After Trump. Starting All Over Again.

November 15, 2017

For over seven years I’ve posted about “art awareness”. Everything from pre-K artwork to injustices obliterating all art as we know it.

Today it’s about the genius of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – IZ, reaching all corners of the world and the lyrics of the song “Starting All Over Again” as a hopeful prayer that we’ll survive Donald Trump:

“It’s gonna be rough for us, we’re gonna make it. Start all over as friends. It’s gonna be tough on us. We gotta face it. We lost what we had that’s set us back 1,000 years, but we’re gonna make it up. Though I know it’s gonna be tough to erase the hurts and fears. Starting all over again is gonna be hard but I pray to the Lord to help us. Starting all over again. It’s gonna be slow but we both know we gonna make it. We’ve gotta take life as it comes, never fuss about it, what’s right or wrong. It’s an uphill climb to the finish line. We gonna try, we gonna try – just one more time.

– change to minor key ūüôā –

“We gotta take life as it comes. Don’t make any fuss about it. What’s right or wrong. We gonna make it.”


I Am Over Eighteen. How Much Older? Back to Teaching Boxes Again :-)

November 14, 2017

Three months since my last blog! That’s because I’ve been job searching…competing with 18 year olds for a part-time job looking after little ones.

The Foster Grandparent Program to assist teachers in elementary schools that I was with for six years gave modest stipends and closed without notice. It took a while to find a job where there was no age discrimination! Finally I’m back to part-time watching over children – ages 6 months to 6 years this time – and encouraging ART. God bless the Salvation Army Camden Kroc Center that didn’t care about my gray hairs!

Teaching how to draw 3-D boxes on a flat piece of paper and to make modular 3-D boxes have always been obsessions with me in the classroom. First graders loved the magic of a flat looking 4-sided square drawn on a flat white board Рand adding lines to turn it into a 3-D looking box!  But how can I introduce boxes to younger kids!?

Modular origami Sonobe Units! Thanks to Google, I found out that Mr. Sonobe “invented” them. In the picture you can see one of the six units (in green) that it takes to make a box. The kids can color them and I’ll help turn them into boxes!

It’s nice to be back in the saddle again…¬† ¬† ūüôā

KIMG1614 (2) 6 sonobe units

“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

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

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 Рhow 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. ¬†

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 Рthe artwork Р 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