Patricia Gutman, Israel
Patricia and I have been friends for more than 20 years; she was like a mother to my eldest son when he was in high school and has helped me out more times than I can count. Patricia is a talented mosaic artist who does large-scale installations for cities and memorial parks. She also teaches; her students consistently turn out high quality work so Patricia is obviously doing something right. We lived across the street from each other in my last year in Israel. Her son is a musician and her husband dabbles in photography, capturing beautiful abstract images. Patricia is very short, maybe up to my shoulder, and she has a dog the size of a pony.
Myra Bennet, Israel
Myra and I met after she eavesdropped on a conversation I was having with Jackie Waik-Atiya during a Jacob's Ladder Festival concert. Not only a music lover, Myra is an uber-talented singer and actress who for years took the leads in Israel's famed LOGON - Light Opera Group of the Negev - productions. She is an immigrant from Canada, and it was always refreshing to chat with Myra and her husband Richard in English! A very elegant, sensible, and creative woman; those characteristics aren't often found in the same person, and Myra blends them perfectly. She's also a talented painter, with a love for elegant and detailed tea cups.
Tracy Elliot, California
Tracy and I are old friends who lost touch and found each other again thanks to Facebook. (I don't know why everyone gives FB such a bad rap....) Tracy lives in Santa Rosa, where I lived in early childhood, and we were pals in kindergarten and first grade. Her mixed media collages are to die for and I have a OOAK piece she designed for my studio. She also creates custom cards and ATC's (Artist Trading Cards). We recently spent some time together - not enough, Tracy! - at our 2014 elementary school reunion.
Jaime Gower, Washington state
Jaime and I were in high school choirs and musicals together so I know he can sing and act. He's also a writer and produces a podcast, interviewing creative types. We haven't seen each other since high school but are sporadically in touch.
Laura Tarbutton, Mississippi
Laura is an artist and maker. The list of materials she works with is almost as long as the river in her home state. She teaches and sells her creations in her Beach House studio, which as far as I can tell is located in a forest. Laura and I have known each other for years but haven't yet met in person. Never say never - now that I'm in the US, we're hoping it will happen. We communicate by email, phone, and Facebook. Laura helped me buy my first lampworking kiln and take my first unsteady steps with PMC. We both experiment with torch-firing enamels. I dream of doing a real PMC course with her one day.
Orit (left) creates stunning jewelry and beautiful lampwork beads, and has a wonderful studio on the top floor of her house with a view of the Ela Valley. She was my metalsmithing teacher and is one of my very best friends in the world. Her sister, Zohar (right) builds her own kayaks from scratch, shoots incomparable wildlife photography, and guides people through Africa. Zohar is so often in Kenya that the Masai have given her a name and she converses with them in their native language.
The Navon Sisters,
Darius Gilmont, Israel
Darius is a British-born painter and illustrator extraordinaire. I met Darius years ago through his work; we've never met in person even though we lived in the same country for many years. Darius specializes in colorful and captivating biblical scenes and Israeli landscapes. He's been illustrating children's books for years and recently provided the artwork for the first illustrated German-language Bible for Jewish children to be published in 50 years. Before I moved to the US, I purchased a print from him to hang in my new studio.
Jackie Waik-Atiya, Israel
Her parents immigrated to Israel from Australia when Jackie was a child and she's lived and worked in several countries - Jackie is truly a global citizen. I love her jewelry, glasswork and mosaics; I love Jackie, period! We've been friends for more than 10 years and used to hang out at Jacob's Ladder music festival together every May. Jackie and her children live way up north on a kibbutz. While we don't agree about everything in life, we bond over our love of art, glass, our children, and animals. We've gone square dancing together and we once collaborated to save a dog from a kill shelter and find it a new home. And I'll never forget that she arranged for me to stay in a kibbutz guest house that had geckos climbing out of the air conditioning unit all night long.
Yael Eshkar, Israel
Yael was born and raised in Germany, moving to Israel after falling in love with her husband Uri. The first time I visited Yael I almost fainted when I saw the glorious art quilts decorating every wall in her home. Yael never brags - it was a long time before she admitted that her quilts have been displayed in international exhibits all over Europe. She is kind, wise, generous, and a great cook. Her husband is a talented photographer of Israel's wildflowers, and in Israel's brief spring they travel around the country so that he can search out and photograph more flowers for his collection.
The Keene Family, California
Al and Anna Keene have seven children and every person in that family is a creative wizard. All but Al have red hair; after he met them, one of my sons described them as "the Weasley family but with more girls than boys." The immediate family includes several musicians (one professional), athletes, artists who work with wire, glass, paints, and fiber, plus a mortician or two (I kid you not). Obviously there is some overlap - this is a seriously multi-tasking and multi-talented family. Anna and I have claimed each other as sisters-by-choice. Her mom would kill me, but I'm secretly hoping Kat will become a tattoo artist so she can ink me with one of her original designs. I've included photographs only of the three most prolific - Anna, Kat, and Rachael (l-m-r) - although I think they all deserve to have their photos posted here.
Deb Webster, California
Deb and I have been friends since high school. She's a skilled painter, musician, and cartographer. Her biggest claim-to-fame, in my opinion, should be her original fudge, which she made and sold professionally for a few years and which would probably induce world peace if enough people tasted it. She and her husband Phil still live near the neighborhood we grew up in (or at least spent our high school years in). They grow delicious tomatoes and Deb leads the choir at her church. She's also an accomplished pianist and I have recordings of some of her performances.
Gloria Meyer, England
Gloria is one of the most talented portrait painters I know. She's zany, funny, irrelevant... my kind of woman. She's also my distant cousin. We have never met in person and we are in touch through Facebook almost every day. I never tire of seeing her work or exchanging ideas with her.
Nataly Cohen Kadosh, Israel
A skilled professional photographer, Nataly works with some of Israel's industrial giants, snapping images of their production facilities and products. I talked her into being the photographer for my trade book and I loved working with her. Her husband, Erez, is a soundman for Israeli news networks. They were both incredibly gracious the year we worked together, welcoming me into their home almost every day and making the process of snapping and sifting through thousands of photographs actually fun.
I have been blessed to meet many genuinely creative people. They are my friends, family members, teachers, students, colleagues, and fellow creators. Each of them has made a positive impact on my life. My skills and enthusiasm for art are thanks to their influence; my faults are my own, in spite of their example. There are more of you than I could ever list in my website, and you are not listed here in any particular order. If you don't find yourself but know you belong here, let me know! This is a work in progress.... it will probably never feel complete.