“Nobody Wants My Stuff”

July 29, 2017

My Facebook post was a heading in the Christian Science Moniter: Boomer parents:  ‘One day, this will all be yours. Grown Children: “Nooo!’  It got 33 comments, 93 emojis, 123 shares.

After college, I myself told my mother early on I didn’t want her silverware when I moved into my own apartment in Manhattan. She wanted to give me something that would last forever though – and the set of eating utensils she did give me are still like new – without ever requiring polishing.

Those of us of a certain age are trying to scale down. The things I hold dear are books, letters, lesson plans and my kids-by proxy art work.  This morning when I opened a box from long ago, thinking I could throw a lot of it away, on top was a 1959 letter from my first love: Pvt. Edward Whipple, NG13589311, B-1 SSC, class 313, Fort Chaffee, Ark. It was a three-page apology for not having written but saying he loved me “so very much.”

I took the letter out, replaced the box lid without throwing anything away and decided to write a blog. His nick name was Oggie. Over the years I taught many of his by-proxy-children. I also loved him “so very much” and still do, even though I don’t even know if he’s still alive!

It doesn’t matter that nobody wants my stuff. I have it ‘until death do us part.

Life is good!




Bringing Civilization to a Corner of Camden, N.J….

July 15, 2017

I bring civilization to a corner of Camden – Waterfront South, to be exact – a fairly civilized section of the city, although miscreants are not uncommon.

One such creature is called Hitler. My name is Neko.

We are often mistaken for each other. There is no way to tell us apart. We both are of medium build, have yellow eyes and black fur.

I guard against outsiders entering our gated community.

Hitler manages to sneak in. Even the boss person can’t tell us apart. She finally found a solution:  a blue collar. Isn’t it grand!?

(To be continued…)

Lydia Gregory’s Cat Face Influenced Others!

June 30, 2017


Art Aware published and distributed Camden Children at Peace calendars for three years (10,000 copies/a year). For February, 2000, Lydia Gregory’s cat was chosen from Sandra Worner’s art classes at Cream School.  Many doubted that a five year old could draw such a picture. Sandy assured me that it was authentic and that she had all her classes do the cat – step by step – as she drew the oval face, then eyes, heart-nose, upside-down-Y, etc. on the board for them to copy.

I started making the cat face a part of the Art Aware presentation, and always showed a large reproduction of her work. You can see the results at Holy Name School.


I’ve also done this with Kroc Center after-school children in 2017, always showing a large reproduction of Lydia’s work.  I wonder where Lydia is now?

It is so educational to see the results – and the individual differences!

4,000 Photos of Camden Kids Artwork on Artsonia.com

June 24, 2017


by Eva, age 4

The pre-K Early Learning Research Academy and Leap Academy Elementary School in Camden, N.J. have excellent pre-K and elementary school art teachers.

I know,  first -hand,  because from 2014 to 2017 I’ve posted over 4,000 photos of the children’s artwork initiated by  these teachers onto Artsonia.com.

Click onto the above link from 2014 and check out the whole class’s work. The pre-k teacher’s name was Ms. Xmaita.  Pre-K children in all Camden schools, public and charter,  are required to paint large masterpieces like this one, monthly, on 18″ X 22″ paper.

Please don’t tell me that hands-on art education – at all grade levels – isn’t just as important as every other subject for a well-rounded human being!

You can tell I am passionate about this!


From K to 3rd Grade: The Difference Between Art and Craft

June 22, 2017


Kindergarten Class

First Grade class

Second Grade Individual Piece called “Outside My Window”

3rd Grade Class




Jeffrey Phillips teaches art to over 480 Leap Academy students (K to 3rd grade) in Camden, N.J.   He doesn’t use kitchy plastic cutout stars and sunbursts. If the kids want to include stars and sunbursts in their art, they have to draw and/or cut them out to make their own.

Jeff has spent over 40 hours of his own time putting together tonight’s art show.

Such fantastic work the students did with just paper and  paint (nothing manufactured) that was inspired by this expert teacher.

Please look at the samples of KB class, 1A class, 2A individual painting called “Outside My Window” and 3A class.


Keeping Life in Proper Perspective

June 19, 2017


Please look at your child’s art work.

Nothing is as stupendous. I can touch my smart phone and be connected with a lot, yes, but it’s not as great as looking at my kindergartner’s art work.

When I look at her sunflower, I see the learning process:  how she chose the color, size, texture – how she drew the lines and cut with scissors and pasted with glue.

I can watch how the world came to be – starting with my own child’s learning process.

There’s no greater experience than seeing and understanding that perspective.

It has always been in the past and will always be in the future!


*All art work initiated by Jeffrey Phillips at Leap Academy, Camden, N.J.


An Elixir of Youth

May 19, 2017






So here I am still loving kids’ artwork twenty years after the Camden BOE made a ten minute documentary on my Art Aware program.  https://youtu.be/RYqPG1W3lRQ

Dang! I am so old. It is fifty (!) years since the mid 60s, when I discovered my passion to teach elementary students to recognize their own innate creativity.  I was an ESL teacher in Japan after college. Whether it was painting pictures with words or with crayons in Tokyo, Honolulu or Camden, N.J.,  I felt I could get results.

When I stopped traveling the world, I had the luxury of staying in one place and of saving the proof of the results – the artwork –  in my Camden row house.

Thanks to the extensive renovations on the 4th and 5th floors of Collingswood Manor Continuing Care Retirement Community, I can share the artwork with residents.

The spirit of the work from K to 5th graders is invigorating.

I will never throw it away and will keep finding places to display this elixir of youth.

Corner Row House in Camden

May 15, 2017

It’s rare for me to just sit outside and do nothing.

I wonder if you can relate?

Today I’m sitting on an overturned five gallon plastic paint bucket. The sun is just right, the wind gentle, my dogs, cats and wild birds surround me as do 50′ evergreens and deciduous trees – some of which I planted, some of which were already here in this place I chose to live some 30 years ago.

A garden of Eden.

I feel an overwhelming gratitude for my life, past and present, and “for a dream not caught in self-centerness”* but rather in a dream taking each moment as it is with compassion and ecstasy.

I wonder if you can relate?

  • from a meditation by Pat George, Founder of Zen Center of Philadelphia


Camden & Philadelphia: Seats of Beauty

April 16, 2017


Beauty will save us – Monseigneur Michael Doyle’s mantra. I believe it and moved here because of it.

Walking my dogs this Easter morning in Liney Ditch Park – there because of Michael./ Taking kids to Philadelphia Orchestra concerts – possible because of AAUW (American Association of American Women./ Thirty years later, yesterday, Holy Thursday, going to Philadelphia Curtis Institute Graduate Concert, possible because of Sharon Vogel./ Sharon playing classical music in her elementary school classroom, possible because of #1 Sharp Public School./ Creative writing classes – learning what makes inspiring cinema – possible because of Rutgers University. / Walls plastered with kids’ artwork, next to reproductions of famous paintings, there because of Kroc Center./ Also on walls, Chinese and Japanese characters. After school students learning by osmosis, possible because of me and Hillary Jones.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote:  “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

Area residents emerse themselves in clean water pools, there because of the Salvation Army.

I’m lucky to live in a place of beauty, there because it will save all of us.

Murals of Children’s Artwork Are Inspiration

April 10, 2017


We have just finished a writing workshop led by published author, Anndee Hockman.

Under her direction, each and every one of us Camdenites wrote a “masterpiece” (my opinion) – which the Camden City Department of Senior Services will share with the public later.

This is the room at the Ferry Avenue library where we meet. We were surrounded by murals of children’s artwork that spurred us on.

Here’s a 2004 piece I wrote about a Japanese-American artist friend of mine relating to creativity:

What I want for Camden kids, (and all people really) is for them to realize that they’re their own beautiful persons (like each leaf on my Honey Locust tree) responding to what is. And one way for them to do that is to do art and keep doing it and doing it, the way Toshiko Takaezu does.