While “ART ESCAPE AT ALCATRAZ” – an art exhibit that was on display from May 1st-June 30th - has come to an end, music that was played in the Band Practice Room “gallery” space lives on.

I thought it would be so neat to have live acoustic music performed in that same space as a way to add dimension and richness to the artwork on display, as well as to entertain and draw visitors to the island into the Band Practice Room’s exhibit at the very end of their video tour.

On June 17th, Mill Valley musician – Rand Dobleman (whose day job is master custom motorcycle and Ducati painter) – played solo on his National Style Chrome Guitar, and the following Saturday (6/24),  musician/singers/songwriters -  Dore Coller and Matt Lacques (both Mill Valley based musicians) performed Blues, Blue Grass and old prison songs including “Hard Times”.    Even the National Parks Rangers and Alcatraz Crew wandered into the room to listen to and enjoy the music!

PS  Special thanks to all the Alcatraz Audio Tour Crew who helped alert the public to the show.

Thanks For Listening.


Leslie Lakes, Director


Photo legend:

Rand Dobleman

(L) Dore Coller and (R) Matt Laques

Alcatraz Audio Tour Crew:

(Left to Right): Ira, Matt, Adam, Alex, and Fred

Band Practice Room Panos by Barry Toranto



Tribute to my new friend, Bill Baker

had the pleasure and opportunity to meet Mr. Bill Baker- one of the last surviving prisoners from Alcatraz when it was still serving as a Federal Penitentiary - when I first installed the "Art Escape at Alcatraz" exhibit in  the Band Practice Room at Alcatraz. Before even approaching and speaking to Bill, I happened to pick up a copy of his book - ALCATRAZ - 1259 and flipped to the first sentence of Chapter Nine (page 79) and read:

"How did I wind up in Alcatraz?  Good question.  But I don't know; must have been something I did".

 Well, that clinched it for me.  Loved his tongue in cheek sense of humor and immediately knew that I was not only going to enjoy reading his book, but that if his book honestly reflected the man, I'd like Bill, too!  Personally, I feel that his book should be on the NY TIMES bestsellers list. Such excellent writing that I asked Bill (with all due respect) if he used a ghost writer. "Nope"  "Every word is my own",he responded.  I said " missed your calling.  Instead of forging counterfeit checks, you should have been a writer!"

In the interim, I approached a few of the incarcerated artists I work with to create a portrait of Bill and here are three to share with you.

PS  Bill is also an accomplished guitarist.  Here's Bill Baker rockin’ at Alcatraz

PPS  We all grow older and wiser and CHANGE! Enjoy!


Leslie Lakes, Director


Colored Pen Drawing by Trevor Jones; WA


Black Ink Drawing by Jeremy J. Hammill; FL


Portrait of Bill Baker by Phouc Nguyen; TX





P.A.T.H. and all incarcerated artists wish you a very happy safe and fun-filled Fourth of July.  We all value and cherish independence.

Enjoy the drawing by incarcerated artist - Ricky Zepeda; CA   Ricky shares the following which comes from on old Buddhist saying , which is also reflected in the Masonic order regarding a person's character.“Though one should conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, he who conquers his own self, is the greatest of all conquerors.”

A person’s character is but an effect of his own thoughts and set of beliefs; not realizing this makes him a slave of circumstances.  To start a journey that will set him free is to realize this great truth.  A mason is reminded that he travels  in that level of time to that undiscovered country where no traveler ever returns.  He must therefore learn how to conquer himself. 


image caption: Colored pen drawing by Ricky Zepeda; CA




Creating music starts with an idea. 

On June 18th, 2015 a day after I returned home from a vacation in the South of France, I attended the AIC (Arts in Corrections) Conference at SFU.  And, was most fortunate to meet and speak with Sara Lee, Artistic Director  of the London based Irene Taylor Trust “Music in Prisons”

I asked Sara if her group of musicians would be willing to compose original fare (lyrics and music) for the “Art Escape at Alcatraz” exhibit/event (yet to take place).  So, that same month her prison music group was set a challenging task - to write a song about Alcatraz, a place none of them knew much about, or had ever really given much thought. Few of them had even seen the Clint Eastwood film

The music was composed by the group as a whole, and three men contributed lyrics, each of them differing in their response to the task. The first two vocalists opted to use Alcatraz as a metaphor for loneliness and isolation. ‘D’, the first MC opens the account with the lyric "Prison can be lonely, dreamin' of the nights you used to hold me, now I'm prayin' for the day when they parole me". ‘D’ sings of uncertainty (he's on an indeterminate sentence and was turned down for release by probation on the day we recorded this song), loneliness, how his child was born while he was in prison and the hope that his partner will be there for him on release.

‘C’ then assumes up the vocal and his take on the isolation and loneliness of "The Rock"-the metaphor is that no matter how much outside forces try to break him with solitude, he is in fact not alone, and with family support and his faith in a higher power, he will prevail. His chorus: "Oh, wi' de chains an ting, Alcatraz is where dey want me fae live my story, tol', wid me fait' I sing, I'm no island, my strengt' is within."

 The final vocalist ‘DD’ gives an up-tempo 16 bars summarising the story of Alcatraz as a prison, a history lesson personalised by such statements as "Alcatraz is in America but I'm a Cockney".

So, for the first time in history, may I proudly present music and lyrics to:


“Oh, with the chains and things

Alcatraz is where they want me to live my story told

With my faith I sing

I’m no island, my strength is within


Never been robbed but then a rocket could have robbed me

Alcatraz is in America but I’m a cockney

I would have planned to escape but done it properly

Al Capone and Bumpy Johnson had to ride it ** me


They had to deal with times of prohibition

Criminals rich, now to break a mission

Put them on a rock in the ocean and call it prison

Try to break spirit of violence but no-one listens


Nineteen thirty four to nineteen sixty three

It took them twenty nine years before they realised its peak

Government were live baby, sucking on a teat

We’re now a tourist attraction for everyone to see


They should have known from day one it wouldn’t work

Spending all that money man the government got jerked,

Hiring officers, muscles bulging out their shirts,

I’m sure they learned from their mistakes but I doubt it’ll be the first.

© 2016

The Irene Taylor Trust Co.





P.A.T.H. wishes every Dad, far and wide a very HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Father's Day is when Dad can have his candy and eat it, too!  Plus, Dad has every right to take a nap! Enjoy!  Have Fun!  

Leslie Lakes, Director

Art credits: 
"Hard Candy" Coffee painting using tightly rolled up tissues as a paint brush by Jeremy J. Hammill; FL

"Tired Baby" Coffee painting using tightly rolled up tissues as a paint brush by Jeremy J. Hammill; FL



Softening ‘The Rock’

Paul Liberatore and John Cantwell inside Whitey Bulger's old cell

Paul Liberatore and John Cantwell inside Whitey Bulger's old cell


When award-winning  journalist – Paul Liberatore– and freelance photographer – James Cacciatore accompanied me to ‘The Rock’ on Tuesday May 30th, their mission was to conduct an interview and take photos of the current  “Art Escape at Alcatraz” exhibit in the Band Practice Room.  We were treated to a special tour of the prison and island by longtime National Parks Service Ranger, John Cantwell. Before he concluded the tour, we were invited to climb to the tippy top of the Alcatraz Island lighthouse. WOW!  That was ever so thrilling!  I daresay that both Paul and James were tickled pink (and couldn’t have been more boyish) and I was equally up for the challenge and high adventure of a lifetime!

Paul called me again this past Thursday to ask a few more questions before writing his bang up piece “Mill Valley artist goes to 'the Rock' to curate 'Art Escape at Alcatraz’”, which appeared on the...get this... FRONT PAGE of today’s (Sunday, June 11th) “MARIN IJ”.

Woo Hoo!

Ii is superbly well written and I hope it reaches and touches many people far and wide to give insight into the plight of inmates (and inmate artists) in the penal system today. Please share!

PS  Feel free to check out Paul’s Facebook Page

Enjoy, and blessings galore!

Leslie Lakes, Director

Jame and Paul taking pics inside lighthouse

Jame and Paul taking pics inside lighthouse

Ranger John and James taking pics of Paul on top of lighthouse

Ranger John and James taking pics of Paul on top of lighthouse

Leslie hanging close to outside lighthouse

Leslie hanging close to outside lighthouse


Leslie: Look hands!



SUMMER OF LOVE...Yes, even at Alcatraz!


It's the SUMMER OF LOVE and P.A.T.H. invites you to take a trip down memory lane through the June issue of the new and fabulous MARIN ARTS & CULTURE Magazine.

Want to know what the Alluring Voices are all about at Alcatraz Prison these days?  Contributing writer - Valerie Shaw -  will gladly fill you in!

Whether you are local to the Marin County, CA and San Francisco Bay area or not, this elegant and well designed online magazine has a lot to offer, and will keep you well entertained and informed with a variety of fun happenings in the art it fashion, food, music, visual art, theater, name it!.  And for a nominal annual subscription rate to boot.

PS  Took a few more pics when I was back out at the island.  Here is the abandoned Warden's House situated across from the still standing Coast Guard lighthouse.  Also came across a family of geese while walking up the stone path to the prison. Here you have a proud Papa goose struttin' his stuff in front; flanked by Junior gossling in the middle; with a watchful Mama following close behind.
It's a wonderful sight to see because while not unusual, it's rare to come across gosslings maturing on the island due to the onslaught of Western Gulls who steal the eggs before they hatch.



Leslie Lakes, Director





....but is straight from the heart!

Enjoy this new article by Judith M. Gallman featured in the June issue of Bay area’s “BAY WOOF” magazine.

Also for your viewing pleasure are several other canine drawings by the talented incarcerated artists I work with.  


Leslie Lakes, Director

Artwork credit:

Evie; graphite on paper by Coleman Pannell; KS

Happy Dog; Coffee painting by Jeremy H. Hammill; FL

Shaggy Pooch; Colored pens by Chris Avitea; CA

King; Colored pencils by Ernie Garcia; CA

Lazy Dog; Acrylic paints on canvas by Scott North; PA

Chihuahua in Teacup; black pen by Brad Hart; CA



Capone's Laundry is Just the Ticket in the Band Practice Room

Imagine Al Capone washing and pressing your shirts.  Or, shining your shoes.  How about helping with your homework?

While the stories and scenarios in Gennifer Choldenko's books are fictional in nature, Al Capone himself was a very real, larger than life character and personality.  A man who wore banana yellow suits, silk underwear, sported diamond pinky rings and regaled his cronies with his Italian Mama’s homemade cooking…just as easily as he’d get you bumped off for crossing him in mob affairs.

On Sunday, May 21st –  same day as the annual Bay to Breakers race that took place in San Francisco – P.A.T.H. presented and the National Park Service hosted award winning, young adult author - Gennifer Choldenko  - who provided three separate powerpoint presentations and book signings in the Band Practice Room at Alcatraz.  Yes…in the same room where Al Capone played and practiced his 8 stringed mandola and ended up forming the Rock Islanders Band.  

After visitors filed in to take seats on the several long wooden benches set up in the Band Practice Room, Ms. Choldenko proceeded to captivate her audience with tidbits of the history of the prison during Capone’s incarceration.  And, if you had the opportunity to shake Ms. Choldenko’s hand, you would have shaken the hand that shook the hand, that shook the hand, that shook the hand (and so on and so forth - so many time degrees of separation) that SHOOK THE HAND …OF CAPONE!


Leslie Lakes, Director

Mixed media painting of Al Capone is by Ely Legerdemain; UT



A "Lollypop" Sunday at Alcatraz

At the risk of stealing ex-convict/author, Bill Baker’s descriptive modifier, I set off for Alcatraz by bus from Marin County to San Francisco this most sublime “lollypop” * afternoon.

Having descended at the stop before last, I made a straight bee line for the Ferry Building, hung a sharp left and walked up Embarcadero, past sunglass-clad pedestrians sporting souvenir T-shirts and SF Giants caps; pushing strollers, walking dogs, riding rickshaws and dining al fresco at cafes along the way. Weather-wise, it was definitely what you’d describe as a 10+ day, the kind of day that makes you giddy from just being alive. 

Upon setting foot on the Alcatraz dock, I quickly encountered Ranger Steve (Stephen Cote)who took me on the most amazing private tour – to places on the island I had never before seen. Enthralled with lush gardens (a horticulturist’s paradise); diverse bird life (Geese and goslings; a snowy white egret nesting, a mass of black cormorants dotting the rocks at the water’s edge below) and varied views of the bay from every possible perspective of the island. 

When I arrived at The Band Practice Room, it was filled with a stream of visitors who took their time to look at and enjoy all the artwork lining the walls. Not to mention all the positive comments, names and places people were from, already filling up the Guest Sign In book.  And this just the first week out since the show opened on May 1st.  WOW!

*Page 23; ALCATRAZ 1259; William G. Baker

Leslie Lakes, Director




With little sleep the night before and up again by 5am Wednesday morning (4/26), I packed up all the artwork and brought it outside awaiting Barry's arrival.

Barry and I load up the car.

After hitting crazy commuter traffic in San Francisco, we pull up to Pier 33 at 10am where Sabrina Bedford - Art in the Parks Coordinator(Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy) meets us and arranges for us to park, as well as provides two large rolling carts for the artwork and supplies.

After disembarking the ferry on the Alcatraz dock side, we approach a truck (driven by Ranger Sarah).

Barry in the back of the truck before I climb up with him to ride the long winding curving hill up to the prison entrance.

We simultaneously held our breath as we entered the Band Practice Room, because just a week before, there was still major construction taking place. Whew! All cleared out.  And, I was thrilled to see that the protective plastic coverings on all the windows were also removed to allow natural light to flow in.  Now, ready for us to get to work.

We contemplate the room; lay out all the art and figure out a plan of attack for the major installation job ahead. 

Before we left, Barry adjusts the lighting tracks above to focus on the artwork.  We both ran down the hill and within a hair's breadth, made the 5:55pm ferry back to the San Francisco side before the gates closed.

Leslie Lakes, Director




Summary of key tasks performed for the upcoming show:

TUES, 2/28:  Fellow artist/photographer, Barry Toranto and I headed over to the Band Practice Room (BPR) at Alcatraz to scope out the current tracking system; take measurements of available wall space; note all functioning electrical outlets, etc.  At the time, the room was clear with the exception of a tall ladder and plastic covering the windows to protect dust entering the room from current exterior construction.

SAT,  3/11:  I headed over to MICHAELS Framing Department with all 43 pieces ofartwork that needed to be custom matted and framed.  Was at the counter working with their expert framers from 3:15pm-8:45pm

SUN 4/9:  Back at MICHAELS to pick up and load the car with all finished framed artwork.  Bumping into art in every room and corner imaginable at our home!   

WED 4/12:  Barry and I return to Alcatraz to drop offhand constructed wood easels for signage purposes, as well as test chains we purchased from Goodman's Hardware. Originally, we were figuring to use formal art tracking wires, but a month away from the installation, we were informed by Parks Service that as best that they looked in their storage area, they were unable to locate them.  So, Barry devises a different plan. His new moniker- "Brillant Barry"! 

WED 4/19:  I'm back at Pier 33 to catch the 10:30am ferry across to Alcatraz. The BPR is still cluttered with construction, but I was assured by a Parks Staff person that the room would be cleared prior to 4/26.  With only five more days before the scheduled installation , Barry and I have had to resort to ordering spools of ball chain and "A" hooks from a NY company to be shipped Priority for Monday morning delivery.   

This weekend, I'll be printing out all the art title cards and artists' Bios. 

That's showbiz, folks!  More to come..............

Leslie Lakes, Director




Shortly after spending time with me, my husband and two kitty girls in Mill Valley, CA, last month, Keith returned to the East Coast to get ready to resume his U.S. circuit tour and speeches with THE INNOCENCE PROJECT.  This time, Keith -  all duded up in a suit but never losing his southern twang -  addressed a panel of Washington, DC Senators and forensic scientists; to tell them his emotional story and vital need for changes in policies and more work on evidence and forensic science.

Many people in the hotel where Keith stayed cornered him to pay acknowledge him and pay respects.

Check out Frank Green's Richmond News article and pics that Keith sent me.


Leslie, Director




It's been a year since Keith Allen Harward walked out of prison on April 8, 2016.  With the expert help of The Innocence Project, Keith was exonerated and a free man at long last after wrongly serving more than 33 years for a rape and murder he did not commit.

I had been corresponding with Keith since the beginning of 2006 after having purchased a beautiful drawing he had created of a Goldfinch on clover via the Fifth Annual Inmate Art Auction (December 2005) hosted by The Fortune Society, NYC. 

While it's been a decade, 250+ letters and numerous drawings later, I had not had an opportunity to meet and spend time with Keith in person...until March 26th, when he flew into SFO airport.  

Keith stayed with me, my husband and our two kitty girls for a couple of days before he had to fly back home to North Carolina. And in those two days, we painted the town by attending the Vince Gill/Lyle Lovett performance at Marin Center; taking a long leisurely hike out at Blackie's Pasture in Tiburon; and enjoying coffee and snacks at an outdoor table at the Mill Valley Depot Cafe


Photos: Keith's goldfinch pastel drawing; Keith overlooking San Francisco from Twin Peaks; Keith sitting on bench at Blackie's pasture, Tiburon; Keith hugging statue of Blackie; Leslie and Keith at Mill Valley Depot Cafe




This coming May-June 2017, P.A.T.H. present’s “ART ESCAPE AT ALCATRAZ”: A pictorial and historical tribute to the history of ‘The Rock’ through original works of art and poetry by incarcerated artists from around the U.S.     

After three years of persistent submission of formal application to the Art in the Parks Conservancy of San Francisco, P.A.T.H was given the 'thumbs up' to gain access to and use The BAND PRACTICE ROOM at Alcatraz for this very special show. 

So, on early Tuesday morning February 28th, artist photographer friend, Barry Toranto and I headed out to the island where we met up with Sabrina Bedford (Art and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Golden Gate Parks Service) to scope out the venue space; take measurements and notes as to everything we’ll need for the upcoming art installation. So exciting!

After all the heavy deluge of rainfall we’ve had in this area, we were initially concerned about what the weather was going to be like that day.  But we sure hit the jackpot that day!  Alcatraz island is a photographer’s delight. Check out the series of pics and enjoy!

Leslie Lakes, Director




It's a time honored day to celebrate and express our love and appreciation - to and for our spouses, partners, children, parents, friends,  co-workers...even our beloved pets!  

For me, one of the ways I express my love and compassion is through diligent work with P.A.T.H. - to help validate and give inmate artists a voice, acknowledgment and a sense of purpose. To paraphrase West African Elder, Malidoma Patrice Somé, PhD:

“Purpose is the foundation of human life in this plane. And, purpose provides a certain kind of deeper meaning to a human being’s experience as such.

I know and understand that we all have lots of financial responsibilities these days - me, too!   But, if you feel moved to support P.A.T.H. in its mission...even the smallest amount ($3, $5, $10 or more), whatever works for you in your budget is greatly appreciated and will be well used. Simply click on the heart below to donate. And, you can select to make the donation anonymous if you prefer:  



PS: If you need a formal receipt with our non-profit EIN number for tax purposes...just ask!   

Thank you, and God bless you! 

Leslie, Director

Art credits: "She Loves me, Loves Me Not" (Carlos E. Galindo/CA); "Love Birds" (Anonymous); "Teddy Bear Valentine" (Jack. L. Morris/ CA); "Kisses" (Jeremy H. Hammill/ FL)



ANIMALIA MUSICALE: A Chorus of Critters

ANIMALIA MUSICALE: A Chorus of Critters will kick off with an Opening Reception on Wednesday February 1st between 6pm-8pm in the Redwood Foyer at the Marin Center in San Rafael, CA.

The event is Free and Family Friendly. 

Refreshments will be provided and music students from E.L.M. will be in attendance between 6:15-7pm to perform.  

Also, there will be a raffle for four individual, music theme related pieces of framed original artwork.  See pics provided.  


Looking forward to seeing your there!


Leslie, Director

Art credits:  "Bird Tunes" Charcoal drawing by Victor Garcia (CA); "Celestial Airs" Acrylic Painting of violinist, Yehudi Menuhin on board by Alex Nold (AZ); "Majesty of Music" by Jonathan Scott French (MO) and "Music Calling"; charcoal drawing by Victor Garcia (CA).




Better late than never

Snow Goose" by Scott North; PA

Snow Goose" by Scott North; PA


Yes, I know…not only have I not posted a blog in over four months, but January 1st has already come and gone.  Like the age old adage…”better late than never”!

Still, my apologies for taking so long.

The delay in posting a blog since last September 2016? Mainly due to having been incredibly busy preparing for two major P.A.T.H. art events. The first being “ANIMALIA MUSICALE: A Chorus of Critters” at the Marin Center in San Rafael, CA with an Opening Reception date of Wednesday, February 1st from 6-8pm. Please refer to the Events section of this website for more info.  The second being the upcoming May-June 2017 “ART ESCAPE AT ALCATRAZ” event, which has taken up a great deal of my time.   For more info on the latter, please refer to Call to Artists page on the website. 

Nonetheless, I very much wanted to wish you, your loved ones and friends a very Healthy, Happy, Prosperous, Joyful and Creative 2017! 


Leslie, Director


1 Comment


"Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie Was a guard in years gone by; (At) Alcatraz he met the worst, Fred and Joseph were the first".

I recently had the opportunity and pleasure to meet *George deVincenzi *at the Mill Valley Depot Cafe. Even though I had originally offered to meet hm in San Francisco, George insisted on driving over the Golden Gate Bridge to meet me in my hometown of Mill Valley.

We found a table inside the Mill Valley Depot cafe (would have sat outside but it was misty and chilly from the fog that had not yet lifted) and sat and talked for about an hour. George is a lovely man - 90 years old going on 60! A thoroughly charming, interesting and well versed man with a lifetime of fascinating experiences and true stories to tell and share.

George expressed a possible interest n participating P.A.T.H.'s ALCATRAZ art show slated for sometime next year (date TBD by the Art in the Parks Conservancy of San Francisco). So, keep your eye open for date confirmation.

In the meantime, George wrote a book titled MURDERS ON ALCATRAZ, which is available for purchase at the Alcatraz gift store, as well as Amazon and other online sources.

NOTE: Reference to Fred and Joseph in my revised version of the classic children's poem refers to a physical altercation that took place between two inmates during Mr. DeVincenzi's first 15 minutes of guard duty on his first day of work in 1950 at Alcatraz. That altercation that George rushed in to interrupt resulted in the murder of one Joseph Barsock.

Blessings, Leslie, Director

1 Comment



Dear Friends ...... I just HAD to share this true story with you. It’s a little longer than a usual blog, but well worth reading! Received this from my friend and former co-volunteer at San Quentin State Prison. ENJOY! Leslie

“Earlier this week as I headed for the frozen food section at Trader Joes, honing in on a specific item, I saw a brown envelope laying smack-dab on top of my edamame. "OPEN ME" it said. I picked it up and turned it over. "Yes You!" it said. Oh goodie! Trader Joes is hiding envelopes around the store with secret $5 coupons inside! But no. Instead I found a folded up piece of paper, *handwritten not copied, *in different colored crayon, which you can read below.

It was a classic Candid Camera moment with me looking around to see who was watching me. Did someone leave this just for me? Was it a friend who saw me in the store? An employee? Where was the camera? But I was the only one in that aisle -- pretty unusual for a busy Trader Joes!

Needless to say,* I* L O V V V V V V E D finding this note on top of *the one thing* I was buying from the freezer that day! And I needed that message, too. Which has me wondering how I can "Pay it Forward" by leaving anonymous little notes for a stranger to find. Just the thought makes my heart feel good.

A perfect way to end this story is to relay a conversation I had yesterday with one of the inmates I volunteer with at San Quentin. He was wondering if any of his work with other inmates was making a difference and if they were even hearing his good advice. I told him about The Note In The Freezer and asked him if he remembered any little tidbits from long ago that someone might have told him. Maybe even as a throw-away line? After thinking a minute, Kevin shared that his son, who is now 30, still remembers something that Kevin used to tell him when the son was 4 or 5 years old. Namely, the answer to the question *"What is the biggest room in the Universe?"* is "The Room for Improvement."

You can think about that answer any way you like, but the reality of that story is that we are all farmers. Farmers who sow seeds. Seeds we may never see sprouting, but we sow them nonetheless! Like it or not. I love the thought of being a Farmer who sows inspiring/good/fun/helpful/delightful seeds for others to find. How about you?”

Sending Blessings from the Universe for YOU! - Susanne M. Karch