Hallowed Halls of Johns Hopkins

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The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. ~ M. Scott Peck, author of Gifts of the Journey, In Search of Stones and The Road Less Traveled

Happy Halloween, everyone. On October 3rd, my cousin Meg Heisse and I witnessed a little hocus-pocus when we attended An Evening of Victorian Magic at Evergreen Mansion and Library, which is a Johns Hopkins University Museum. Since my cousin is a member, we attended a pre-performance reception held in the Asian red room among Chinese and Japanese collectibles. The bartenders stirred up Victorian libations and we saw up close magic tricks by David London. Mind reader indeed, out of a 52 card deck, the magician asked me to select one card and show it to others.  No slight of hand involved, through telepathic transmission he correctly identified the card I had picked. But that was just the start of the delightful evening. The magician had many more magic tricks up his sleeve once the show started and he came to the stage.

There was no need to build a stage for the evening because there is already a Victorian era theatre in the Evergreen Museum. And although there were no upper level seats for celestials to sit as in many Victorian theatres, we were told apparitions are in or about the rooms of the mansion. The theatre, painted by Russian Artist Leon Bakst, was used regularly to entertain the three Garrett boys, who at one time lived there.

The Evergreen Museum and Library was built in 1850 and became home to railroad magnate, John Garrett and his family. He was President of Baltimore and Ohio “B & O” Railroad. A little over one hundred years later, in 1952, the Italianate home from the Guilded Era was donated to Johns Hopkins University and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also in the mansion is a 30,000  volume library with much of which is English Renaissance literature. Paintings by Picasso, DegasModigliani and stained glass by Tiffany, a 23 karat gold plated bathroom all are housed in the structure. In the Asian red room I spied several pieces of Chinoiserie furniture and as I snooped around in the museum gift shop at Evergreen, I saw several beautiful publications about stained glass.

Today, my Halloween treat to our readers is a recipe for soul cakes which traditionally was the offering to others on All Hallows Eve. And here are a few pictures of our evening at Evergreen Museum and Library, too. Look carefully you might see things that fool the eye!

Some time soon I do look forward to returning to the historic Evergreen Museum to take the full tour. This wonderful landmark is only one of the institutions of the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins. Check out the others on their website.

Thank you Meg for inviting me to accompany you for the evening.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Many Beautiful Things Coming!

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Believe in the darkness what you have seen in the light. ~ Lilias Trotter

Now, here’s a movie I can really get behind. Many Beautiful Things has just been put on my Must See Movies List. And best of all, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crowley) of Downtown Abbey fame is starring in it.

This movie is based on the life of artist Lilias Trotter and the setting is Victorian England. The storyline involves art, dreams, talent and true callings.  Wants verses desires, and conflict between lady vs. herself are all in this heart-stirring movie. All things good stories are  made of!

According to the website, this movie began premiering in national theatres February 6 -14. If it doesn’t come to your local theatre, a DVD of this movie will be released in time for International Women’s Day. Shop on the movie website for it along with these other products:  Lilia’s Trotter’s 1876 Sketchbook and 1889 Sketchbook and a children’s book Lily: The Girl Who Could See or Parables of the Cross. Why not put them all in  your shopping cart?

Here’s the trailer which will give you a little insight into this movie that looks very promising for a very fulfilling evening of entertainment!

See you tomorrow! We will see what other beautiful or good news we can dig up. This  blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Afterglow of Success

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Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

The last of a three part blog about author/playright Jorge Avila will be featured on All Things Fulfilling today. Before Christmas I interviewed Avila about his newfound sucess as a playright. To read the beginning of the interview, please go to from Local Author to Playright and Advancing the Story.

Sue: So what does it feel like now that you have stepped away from all the excitement of seeing your musical played out on stage?

Jorge: There is a little bit of sadness and a let down because it is easy to get carried  away with all that goes with on in the world of L.A.  But we aren’t done yet. My vision for this musical is even more than that.  I have been offered a huge opportunity at the end of September and the first two weeks in October. The production will return to California as part of at the Hispanic Heritage Festival. For four weeks, in four different districts, I am told that 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 people will attend the festival annually. Do you believe that?

Sue: And I understand you received special recognition during the three day run of the musical. What night was that?

Jorge: On the  middle night of the performance, I and the director and musical composer, Caleb Encampos, were each given certificates of award from the City of Los Angeles for work in advancing the arts. It was very exciting.

Avilas certificate from City of LA

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Sue: What can you attribute to the success that you have had with Maricopa Men in Pink?

Jorge: It was a long five years but I never stopped believing that I had a quality product and it was a matter of getting it into the right venue or environment.

Sue: What’s on the docket for the future? 

Jorge: I have two more musicals I am working on and a book but, I would like to do something more with the local high school here in Steamboat. They did a Powerpoint presentation about my book’s storyline with the English as a Second Language (ESL) students. I’d like to put together some sort of workshop. We will see, I’ll have to put more thought into that. And I’d like to take the musical to Chicago. That’s where I’d  really like to see it.

Sue: You have been in a whirlwind for six months or more. Perhaps with a little time off, your visions will become more clear. Now that you have stepped away into a quieter environment, here in Steamboat, you can ponder it.

Before Jorge and I said our goodbyes  I told him how he is a shining example for other independent publishers to press on and not to give up. Although he mentioned feeling a little let down now that things were over, I saw a huge afterglow of success on his face and in his exuberant voice.

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow when we begin the countdown till the New Year! We will be fulfilling 2016 with new possibilities and opportunity!

Advancing the Story

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We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom.Marni Gillard

Avila and wife MaribelLast week I sat down with author and playright Jorge Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat, to discuss the gigantic leap of success that he has just experienced. To read a short summary of his musical, please go to the blog from last Thursday.

(Photo left: Jorge Avila and his wife Maribel)

Jorge had just returned a week previously to his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado from a very busy six months in California. His live theatre musical, adapted from his book Maricopa Men in Pink had a three day run at the Plaza de la Raza, Cultural Center for the Arts & Education on Mission Road in Los Angeles. Avila was ebullient as he answered the questions I had for him to learn more about his experience. Here is part of our discussion about going from local author to playright in a very short few years:

Sue: Jorge, when was Maricopa Men in Pink published? 

Jorge: In 2010 it was published. A short time afterward I sent it off to a friend who is a stage designer in L.A. to get his opinion. He reviewed it and gave me some feedback about adapting it for a play. I decided that my vision for the work was a live theatre musical production. So I rewrote it exactly 2 years, nine months ago in script format along with song lyrics. Caleb Encompos, a resident who helps with the music program at the Christian Center here in Steamboat, composed the music to accompany the lyrics. I approached the Chief Theatre here in town, but it didn’t seem to be the right venue. So,then we sent it off to three production companies in California. 

Sue:  So, what was the response? 

Jorge: I’d like to say that there have been few  Latino or controversial political musicals that I am aware of other than In the Heights and Hamilton and the Book of Mormon. So I was happy to even get a response and it was positive response from two of them. I chose one of the production companies that I felt best understood my vision. I was offered a small sum of money from the production company, but I took half of that because I wanted to be directly involved in the entire process, so that the final product would be what I envisioned.

So, I began over the next six months going to L.A. one week out of every month. For the next six months, Caleb Encompos and I chose vocalists and actors for the live musical production. Once we heard my lyrics put to music and saw it performed by the actors we had chosen, there were some tweeks that were made before the opening.

Sue: So, tell me about the three night run.

Jorge: The turnout was outstanding compared to what I had anticipated. I was told for an unknown author/playright, typical sales would be 60% of the seats. The first and third nights we had 95% of all tickets sold, and the middle evening 75%. Surprising, considering I read in a New York Times article that out of 318 million Americans, 58 million agreed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s handling of inmates in Tent City Jail in Arizona. Seventy eight million disagreed, and the whole rest of the population knew nothing about the news story.

Sue: How did that feel? To see your musical come before live audience like that?

Jorge: Surreal! I feel flattered and proud but it was very stressful. I even started up a bad habit – smoking. I hadn’t smoked in six years and I ate too much and gained a little weight.

The musical was even mentioned on National TV on Spanish stations. While we were waiting for the production to begin on opening night, I stepped outside and there were 120 people in line to get a ticket – to my show! I couldn’t believe it and I counted every one of them!

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The rest of this interview on All Things Fulfilling will be posted the week after Christmas. Do return because we will be talking about Avila’s rewards in terms of personal fulfillment which were a result of his determination, persistance and his belief that what he had was fitting for a quality live musical production that still has great potential for future audiences. We will be sharing more about his special award from the City of Los Angeles also!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

Local Writer to Playright

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A culture is made –or destroyed –by it’s articulate voices. ~ Ayn Rand

Jorge Avila, a Mexican by birth, moved to the United States in 1995. Since then he has become an author of two books Suriana and the Sulphur Cave and Maricopa Men in Pink. The later is a controversial story about prisoners in Arizona and “Sheriff Joe” known in the media as “the toughest sheriff” around. He sentenced two thousand convicts to serve their sentences in pink underwear and handcuffs for better accountability. The macho men probably could not have been more insulted!

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Christmas came early to Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat our independent publishing network group, when his first publication Maricopa Men in Pink was  adapted as a musical and came to live theatre in Los Angeles. It had an extremely successful run with nearly booked houses each evening.

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling on Monday because we will be featuring an interview with him about what it has been like to go from local writer to a playwright within a very short few years. Avila was recently recognized as a person who has helped advance the arts in the LA area.

This blog is brought to you by author Sue Batton Leonard.

A Window into Breck

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“Art is the window into one’s soul.” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

After yesterday’s blog, you baby boomers are probably thinking Breck refers to the old school shampoo we used when we were our teens in the 1960s. Remember using that? I thought if I used it, I’d look just like the “Breck Girl.”

No, for the next few days I will be blogging about a one day road trip I took to Breckenridge, Colorado, often referred to as “Breck.”  I found all kinds of fulfilling things to write about including a creative arts organization called BreckCreate. There is so much to tell, it can not be covered in just one blog posting.

The Breckenridge Arts District is a series of historic buildings located on an acre of land right up the hill from Main Street. It has become  an epicenter of creativity offering art classes, workshops, performance arts, exhibits and special artist-in-residence visits. I’d like to share some pictures with you of the district:

 

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Below: The Barney Ford Museum is also in the arts district. Barney Ford was a local entrepreneur who escaped slavery and became a man of extreme prosperity. For more information.

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A clan of visiting Aztec’s danced a spirit dance historically significant to their culture and the celebration of life the day I visited the town. Read more about the performance.

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indians 4 Art, culture, history and architecture holds a prominent place in the community of Breckenridge, Colorado. The scenic backdrop to the town, as it is in many Colorado communities, is stunning!

Do return tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling. I have more to share with you about BreckCreate.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Mr. Rockwell’s Narratives

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How will I be remembered? As a technician or artist? As a humorist or a visionary? ~Norman Rockwell

Last week, my television was tuned in more than usual. I was interested in watching the Pope speak at the various different venues. It was such a privilege for the American people to have someone of his stature visit our country.
Did you see the photo op taken at the United Nations in front of the Norman Rockwell image called “Golden Rule?” The U.N. is a very appropriate place to have the image hanging because it could not be more symbolic of America’s melting pot of citizens.  On All Things Fulfilling we featured a blog about Rockwell’s “Golden Rule” back in September 2013. It was a very well read article. Go back and read it if you missed it.

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On Friday, the same day the Pope appeared at the United Nations, I came across an interesting article from the Berkshire Eagle about the Norman Rockwell Museum. Some changes are about to take place in the way that the artist’s work will be exhibited. The images will be thematically organized to better tell the story of America. It’s a terrific idea in my opinion! If ever there was an artist whose work tells a narrative, it is Mr. Rockwell’s!

The last time I visited the Rockwell collection was about 25 years ago when it was housed in an old church in Arlington, Vermont. I enjoyed seeing each of the iconic Americana images, however, the lighting and organization of the paintings did not do it justice. Now there is a beautiful structure in Stockbridge, Massachusetts housing the entire collection with a skilled curator at the helm. If you are ever in the area do not miss it! Check out the information on the museum.

This blog is brought to you by the 2014 EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories, Lessons of Heart & Soul.