Deborah Tobola’s personal memoir HUMMINGBIRD IN UNDERWORLD: TEACHING IN A MEN'S PRISON aptly reflects the title’s namesake.  Her delicious imagery and poetry, as well as first class writing style is as colorful, iridescent and luminous as a hummingbird’s feathers.   As a hummingbird displays unique dexterity, ability and agility to fly (always upright) in various planes; forwards and backwards, so does Ms. Tobola as she recounts her life and work.

Seamlessly moving back and forth between worlds growing up as a child in southern California and her adult life experiences teaching in the field of Arts in Corrections, her book is riveting and commands our attention from first to last page. 

Exquisite writing style aside, Ms. Tobola gives the reader a glimpse into a world less known by most - the harsh setting contrasted by the redemptive quality of men (given the opportunity to be acknowledged and create original theater) in a men’s California prison.

I highly recommend this book! You will not be disappointed.


Leslie Lakes, Director

Copyright © 2019 by Deborah Tobola

She Writes Press, Berkeley, CA

ISBN: 978-1-63152-505-6

Cover Design by Leah Lococo / Front Cover illustration © Shutterstock

Drawing of hummingbird against prison bars by Guillermo Willie 


Pitbulls Find Favor At Freedom Home

Not long ago, I came across a site on Instagram called“pittbullsandaddicts” and with my love for people and animals, immediately became smitten and moved by the work of its Founder - Mike Favor.   Mike is also Founder of “Outside Your Elements” Program at FREEDOM HOME in Staten Island, NY.

What initially grabbed my attention were posts of his dog Joey (aka “Roo”) that Mike rescued.  Joey’s front legs had been cruelly amputated, and Mike took on the responsibility to adopt, love, care for and rehabilitate the dog.  Joey’s resilience and canine affection are a testament to successful adaptation, healing and survival.  Joey’s a warrior, not to mention a major inspiration.  In fact, I was so touched by Mike’s work and passion (as well as his personal background story) that PATH donated several dozen individually packaged, dog themed art note cards, as well as a large detailed pen ink drawing (all created by the talented inmate artists I work with) for Mike to sell or auction off in order to help raise funds for his needs.  

A little background info: 

Mike has worked tirelessly as a carpenter and contractor (re)building custom decks, fireplaces, tree houses, barns, outside dog kennels etc., while simultaneously saving, rehabilitating and adopting out Pittbulls and other dogs.   His Pitbull, Arya saved his life and helped Mike remain on the road of sobriety.  Mike has been sober since March 26, 2016.  The caring for and loving his dog proved to be beneficial and therapeutic on so many levels. It not only built Mike’s confidence, but held him accountable to his work and personal responsibilities.  It gave Mike purpose to live and remain sober! 

Mike’s real passion is Pittbull rescue and mentoring recovering addicts to stay sober through his “Outside the Elements” program.  By removing addicts from their environment (or out of their elements) and  into “ Freedom Home”  (a 4000 sq. ft wood enclosed foster home for abused, neglected and abandoned animals) offers recovering addicts an opportunity to work with Pittbulls and to live, work and learn viable and positive life skills that will help them remain sober. – ALL EXPENSE FREE!!!!!! 

And, yet, this can only be made possible through support by others.  

If you feel so inclined, you can remit funds in any amount, large or small to Mike’s GoFundMe account by logging on HERE!                                     



Leslie Lakes, Director

Art credits:

“Resolute Breed” blue pen ink drawing by Pete Zarogoza; Utah

Pitbull Puppy by Pete Zarogoza

"Worst of the Worst" pastel drawing by Victor Garcia

Photos of Mike Favor and his dogs at Freedom Home



Well, it’s finally happened!  Since I had initially approached Ms. Rachael Penman, Director of Artifacts & Exhibits a little over 15 months ago to propose and pique her interest in a special show of inmate artwork, it’s come to fruition!  PATH's  “Art Escape at Alcatraz” is installed and on public display as a new temporary exhibit at the ALCATRAZ EAST CRIME MUSEUM  in Pigeon Forge TN. 

This show has received so much media attention: no less than 13 online and print articles including a short and sweet video by a local Pigeon Forge, TN news team that you can watch HERE.

Since it would be too extensive to list all the articles, here is one that features inmate artist, Trevor Jones’ work, and another that features the multiple artwork of Klab Koss’ Al Capone; Jeremy J. Hammill’s portrait of William G. Baker (a former Alcatraz Penitentiary inmate and author of a biography titled Alcatraz 1259), as well as Andrew Valencia’s “The Takeover” at Alcatraz.  

You can well imagine my delight when Ms. Rachael Penman wrote to tell me: “Hi Leslie! It (the installation) turned out AMAZING! Everyone on staff is saying it's their favorite temp exhibit”.

This temporary exhibit will be on display through May 1, 2020.  So, if you or anyone you know is planning to visit that part of Tennessee, please tell them to check it out! 

Thank you! 


Leslie Lakes, Director



PATH is interviewed by Peter B. Collins at MARIN TV

On Thursday August 1st, I had the opportunity to appear on local American talk radio host – Peter B. Collins’ show at the MARIN TV studio in San Rafael to discuss PATH, show and share inmate art, as well as PATH’s important and exciting upcoming events - One in particular at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN.  But, more about the Alcatraz Art Escape show later!

For those who are interested, you can upload and watch the 28 minutes archived video interview by logging on HERE!  

Some of the points covered during the course of the interview include, PATH’s background and beginnings; PATH’s Mission, implementation and benefits to the community; and various exhibits PATH has installed since its inception in 2015; the importance of art in the prison system; the myriad of wonderful artwork and hand crafted sculptures created by incarcerated artists; how incarceration not only affects the inmate, but their respective families and communities, as well.  

Peter B. Collins also shares with his talk show audience his own experiences with a death row inmate at San Quentin and his art.

Thank you Peter for inviting me.  And, a special thanks shout out to to recording engineer, Carl Laur for his marvelous editing work.

Hope you enjoy! Thank you as always for your interest.  Any comments are always welcome.

Important:  Please note that the political views of the show’s host may not necessarily be that of PATH, PATH’s fiscal sponsor – MarinLink – or that of the incarcerated artists affiliated with PATH.

Leslie Lakes, Director



Regarding my post on the PATH Blog on August 13th about inmate artist, Alfredo Arredondo's passing… I have just learned that I was given some serious misinformation about Alfredo.  It was actually a different inmate who passed!  Although no one's passing is ever a happy affair, I am happy to report that Alfredo Arredono is still very much alive!!!  So sorry to have unwittingly passed along that misinformation!

So, with humorous reference to the late celebrated American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer  - MARK TWAIN -  who once stated that : “… the reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated!”.

Humbly and Sincerely,

Leslie Lakes, Director

Art credits:

Bull Dog Soldier and Bull dog puppy cadet by Alfredo Arredondo

In Memory of PATH Artist - Alfredo Arredondo

Sadly, this morning I discovered (through another inmate at Calipatria, CA State Prison) that one of the participating PATH artists had just passed away at the young age of 55. 

I had been corresponding fairly regularly with Alfredo Raigosa Arredondo since November 2014 when he had eagerly responded to a “Call to Incarcerated Artists” that I had put out via a radio interview broadcast.  It was aired on "SISTA"S PLACE" KHSU90.5 (Sharon Fennell's groovy radio program now defunct) from Humboldt State University, and one which he was able to pull in while incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison in nearby Crescent City, CA.

The last letter I received from Alfredo was dated July 4th, 2019.  He wrote to tell me that his 84 year old Mom had a mild stroke over this past Memorial Day weekend, and that he wished that he could be out of prison so he could help take care of her.  Ironically, he wrote: “I’m dreading the day she goes with our good Lord , but it’s part of living...we all have to go sometime”.  “I can’t tell her ‘Thank You!’ for the 55 years she has always been a part of my life.  And, I appreciate everything she’s done for me.  Well, I’m looking forward on crossing paths again with my little Mom”. 

Alfredo mentioned that he had received the photos and postcard I had mailed him from my March trip to Paris, France.  He wrote that was in the process of finishing up a Western Mexican’s Black Breasted Mag-Pie  drawing for PATH’s  "Birds, Bees, Butterflies and Flowers" exhibit scheduled for August 2020.

Alfredo had been out of S.H.U. (Segregated Housing Unit) since Oct 2015 and as all his letters to me attest, had been busy accruing educational certificates and most recently passed his G.E.D. exam on the very first try!  

He proudly shared that he was planning on taking two courses this very month of August: one in Counseling Strategies for College Success and a Political Science course on the American Government.  He had previously enrolled into Coastline College for this upcoming Fall Season which is to start August 26th. Apart from the courses outlined above, Alfredo was looking forward to taking Psychology Child Growth and Development, as well as Business Personal Finance.

Alfredo had dreams of becoming a General Contractor and mentor upon being released from prison.  He even had a Parole Board Hearing date scheduled for 2023, which again and most sadly, he will never have the chance to attend.

Per his response to several questions on the “FUTURE ID’S OF ALCATRAZ” questionnaire, Alfredo shared that his passion was to help others. Pleasing others was his reward. Three things he loved to do as a child were:  Swimming at the public swimming pool; target practice with his BB gun from the tree house; and raising pigeons and chickens. 

God bless you, mi amigo en arte.  May you rest in peace. 

Leslie Lakes, Director


Alfredo's Self Portrait

Photo of his daughter and granddaughter

Excerpt from a letter he wrote me.


Yesterday, I installed a new (one of many rotating quarterly inmate art exhibits) within the lobby of the Marin County Public Defenders’ office (Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, CA).  This time, it’s an interesting potpourri of prison artwork including a panoply of panos art (art created on handkerchiefs and/or fabric such as Pete Zepeda’s XXLG T-Shirts). 

Most of the artwork is available for purchase including Pete’s A BREED RESOLUTE - an incredibly detailed blue pen drawing on a man’s XXLG white T-Shirt. 50% of funds from the sale of this art will directly benefit the Cover Your K-9 Fundwhich provides safety equipment and medical care for police and sheriff's dogs, and other working K-9 teams.  

If feasible, check out the art in person: 

3501 Civic Center Dr # 139, San Rafael, CA

Hours: Monday thru Friday8am-Noon/1pm-4:30pm



MUHHAMAD ALI by Jeremy J. Hammill 

ALL AMERICAN by Wesley Moosman 

WORLD OF PARADISE by Michael Antonio Gonzales (CA) 

STANDING BULL by Young Blood Frank McCray 

A LOVE LETTER by Benevidez (Panos Art) 

KOLORFUL KOI by W. Rey (Panos Art) 

CALL TO THE WILD by Pete Zarogoza (Panos Art) 

A BREED RESOLUTE by Pete Zarogoza (Panos Art)

LARGE MARILYN by Anonymous Inmate Artist 

WOLF DREAMING OF RABBITS by R. Williams, III (Panos Art)  

THREE HORSES by Anonymous Inmate Artist 

FRIDA KAHLO by Anthony (Sonny) Ramirez (SQSP, CA)

THE POWER OF COMFORT by Jeremy J. Hammill 

SEVEN SINS by Anonymous Inmate Artist





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I was recently approached by a staff person at the Advanced Recovery Systems at about our yoga related PATH blog posted this past March 18, 2019. They shared with me this really terrific and insightful article written by their content writer, Matt Gonzales’  on the subject: “Yoga For Addiction Recovery”.  I was so impressed that I simply had to share it with my PATH audience due to its relevance.

According to the Center for Prison Health and Human Rights, “Approximately half of prison and jail inmates meet DSM-IV criteria for substance abuse or dependence, and significant percentages of state and federal prisoners committed the act they are incarcerated for while under the influence of drugs. Data from a national study in five major American cities shows that at the time of arrest, 63% to 83% of arrestees had drugs in their system.”

And, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drugs and Crime Facts: Drug Use and Crime.... In 2004, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates said they committed their current offense to obtain moneyfor drugs.

So, you may ask...what does this have to do with Yoga? Yoga is a very powerful tool and mindfulness activity for addiction recovery. I encourage you to read Mr. Gonzales’ article.

Thank you and blessings!

Leslie Lakes, Director

Artwork by Brett Crawford
Sukhasana (Easy Pose) with quote:

“When I do yoga I feel like I am surrounded by this field of positive energy and protected from the negative vibes of prison life”, - Artist, Brett Crawford

Depiction of the seven chakras (from bottom up): Root (gold cube), Vital Force (silver crescent), Power (red inverted diamond), Heart (blue pointed star), Communication (black onyx egg), Third Eye (white winged globe) and Crown Chakra (red rose). 

Images of artwork are Courtesy of James Fox, Prison Yoga Project.

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Wishing all fathers a very  “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY”!  We appreciate you! 


Leslie Lakes, Director

Artwork: Graphite Drawing by Lori Flor

(Drawing was created on the front of an orange business envelope and scalloped to create a softened affect)



If you recall PATH’s “Art Escape At Alcatraz” that took place two years ago (this May) in the Band Practice Room of the formidable former Federal Penitentiary located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, you’ll be surprised to know that twenty pieces from the original forty three were selected to be installed at theAlcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN!  Yessiree!  I’m in the process of packing them up now for early June shipment across country.

The inmate artwork will be on public display from August 1st 2019 through May 31st, 2020.   Along with the art, PATH is also shipping some really fun and interesting authentic, vintage Alcatraz related souvenirs and ephemera.   So, if you, or anyone you know who will be in that Tennessee neck of the woods, please tell them about the exhibit.

Apart from their permanent collection, the Alcatraz East Crime Museum has two new temporary exhibits: “Passion For Life: Nicole Brown Simpson”, which commemorates the life and 25th anniversary of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (and Ronald Goldberg);  and the other, a limited display marking the 30thAnniversary of Ted Bundy’s Execution.

 Samples of artwork include:

"Postal Pelican" by Marlon Melendez

"Pelican Passage" by Omar Avila

"Women of Alcatraz" by Mark A.Stanley-Bey 

"George deVincenzi" by Mark A. Wright

(Note: This graphite drawing was autographed by Mr. deVincenzi himself!)

"Bill Baker" portrait by Jeremy J. Hammill



A mother’s unconditional love comes in many shapes, sizes and species. God bless mothers of all kinds all around the world! 

Leslie Lakes, Director 


Artwork Description:

Greater One Horned Indian Rhinoceros Mama and Baby / Coffee Painting by Jeremy J. Hammill; FL


Baby Elephant whose Mother was killed by poachers rests at a Nairobi Nursery and the National Park System in Gabon, Africa / Coffee painting by Jeremy J. Hammill; FL


Zakouma Park’s “Gift”: A welcome sight returns to Zakouma African Park / A coffee painting by Jeremy J. Hammill; FL



YOGA: A Path For Healing and Recovery in Prisons

I was delightfully surprised when I recently found out that one of the inmate artists who has been participating in PATH art projects  - Mr. Benjamin Ballard -  had illustrated all the yoga poses in a 103 page book titled YOGA: A Path For Healing and Recovery published by the Prison Yoga Project, and made possible by the Give Back Yoga Foundation’s financial support for its printing and national distribution. So far 28,000 copies of his book have been sent free of charge to men and women incarcerated in U.S. prisons who have requested it.

You may ask, “Why yoga in prison?”.   Good question! According to PYP’s Founder, James Fox, MA:

 “Prison is a breeding ground for mental, emotional and physical distress.  Experiences of anxiety, depression, fear, distrust, agitation, hopelessness, grief and violence can be greatly increased under incarcerated conditions". [Page2 ]

 "These (yoga) practices have proven effective in helping prisoners to gain insight into unconscious patterns of thinking and compulsive behavior.  They have also greatly helped in improving their overall quality of life  - mentally, emotionally and physically”. [ Page 1]

Hence, the Prison Yoga Project supports incarcerated people with trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness practices to promote rehabilitation, reduce recidivism, and improve public safety.

Mr. Fox began teaching yoga and meditation to prisoners at San Quentin Prison in 2002 and has since led practices and inspired the establishment of yoga programs in prisons and jails across the U.S. and internationally. He has trained thousands of teachers who have replicated PYP’s methodology in correctional facilities in 28 states, India, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, the U.K. and The Netherlands. Now that’s mighty impressive!

 An inmate may request a free copy simply by writing to: The Prison Yoga Project, P.O. Box 415, Bolinas, CA 94924

Inmates must provide not only their full name and correctional facility address, but also their assigned prison number in order to successfully receive a free copy.

While The Prison Yoga Project has specially trained teachers who are leading classes in hundreds of prisons and jails around the world every week, there are still many prisoners who don’t have access to these tools for self-rehabilitation. I fully acknowledge and support this non-profit and the invaluable work that they are doing! So, if you feel so inclined to also help them grow their reach and important impact, you may send them a donation HERE.


Leslie Lakes, PATH Director

 Photos courtesy of Prison Yoga Project

Photos of Ben Ballard engaged in yoga postures

Book Cover and Back artwork by Brett Crawford

Illustrations by Ben Ballard; CA

Coffee Painting by inmate artist, Jeremy J. Hammill; FL



FUTURE IDS AT ALCATRAZ: Envisioning a Future For Self

Saturday February 16th initially threatened to rain, but with luck, aside from a brief shower, it remained fairly sunny and dry for my excursion across the San Francisco Bay to the Island of Alcatraz.  I took the 11am ferry from Pier 33 and once on the Alcatraz side, walked the steep road up to the New Industries Building where the current “FUTURE IDS AT ALCATRAZ” exhibit is installed.

Future IDs at Alcatraz is a yearlong project, exhibition, and series of monthly public programs hosted by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

The installation features ID-inspired artworks created by incarcerated individuals as they conceive and develop a vision for a future self.


For a dream job,

a role in society, or

A continuing role with family

such as father or mother”.

 It’s a brilliant visual art conception and a stark contrast to prison-issued IDs as these artworks represent individual stories of transformation. The exhibit was curated and installed by artist and Arizona State University art professor, Gregory Sale.

I met Mr. Sale last year and was delighted (and honored) to be invited to collaborate in part by providing artwork created by some of the incarcerated artists who regularly participate in PATH art related projects. One PATH artist in particular is Cuong (Mike) Tran whose work can be seen in the show.  

This particular project is supported in part by grants from Creative Capital Foundation, SPArt (social practice art), and the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, Arizona State University. It was developed during artist residencies at Montalvo Arts Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, and The Bunny House.

If you get a chance to go out to the island, I strongly recommend that you take in this exhibit.  Aside from the exhibit, the New Industries Building is also set up as an art workshop studio for visitors to the Island.  So, get your art on, and enjoy!


Leslie Lakes, Dir. 


Signage for exhibit 

Road leading up to New Industries Building

Art by Cuong Tran

Several images of art display

Gregory Sale (L) checking off event list

John Sale (Gregory's brother) and Leslie Lakes

Art Venue Space in New Industries Building

View of San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz



LIFE IS NOT OVER: Wisdom and Light From SQ Death Row

LIFE IS NOT OVER: Words of Wisdom and a Bright Light From San Quentin Death Row

 I first met Tio MacDonald when he initially expressed interest in attending the opening reception for “UNCHAINED ARTISTS” – a collaborative art exhibit between between PATH and ARtReach where original  artwork by incarcerated artists (including San Quentin death row artists) was  displayed at the Bank of Marin in Mill Valley.

Tio MacDonald is the Chief Editor of the “East Oakland Times, LLC” – a multi-media publication based in the SF Bay Area.  EOT projects include quarterly print publication for free distribution on the streets of East Oakland; Publication of original inmate art and books; MY CRIME SERIES (books written on inmates by inmates – available for purchase via Amazon in paperback, kindle and/or audio book. So, check it out!

Stories presented in the THE FIRST OFFENSE: My True Crime Stories are often raw, and while you may not agree with an individual inmate’s attitude or position, or prior actions in crime that led to incarceration, the five books of the MY CRIME Series (written on an inmate, by an inmate) “…propose to candidly communicate the upbringing, life experience and motivations of the incarcerated”.  “They are intended to present an opportunity for open dialog with the public regarding crime and punishment”.

Aside from the above journalistic projects, EOT delivers podcasts from California’s condemned row. One such podcast caught my attention.  It features a man by the name of “Rual” who is on San Quentin’s death row.  It’s just a tad over 27 minutes in length; interesting, inspirational and positive. “Rual” discusses how life as a condemned inmate at San Quentin brought about a conversion of thought and mind and action and spirit, and how life goes on in prison whether in the main line or on death row and how and why inmates have a choice to not live statically.

“As a society, we do not know ourselves enough to have the right answers on justice. The MY CRIME series grants you the opportunity to sit and listen to the unknown felon and learn, as if you were on the bottom bunk, about your neighbor and what brought him or her to getting locked up”. – Tio MacDonald

Myself, having served as a Petit Juror on numerous occasions, as well as a Grand Juror for a Newark, NJ court of law in the 2000’s, I can personally attest to the fallibility of the justice system.  I also personally know people who were incarcerated for many long years who were innocent, and only until proven innocent with the help of organizations such as THE INNOCENCE PROJECT and through DNA testing, that they were released and exonerated. Such is the case of Keith A. Harward who will be featured on a Netflix documentary this Fall.

Enjoy and be blessed!

Leslie Lakes, Director


 Front and back cover of The Five Crime Books

Tio MacDonald (L) and “Rual” (R)  Spring 2018 at San Quentin State Prison




Returned to Mill Valley this past Saturday evening, January 26th, from my trip up the coast to the Gualala Arts Center where the "Unchained Artists: Portraits and Dreams" exhibit took place. 

First, I’d like to thank the Gualala Arts Center for hosting the show, to Wendy Bailey for her vision and unfailing hard work; to Ken Bailey Grading and Underground whose generous underwriting made this exhibit possible.  Also, special thanks goes out to Heidi Endemann and Roberta Tewes of the Stewart-Kummer Gallery for donating mat board for the art.

The exhibit was a MAJOR success...not just in sales, but for the fact that people unanimously loved the show. Numerous comments written in the Guest Sign-In book that it was one of the best art shows that they've seen in the Burnett Gallery in years!   It’s my experience that most visitors to opening art receptions attend to socialize, drink wine and eat food that's set out. But, with this recent inmate art exhibit, folks were held fascinated; grouped around and staring at the artwork to discuss the different pieces on display.   The show opened peoples' minds and hearts to the plight of inmates and inmate artists that they were previously unaware of before. So, in that sense, I consider it a major success.

Comments include but not limited to:

"Authentic, fearless and beautiful art for the soul.  Everyone is valuable and shining”.

“Third or 4th time seeing this show – most creative show I’ve seen at GAC.”

“Powerful, creative expression!  Thank you.  Freedom manifested thru art!

“Some of the finest artwork we have seen – wonderful!  Love the different mediums”

“(The) human spirit cannot be dominated”

“Impressive, especially given the conditions, lack of materials and environment of having prison be your studio.”

Photos: Courtesy of Leslie Lakes

4th image is of Wendy Bailey, curatror/installer of this show.




As Founder and Director of PATH, I'm the first to share that PATH is not the only game in town that helps provide a creative outlet and visual artistic expression to those who are incarcerated.  Between January 10th - March 28th, The MARIN CENTER'S Bartolini Gallery; 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, CA will be featuring INSIDE INSIGHTS: San Quentin Arts in Corrections.   This special exhibit will showcase many works, including 25 original paintings, prints and sculptures created by San Quentin State Prison inmates who participate in the Arts in Corrections (AIC) program and specifically under the auspices of the William James Association’s “Prison Arts Project”, which was started in 1977.    

I cannot more wholeheartedly agree with the following:

"Arts in Corrections is based on the belief that when institutionalized individuals participate in the arts their self-esteem and outlook on the world is significantly affected".   And positively so!  

One of the artists who I routinely communicate with and visit at San Quentin is Mark Stanley-Bey who created ORISA’S RISING (Acrylic and Ink).   In the series of images provided for your viewing pleasure, I also included information about this piece. What the art title card does not mention is that it took Mr. Stanley-Bey no less than 1000 hours and three months plus to create this piece!  The detail in this painting is simply crazy. A must see!

Other noteworthy pieces of art (but certainly not exclusively) include a detail from Lumumba’s SHE’S ALREADY BLESSED (oil); Ned Axthelm’s SUNK (acrylic); Lamis Comundoiwalla’s CANDICE (acrylic); Scott McKinstry’s SATYR (acrylic and Mixed Media); Jeffrey Isom’s STILL LIFE (Oil); and Bruce Fowler’s OF FIELDS AND RUST (acrylic).                           

 Leslie Lakes, PATH Director


Inside Insights

Orisa's Rising

Orisa's Rising Title Card

Leslie and Stan-Bey at San Quentin

Bartolini GalleryShe's Already Blessed (cropped detail)




Still Life

Of Fields and Rust




While perusing art books on the shelves of the Mill Valley Public Library, I happened to  come across a book titled CAT IS ART SPELLED WRONG – a compilation of fascinating essays published by Coffee House  Press.  The playful title and fun cover graphic design caught my eye! It’s a charming book and anyone who is a cat lover should surely add this book to their collection. 

In any case, it stirred me to share with you a variety of cat related paintings and drawings created by the talented artists I work with.  

So, here they are!  


Leslie Lakes, Director

PICS (in order):

Happiness is a Cat by Garcia (CA)

We Called Her Boogie by Robert Mendoza (CA)

Kissing Cats by Christopher Avitea (CA)

Simone by Manuel R. Sanchez (CA)

Rex by Coleman Pannell (KS)

Surrealist Collage by Jesse Inman (CO)

Scaredy Cat by Randy Schill (WI)

Cuddle Buddy by Jeremy J. Hamill (FL)

Cat Painting by Doug Hanna, (MI)

Cat and Fish (Anonymous)

Cats Leave Paw Prints by Gilbert Loza (CA)




May this New Year 2019 bring you good health, sweet peace and much joy!

To herald the New Year artistically, PATH has collaborated with art curator and installer - Wendy Reiswig Bailey, as well as the GUALALA ARTS CENTER in Gualala, CA (Mendocino County) for a special exhibit titled UNCHAINED ART: Portraits and Dreams. In the event you plan to travel up that way, make sure to stop at see the show. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.  Aside from framed original paintings and drawings, there will also be a collection of fabulous 3-dimensional pieces, including a variety of handcrafted items for sale.

Opening Reception is Friday January 4th from 5pm-7pm (I'll be there!) and the exhibit will run thru Sunday, January 27th in the Burnett Gallery.

Blessings, and as always, THANK YOU for your interest and support!

Leslie Lakes, Director


Front of Art Post Card: Doing Time Together by Bradley Cain (FL)

Back of Art Post Card: Sweet Reconciliation by Andres Cabrera-Cabrera, Jr. (OR)

Unchained Art: Portraits and Dreams Poster




On Wednesday morning, December 12th, I set off on foot from Mill Valley, CA with four large plastic bags each filled to the brim containing  a total of 50  brand new teddy bears and other sweet and cuddly, adorable animal plushies.  I was headed to San Francisco and had to take two buses to get there. The first bust left several long blocks from my home in the direction of Marin City where I took a corresponding bus to San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.  Initially the bus driver at Marin City said “Ma’am we can’t let you on the bus with all those bags” (he must have thought I was an indigent bag lady), but I adamantly insisted that I had no recourse but to get on the bus so I could deliver these toys to City Team, even if I had to pay extra fare for an additional seat.  He let me on.

I eventually made my way to the City Team’s office location at 164  6th Street off of Mission.  Delivered these plushies just in time for the staff and volunteers to distribute and hand out to children in homeless shelters for this Christmas season. The stuffed animals were purchased from the Bearington companywith monies that PATH raised through the incredibly generous donations of artwork and handcrafted items that incarcerated artists sent us for this purpose.

And, this coming Saturday, December 22nd, I will be returning to City Team to join their staff and volunteers as they hand out clothing, new blankets, food and toys.  I personally will be providing foot washing and foot massage for anyone who happens to walk into their facility who requests it.  

For more information about City Team and all the great work they do:


Leslie Lakes, Director


Christophe Nussbaumer, Leslie Lakes, Ashley Ross, Eric, Christophe, Leslie and Ashley



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Why are people so fascinated by owls?  Is it because by their very persona and forward-facing eyes that these iconic birds of mystery closely resemble human beings the most?  Or, is it due to our own perception of their sense of all-knowing and a feeling of deep wisdom? For centuries, owls have fascinated people and have been depicted in art, poetry literature and mythology.

Some Interesting Owl Facts:

Owls possess large, forward-facing eyes and ear-holes, a sharp hawk-like beak and flat face (a facial disc around each eye and a conspicuous circle of feathers,  The stereoscopic nature of the owl's forward-facing eyes and binocular vision permits the greater sense of depth perception necessary for low-light hunting.

Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270°. Unlike humans that have 7 neck vertebrae, owls have 14 neck vertebrae which makes their necks more flexible.  But, what is so unique about their necks is that they also have adaptations to their circulatory systems, permitting rotation without cutting off blood to the brain.  Birds (including owls) are the only vertebrates to have a fused collarbone (the furcula or wishbone) or a keeled sternum or breastbone.

There are a total of 216 species of owls, 18 of which belong to the Barn Owl family and 198 to the typical owl family (i.e., Strigidae).

In the USA, there are at least 19 species of owls and 16 types of these owls have been seen in Canada. 



Leslie Lakes, Director

Art Credits in Order of Appearance:

Mama and Baby Owls by David M. Shaw, Sr. (CA); Black Pen 
Owl by Rudy Guerrero (CA) ; Colored Pastels
Snowy White Owl by Anthony J. Rojas (aka Tono) Colored Pens
Short Earred Owl by Manuel R. Sanchez (CA); Colored Pencils
Owl by Manuel R. Sanchez (CA) ; Colored Pencils
Owl by John Vantielen (OH); Colored Pencils on paper
Owl on Handkerchief by Roger (FL) Black pen
Owl on Handkerchief by Roger Edwards (FL); Black pen
Great Grey Owl by Robert Ramirez (CA); Colored Pastels
Owl by Josiah Barra (CA); Colored Pencils

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