for a prize.

Turtle River is an game with swimming turtles. As the turtles swim the kids have to sort them onto the correct island. The speed of the turtles adds a little frantic energy to this one! 

Koala Canvas is a 'paint by numbers' coloring book re-done. Instead the kids needs to 'paint by categories'. The concepts was too high level for some of my littles (first grader) but perfectly challenging for a second grader. 

To 'paint' touch the color on the right (ie: food) and then touch any pictures that match that category (ie: apple). When you touch that picture the coloring page is colored in the corresponding color. 

Seal Search is a puzzle app to practice identifying outliers of category groups The students look at 4 pictures and decide which does not belong to the group. As they finish puzzle pieces they disappear to reveal a picture. 

The complexity of the entire app is controlled in the settings where an SLP can determine the number of categories and the members of those groups. A total of 336 pictures are included. I think some of the letter/number sorting opportunities are especially good and not found on other apps. 15 categories are included and up to 5 at a time can be used. If students aren't ready for 5 just use a smaller number! 

The data collection throughout the app is excellent and on-par with similar SLP apps. There is no limit on the number of students you can collect data for. 

Kangaroo Island is on sale for $9.99 in iTunes. It goes up to full price $12.99 June 1. The app was provided to SRN for review. No other compensation was provided and all the opinions are just mine! 

Cons: The app sorts by many different categories, but I'd love to see it sort by salient features as an option. For example, things that fly, red items, items that are cold. These are more difficult for some students because they aren't categories like 'food' or 'transportation' that are readily taught. 

Pros: The app is really flexible for each student. I love that I can decide exactly which categories are targeted giving me the chance to add in new categories one at a time. The app uses up to date data collection tracking for each child. I really like that the difficultly levels of the 6 different games build on each other and have the students practice classifying in different forms. Generalizing the skill like that is often so difficult for children with language impairments! 

Overall I loved the app and would recommend it to friends! That's the real test after all! 

Call for edgy, weird, unsettling and scary art

Deadline: August 1, 2013

BFSD (BIG FAT SCARY DEAL) Purdue University Galleries is curating exhibit of contemporary art that is edgy, weird, unsettling and scary, open to US artists. Oct 21 - Dec 8, 2013. Any media, limit 8 feet tall or 10 feet wide. Selections from jpeg or video files - no PowerPoints.

Artists responsible for shipping. No entry fee.


Craig Martin, Director 765-494-3061

Sunday, May 26, 2013

When art panels bite

And so they held an art panel in NYC to discuss "Gended Politics in the Arts"... this is what happened.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline to apply: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
are back in August 2013

Exhibition dates: August 2 - 29, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, August 2, 6 - 8:30pm
Prospectus: (PDF download)
Artist Contract/Agreement: (PDF download)
Application form: (Excel download) OR (Word Document)
Labels sample: (Excel download)

Please contact them at if you have any questions.

DMV Artist at the Venice Biennale

Congrats to DMV area artist Christopher Baer, whose recent work from the White on White series will be on display throughout the 2013 Venice Biennale at Ai Reali, located a few steps from the Rialto Bridge.

Opening Reception | Weds May 29th, 6 - 9pm | Venice, Italy

Hosted by Ai Reali, Castello, Campo della Fava 5527

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: June 1, 2013 
This month-long juried show at historic Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. 
is open to painting, drawing and mixed media by artists in the greater Washington 
area (D.C., N. Virginia, S. Maryland). Reception. Application fee. 
Details here.

Pheo Para Alliance Fundraiser

The Pheo Para Alliance and
The Katzen Arts Center at The American University
cordially invite you to
An Evening of Art, Discussion, Good Food, and
Live and Silent Auctions
Saturday, June 22 at 5:30pm
The American University Museum

Sponsorship Levels:
The Andy Warhol Table For 10: $10,000
The Georgia O’Keefe Table For 8: $6,000
The Larry Rivers Table For 6: $4,500
The Sam Gilliam Table For 4: $3,000

$175/person for patients and artists


5:30-6:30 - Cocktails and Art Exhibit of Prominent Washington Artists (and also by yours truly, easily the prominest of all prominent DC area artists... cough, cough... I will be donating this work) . Silent Auction Opens.

6:45-7:15 - Panel Discussion “The Healing Arts”
Dr. Frederick Ognibene, Deputy Director Of Clinical Research Training, National Institutes of Health, Moderator

Susan B. Magee – Author, INTO THE LIGHT The Healing Art of Kalmon Aron
Shanti Norris – Executive Director of Smith Center for Healing And The Arts
Jerzy Sapieyevski – Award Winning Composer, Pianist, and Educator
Tim Tate – Mixed Media Sculptor, Co-Founder of  The Washington Glass School

Humanitarian Award Presentation to Dr. Antonio Tito Fojo (a fellow Cuban-American by the way).

7:30-9:30 – Dinner, Entertainment, Live Auction

9:30 – Grand Finale

Checks payable to
Pheo Para Alliance can be sent to:
6111 Western Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20015
To register online, please visit

D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities' FY 2014 grant guidelines

FY 2014 grants are now live!

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities' FY 2014 grant guidelines and applications are now live! Browse grant opportunities for individual artists and arts organizations, set up an account on our new online grant application portal and begin the process of applying for funding.
Click on the grant program(s) that you are interested in to review the new guidelines.

Need more information on the changes to our grant programs? Well, don't miss our grant writing workshops. For a schedule of our upcoming workshops, click here.

For those that were able to attend our FY 2014 Grants Kickoff at the Historic Lincoln Theatre, we would like your feedback. 

CLICK HERE to take our short survey.
If you were unable to attend the FY 2014 Grants Kickoff, don't worry; 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Call for Manuscripts and Portfolio Proposals

From the VASA Journal on Images and Culture:

The advent of the Internet and digitization of the image has brought about what appears to be a debatable democratization of the medium of photography. The 'WWW' has expanded what images we experience and the way we experience them. It changed the avenues for the embodiment, dissemination and consumption of images, opening new channels for expression, participation and exchange.

The form and function of more traditional photography gatekeepers such as curators, book editors and publishers, museums and galleries, has been challenged by websites/galleries, blogs, and online publications as open platforms. As a result a serious viewer is now required to look harder and broader through the maze of images online.

1. The editors of VJIC are accepting proposals manuscript, for Issue #4 (September 2013) that address, but is not limited to, the following topics:

- The challenge to traditional institutions – what role for galleries and museums;
- The democratization of the medium of photography: implications for practice and access;
- The movement of marginalized or ghettoized voices towards visibility;
- Curators of / in the Internet era;
- Bloggers – voice or chaos;
- Erik Kessels – case study;
- Online communities – case studies: e.g. Flickr, Instagram, FlakPhoto;
- Snapshot as Art;
- Image search engines as gatekeepers; (ie: Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz 'Image Atlas')

For proposal information refer to VJIC submissions or email issue editors, please include ' Your name + Issue #4 theme issue proposal manuscript' [see bellow].

2. The editors of VJIC are accepting Portfolio proposals for Issue #4 (to be published September 2013) that are:

- inspired by the Internet (e.g. found photography, gifs, video, online archives, Internet cameras, Google and other search engines, social media, etc.)
- created to be exhibited exclusively on the Internet

The proposal has to include:

- a 100 word description of the project
- a link to where it is accessible online (a blog, website, social media, tumblr, flickr etc.). Do not send attachments (no pdfs or jpegs).
- address on the email 'Subject' line 'Issue #4 PORTFOLIO PROPOSAL' followed by your name

Send the proposal to the issue editors:

Katarzyna Majak: majak.katarzyna [at]
Rui G. Cepeda: cepeda.rui [at]

Thursday, May 23, 2013

GWU's Resident Artist/Scholar Program

The George Washington University Resident Artist/Scholar Program
September 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014, Washington, DC
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at The George Washington University (GW) offers three Arts Fellowships available to support mid-career artists and/or scholars who live in the Washington, DC region.  The residencies will take place from September 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.  GW recognizes that the Washington, DC metropolitan area is home to many accomplished artists and scholars; therefore, through the GW Resident Artist/Scholar Program GW will celebrate and support the three top proposals.  Fields may include, but are not limited to the following: visual arts, performance art, musical composition or performance, filmmaking, creative writing, theatre, dance, and scholars in the arts.

There will be no predetermined concept or theme in which applicants must adhere, nor will it be necessary that individual applicant’s creative and research projects intersect with other proposals in order to be accepted; instead, each proposal will be judged on its own merit.  The primary goal is to foster an interdisciplinary approach to creative research and scholarship over an intensive ten-month perioda physical and intellectual space for the development of meaningful artistic and scholarly linkages across the arts and other disciplines, both on and off campus.  The GW Resident Artists and Scholars will not be required to teach any courses; instead, they will be expected to produce new work and/or scholarship, present at least one public lecture, regularly interact with graduate and undergraduate students, and fully participate in activities with full-time GW faculty in the Incubator Studio Fellowship Program. 

The GW Resident Artists and Scholars will be provided with a generous stipend of $10,000.00 ($1,000.00 per month from September 2013 to June 2014), a modest studio/office, as well as a creative project/research fund (up to $5,000.00) to cover expenses directly related to the realization of the work done while in residence.  As an incentive to involve GW students in the research projects by the artists and scholars in residence, GW will provide one studio/research assistant per artist or scholar during the fall and spring semesters to be hired through the federal work/study program.  The GW Resident Artists and Scholars are expected to be in residence at GW for a minimum of 10 hours a week during the term of the fellowship.

The selection criteria will take into account the strength of the proposal, past achievements as demonstrated through work samples and CV/Resume, and the potential impact the creative project/research would have on the GW community.  The selection committee will only review materials that correspond to the guidelines below that are submitted through the online process.  Deadline for receipt of application materials for the Resident Artist/Scholar Fellowships is June 28, 2013.    

To apply please go to the following link:

Hagia Marilynas

Hagia Marilynas by F. Lennox Campello - Charcoal and Conte with Embedded Appropriated Video, circa 2011 - 34x30
"Hagia Marilynas"
"Hagia Marilynas." Charcoal and Conte with Embedded Appropriated Video, circa 2011 - 34x30 and as of this last weekend now in a private collection in Fairfax, VA

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Campello on the ropes...

You gotta see this to believe it... talk about upper body strength for a 105 pound girl!

Artist Overwhelmed by Modern Art

This is "Artist Overwhelmed by Modern Art." It is oil, acrylics and charcoal on gessoed paper with embedded LCD screen playing a presentation of 70+ digital images of contemporary art. 15x27 inches framed to 27 x 39 inches.

Artist Overwhelmed by Modern Art by F. Lennox Campello. It is oil, acrylics and charcoal on gessoed paper with embedded LCD screen playing a presentation of 70+ digital images of contemporary art. 15x27 inches framed to 27 x 39 inches
Artist Overwhelmed by Modern Art
Oil, acrylics, charcoal on gessoed paper with embedded electronics. 15x27 inches


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The "wake" effect

If you read this blog with any regular emphasis, then you know that in the past, many times I have discussed the worldwide art fairs and the reason why contemporary artists need to be in them and why there are so many positive things that come out of them - other than sales - even after the fair is over.

As a sailor, I compare it to the wake that a ship leaves on the ocean... a wake that most landlubbers don't realize is sometimes noticeable for hundreds of miles after the ship has passed through... if your sensors are good enough.

She first saw my work at the Aqua Art Fair in Miami Beach last December... then again at the Scope Art Fair in New York City, and most recently at the Affordable Art Fair in New York. For three fairs in a row she visited, talked and discussed the work, usually offering hard and intelligent constructive criticism.

The end result? The wake effect from those fairs?

I am proud to announce that I am now represented by Glenn Aber Contemporary in New York. They will next be taking my work to ArtHamptons.

I wonder what the wake effect from that fair will be?

Back in my day... Part 2.

I'm back with some more ' Back In My Day' materials. If you missed the first round, check it out here. Check out these materials from Connie Ziko from a few decades ago. 

This is the Fokes Sentence Builder  published in 1976 by Teaching Resources.

There are 5 color coded boxes . Who, What, Is Doing, Which, and Where for a total of 200 black line drawings .

There is a sentence line for the boxes. There is a box containing sentence markers and inserts.
The manual includes  lessons :
Level 1 for severe delays
Level 2 for moderate delays
Level 3 for no delays .

The lessons are arranged in order of linguistic complexity for declarative , questions and negative sentences .

Ok, I just have to say that parts of this were actually in the therapy cabinet when I showed up  a few years ago! Thanks for sharing Connie! 

Special Thanks to everyone who has sent in photos along with Connie's! Larissa Stewart submitted this photo that certainly wouldn't be appropriate any longer! 

The copyright is date is 1972! Tons of /s/ sounds in 'smoking cigarettes'. 

Glenstone Guided Tour


Saturday, September 28, 2012 
10:00 am - 11:00 am

Glenstone is a blending of avant-garde art, modernist architecture and a beautiful 200-acre landscape from a former foxhunting estate.  Glenstone founders, Mitchell and Emily Rales, have assembled a collection of works with an eye toward charting the most significant historical shifts in how art has been seen and understood since World War II. Representing artistic innovation all over the world, the collection has unique concentrations of work, which, in many cases, exemplify an artist's career at its height. WSG Board member and Glenstone docent, Elsabe Dixon will guide our tour.

12002 Glen Road
Potomac, Maryland 20854

Limited to 20 participants (maximum of 10 cars)

Car-pooling will be necessary & attendees must arrive promptly.


Monday, May 20, 2013

I Dare You Articulation! {app review & giveaway}

OK. It's the LAST few weeks of school. If you're like me you're making tons of summer recommendations  I've got a new one for you. I Dare You Articulation is the newest app develop by Erik X. Raj. This app is amazing summer homework for the school based SLP crowd!

The app features several sounds (seen above) at the sentence level. 

Select a sound and then select the position of the word. 

The student will scroll through child-friendly dates that get your kids up and moving while saying their target words at the sentence reading level. 

Pros: The app is currently listed as $4.99. The price and the premise make it an ideal app to have students  download for homework! I have already sent the link to two of my parents!

Cons: The app doesn't take data, a feature SLPs might be used to for therapy.

Overall this app is 100% likely to make your students giggle! Enter to win a copy of the app below! Erik is also throwing in a $10 gift card

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure Statement: This app was provided for review. No other compensation was provided.

Opportunity for Sculptors

Deadline May 27, 2013
Presented by Washington Sculptors Group  
at VisArts Rockville

Exhibition Dates: September 18 - October 20, 2013
Jurors: Anne Reeve & Claire D'Alba
Application Deadline: May 27, 2013 (midnight)
Click here to view the complete Call for Entries.   

Apply through Slideroom:   

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Memorial Day

Have a grand Memorial Day! Our grateful thanks to all those who have served and their families and our best wishes to all the soldiers, airmen/women, marines and sailors currently serving all over the world and at sea.

Jasper Johns Flag in MOMA

Artist in training... cough, cough

Saturday, May 18, 2013

An Interview with Ana Elisa Benavent

Ana Elisa Benavent’s large, brilliantly-colored abstracts compel the eye and convey strong, complex emotion.  A solo of her work  is on view at the Foundry Gallery in Dupont Circle until June 2.  She recently sat down for an interview with fellow Foundry member Jay Peterzell.
 JP: You describe yourself as a color expressionist.

AE: I call myself that because I think in my work color supersedes forms and shapes and texture.  That’s how I express myself, through color.  And I am influenced when I say that by the color field abstract masters.  Color is the foremost form of expression in my work and – I know it’s not an artistic movement per se, but that’s how I call it.

JP:  Well, it’s a take-off on “abstract expressionist.”  It sounds like a silly question, but how does color express – in your work or in general?

AE:  I think that if anyone can get into my mind it would be kind of crazy and it just gets worse as time goes by – in the way color just has become a language of its own in my mind.  I mean it’s like more and more I find myself just thinking in color.  I know its very cliché to think, you know, red is energy and green is envy and blue is peace and things like that.  But for me it goes a lot beyond that, it’s a way of really getting into my innermost feelings and emotions, the widest variety of emotions.  And so I started trying to dig into the equivalent of emotions and feelings and colors.  And the more I go into it, it kind of has gone the other way around, it’s kind of like the language of color is deeper than the emotion.  So I start finding myself kind of looking at colors as a way of expression more and more.  And so it’s going like a little bit crazy now (laughs) in my mind.

JP: Looking at your paintings, I don’t feel any simple translatability into an emotion -- this is anger, this is whatever.  You feel strong emotions in your paintings but you couldn’t quite put them in words.

AE:  Right, I try not to convey simple emotions.  I mean, it’s not about just love, and anger.  I try to make them a little bit more complex, because I think that’s how our everyday life is, not just black and white.  In the titles of my work I try to convey that.  Well, that one right there (points to painting), it’s called You Will Get a Reaction.  So it is about being annoyed.  I mean it’s about like, you’re gonna be a bitch, talk before you think?  Well, you’re gonna get a reaction, kind of thing.  So it is a complex emotion, you know, I –

JP: That’s not that complex.

AE: (laughs)  I mean, it’s just not about being angry, it’s about all that entails.  So, when a viewer asks me, what did you try to accomplish with that, I try not to give the whole story.  And that’s part of my [artists’] statement – it’s my story, but it’s also your story.

JP:  Your titles are suggestive.  So there’s also the question whether I’m letting the meanings be suggested by the titles.  This new painting, What You Keep to Yourself, is very moving I think, it has great depth.  You feel that it’s saying something but emotions are not translatable into propositions, they’re feelings.  So what –

AE: That’s kind of what I wanted to convey.  I obviously had a very clear emotion in mind when I painted it.  But I don’t want the viewer to know the exact detail of it because I don’t want to tell the whole story.  When someone looks at it I want them to form their own story about it.  It’s called What You Keep to Yourself, well I want them to take a hint out of that, if they want to.  If not, I want them to look at it and form their own story about it.

JP:  Well, “What You Keep to Yourself” suggests repression, and emotion being kept under the surface.

AE:  Right, when I painted that – it’s a little bit about being annoyed by, you know, about things not being said.  And –

JP: Oh, it’s not you, it’s someone else who’s keeping things –

AE:  Yeah, yeah.  That’s how it was, that’s how it was, although I will never say that –

JP:  Would it be unfair to see a general theme of annoyance in your paintings?

AE:  No.  (laughs)  No.  (laughs)   No, that’s just coincidence I think, from those two.  No, and it’s not the same person.  (laughs)  No, no, no, no, no.  No, I think I try to mix positive and –

JP: It’s just coincidence.

AE: Yes, it’s a coincidence of those two paintings.  And I think this is not only about annoyance but also about a little bit of mystery.  It’s not all negative I think.

JP: But a sense of frustration at someone else’s lack of openness.

AE:  Exactly.  That’s what it was

JP: Getting back to the question of color.  To what extent are you conveying emotion – in other words, transmitting your emotion to the viewer – and to what extent are you inducing emotion, which is to say, color causes emotions in people, even if the artist doesn’t feel them.  If you come up to an Yves Klein painting, there’s this tremendous shock of blue, it does something to you almost physiologically, but whether he’s having that emotion or not is unclear.  Now, he’s a less –

AE:  No, everything I paint is based on something that I feel.  And I translate it into color the way I feel it.  Whether the viewer sees it that way or not – it’s fun for me to see that.  It’s almost a game, when I exhibit my work and see their reactions or interpretation of it – whether it’s similar to or different from what I felt when I painted it.  But everything I paint is based on how I feel it.

JP:  Let’s talk about the technical aspect of what you’ve done here.

AE:  I always paint on boards instead of canvas.  I think it reflects the color better than canvas, which absorbs the color.  I start with a white gesso surface, and I do a lot of overlaying.  I do layer over layer of color until I achieve what I want.  So I do start with an idea – it never ends up being what I started with, but I do have the colors very much in mind when I start.

JP: You know where you’re going.

AE:  Yes.  I don’t sketch anything, I just have it in my mind and I start from there.  I usually have a basic composition of colors when I start, like big fields, to guide me through the overall composition if I’m going to do thirds, or a Z, or just any basic artistic composition – and then I start playing around, and it becomes a moving target.  At the end I may add a little bit, you know, like add an unexpected color.  But that is just mostly from a composition standpoint, that’s not even emotional.

JP:  You start with emotion and gradually you’re gaining distance, you’re creating an object.

AE: Yeah, exactly

JP:  You grew up in Mexico.

AE:  Yes, in Mexico City.

JP: What were your parents?

AE: I really only lived with my mom, who was a journalist.  We lived in Mexico City our whole life until I moved here 14 years ago.

JP: Were you always interested in art?

AE: I’ve always painted on the side, I just never had the time, I was raising kids, I was married, I was doing other things.  I never really took it full time until my husband died four years ago.  I started doing it almost as therapy.  At the beginning I didn’t think of it as a second career, but it just started taking over.  Before I’d never done abstracts.  I’d done oil and figure painting and a lot of silk painting.  But when I thought about taking painting back I wanted to do abstract because I thought it would be a lot more liberating and creative.  I wanted the freedom that comes with abstract painting.

JP: And you associate it with that period after your husband’s death.

AE:  That’s why I did the abstract work, because I was looking for healing.  That was a period of healing in my life, so I wanted this to be part of it.

JP: “Healing” is one of those words that’s used too easily sometimes.  After someone dies like that there’s more than healing to be expressed.

AE:  Yeah.  Yes.  I also didn’t want my work to be – Well, and I didn’t start painting right after he died, I think I spent a year with Netflix (laughs) and then I started painting.  But when I was ready to paint I didn’t want it to be about grieving and mourning, and darks and blacks, no, I didn’t want that.  I wanted it to be more about how I was reinventing myself.  You know, after the loss -- then what?  Then I had to reinvent myself, and all this process that comes into finding yourself again and redefining what you’re going to be in life.  So I didn’t want it to be this sad, dark – I didn’t want that, and I don’t think my paintings reflect that at all.  I wanted it to be more of the process of empowerment and liberation and all those kind of things that would come in afterwards trying to go back into being this new person that I had to be.
JP:  You’ve talked about Rothko, his influence.  Who else do you think about?

AE:  Well, one painter I’ve always admired is Van Gogh, just because of the bold use of color, which has nothing to do with my style.  Rothko and Clyfford Still just attract me – and I wish I would one day be able to do paintings as large as they do because I think the large scale is so – is hypnotizing, the way it involves you.  And that’s one of the things I like about painting large scale, you allow the color to involve you, you get immersed in it.  And more and more I do larger paintings because of that.  So that’s the beauty of the large colorful paintings.

JP:  Alexander Melamid, a Russian-American artist, talks about how confusing, or rather confused, art and the role of the artist are now.  “There’s a crisis in art,” he says.  We believed ten years ago, twenty years ago, that we knew the secret. Now we have lost this belief. We are a minority with no power and no belief, no faith. I feel myself, as an artist and as a citizen, just totally obsolete... Okay, it can be done this way or that way or this way, or in splashes or smoothly, but why? What the hell is it about?”   What is it about?

AE:  Well, I don’t think the role of the artist is obsolete, but I do think there is a bigger disconnection now between the viewer and the artist, and I don’t think that is a good place to be.  I think the viewer and the artist need to be closer.  When the viewer doesn’t understand the artist, that’s not a good place to be.  And part of this confusion I think started when people discovered that shock and irony sells.  A lot of things have been put into the mix of art that don’t really belong there.  It’s perfectly okay to make art that’s ironic and shocking and that’s all good but when the main purpose of it is not artistic, when there’s no artistic value – whatever concept of aesthetics you have – then it belongs somewhere else.  It may be a social manifestation, it may be a cultural manifestation, it may be crap.  I think there’s a lot of confusion as to what really is art.  So I think that’s where it is.

JP: If you open up Art in America, there’s no painting in it.  The only painting is in some of the ads.  And yet a gallery like this one is mostly painting.  Is it retro?  Is it holding on to something emotionally satisfying or decorative that doesn’t have intense cultural significance anymore?

AE:  Exactly, you may argue that Abstract Expressionism was a movement of the ‘40s, the ‘50s, it’s seventy years old or sixty years old – what am I doing, you know?  But I do think beauty, and artistic technical quality is still something that has value, that  needs to stay there.  I think there’s a lot of crap that will shed its way out eventually.  Because right now it’s a novelty.  And I want to think that the way I am doing this abstract expressionism is an evolution, not just a reiteration of what’s been done.

JP: The challenge is to do something new that’s also still painting.

AE: Right.  And, again, I believe in beauty.  (laughs)