The Power of Art and Things to Come

A profile of artist Patrick Brown

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Artist Patrick Brown

Girl in Blue

Artist Patrick Brown is a fairly quiet man—perhaps a bit shy—with a cute laugh, a slight Southern accent, and a gentle sadness that sometimes shades his eyes. It’s a companionable sorrow, though. It reaches into his paintings and says, “It might hurt, but it’s OK to look; you know me.” And while there’s no recognized treatment for his particular sorrow, it is treatment of another sort that brought Patrick to California almost four years ago, from Nashville, Tennessee.

Before he left, he had been seriously ill, Patrick explains over a late breakfast at Swami’s in Escondido. He’d had to sell his home to pay medical bills, and the prospect of Obamacare had forecast relief. But, like many red states, Tennessee rejected the expansion of Medicaid, abandoning Patrick to the middle of the legendary—and life-threatening—healthcare doughnut hole.

“My doctor said that either I had to come up with $2,000 per month or find a place that provided care to people with AIDS.”

So it was, with brushes and canvas and AIDS diagnosis in hand, that Patrick left behind friends and family—including two estranged sons—to obtain healthcare in California, to start a new life, to recover.

Artist Patrick Brown

A Few Good Men

He found a place to live in Escondido, set up a new studio, and showed his art in regional galleries. He was accepted into juried shows, sold a bit of work, and launched a new series of paintings, Sins of the Father—to process his fractured relationships? It was confusing: He’d come out to his sons well before before his diagnosis; it was only after learning he had AIDS that they rejected him.

“They won’t even tell me why they don’t want me to be a part of their lives,” he says, looks down at his blueberry pancakes, pauses for the moment to pass. “It’s better here, but there’s still so much stigma attached to HIV and AIDS.”

And now, since the presidential election, there’s so much uncertainty and concern, enough to draw even the most introspective artist outward.

Artist Patrick Brown

Memphis 1968

“Sins of the Father started out as a small personal series directly related to the conflict between my sons and me. It turned into a much larger one, to express other people’s family tensions, and then it evolved into what was happening politically—dark subject matter. The first of the newer ones, when the protests with the Black Lives Matter were more prominent in the news media, were ‘Memphis 1968’ and another one titled ‘Protest.’ And then this whole thing with Trump—that he actually won—and the controversies with the manipulation by Russia and the nuclear thing; that brought on my dead-on political paintings.”

It also brought on the more radical activist, harbored since Patrick’s youth, and a new series of paintings, War Dogs.

“It’s inspired by all of the turmoil against the LGBT community, the Hispanic community, women, what’s happening with youth, with bullying and suicide, with religious differences. And who knows what we’re in for the next four years. There are so many people in the world right now living in fear because of the election, the talk of war. We’ve unleashed a man that is giving people permission to discriminate and bully. It’s sad.”

But is there hope? Beyond the sorrow and fear, is there something better to come?

Artist Patrick Brown

War Dogs #2

“There may be some hope, but it’s going to take a really big commitment from a lot of people. I don’t know if they have it in them right now. There are some, but you’ve got to mobilize people to take this thing on. That’s what brought on all the stuff with the Vietnam War and Martin Luther King and Black Lives Matter. People were arrested and got back out there. Right now, so many people have been empowered on the negative side, it’s going to take a lot of effort to counter that.”

He pauses again, takes a breath, comes to a conclusion.

“So, yes, my paintings are definitely addressing political things now. Art is a vehicle to make my statement known, my protest. Art’s been a medium of protest for so many for so long—Goya, Picasso, Diego Rivera—it’s a tool. It may not be the best thing to create sales, but it’s important to me to get the message out. It’s not all pretty pictures. I’m going for something that’s making a statement in the best way that I know how. I can’t worry about what other people are going to think about my paintings. One of the greatest things an artist can do is give up painting what they think everyone will like and start painting from the heart. It’s a choice and a responsibility for me.”


Patrick Brown is one of four featured artists in the 4•Up Exhibit at The Studio Door in North Park.

Exhibition dates: January 20 to 29, 2017
Opening reception: Saturday, January 21, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Address: 3050 30th Street, San Diego

Patrick Brown
was born in East Saint Louis, Illinois in 1953. His education focused on painting at the University of Memphis, Hendrix College and Jefferson College.

Patrick’s successes include an ongoing relationship with the ABC Television Network, where his paintings are used on the sets. He was included in the 2016 juried exhibit and international publication 50 To Watch, featuring Southern California’s top artists. Among his earlier career achievements were mural work and portraits for the interiors of B. B. King’s Blues Clubs in Hollywood, Nashville and Memphis. His work was also included in Southern California’s Summation Exhibit and book publication the last three years, as well as the 2016 national Edgar Allen Poe exhibit in San Diego, California. He is a member of Visual AIDS, The Frank Moore Archives Project and the Escondido Arts Partnership Municipal Gallery.

Patrick currently lives and works in Escondido, California. Visit his website at


Spawned by a Baptist creationist and a liberal social worker, Kit-Bacon Gressitt (K-B) inherited the requisite sense of humor to survive family dinner-table debates and the imagination to avoid them. As a result, she’s a feminist writer, she supports unrestricted access to affordable abortion and other reproductive health services, and she’s an LGBTQ rights advocate. She also birthed a child of color, who’s taught her a lot about white privilege and intersectionality. An erstwhile political columnist with an MFA in Creative Writing, K-B is now represented by Amanda Annis at Trident Media Group and is a Women’s Studies lecturer.


Dorland Mountain Arts Colony

  Fall 2014
Dorland Logo102_0327 - Version ADorland Mountain Arts Colony is a beautiful retreat where artists, writers, musicians and composers can create in a secluded, natural setting overlooking the Temecula Valley Wine Country of Southern California.

Dorland…An Enchanted Place

Deer at Dorland“Dorland is an enchanted place.” That was jotted down in my journal twenty years ago when I first came here. In time, we learned that long ago the Pechanga Indians made a seasonal camp here to gather acorns for their winter food supply. An elder from the neighboring reservation, who still visits, tells of other rites that took place here in our oak grove. Now a small herd of deer come in the spring with their fawns to feed on the acorns. Is it still an enchanted place?Most of our residents find that in their first few days here, curiously, they begin to shed much of the complexity, the jingle-jangle, the noise of what we accept as “normal life.” Their creativity finds a channel and begins to flow. They often accomplish much more than they had hoped to. We have word from them after they’ve left that whatever it was that happened to them here amid the oaks carries on. So yes, it is still an enchanted place.

Robert Willis 

Dorland  News

Your Truth in Fiction: Writing Workshop

102_0196 - Version 2On November 2, a group of writers met withLisa Fugard, author of Skinner’s Drift.  Attendees explored the process of taking their own life experiences and weaving them into fiction. Lisa said, “I was so happy to introduce new folks to the serenity and creative energy on the Mountain.” 

Lisa has been teaching at the Wellness and Writing Retreat in Nerano, Italy. She plans to return to Dorland early in the spring to continue the work on her next novel.Watch the Dorland website and Facebook for future workshops.

Associate Artists: Upcoming EventsThe January Associate Artist Gathering will feature readings, music and art presentations by members. In March, Dorland Associate Artists have been chosen to share their work at “Art Off the Walls on Mercedes.” The spring event, “Arts Under the Oaks” will be held in April. A “Picnic at Dorland” will be held in June to celebrate our members and all “Friends of Dorland.”
Dorland Associate Artists 2

Members, friends, and all those interested are invited to these gatherings. Watch the Dorland website and your email for more news and dates.


On behalf of Dorland, board
Michael at the lakemembers Michael Craig Carrier and Eileen Doktorski awarded plaques to Josh Wheeler, Justin Moreno, and Boy Scout Troop 301 to thank them for trail and pond restoration projects during 2013 and 2014 at Dorland. We are also grateful to the troop fortheir donation of a water-weed whacker.

ichael Car
rier, Dorland board member, and Gonzalo Aguado have been clearing thLake Ticanue reeds and brush around Lake Ticanu. He It is a joy to be able to see the water, complete with tiny fish, native frogs, and other pond life.The Reflecting Pond by the gazebo is being restored by  Pechanga Tribe members Vincent Ibanez and John Burbee. Thank you to these faithful friends and donors!


Horton Cottage, Fall 2014
orland offers residencies from one week to twelve weeks to emerging and established artists, writers, musicians and composers. See our website for information.


Alumni News

Jane Culp: Dorland Artist Captures Desert Landscapes
by Susan Montgomery (for full article, click here.)T

hroughout the years, many jane_'08 (1) - Version 2 4
accomplished artists have created some of their best work while they were Dorland Mountain Arts Colony residents. Dorland has provided the serenity and inspiration they needed to move forward with their work. Jane Culp is one of those artists.
Jane says, “Staying at Dorland over numerous residencies offered an emotionally supportive paradise where, immediately surrounded by the landscape and beauty, I could wake up to paint, contemplate, and understand more fully the Western landscape, as if we were one.”Dorland MountainJane is well known for her evocative Western landscapes in oil, charcoal and watercolor. She was a Dorland resident many times throughout the ’90s and has also been involved with Dorland in other significant ways. She has been a caretaker, served on the Dorland Board of Directors, and made a sizeable donation to help the Colony recover from its devastating 2004 fire.

Jane Culp’s paintings have received national recognition throughout her career through many exhibits and publications. Nineteen of her recent Anza Borrego paintings comprised a recent exhibit called “Suspect Terrain,” at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, New York.

Dorland Mountain Arts Colony’s friends and supporters are very proud of Jane Culp’s association with the Colony over the years. Thank you, Jane, for your beautiful work and your support of Dorland.

If you are interested in viewing or purchasing Jane’s work go to her website: or contact her directly at

Tony Eprile has recently hadTony Eprile  residencies at the Studios of Key West and Yaddo. He received a 2014-15 grant from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and will be an invited resident artist at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. His writing has recently appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, Inch, andPost Road, and he has work forthcoming in Agni.

Noelle SickelsNoëlle Sickels has just published her fourthOut of Lovenovel, Out of Love, about teen pregnancy in the 1960s. The book deals with search and reunion between birthparents and adoptees. Noëlle worked on previous novels during Dorland residencies in the 1990s.

BooksNaturallywebSue Ann Robinson‘s artist book was included in Binding Desire: SARstudioUnfolding Artists Books, a 2014 Exhibit at the Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. In addition to working in her studio and as curator at the Long Beach Museum of Art, Robinson has begun teaching “Artists Books & Papermaking” at California State University Long Beach. Her artist book, The Walking Fools, was inspired by and begun during a residency here at Dorland.

lescarbeaumSince his residency a year ago at Dorland, Mitch LesCarbeau has had several poems accepted in literary magazines. “Nancy Underwood,” written at Dorland, was just accepted by The Bryant Literary Review.

on-foot-photo 2Thea Gavin‘s essay “Rim to Rim, Barefoot” has been included in a new (and first!) anthology of essays dedicated to the Grand Canyon hiking experience. On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories was published by Vishnu Temple Press. (Vishnu Temple is an iconic rock formation in Grand Canyon.)

3 Guitars Black and WhiteIn July, Scott Ibex released his newest album,Horizon Tides. It is available on iTunes, Amazon MP3, and CD Baby. You can hear the first single Unconditional and a Behind the Music Interview with Scott on YouTube. He will soon be publishing his first novel, entitledHurricane Blues, which he wrote during his residency at Dorland.

Nathan Rivera began the song, How FaNathan Riverar Away while traveling through Spain and France and finished it on the piano at Dorland. Following his Dorland residency, he went on tour with his group, “The Orcastra,” through the western states. He is now traveling in Mexico and will stay again at Dorland in the late fall.

Alsop at DorlandMaureen Alsop was selected as the winner of the 2014 Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award. This biennial award is given to an accomplished poet with an outstanding, innovative body of work. Maureen Alsop’s latest poetry collection, Later, Knives & Trees was just publishLaterKnivesandTreesed in November 2014 and she will be doing readings in Hawaii, California, and Australia later this year. You can access an interview that was completed during her recent stay at Dorland here.
Residents Say …
Lesley Stern
Professor Emerita, University of California at San Diego, author of The Smoking Book and
Dead and Alive: The Body as Cinematic Thing
Lesley Stern

“Dorland is the perfect place for writing. Beautiful, serene, inspiring landscape. The cabins are extremely comfortable and the self catering suits me fine. It may seem to be more isolated than some other residencies, but shops are only 10 minutes away (though when you are there it seems a world away). Robert and Janice, who oversee the property are supportive without being intrusive. I have completed two major articles while staying at Dorland.”

Sherri C. Perry
Author of Venn, Mockingbird Lane Press 

“Dorland was exactly what ISherri C. Perry needed. Living in a big city and trying to write alongside a busy life requires serenity and time. At Dorland, I wrote, read, walked, and wrote some more. The wind, the hummingbirds and the sunsets were my companions. I can honestly say my summer residency in this wonderful place was the most productive two weeks I’ve ever had as a writer. I am excited to be returning in the spring.”

Diane Cluck


Diane Cluck by Herve Dulongcourty-1475x1475 2

My time at Dorland was so very special for me. Karen Parrott was the director and Robert Willis was the lovely caretaker. When I visited the colony it was still without electricity (which was a factor in my choosing to go there). Robert gave me the best recipe for the apple pie that he had made in his woodstove for a potluck we had that summer.

I‘m a singer-songwriter, and wrote my most successful album to date, Oh Vanillewhile staying at Dorland. You can see a little dedication I made on my website, here.

Barbara Perryman
Visual ArtistBarbaraPerrymanPainting“Inner peace, and creative spirit is what my Dorland residency brought to me. It is a very unique place, with so much to offer any serious artist. Dorland provides that special solitude we need in order to feed our creative minds.

BarbaraPerrymanI was recently asked to be president of the Canyon Lake Art Association. It is proving to be challenging, but rewarding. My goal is to bring a more expanded knowledge of art to its members, and to expand the community’s exposure to the visual arts.”

Linda Saslow
Freelance Writer and Art TeacherLindaSaslowMy three trips to Dorland Arts Colony are remembered as a time of tranquil productivity in my life as a writer and painter. Getting away from the clutter and chaos of daily life is a gift that Dorland offers to the creative soul. My screenplay and memoir would have never been completed if not for my three sojourns on the
mountain. I can’t wait to come back to the calm and beauty of Dorland to reignite my spirit. The limited internet and lack of television offers a much needed break from the distractions of daily modern living. Being left alone to savor the natural beauty of California’s native landscape for long periods of time is truly magical for anyone lucky enough to become a resident at Dorland.”

Note to Re102_0297 2sidents…

If you have had a residency here, Dorland would be pleased to include your recent news and quotes in upcoming issues as space allows. It was good to hear from so many of you who were here before and after “the fire.” Dorland remains a truly enchanted place.

Artist walk
riends of Dorland

Thank you to these friends who contributed during 2014.Barbara Allen
Beverly Biber
John Burbee
Marcia Edwards
Frank Ellis
Penny  & Joe Fedorchak
Eleanor Goldstein
Curtis Horton
Misha Merrill
Christopher & Mary-Louise Muller
Donald Philip
James Reiss
Phillip Routh
Zane and Jane Trinkley
Jeff Thayer
Marion & Yet Siu
Robert Willis

If we’ve left anyone out, we sincerely apologize and appreciate your support. Many others have helped Dorland in ways that can’t be quantified. Dorland would not still exist today without the support of all.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 6, Temecula, CA 92593 ~ Physical Address: 36701 Highway 79 South, Temecula, CA 92592
 Tel: (951) 302-3837 ~ ~
A California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization


The Expose Project


UPDATE: The Expose Project website is down, but here’s a sampling of images.

The Expose Project posed this question:

When was the last time you opened up your browser and saw a beautiful image of a body shape that looked just like yours?”

The response sparked a glorious exhibit of art, the art of women’s bodies. Please visit their site at


What am I doing here?

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Not too many moons ago, in a moment of pause, it came to me that my family was wracked with discontent, my thighs had spread to embrace the toilet seat in a big old hug, and I hadn’t a triumph to my name. Other considerations notwithstanding, the triumph thing was my true obsession, despite my knowing the assumption of grand success was an absurd remnant of baby boomer privilege.

Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 4.50.32 PMOf good Southern stock, I was birthed between 1946 and ’64, therefore I deserved it all—the dearest of kindred souls, impressive properties exceeding those of my parents, all the tangible and intangible riches befitting my special generation, including stellar, enduring success. I was certain I deserved these things, but I did not have them, and I was experiencing an adjustment reaction to the creeping recognition that they would never be mine. This was a perplexing departure from expectation, as perplexing as those sausage toes that had started greeting me each morning from the foot of my bed and leading me into the bathroom, where I sat on the commode, my swollen feet cooling on the Saltillo tiles, and stared up at a pudgy Fernando Botero figure, dispassionately contemplating her obscured visage in a bathroom mirror.

The computer-generated reproduction had the superficial look of a real painting, the texture of canvas, layers of color, an aged patina. But there was not a brush stroke on the piece; exquisite details had been abandoned to the expediency of mass production; the colors were not true. A gallery owner to whom I had taken a similar picture for framing had known it at once to be a fake, but he was seeing this technology for the first time, and he was dismayed that naïve consumers would think it genuine. I told him I knew it to be a genuine fake. He was not relieved or amused.

Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 4.50.54 PMNeither would the framer have been amused by my painting’s male counterpart on the bathroom wall. He was sitting naked on a chest, his be-plumed helmet to his left, his penis hidden by a hairy shin, the sketches of an extra hand and foot floating oddly unattached beside him, unused options that refused to go away; all put to canvas with the same computer fakery as the gal at her morning ablutions. I wondered then, as I do whenever I sit there, why Botero left the extra hand and foot visible. I couldn’t fathom a reason.

But I can’t fathom a lot of things. Why do some people suffer and others not? Why do cats play with their food?  Why does capitalism thrive, even among purported communists? Why do people lie to themselves? Why do Western males wear pants? What the hell am I doing here?

For a moment, having contemplated the hand and foot and life’s other mysteries, I engaged in a bit of self-indulgent despair, enumerating my failures and wondering if there were something else I might have learned from them, some hidden lesson that might have led me to triumph.

Oh, I’ve enjoyed a few successes of minor note. I’ve had some interesting careers, a plurality of husbands, a generous number of enlightening adventures. I produced a bright and beautiful daughter of olive skin and fiery eyes, who, when she was little, would murmur my name as she curled into me, “Mama, mama, mama,” although, now she murmurs, “You owe me therapy for the rest of my fucking life.” Nonetheless, I’ve also managed to avoid addiction, no small feat for the descendent of Bible-thumping teetotalers and unrepentant alcoholics—and a few unrepentant bible-thumping alcoholics.

My family has produced missionaries of various stripes; imbibers who’ve made it to recovery and some who’ve remained in denial; control freaks, who are actually quite competent, so I figure that’s vindication; and escape artists, I, being one of the them. Hell, I moved across the country to limit family encounters to the kissy-face stuff of holidays and reunions, and when one of them called to cheerfully pronounce a move to my vicinity, I felt the sudden need to barf, despite my deep and enduring love for him and possibly due to the fact that he once assured me I would eternally roast in Satan’s hell fires, awash in God’s vengeance for my sins, primary of which was my failure to accept Our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ into my heart and be bathed in his eternal forgiveness and love.

Turns out, heavenly rewards, at least for Baptists, are available only on a quid pro quo basis, and this blew the proposition for me: Because the Baptist god predestined my salvation, or condemnation, I figured it didn’t matter if I opted out of having Sweet Baby Jesus to tea. Hence my scheduled rendezvous with Satan, who, truth be told, is a lot more interesting a character than the Christ on whom I was reared.

Except there is no truth, per se. Baptists are too tight-assed for truth; it just sucks the broomstick in farther. And proper Southerners hold social graces in much higher esteem than truth.

But I, the family heathen, have found expulsive expression far more to my liking, and sitting there that morning on the throne, waiting for my toes to cool, I decided I had undermined my best intentions, my highest hopes for success—deserved or not—by allowing my heritage to temper me. I had abandoned the exquisite details of life to the expediency of some semblance of family harmony, my colors were not true. I was stymied by the grip of a mighty sphincter, a Botero woman, insulated in her rotund figure, identity obscured, caught in static indecision at the bathroom mirror in perpetuity. I had resorted to writing fiction, to skirt my familial bonds, hide beneath some camouflage netting, and produce a triumphant recasting of our tragic decline. But the truth kept rearing its head, demanding to be heard, like the artist’s unattached hand and foot refusing to fade into the background.

That morning, then, my bowels relieved, my thighs un-wedged from the toilet seat, I brushed my teeth and decided, I decided I would just write, write whatever I’m compelled to write, triumph or not. And that, I suppose, is what I’m doing here.


BOOK REVIEW: Harold Jaffe’s ‘Revolutionary Brain’

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

revolutionarybrainAuthor and SDSU professor Hal Jaffe has released another collection. Revolutionary Brain is the title, and it’s a compilation of things he calls essays and quasi-essays.

That’s one way to describe it. Another might be a bunch of whops upside the head. This is fitting because, if you really read the book—as opposed to skimming it and then googling the online porn he mentions—it’ll certainly grab you and shake you to attention. And it is what Jaffe does with others’ words that makes his writing so riveting. Along with poignant, startling, disturbing. …

He starts with a snippet of news, a commercial, an online blurb, an interesting person, and “treats” the source material in a way that suggests new meaning.

Now, for those who got stuck on the porn, jeez! Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Except that much of it is sexist and racist. But that’s an obvious message. Less discussed are the themes in Jaffe’s “Anal Acrobats,” such as the “erotic collision” of two men while diddling one woman that is marketed to men who insist on the definitive boundaries of their heterosexuality.

Jaffe offers the reader the option of taking a moment to deconstruct such pop culture artifacts as commodified sex, and his subjects are broad.

I largely copied from the pornographic sites, and then I’ve treated them in certain ways because I want to speak about how a revolution has become a sort of devolution.

The way this culture works, so far as I can tell, when something becomes inevitable—the culture was naturally against it, but when they saw that it was inevitable—they co-opted it and ran with it, in a sense subverted it.

Commercials, patriotism, “news,” sports talk, entertainment; it’s almost a single thing and one leads into the other. You can’t even distinguish them.

[In the book] I’m talking about ass-gape and suddenly I’m switching to Bangladesh.

Jaffe admits that he wants to “establish some sort of culture shock,” and that’s still surprisingly easy to do, even though pornography and violence are increasingly normalized in our culture.

More shocking than porn, then, is the simple recitation of last statements by executed prisoners in the collections’ first piece, “Death in Texas.”

I want to give people who’ve been made invisible a way to express their own feelings, whether they are accounted as mad, whether they’re on death row.

Someone sent me the file, and I treated it, added to it. [For example] I moved Karla Faye Tucker from Florida to Texas. They’re primarily Mexican American and African American and very, very poor white. I read the transcripts and they moved me, a lot.

In “Freeze-Dry,” Jaffe briefly describes a quest to “freeze-dry” a severely disabled nine-year-old girl, to keep her small so that her parents can care for her, despite her having the mental capacity of an infant.

I think it works on a number of levels: on the one hand, the passion that these people feel for the child and on the other hand the disregard for the child; the extraordinary dysfunction, even though the parents’ intentions are not dishonorable, really. …

I speak a lot about death, about shit as substitution for death. You know in American we’re so afraid of death. Other cultures, death doesn’t mean so much to them. They live collectively, so when one of them dies, you go into the ground, and the collective goes on.

And the human collective goes on here, as well, but Jaffe has a gift for confronting us with questions we might ask ourselves, if we indeed are paying attention. Why are so many men on death row Black or Latino and poor? Why are women so brutally objectified in pornography, while men who abjure homosexuality are titillated by two men in a scene? And again, it is the method with which Jaffe poses the questions that makes one move beyond the obvious answers. But then what do we do? Does this literary discourse provoke us toward change?

Whether I think ethical change will come about, whether climate change is inevitable—and that’s something that distresses me—I don’t know what it’s going to do. I’d like people to read [Revolutionary Brain] and to recognize as far as they can some of my intentions. And to give voice to people who have none, to animals and species that are becoming obsolete.

A lot of my best audiences are Mexican American here. (Jaffe’s work is translated into French, Spanish, Japanese and other languages.) They seem to be more interested. They seem to be more patient and less cynical.

At this juncture, though, all I can do is get the work out. If people respond to it, good. If they don’t, I can live with that.

But it’s pretty darn hard to read Revolutionary Brain and not be changed by it, if in no other way than to find yourself thinking about difficult things in new and challenging ways.


Also published by San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

It’s a Summertime Stomp!

Join Fallbrook’s Writers Read for a Summertime Celebration

A summer, long ago and far away


Our free monthly reading of poetry and prose celebrates the season on August 8, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Café des Artistes.

August’s reading is an all-open-mic night, an open invitation for readers and writers to share their words — or those of their favorite writers — and “rise up singing”* with a summertime theme.

Poetry, fiction, nonfiction and song are encouraged and will be heartily welcomed.

Entrance to the Café is from the rear parking lot behind the Fallbrook Art Center at 103 South Main. The Café opens at 5:30, with a special supper menu available. For reservations, call 760-728-3160.

Coming to Fallbrook’s Writers Read on September 12: the Veterans Writing Group of San Diego County. Visit their website at

For more information, contact Kit-Bacon Gressitt at 760-522-1064 or

* From “Summertime,” lyrics by DuBose Heyward, music by George Gershwin, 1935.

Dancing with caterpillars

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Valladolid, Spain — The Festival Internacional de Teatro y Artes de Calle (International Festival of Street Theater and Arts) filled the plazas this weekend in Valladolid, Spain. It was a fun conclusion to a first week in an accommodating city, lesser known to U.S. turistas then, say, Madrid or Barcelona or even Salamanca.

A university town in north-central Spain, Valladolid has some 300 thousand residents, joined by a semesterly influx of tentative Spanish language students from China, Japan, North America. Not yet proficient, we speak our common language to one another, English, but only out of earshot of los profesores. Even shopkeepers resist jumping into whatever English they have when we search for the right textbooks and unfamiliar incidentals, thus ensuring us the greatest bang for our language course bucks.

We stumble through classes with flamboyant professors, unsure if we’re saying we have hunger (hambre) or a man (hombre), but captivated by their cheerful enthusiasm for four hours a day.

We dine with our host families, who gather for their afternoon meals served with generous portions of patience, dictionaries on the side, and The Simpsons dubbed in Spanish.

We stroll the fringes of fans who fill sidewalk café tables with cervesas and cheers, watching evening futbol games, the reported source of the nation’s greatest polemics.

We root for Spain but hope Russia’s Babushki win Eurovision’s final spectacle of competing international singers, wondering if the universality of music is the intent or the two euros it costs to cast a cell phone vote while the Swedish winner comments on human rights violations in the host country of Azerbaijan.

We relax with Paulo Coelho in Plaza Mayor, worried that Generalísimo Franco’s seeds might lie dormant under its paving stones, devoid of the author’s hopeful vision, ever ready to reanimate in one form of fascism or another.

When the festival of street art launches, we watch jugglers, puppeteers, tumblers, magicians, who draw people from cafés and oficinas, from escuelas and mercados, eager for artful distractions from the day’s uncertainties.

We are transfixed by a dancer who performs with a Caterpillar Excavator, a waltz of man and machine, vulnerable grace and graceful brute, love and hate, dancing the dichotomies of the human condition.

Then the machine goes still. The man bows, walks away. And a child races pigeons to a fountain, certain she will win.


Crossposted at San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

REVIEW: “Sacré Bleu, a Comedy D’Art” by Christopher Moore

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

For all those who dread death by ennui in an art history course, there is now hope: Best-selling author Christopher Moore has created a rip-roaring romp through the fin-de-siècle art world in his new illustrated novel, Sacré Bleu, a Comedy D’Art.

If this magical mystery tour doesn’t turn you on to the finer points of turn-of-the-century Parisian aesthetes, the feuding factions of color theory, Georges Seurat’s pointillism — who cares! Moore’s latest addition to libraries of the absurd, profane and fantastically funny contains all that AND a wonderfully entertaining, partially true introduction to the painters who defined Europe’s turn-of-the-century Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art movements. Moore will be discussing the book at Mysterious Galaxy Books in Clairemont Mesa, Monday evening at 7.

Sacré Bleu is also a delightful example of Moore’s unpredictable creative emanations. The only sure thing is that whatever impressions he spews will be unique.

In his Vampire Trilogy, Moore took the urban fantasy genre and turned it on its – hmm, some interesting body part you wouldn’t expect. In his new exploration of art’s muses, Moore’s eye is once again astigmatic, tweaking the lens’ curve to reflect surprising background stories to his characters’ paintings. Moore has filled in the voids between now revered artists and their recorded exploits (think van Gogh, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Whistler, Renoir, Pissarro), with fanciful communications, couplings and adventures that connect their works to two mysterious characters who turn their canvasses blue, literally and figuratively.

Blue, as in “sacré bleu,” the color, Moore explains, of the Virgin Mary’s cloak, as dictated by the Church, circa 13th century forward. In its persistent elitism, the early Church made the fickle call that what was once sacred blood red should forevermore be blue, “and not any blue, but ultramarine blue, the rarest and most expensive color in the medieval painter’s palette.”

The mystery shrouded in blue becomes increasingly evident to the artists as they step back from their easels and look over at what the other guy has been doing and with whom — just as Monet’s famous Water Lilies gain definition with distance. What the painters discover is an outlandish pair of creatures, as inclined to inspire as to kill, if not both. And the quest to figure them out is on, before another artist is done in.

As good as the mystery is, one of the joys of Moore’s books is his artful and sometimes bawdy use of language, and the twists and turns of his plot provide him plentiful opportunity to have fun with words:

Vincent van Gogh, painting in a cornfield, hears “rustling behind him, and not just the soft applause of the cornstalks in the breeze.”

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, postcoitally naked but for his pince-nez and bowler hat, is expounding on the loveliness of his conquest to his newly arrived friend and painter, Lucien, when Lucien interrupts to report that, “Vincent van Gogh is dead.” Toulouse-Lautrec responds, “Oh, I had better put on some trousers, then.”

Lucien, as a child, loves artist Camille Pissarro’s daughter, Minette. Moore writes, “She inspired a love in Lucien so profound that it made him nearly breathless with the need to pull her hair and profess her passionate cooties to the world.”

The novel’s antagonist has a “voice like the crunch of gravel under a scoundrel’s shoes.”

A mysterious woman in Spanish lace quips that, “The Louvre’s a little pious, isn’t it? Can’t throw a round of darts in there without scoring three Madonnas and a baby Jesus. And Raphael was a lazy little fop.”

American expatriate artist James Whistler, whose portrait of his puritanical mother, “Arrangement in Gray and Black,” is now renowned, responds to a query about her health with, “Ah, Mother, she’s an arrangement in gray and black; her disapproval falls like a shadow across the ocean.”

The book is as rich with such wordplay as it is a wealth of tidbits of information about real paintings and their makers. And Moore has launched an online guide to the facts behind his book that serves as a nice companion to the work: If you have an eye for aesthetics, you will also appreciate the special features unique to the first edition of “Sacré Bleu”: full color reproductions of many paintings mentioned in the novel and the text’s blue ink, features that will be missing from subsequent editions.

Lover of art or not, “Sacré Bleu” is great fun fiction.

Monday 09 April 2012: Christopher Moore discusses and signs Sacré Bleu, 7 p.m., at Mysterious Galaxy Books, 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego
Info: 858-268-4747 or
Author’s website:


Crossposted at the North County Times and San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

Oceanside Arts Clash!


A day of Music, Art, Poetry and Literature

When? Saturday, Oct. 8, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Where? Corner of Tremont St. and Wisconsin

Come join as A Word with You Press celebrates its first anniversary as the hub for writers and artists in Oceanside

Live jazz band, author readings, poetry slam, art show, bbq, raffle; all to benefit our free children’s and young adult’s writing program

Kid Expression

“Every Kid has a story.  Let’s help them tell it”

Sponsored by A Word with You Press, Publishers and Purveyors of Fine Stories

More information for the event at



Fallbrook Film Festival Is Just Around the Corner

The Fallbrook Film Festival has launched a new website just in time for 2011 festival-goers to plan for the April event. The festival, hosted by UltraStar Cinemas at River Village in Bonsall, runs April 8, 9 and 10, with best of show films screening April 11 through 14.

This year the festival features 71 films, four professional workshops, celebrities such as Academy Award winning actress Shirley Jones, Director David Ellis, Producer Frank Capra III, Patron of the Arts award recipient Mary Perhacs, parties and more!

International, national and local films, two directly from Sundance Film Festival to us, and a number of the leading filmmakers in attendance, make for three exciting days followed by four more days of Best of Show.

We have four great workshops on Saturday, April 9, including themes for film lovers and filmmakers alike:

“Working With the RED Camera,” at 10 a.m., with Peter Hulst, cinematographer, will highlight the revolution of RED digital filmmaking.

“Growing Up Capra – Part 2,” at 11:30 a.m., with Frank Capra III, director, will continue the Capra family stories Capra shared at last year’s festival.

“If You Can Dream It, He Can Create It,” 1 p.m., with Barney Burman, 2010 Academy Award winning make-up artist for Star Trek, will demonstrate the art of special make-up for the big screen.

“How I Propelled Myself Into a Directing Career,” 2:30 p.m., with David R. Ellis, director and former stuntman, will let you in on Ellis’ secrets of more than three decades of success in show business, including directing Snakes on a Plane, Cellular, Final Destination 3D, plus 2nd unit directing on Matrix Reloaded, Harry Potter, etc.

Workshops tickets will be available at the festival.

If you are interested in volunteering opportunities, click here.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2011 Fallbrook Film Festival!

Fallbrookisms 16 December 2010

Seen leaving a little art store on Main Avenue

A Post-it on the door at eye level: “Call Mom Thursday.”

On South Mission

–      Did you see the artwork they installed at the library Friday?
–      That’s art?

Update: Jim Helms provided an image of the Turning Page Trellis. What do you think now?

At Café des Artistes

–      Starbucks coffee is a sacrilege.

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Photographing Artwork, People, & Objects in the Studio
Saturday December 4th    9:30am to 12:30pm
Cost: $20.00 including handouts

This class is for people who are interested in using low cost lighting equipment or natural light to photograph stationary objects in a studio like setting.  Participants will learn to adapt studio techniques to the home setting to improve the quality of photographs.  Basic studio lighting techniques are applicable to documenting artwork and to making digital photographs of artwork for submission to shows as well as to portraiture and photographing small objects such as jewelry, collectables and large objects like cars.  For students without access to lighting equipment we will demonstrate methods of using natural light effectively or improvising with home lamps.

For more information, visit

January 15th is FREE Open House & Early Registration

Meet the artists/instructors, watch them work, learn about their upcoming programs.  See live demonstrations of painting, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture and more. All ages are welcome to attend this event and tour the campus. Various activities will happen from 10am-4pm, no appointments necessary, drop-ins welcome or spend the day with us!  Fallbrook Arts Inc. members will have an opportunity to participate in some of the art activities, all materials will be provided.

For more information, visit

The Colonel Father Sir

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

A sign declaring him a sesquipedalianist adorned his office door. How like him, the lover of one-and-a-half foot long words, to proclaim his eccentricity so proudly and chuckle at it with the same enthusiasm. He ushered me in, showed me his computer, the Mobius strip I’d sculpted for him proudly displayed on a shelf, a mounted segment of sharkproof fiber-optics cable — his latest delight. It was my first visit as an adult to the place that consumed my father’s focus, second only to his church. I looked for clues to reveal his character, to teach me who was this man I’d known only as a father.

Returning briefly from another life, the opposite coast, his prodigal daughter, I was presented to his colleagues, had lunch in the executive dining room — and worried that he had designed a chance encounter with one of the bearded young PhDs. But the tensile strength of such an unlikely coupling was not to be tested, for I knew better: “Never marry an engineer,” my mother said, “They’re a humorless lot, too anal-retentive, your father excepted, of course.”

As we traveled the broad halls of Bell Labs, I saw a man in love with the potential of the human mind to realize a vision. A man honored by his peers and humbly delighted with their affections.

But still, I did not know him, this man who rolled up his sleeves but left his tie in place to putter in the yard after work. The weekend warrior who spoke not a word of the broken bodies he flew home from Vietnam. The same man who taught me to ride a bicycle, to catch and cradle a lacrosse ball without flinching, to search for answers not his own, to embrace the written word, to dream of fairy tales while digging life’s ditches.

There were many visits after that, one or the other of us leaping the bounds of human mobility to soar into the other’s living room and reminisce, dance around discussions of religion, gossip of absent family members, dine on ice cream and other sweet succor.

And as we aged together, my Great White Father slowly gained human proportions. He suffered a dose of cancer with discomfort and graceful humor, sobbed at a loved one’s addiction, lamented his failure to produce a hellfire of fundamentalists.

In his retirement, he built a boat in which to scour the seas for adventure. While it sat in his yard, never quite finished, he rigged a chair on deck and enjoyed his morning coffee — not too hot and just shy two-thirds of a teaspoon of sugar — at one with his horizon.

And I, at last, began to know him, this man who wanted me to be happy but was afraid to ask if I were. A man who reveled in sharing tales of the women he met during the last Great War, of the love letters he saved for fifty years. The man who drew lush pictures of my mother reclining nude and handed them down to those who drew their own. The man who danced with the feet of youth and cupped the ears of an old fogey to catch and cradle my words.

Later, he talked fondly of lost war buddies regained. He remembered the dying highway commuter he held, whose last words of love Father carried to the man’s wife. He bemoaned the foolishness and brash decisions of his youth, his failures as a father, his walk with a God unknown to me. And he laughed at escapades survived, disappointments endured, offspring playing the fool.

At times, when we met halfway across the country, I struggled to feel comfortable alone with my father, uncertain intimates in an uncommon place. No meal preparation for distraction, no siblings to bicker over bridge or charades. Just the amorphous relationship between us.

And then I watched him sleep, curled as a child, and I saw the vast years spread over him: seventy-three years, more than half of which we shared. There were a few I spent determined to hate him, but now I rue that we share them no more, for Father is long dead. But he surely soared to rest in the succulent hues of an Aubrey Beardsley landscape, his boat set to sail, for his is the soul of an artist, a fearful, brilliant artist turned to Christianity to sooth his passions and direct his life.

He was an aesthete, he was a genius, he was a holder of patents and a builder of sailing ships, he was one of the truly faithful and he was forgiven. Though he was not at peace with his progeny, he was loved and adored by us as only a good and kind man could be. And I am grateful to whatever God guided him that the Colonel Father Sir was mine.

He once said to me, “I am a dilettante; don’t follow in my footsteps.”

So tell me: How can I help but become him? Why would I want anything else?


©2010 Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Fallbrookisms 20 May 2010

Anonymous: I have more drama in my family than resides in the racks of an Amazon distribution center.

Davis Sedaris, on his forthcoming book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, a collection of animal fables: Why animals? Because it’s easier to write — everyone knows what a rabbit looks like.

At Fallbrook Art Center: I hate his paintings so much they make my soul cry.

At Fallbrook’s Writers Read creative writing workshops — a two-sentence plot: He sat rocking back and forth, the accident covering his thoughts like pus. Liquor it was, the goddamned liquor.

– Lillian Lelito

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Fallbrookisms 18 March 2010

At Café des Artistes

My daughter was in 4-H in Fallbrook — until she learned they eat the animals.

Born-again virgin: I don’t have an artistic bone in my body.
Artist: Would you like one?

Patron 1: I’ve been a serial monogamist for almost twenty-five years.
Patron 2: Why have you done that?
Patron 1: Safety in numbers.

Michael: Some crazy person punched in one of the front windows last night.
Bob: This is California. The lawyer will say the window shouldn’t have been there.

On art exhibits: If you get them drunk and horny, they’ll buy art.

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