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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

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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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WISHING YOU A HAPPY EASTER AND PASSOVER! 

It's that special time of year and P.A.T.H. wants to wish you a very Happy Easter and/or Passover, whichever occasion you celebrate.

Enjoy this new drawing of a Silver Fox Hare.  It was first recognized as a breed in 1925 and was valued for its meat and fur.  The Silver Fox today is a rare hare. 

Warmly,

Leslie Lakes, Director


Art Credit:  "SILVER FOX HARE"; Colored Pens by Christopher C. Avitea; CA

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JUVIES’ VIRTUAL VISIT TO ALCATRAZ

Ever since Matthew Lacques – accomplished musician and current math teacher at the Woodside Probation/Learning Center in San Francisco – played guitar with fellow singer/songwriter/folk musician, Dore Coller in the Band Practice Room at Alcatraz last year, Matt has been asking me to bring part of the original “ART ESCAPE AT ALCATRAZ” art exhibit to the school for these 'at risk' youth and other staff members to enjoy, as well as create educational discussions around. 

So, finally, this past Wednesday March 21st (first day of Spring), my fabulous fine art photographer friend, Barry Toranto picked me up in Mil Valley with a carload full of art and supplies, and we drove into the City to meet up with Matt at Woodside in the late afternoon after school had recessed.  We managed to install 18 pieces of artwork and on April 10th, I’ll return to fill the large glass display case with my own private collection of authentic vintage ephemera (magazine and newspaper articles dating back to the 1930’s and older; media press photos), as well as a myriad of interesting vintage souvenirs pertaining to “The Rock”.   

Also, that same day, I plan to talk to the students about the art and hope to satisfactorily answer any questions that may arise about the incarcerated artists who I write to and who generously participate in P.A.T.H. art projects and events.  More to come! So stay tuned.

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director


Photos:

Matthew Lacques and Barry Toranto

Raphael the Raccoon; SRCOC Mascot

Matt, Barry and Leslie

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MINION MUGSHOTS AND MINION WANNABEES

Ever since the MINIONS movies US release in July 2015, people have been head over goggles, er…I mean heels…about them! NO wonder it was the 5th highest grossing film that year. WOW! They sure are adorable creatures.

Well, let me tell you, the Minion craze is hardly over.  From what I understand, a sequel is due to come out in 2020.  In the meantime, there are Minion costumes, dolls, jewelry, memes and all things Minion-esque.

So, I thought you’d enjoy these two Minion dolls created by incarcerated artist, Cuong Tran (CA). ). Meticulously hand-crafted from cardboard, paint, fabric and sewing supplies. Cuong learned how to sew from his Mom, and is a heckuva lot handier around a thread and needle than I’ll ever be (in spite of the fact that my mother was a seamstress and avante garde fashion designer.  Each doll measures approx:  10-1/2" x 8" x 5"

Here's what Cuong has to share:

"I've always dabbled in drawing my whole life. As a kid I could look at a picture and draw what I saw. After a few years however, I felt like drawing became a chore. Besides, there are a good number of artists in prison already doing the same thing I was. I wanted to push the envelope, so I started to build and sculpt figurines out of whatever materials I could find. 

I didn't have the faintest clue as to where and how to start. I fell back onto my mechanical background, constructing skeletal frames using our cardboard lunchboxes. I then applied soap over the frame, creating 'muscle and skin'. I would paint over the dried soap with some hand-me-down acrylic paints. Digging around, I was able to find some scrap materials such as old t-shirts, burrito wrappers, beads and pen barrels (just to name a few things) and turn them into accessories for my figurines. 

Things have snowballed from there.  I've become more proficient at using the materials available to me (i.e., junk) to make artwork. Over the last two and a half years of sculpting/building, I've made over 80 pieces; the major ones being a functioning carousel, a remote control go-kart with racetrack, and a scale sized Chevrolet Impala.

Art has always been very therapeutic for me. It allows me to free myself despite being physically restricted. In an environment where my every move is monitored and controlled, my ideas, my creativity and imagination are the only things that are limitless. Art is freedom. It allows me to put a part of myself onto paper or in a sculpture". - Cuong Tran (CA)

Watch out for more great hand crafted projects from Cuong! 

PS Minion Wannabees are Rafael the Raccoon –San Rafael Chamber of Commerces mascot; and last but not least, our female Calico cat, Simone.

Enjoy!

Leslie Lakes, Director


Credits:
Minions Hand-crafted by Cuong ("Mike") Tran; CA

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What Do “Cool Off Drink Aid”, condiments and Sumi Art have in Common?  

As mentioned in past blogs, many incarcerated individuals lack access to regular paint art supplies and quality art paper.  Hence, they are forced to be innovative and resourceful with what they have at hand. 

In this P.A.T.H. blog, I am delighted to share with you the work of Lian Ke that she managed to produce while serving a year’s prison time at a Santa Clara County Jail during 2017. Personally, I really love Lian’s paintings.  Aside from being creative using food materials she had at hand, what I love most are the bright saturated colors, her Sumi-style expressionistic brush strokes, and the textural quality of her work. 

For these paintings, Lian used various flavors of ‘Cool Off Drink Aid Mix’, milk, beet juice and mustard condiment as a watercolor. A pencil eraser from a short 3" pencil was employed in lieu of a paint brush .  And, as far as paper surface, Lian used the back of a 9x12 manila legal size research envelope that has the seam running down the middle, top and bottom of it. 

Since various flavors of the Drink Mix was used, her paintings are actually scented – could be any combination of Grape, Berry Punch, Raspberry, Lemonade and/or Orange).

Says, Lian: 

Painting is my PASSION, and it helps make time pass faster. I love making different media and letting the painting sometimes ‘paint’ itself by the way the paint ends up.  The drink mix is definitely a first, and then you start experimenting with milk mixtures and beet juice…and condiments!  I didn’t have a yellow until I got some mustard – it stains clothing – so I thought PERFECT! I found my yellow.

Art is definitely a path – an outlet to express (and relieve frustrations) especially when locked up (in jail/prison). My best art I think are the ones where I just paint whatever comes out of my hand without thinking. 

Some of Lian's paintings can be seen at the "UNCHAINED ARTISTS" exhibit  in Mill Valley through March 23rd.

Note:  Sumi art, ink and wash painting (and in this case – Cool Off Drink Aid painting) does not aim to simply reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its spirit.  For instance, “…to paint a horse, the artist must understand its temperament better than its muscles and bones. To paint a flower, there is no need to perfectly match its petals and colors, but it is essential to convey its liveliness and fragrance. East Asian ink wash painting may be regarded as a form of expressionistic art that captures the unseen”.

Enjoy!

Blessings,

Leslie Lakes, Director


Art Titles:

Dragonfly

Yorkshire Terrier 

Violets

Tree and Mountain

Sunflowers

Fantasy Dragon 

Pink Mustang Horse

Butterfly

Poppies

Appaloosa Horse

Butterfly

Iris

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