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OWL FASCINATION

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. 

Enjoy!

Blessings,

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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JUST CLOWNING AROUND

Apart from the visual arts in prison settings, on occasion there will be theatrical workshops led by various groups and organizations.The one that I want to share with you is from a recent workshop led by The Actors' Gang, a professional theater company based in Culver City, CA that teaches in prisons as part of their community service. Actors' Gang members shown here are Jeremie Loncka, Hannah Chodos, Cady Zuckerman, and Kathryn Carner.This particular theatrical workshop took place at High Desert State Prison this past October 2018.

The class is part of Arts in Corrections; funding for these photographs was provided by the California Arts Council.

The photos primarily feature a wonderful inmate artist and friend of mine – Mr. Rogelio Reyes.  I first became acquainted with Rogelio in the beginning of 2006 when I bid on and won a drawing that he had created and submitted to NYC’s Fortune Society’s Fifth Annual Inmate Art Auction in 2005.

At that time, when I started to correspond with Rogelio to initially let him know how very much I appreciated his artwork.  And we’ve been writing to one another ever since! When I finally relocated to Northern California from New Jersey in 2010, I was able for the first time to make arrangements to visit Rogelio when he was still incarcerated in SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison Crescent City, CA.  Currently, Rogelio is situated at High Desert State Prison, CA and is fortunately (thank God!), no longer in SHU. 

Aside from being an excellent artist, Rogelio has seemed to have found a new talent and niche for the art of clowning!  He is the clown with the bright red nose and golf caddy cap.  Check out the photos (all taken by professional photographer, Peter Merts) and courtesy of the California Arts Council.  What joy and fun these men had!  I truly wish I could have been there!

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director

 —-

 (Art Credit: Black and Red Pen Drawing by Rogelio Reyes titled Presa Drive)


 

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CARE NOT CAGES: A People’s Guide to Healing

On a mild sunny, Saturday afternoon October 20th, I drove across the Richmond Bridge to Oakland to attend a special cultural event: CARE NOT CAGES - a collaboration between Prison Renaissance and Decarcerate Alameda County.  Took the elevator from the inside courtyard lobby at 2633 Telegraph Avenue to the third floor to Suite 315, which opened up to a large high ceiling room with lots of light. After checking in at the formal registration desk up front, and picking up my copy of A PEOPLE’S GUIDE TO HEALING , I stopped by the coffee station (the organizers had set up a table with a beautiful spread of refreshments and nibbles, I was quite impressed) and took my seat up front.  

CARE NOT CAGES: A People’s Guide to Healing is a zine that features the multi-faceted and talented works  (art, poetry, spoken word, essays, etc.) of inmates regarding their personal and collective struggles (cages); healing (care); resilience and resistance; learning, expression and disciplines, as well as their respective families, inside prison communities and connection to the outside world.

Even though I arrived early, people were quickly spilling into the room and filling seats until there was left standing room only.   Prison Renaissance is a non-profit organization that uses art, media and technology to connect incarcerated people to the communities that need them.  Decarcerate Alameda County is an Oakland based coalition of organizers and community members who joined to fight the construction of a new “mental health” unit at Santa Rita jail.

What took place from 1:30pm-4pm was absolutely wonderful!  A finely tuned orchestration of timely call-ins by inmates (located in different facilities) who participated in this creative zine project.    Remotely, yet in real time, they were able to talk about their experiences, share their creative artistic and/or literary works and ask questions of the audience.  Conversely, the audience was able to collectively or individually respond to and ask questions of these same inmates via a mic hooked up to the phone.  While this was taking place, a large screen up front would project images of the inmate(s) and/or play a video of their work(s).   The treat and surprise for me was to meet some of the very same inmates I knew from my volunteer days at San Quentin who had since been released.    

Care Not Cages is a (quote) …living, loving bridge.  A bridge to connect people over walls and across time...to amplify so we can engage and heal together.

 

 Images:

Zine publication (drawing by Khalifah Christopher Christenson; San Quentin, CA); building lobby; event registration; Eddie Herena (photographer); audience; Emile DeWeaver (videographer); Lemar MaverickHarrison; Maverick and Emile; Arts & Culture section of EAST BAY EXPRESS featuring Emile DeWeaver and Rahsaan Thomas from San Quentin; audience members with background artwork by James R. Metters, Jr.; participating audience. Maverick and Emily Harris from the Ella Baker Center


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ANIMAL HOUSE 


This past Monday afternoon, with the help of Marin Civic Center custodian, Tom and a lovely High School intern - Kelsey Mazariegos – we installed a new inmate art exhibit within the Public Defenders’ office at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, CA.

I affectionately titled this new exhibit ANIMAL HOUSE, which comprises 16 pieces of framed original artwork in various styles and mediums by incarcerated artists from around the country.  Art includes cats (large and small, domestic and wild); dogs, bears, fish and birds.  The show will be up for public viewing purposes for the next three months (thru the end of January 2019).

For more information, please feel free to contact PATH Director, Leslie Lakes at: prisonartstouchinghearts@gmail.com

My appreciation goes out to both Jose H. Varela (Public Defender) and Carol Farrer (Deputy Public Defender) for making these rotating exhibits possible.

Thank you and enjoy!

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director

Art credits:  Bear and butterfly black ink drawing by Manuel R. Sanchez (CA); Green Leopard and Pitt Bull Buddies by Pete Zarogoza, (UT); Mama owl and baby owls in nest ink drawing by David. M. Shaw (CA); Black Labrador acrylic painting on canvas by Ben Howard (PA); Leopard ink drawing by Brad Hart (CA); Wood Duck colored pencil drawing by Christopher Avitea (CA); Parrots colored pencil drawing by Gilbert Loza (CA); Golden Retriever drawing by Ernie Garcia (formerly incarcerated CA); Chihuahua in Tea Cup ink drawing by Brad Hart (CA); Wolves painting on board by James E. Atomancyzk (TX); Rex domestic cat drawing by Coleman Pannell (formerly incarcerated in KS); Presa Dogs drawings by Rogelio Reyes (CA); Panda acrylic painting on board by Joseph Miller (PA).   

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ELKS LODGE EVENING: TEDDY BEAR AND UKULELE EVENT

On 9/14, five days following the 9/9/18 Teddy Bear ‘Tea Party’ fundraiser at the Book Passage, I drove over to the Elks Lodge in San Rafael with my car laden down and packed to the brim with all things teddy bear related to set up for a fun family evening of youth craft activities, food and ukulele music.  

The ELKS are wonderful in that they fully support their members' community and charitable interests through such actions as providing a venue, volunteers or funds in support of their good causes.

Kids were invited to bring their own teddies to bounce around with in the large Bouncy Castle that was set up under the wedding arbor in their outdoor garden.  It remained a beautiful warm sunny day all day, which lent for an equally lovely evening for this event.

Aside from fabulous teddy bear art and an array of craft items (including handcrafted collectible teddies) made and donated by incarcerated artists specifically for this event, there were many other teddy bear items ranging from vintage mechanical wind up teddies, to jewelry, lamps, blankets, books, cookie jars, tea sets, embroidered linens, Christmas tree ornaments, and so forth.    

Professional caricaturist, Pete McDonnell was also on hand to provide his uncanny gift of caricature drawings…and as you can see, Pete sure nailed the images!  

My niece, Hannah and her friend, Tabby (both sophomore High School students) offered to provide teddy bear face painting, for the little ones. A large bouquet of multi-colored polka dot balloons by Balloons by Design, helped lend an even more festive ambiance.  

Aside from the yummy family dinners sold by the Elks Lodge, receipts from sales of teddy bear items went directly to PATH so that PATH can purchase brand new teddies and assorted other plushies to give out to children of incarcerated parents during the end of the year seasonal holidays. 

I’d like to personally thank the Elks Lodge and their volunteers, as well as everyone else who helped PATH make it a special and rewarding event. 

If you wish to make a donation to PATH so we can continue this program, please feel free to do so HERE.

Thank you and God bless!

Leslie Lakes, Director/Founder

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RAISING TEDDIES FOR CHILDREN OF INCARCERATED PARENTS

On a super sunny, Sunday September 9th afternoon, PATH (in collaboration with both Kids Cooking For Life and CANDO Clemency Teddy Bear Program) presented an engaging and charming ‘Teddy Bear Tea Party’ fundraising event.  The event fell on none other than National Teddy Bear Day and was hosted by the Corte Madera Book Passage.  Young children (accompanied by their parents), came out for lots of eats and treats and fun hands-on activities.   A festive and colorful polka dot balloon bouquet was donated by Balloons by Design.   And, each child who attended the event received a goody bag which comprised of a teddy bear “EAT THE RAINBOW” (copyrighted 2018) coloring book package (created especially for this occasion) complete with crayons, teddy stickers, temporary teddy tattoos; teddy bubble wands, a Yumm Earth lollipop and a grain free snack bar.

One of the main attractions at this event was face painting services by Budderball the Clown.  Budderball did an amazing job!

After ice cream was served, the little ones marched to the teddy bear beat led by Book Passage storyteller, Clare Doornbos for teddy tales.

A teddy themed gift basket was raffled off and featured a very special book by internationally renowned, artist/photographer, William Wegman.  On my personal request, Mr. Wegman donated his book – BEING HUMAN.  Mr. Wegman not only signed, but also created a super sweet, original teddy and dog friend drawing on the inside page.  

The main purpose of this event was to raise funds to (1) purchase brand new teddy bears (and other cuddly stuffed animals) to hand out to children of incarcerated parents at the end of this year and future seasonal holidays and, (2) help benefit Kids Cooking For Life non-profit in Marin County, CA.

I’d like to personally thank everyone who helped me put this event together…who donated their time and services to make it a special and rewarding event. 

If you wish to make a donation to PATH so we can continue this program, please feel free to do so HERE.

Thank you and God bless!

Leslie Lakes, Director/Founder 

Note: Artwork for EAT THE RAINBOW coloring book by professional artist Jose Velasquez (Austin, TX)

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GIVE BACK WEDNESDAY 9/26 at MARIN PIZZA in CORTE MADERA

GIVE BACK WEDNESDAY AT MARIN PIZZA!

Have a hankering for delicious flavorful and healthy artisan pizzas (including gluten free dough), and local beer on tap?

If so…c’mon out next Wednesday (9/26) for Marin’s first ever “farm-to-table / make your own pizza” at MARIN PIZZA within the Corte Madera Town Center! 10 % of receipts will go to support my 501 (c) 3 Marin County non-profit – PATH.

Not in the mood for pizza?  No problem!  They have a wonderful assortment of ‘farm-to-table salads’, as well.

Have a sweet tooth?  No worries.  Plenty of fine desserts to finish the meal off with, too.

Restaurateur partners, Tom Wyman and Michael McGuan bring their vision and mission by partnering with local farmers and ranchers to provide sustainable healthy fare.  To learn more about their innovative operation, log on HERE!

Again, Wednesday, September 26th.  MARIN PIZZA...right under the tower clock!  I look forward to seeing you there!

MARIN PIZZA

107 Corte Madera Town Center

Corte Madera, CA 94925

415 891-8788

 

Blessings,

Leslie

 ——-

Leslie Lakes, Director

PATH

Member of the San Rafael and Mill Valley Chambers of Commerce

A Marin Link Non-Profit Project

 

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Art in Prisons (An Essay by Rhett Martino; A Novato, CA High School Student)

In prison, inmates are stripped of individual identity. They are given identical clothing and must wear a specific number to replace their name. Self-expression must be enabled even for the most disenfranchised members of society. When art is supported in prisons it allows inmates to have a personal identity while allowing a more positive and constructive environment to exist.

Individuals serving sentences can explore self-expression and translate complex emotions into physical objects by creating art. Although prisoners are limited as to what supplies they may use, just one look at some of the art being produced one can see the emotion that must have gone into their artwork. An article for the New York Times supported art as a form of therapy in prisons. “Art-making is one way inmates can combat the “mortification process,’ the loss of self suffered by prisoners. It is a way to remain fully alive in a place that deadens the spirit.” Art allows prisoners to put energy towards creating something positive, something that others get to experience and even may get joy from.

Furthermore, when inmates are able to produce something of their own a sense of pride may be found. Generally, people who have made bad decisions may be a victim of their circumstances. They may have never learned right from wrong or had to violate laws for survival. Complex emotions may be better understood by prisoners when they can make something of their own and have a better sense of individuality. “‘I don’t have much of a legacy,’ Jeffrey Sutton, who is serving 41 years for armed robbery, said of his life. ‘This is something positive that helps me focus on getting out,’ he added, daubing flecks of green onto the leaves of a jungle vine,” (Brown). Art allows prisoners to transmit messages and convey their emotions.

Currently in California, the role of both visual and performing arts in prison is increasing. Established artists such as Guillermo Aranda can serve as mentors for prisoners by visiting and teaching at prisons. “The mural class for high-level offenders is part of a new initiative by the State of California to bring the arts — including Native American beadwork, improvisational theater, graphic novels and songwriting — to all 35 of its adult prisons, from the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility near the Mexican border to Pelican Bay, the infamous supermax just shy of the Oregon line,” (Brown). Furthermore, “In (California with) a political climate in which federal arts agencies are under siege, the state has allocated $6 million annually for the Arts in Corrections program, a figure set to rise to $8 million next year,” (Brown). California serves as an example of letting the arts expand in prisons, and the great outcome of it is evident in the art produced.

Art has proven to be very therapeutic, from calming paint strokes to releasing scribbles. Psychology Today believes that art allows for a greater understanding of emotions and that it “can be used as a springboard for reawakening memories and telling stories that may reveal messages and beliefs from the unconscious mind,” (Psychology Today). I was inspired to write this when I saw the art my good friend’s mother, Jamie Weinstein, received from inmates at San Quentin. She is involved in several advocacy councils for prisoners and has several pen pals. The emotion was visible on the piece I saw hanging in Weinstein’s living room. Visual and performing arts overall allow for personal reflection and a greater personal identity to be formed from even the most disenfranchised members of society.


Works Cited

Art Therapy” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers

Brown, Patricia Leigh. “No License Plates Here: Using Art to Transcend Prison Walls” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Apr. 2017

How A Prison Art Program Is Promoting Self-Reflection In Incarcerated Men” Google Search, Google

Making Art in Prison” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Apr. 2017

Interview with Jamie Weinstein. Conducted over in person in 2017 and email June 2018. Art images courtesy of Jamie Weinstein.

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A SAN RAFAEL BEER PUB GIVES BACK!  

A SUPER HEARTY THANK YOU to IRON SPRINGS PUBLIC HOUSE PROPRIETORS AND STAFF!

And to all the folks who came out for food and beverages in support of their GIVE BACK MONDAY night, July 16th, 2018!

As you can see, everyone had a great time at their new San Rafael location, and the house did well that night, too landing PATH a fabulous 10% from receipts of sales by patrons that evening.   Again, thank you to everyone who participated in this special fundraising event.

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director  

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HIGH SCHOOL LAW INTERNS HELP P.A.T.H.

On Friday, July 20th, I headed by car with a trunk laden full of artwork to the Marin County Public Defenders’ office (Room 139; 1st Floor within the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael) to rotate artwork from last year’s “Art Escape at Alcatraz” show. If you recall, on April 9th, with the help of custodial engineer - Tom, we installed 12 pieces of original framed artwork all created by incarcerated artists from around the country. I promised to make this a rotating art exhibit and was bringing fresh new pieces to install, but desperately needed help.  Tom was not available, but two eager and willing Summer 2108 Public Defender Interns were ‘Johnny on the spot’: Priscilla Cardenas (a lovely vivacious High School student soon to enter her Junior year) and smart and savvy, Krishna Menon (who recently graduated from High School and by Fall will be entering his first year of college on the East Coast).

I give them both a lot of credit. Their assistance was invaluable in time saving efforts, as well as feedback as to aesthetic placement of the art. And, we succeeded to fit all 12 new pieces of art on the outer public office space walls. Good job!

If this wasn’t enough, you can imagine to my surprise and delight, that the Marin County Office of the Public Defender July 16th Newsletter (Vol. 1; Edition 3) featured P.A.T.H. ‘s precious art exhibit there.  When I first connected with Public Defender, Jose H., Varela about P.A.T.H. and sharing the artwork, his response was: “Leslie, this looks like the start of a beautiful friendship.  A blatant steal from Casablanca but what the heck”.

And, just the other day, Deputy Public Defender, Carol Farrer commented: “The artwork in the lobby is outrageously great.  So meaningful to see and read the stories behind the art.  Thank you for your time and dedication to showing the world the humanity, beauty and talent in all of us (well, I guess some of us have much more artistic talent than others!)”.  

So, if you happen to be in the vicinity of the Marin Civic Center (Frank Lloyd Wright building), please take a few minutes to stop by their office to take in the show.  Thanks, always for appreciation, love and support.

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Founder/Director

NOTE: Priscilla and Krishna are each standing next to their respective favorite pieces of art in this show. 

 

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A MADAGASCAR MARVEL

IMG_0229.JPG

I love lemurs and was enchanted by this mixed media drawing of a lemur that I recently received, which was created by an incarcerated artist. The drawing measures 9”x12”.   Did you know that there exists 101 extant species and subspecies of lemurs that are then divided among 5 families and 15 genera; ranging in weight from 1.10z (Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur – so cute!) to as much as 21 lbs. for the Indri lemur. 

If you haven't been to SAFARI WEST in Santa Rosa, I highly recommend it.  There you will find lemurs, as well as a myriad of other animals and birds on their 400 acres Sonoma Serengeti private wildlife preserve.

SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT RING TAILED LEMURS:

Their tail is longer than its body!

Male ring tailed lemurs put smells, from glands in their bottoms, on their tail and wave it at rivals.

Lemurs have two tongues! Under a lemur's main tongue sits a smaller secondary tongue made of stiffer cartilage. This is the grooming tongue, used as they clean other lemurs. The lemurs can move the insects into their mouths as they groom their friends for a tasty snack. Pretty nifty, heh?!

Enjoy!

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, PATH Director

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SQUIRREL-ICIOUS!

DID YOU KNOW…?

DID YOU KNOW that many juvenile squirrels die in the first year of life? But, if they do survive through adulthood, they can have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years in the wild. And, some can survive 10 to 20 years in captivity. Premature death may be caused when a nest falls from the tree, in which case the mother may abandon her young if their body temperature is not correct. Many such baby squirrels have been rescued and fostered until they could be safely returned to the wild.

DID YOU KNOW that the English word "squirrel", first attested in 1327, comes from the Anglo-Norman “ Anglo-Norman “esquirel”, which is from the Old French escurel, the reflex of a Latin word “sciurus”?  In turn, this Latin word was borrowed from the Ancient Greek word σκίουρος, skiouros, which means shadow-tailed, referring to the bushy appendage possessed by many of its members.

DID YOU KNOW that squirrels have their very own “APPRECIATION DAY”? 

And, here are 22 other things you may not know about squirrels!

Enjoy!

Leslie Lakes, Director

Note: Art Drawings by William J. Cumber (FL) and Randy Schill (MN)

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GIVE BACK MONDAY" AT IRON SPRINGS PUBLIC HOUSE!

Hi!

 On Monday, July 16th from 4pm-9:30pm (when kitchen closes), the Iron Springs Public House in San Rafael will donate 10% of their total sales to P.A.T.H. as one of their selected and approved non-profit community organizations.  YIPPEE!  

 So, come on out that evening (I’ll be there!) and join us for a light and tasty dinner, drink, snack and/or dessert. They have an inexpensive kids menu and if you’re into beers, they have a really good beer selection, too!

WHERE:  IRON SPRINGS PUBLIC HOUSE

901 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901, Phone 1-415-457-258

WHEN: 16th July 2018;  4pm-9:30pm

FAMILY FRIENDLY: YES! Even kids can enjoy the night out with their parents!

For Info, please contact: Leslie Lakes at prisonartstouchinghearts@gmail.com or 973-650-7931

Thank you!  If you have any questions, just ask!

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director

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INMATE ARTIST DONATES FUNDS FOR CHILDREN WITH CANCER

I’m bringing back the artwork of Christopher Avitea (CA) for you to view and enjoy. Not just because Chris keeps getting better and better at his craft, but because I am so proud and thrilled to see that aside from donating his generous time and art skills to P.A.T.H.’s on-going fundraising events…he’s branched out to help other organizations, too… such as CALPIA who issued Chris a “Special Recognition Award”. Well done and well deserved, Chris! KUDOS!

CALPIA (California Prison Industry), is a self-supporting, customer-focused business that provides productive work assignments for approximately 7,000 offenders within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institutions. 

CALPIA’s 3RD Annual Charitable Foundation Fundraiser specifically raised funds for ALONG COMES HOPE  -   a charitable foundation that helps families of children with cancer.  Along Comes Hope’s mission is to inspire HOPE and healing by keeping families together, when it matters the most.

Blessings,

Leslie, Director

 

Artwork by Christoper Avitea

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HISTORY PRESENTATION AT WOODSIDE 

Hi, again!  There's so much going on lately, that my head is beginning to spin. Aside from continually working on all aspects of a major teddy bear themed fundraising event (to take place this early Fall with details to follow), I was busy up until this past Wednesday evening preparing material for a presentation at Woodside Probation Hall/Learning Center in San Francisco.  If you recall, we installed the inmate art exhibit there this past  March, and because it was such a big hit with the students and staff, I was asked to return to give a talk about the History of Alcatraz.

So, this past Thursday May 22nd, accompanied by Woodside math instructor - Matt Lacques, I was introduced to Social Studies/History teacher – Mr. Vincente Padilla.  Over the course of the day I accompanied Mr. Padilla  as we went from one classroom to another and I was able to provide a total of five 45 minutes presentations to various “at risk” teenage students. I’ll be honest…it was simultaneously challenging and exciting. Each group of students is vastly different from one to the next.  And even if you have a presentation agenda or syllabus in mind, one has to be open and willing to go with the flow.  

Also, I realize that not everyone is going to understand why I would spend and invest my precious time on addressing “at risk” and wayward youth.  But, I personally believe that it’s vitally important (as equally testified by current

inmate artist - Robert Lopez per a portion of Robert's recent letter to me.  From what I’m told, there is a fairly high recidivism rate in the Juvenile probation system. So, anything that I can say or do that could possibly impact even one individual’s life so that they don’t end up in prison…that would be a major blessing! 

Enjoy the few pics that were taken that day. Due to privacy reasons, no images of the students are allowed.  At lunch break, instructors Matt Lacques and David and I retired to the math room to prepare and enjoy a super large healthy salad.  

Thank you! Enjoy. Blessings!  And, Please feel free to leave any comments .

Leslie Lakes, Director


Images:

Social Studies Instructor, Vincente Padilla (L) and Leslie Lakes (R) .

Math teacher- Matthew Lacques (L) and "all around" teacher, David Malizia (R)

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THREE ON A MATCH

Most people who know me well, will tell you that I love watching films and that I have a special affinity for the Classics.  One film dated called THREE ON A MATCH seemed like a fitting title for this new PATH blog featuring three vintage handcrafted matchstick inspired objects.

These three pieces (two jewelry boxes and a working clock) are only a few of the many wonderful, truly detailed and well made handcrafted items (created in prisons) that are currently in my private collection.  I thought I'd share them with you. Hope you like them.

Blessings,

Leslie 


Images:

Vintage Inmate Handcrafted Matchstick Jewelry Boxes and Clock

Rose decorated jewelry box with original painting on inside lid measures 10-3/4" x 8-3/4" x 4-3/4"

Star of David Matchstick Jewelry Box measures 12" x 8-1/4" x 5"

Matchstick and Bird "Cuckoo" Clock measures 12" x 7" x 4"

 

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"BOOP-OOP-A-DOOP" and BTWC

As previously mentioned, P.A.T.H. will be sharing images of different handcrafted items created by incarcerated individuals from all over the country.  The pieces featured in this week’s blog were created by men in a giving program called “BEHIND THE WALL CREATIONS” (BTWC) at Avenal State Prison.  In fact, P.A.T.H. has decided to not only support this program, but is in the process of collaborating with them for a special teddy bear themed fundraising event to take place in the Fall.  More about that in the future! But for now, enjoy these fabulous handcrafted items.  

The Betty Boop jewelry box was created by “BTWC” Founder and Director, Inmate Bobby Rodriguez (CA).  Bobby explained to me that he made the box from rolled up newspaper, cardboard, paint and a mirror cut out. It’s so well designed. Such detail. I love it! 

Bobby also made the blue and white children's handbag. The bag was fashioned out of cut up colored paper that he folded and then covered with cellophane, and sewed all together. WOW! Check it out.

For the three name rings, Bobby told me that he made them with colored string that was twisted up and glued over separate pieces of plastic  - you know...those circular seals commonly found around the necks of  plastic bottles of lotion. 

The beaded jewelry (necklaces and bracelets) were made by different men in the “BTWC” program; fashioned from recycled beads that people didn't want and donated to “BTWC”.

I’ll definitely be sharing more about the "BTWC" program.  Currently, they are having an annual HYGIENE DRIVE and asking other inmates at the prison to donate their new unopened hygiene products, dehydrated foods and drink items to send to homeless families who are living on the streets and in temporary housing facilities. Last year, they had two Hygiene Drives each gathering over $400.00 worth of products.  So you see, with a little ingenuity and a whole lot of compassion, people can contribute back to the community and society from inside the prison walls. These are men after my own heart!  God bless them.

Until next time....Enjoy!

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director

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INMATE ART IMPACTS JUVENILE STUDENTS

On Thursday, April 12th, I accompanied math teacher, Matthew Lacques to the Woodside Juvenile Learning Center in San Francisco.  Aside from installing a curated collection of inmate artwork, vintage ephemera (including old press photos and souvenirs - all pertaining to the history of Alcatraz) in the school’s large glass enclosed display case, I also had the opportunity to provide four 45 minutes PowerPoint presentations to several separate groups of same sex students of different ages. 

The presentations revolved around 18 pieces of artwork installed throughout the Learning Center, as well as the reading of letters by some of the inmate artists themselves who desired to share and impart words of wisdom, maturity and experience to these students. These letters served not only a wake-up call, but a strong admonition and words of encouragement for these students to strive to receive and education, as well as curb their errant ways. One does NOT want to end up in prison for foolish actions! Prison is no fun and Prison limits personal freedoms.  

Yes…while a long and challenging day…it was a worthwhile and rewarding day as indicated by Mr. Lacques’ endorsement and testimonial comments below:  

“Leslie was no less than amazing getting the PATH artwork up to Woodside Learning Center inside Juvenile Hall in San Francisco. She and a friend carefully hung all the art, and she also created a display of Alcatraz memorabilia that is fascinating. Her presentations to the classes were heartfelt and the kids felt a real connection to both the artists’ stories and their immense talent. We've had lots of folks come up here to talk to the kids about what it's like in prison doing a long sentence, but the letters and poems from the artists themselves made a deep impression on the students, and the connection the art created was real.  We look forward to more visits from Leslie- she has some more guest presenters coming". 

Shortly followed by:

“Today I had a chance to do a gallery walk of the PATH artists with my younger students at Juvenile Hall in San Francisco. It was so exciting to look at true, fine art with these young folks within our school. They are limited in exposure to artwork and the Alcatraz show has so many different facets-they really had a fantastic time. Also, these artists aren't people from another time, place, or social stratosphere. These artists grew up like our kids - they speak the same language, so our kids can relate to them; thus their hearts are open to their message of hope and redemption. The display case with all the Alcatraz memorabilia was especially interesting to them. One of my students has a hard time sitting still in class and focusing, yet he spent 15 minutes asking questions about the intricate and exquisite detail of Birdman", by Richard C. Jackson. To have this kind of experience for both of us defines what they mean when they say "priceless" in regards to artwork.  Thank you Leslie!!!”

Thank you Mr. Lacques, and thank you to everyone at the Learning center, staff and security personnel alike) who made this day possible. 

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director

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PUBLIC DEFENDERS WELCOME INMATE ART EXHIBIT

Just a couple weeks following the opening of the “Unchained Artists” show at the Mill Valley Bank of Marin, Marin County Deputy Public Defender – Carol Farrer – approached me and asked if by chance I would entertain installing some inmate artwork in the Public Defenders’ office waiting room area (Room 139) within the Marin County Civic Center. Not only honored that there would be such genuine interest, I thought that it was a terrific idea and arranged to cull some artwork from last year’s Art Escape at Alcatraz show. 

So, on Monday, April 9th, armed with twelve pieces of framed original artwork and supplies, and with the help from custodian, Tom (Tom was wonderful!), he and I set to work at hanging the show, which will remain up on display through July 13th.  What I’m thinking to do (if permission is granted) is to keep the show going for yet another three months, but change out the art images so the show stays fresh.  

Before I left their office, Public Defender, Jose H. Varela came out to meet me and shake my hand. 

See Below for Description of Images and Art Credits:

Public Defenders Office within Marin Civic Center

Custodian, Tom helping me to install art while Rafael the Raccoon (San Rafael Chamber of Commerce Mascot) looks on.

(L to R): "Mass Incarceration" by David M. Shaw and "Native Spirit" by Shane Drousche.

(L to R): “Postal Pelican” by Chris Avitea; “The Rule” (top) and “The Deal” (bottom) by Robert U. Mendoza; “Snowy White Egret” by Rudy Guerrero.

(L to R): “Pelican Passage” by Omar Avila; “Military Fort and Cannons” by Santiago Duran; “Mama’s Roses” by James E. Atomanocyzk; “She Sings Blessings to the Iron House” by Benjamin Lewis, Jr.

Deputy Public Defender, Carol Farrer rearranges bulletin board

Public Defender, Carol Farrer (L) and Public Defender, Jose H. Varela

Rafael the Raccoon - San Rafael Chamber of Commerce Mascot -  is well satisfied with the installation. Ha!  Ha!

Enjoy!

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director

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FOLK ART WITH A TWIST

This week, I hope to enchant you with this delightful handmade vintage horse and unicorn created out of knotted twine hemp by an inmate at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, FL

Yep…nothing but knots!  I love how the texture of the hemp twine makes the horse sculpture/toy so pliable and easy to manipulate into all kinds of poses.   

Both the horse and unicorn measure approx.  9" x 8-1/2" x 2-1/2"

The plant produces more fiber per pound than either cotton or flax, and these fibers are easily extracted in order to make hemp rope, twine, or cord. ... Step one: Separate the hemp fibers or unwind the hemp yarn and cut into lengths approximately twice as long as the desired length of the rope.
Hemp fiber has been used extensively throughout history, with production climaxing soon after being introduced to the New World. Items ranging from rope, to fabrics, to industrial materials were made from hemp fiber. Hemp was often used to make sail canvas, and the word canvas derives from cannabis.

More interesting and unique handcrafted items to come. So, stay tuned.

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Dir.

 

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