Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


The Daily Head: American Idol Edition

Okay, I may have gone a little overboard in challenging myself today. Of course, part of the reason for doing this daily head challenge is to push myself.

I thought to myself, “It’s Wednesday, American Idol night. Why not sculpt a head inspired by AI?” And who would be the most interesting person to provide the inspiration?

Steven Tyler, of course.

I think the hair pulled this piece together. Without the hair, Steven was looking a little more like Marilyn Manson. The most fun part…making the mouth.

This head is approximately 2″ tall, is made from a mix of white and translucent clay, was sanded and colored with a wash of acrylic and oil paints.

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Monday Reflection

10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert in anything.

10,000 hours is equivalent to
3 hours of practice a day
20 hours of practice a week
over 10 years.

The more experiences we have with something, the stronger the memory or learning trace for that experience becomes.

-Daniel J. Levitin
This is your Brain on Music



I am grateful for the love of my life,
the laughter of family, and
the pillow beneath my head.

I am grateful for the encouragement of friends,
the cats curled at my side,
the beautiful blue sky,
and the sun overhead.

I am grateful for running water,
a warm house,
fuzzy slippers, and
the time to sleep-in.

I am grateful for writers who put into words those things I cannot,
for musicians, for artists, and
for nature’s abundant creations.

I am grateful for travel opportunities
and for quiet time at home.

I am grateful for you, my dear readers
and for all the others who I have met online.

I am grateful for abundance.

I am grateful for life.

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The Secret Knowledge of Water

Our friend Emile Tobenfeld, aka Dr. T, is one of several featured artists exhibiting work at The Nave Gallery’s “The Secret Knowledge of Water” in Somerville, MA. The opening reception was held last Friday, followed by a performance by Dr. T and the Immersions ensemble which included Eric, our friends Dean Stiglitz and Ramona Herboldsheimer, and Rick Scott. The video and music performance was aptly named “Water Music and other Improvisations.” To hear the performance, visit Jamendo.

Folks gathering in the gallery.

Several photographs in the “water” theme.

Mixed media, video, and photography.

Painting and photography.

More photography.

The Nave Gallery is part of the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church. Dr. T and the Immersions ensemble performed in the Sanctuary.

Loved this stained glass window.

Setting up for the show.

Eric plays synth and the Harpejji. Dean plays Electro Flute. Ramona plays Hammered Dulcimer. Rick also plays synth.

No show is complete without Gwynnie, Dean and Ramona’s dachshund.

Or the bees. Dean and Ramona sell organic honey. They were selling the honey at a farmer’s market before the show. And you do not leave your bees in the car.

Show time (sorry for the low light; I did not want to use a flash to take these pictures.)

The Secret Knowledge of Water exhibit runs through August 17. For more information visit ARTSomerville.


London: Day Three

Sunday was a beautiful day; sunny with puffy clouds and blue sky.  We opted to sleep in this day as this was the weekend when England started their summer time schedule.  Weren’t we lucky to experience “springing ahead” twice in one month on two different continents?

The time difference between England and Massachusetts was now five hours.

With the lovely weather, we decided to head over to Covent Garden which reminded me of Quincy Market here in Boston.  Covent Garden, however, includes not only the market area but also a number of streets with shops, bakeries, restaurants, and theatres.  And on this Sunday Covent Garden was hopping with people and street entertainers.



We first visited Paul’s Bakery in Paris.  What a treat to find this bakery in Covent Garden.

  A rather sad Roman fighter in Covent Garden.

  Give a hand to the Green Man in Covent Garden.

Once we had our fill of people watching we took the tube to the South Kensington stop.  Here we found ourselves in the Kensington area of London; home to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and the Princess Diana Memorial Children’s Park.

We spent the afternoon touring the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The V&A is a curiously quirky museum.  It houses a vast collection of art and design, from Asian and European artifacts to Glass, Fashion, Jewelry, Stained Glass, Silver, Musical Instruments and Tapestries.  There are apparently 4.5 million objects in this museum.  You could literally spend days here trying to take it all in.

The V&A was founded in 1852 as the South Kensington Museum and has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851.  (The purpose of the Great Exhibition was to encourage art and industry to work together with the best of technology and creativity to improve lifestyles.)  Queen Victoria presided over the museum’s official opening in June, 1857.  The V&A was the first museum in the world to open a “refreshment” room.  In 1858, V&A introduced late night openings made possible by gas lighting.  Here the intent was to provide convenient hours for the working class.  In May, 1899, Queen Victoria helped place a foundation stone to the left of the main entrance and the museum name was offically changed to the Victoria and Albert Museum.


The museum now covers approximately 12.5 acres and has 145 galleries.

  The Cast rooms contain casts made of famous works of art and sculpture.  The casts were brought to the museum so people who could not travel could view and enjoy art from around the world.

   I couldn’t convince Eric to let me bring David home for our front yard.

  This is the bottom half of a cast made of Trajan’s Column, a monument in Rome in honor of the Roman Emperor Trajan.  The original is 125 feet tall, including the pedestal.

  Cast Celtic Cross

  This Chihuly glass sculpture hangs in the entrance over the information desk.

  I was really taken with this lock.  It reminds me of a shrine.

  Rodin’s Muse

When we arrived in London the previous Thursday night we stopped in the hotel bar for a light bite to eat.  I was flipping through the March issue of Where London and saw that Jean Michel Jarre was performing at the Royal Albert Hall.  Jarre is a keyboard player who hit it big in the 70’s with the recording of his album OxygeneOxygene was the first album recorded in a home studio.  And here he was, in England, performing Oxygene in its entirety, using all analog keyboards, at the Royal Albert Hall.

Eric’s eyes lit up when I read that Jarre was in town.  We bought tickets for the show that same night.

The Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful venue with an impressive history.  It opened in 1871.  The Hall was created as a result of Prince Albert’s dream to create a complex of cultural, scientific, and academic institutions.  Profits from the Great Exhibition (1851) helped fund this dream.  (The V&A Museum was also part of this dream.)


Prince Albert died before any of these institutions were built yet his dream was still realized under the supervision of Queen Victoria.  The Hall opened in 1871 with a performance by the Grenadier Guards Band.  An inaugural organ concert by Dr. Best was performed on July 17, 1871.  Since then the Royal Albert Hall has held balls, shown movies, hosted theatre performances and ballets, and, of course, hosted numerous music performances.

The Beatles and The Rolling Stones performed here in 1963, Frank Sinatra in 1975, Phil Collins in 1985, Sting in 1986, Eric Clapton in 1987, Music for Monserrat in 1997, and the Who in 2000; the Concert for George Harrison was held here in 2002; Cream’s reunion concert was held here in 2005, Jay-Z performed the first hip-hop concert here in 2006, and Madame Butterfly was performed in the round in 2007.

And in 2008 we were here to see Jean Michel Jarre.  Sweet.


Jarre had a large mirror over the stage that moved into an angled position over the stage which gave us an overhead view of all the keyboards.

  Dolly the Citreon

The Albert Memorial

Next: The First Emperor Exhibit


London: Day One

In 2004 we visited England and Scotland.  It was our first 10 day vacation.  We visited London and Oxford in England and then took a train from Oxford to Edinburgh where we toured the city and took both a day trip and overnight trip to the lower Highlands.

On this visit we focused solely on London and took in quite a lot in four days.

We woke up on Friday to what some might consider traditional England weather: light showers, heavier showers, and wind.  There is a four hour time difference between Massachusetts and England (at least until England switches to summer time.)  Adjusting to the time difference is always a little tricky the first day or two.  Melatonin is helpful and so is a nice nap!

We were both a bit under-the-weather on Friday most likely due to the lovely food served on our flight so our first day was low-key.

We visited Blade Rubber Stamps which is always a treat.  During our 2004 visit I bought a selection of Stewart Gill paints at Blade.  This was before Stewart Gill paints were readily available stateside.  Ironically, I didn’t see any Stewart Gill paints in the store this time.  I did, however, purchase three stamps made exclusively by Blade Rubber Stamps; a King and Queen inspired by the Lewis Chessman, some charms, and a crown stamp.  The Lewis Chessman, carved from whale teeth and walrus ivory, can be seen at the British Museum and in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland.


In turn, for visiting Blade, we ventured over to Turnkey Music, one of Europe’s leading music stores.

But the two treats for the day was visiting Pollock’s Toy Museum and the National Gallery. 

pollocks.jpgPollock’s retains its name from Benjamin Pollock who worked in the fur trade but loved to visit the shop of John Redington, which, among other things, was a theatrical print warehouse.  Here Benjamin met his future wife, Eliza.  When John Redington died, the Pollock’s inherited the business.  They continued the business of creating theatrical prints and eventually became involved in the creation of toy theatres.

In the early 50’s, Marguerite Fawdry purchased all the plates, plays and theatres that lay in a warehouse.  Some time after making this purchase, Mrs. Fawdry decided to create a toy museum along with selling the toy theatres.  And it is in the museum’s current location, on 1 Scala Street, where you’ll find three floors and numerous rooms filled with toys from the 1800’s and 1900’s as well as toy theatres and some of the original tools used by Benjamin Pollock and his family to create the original theatres.  It gives a fascinating view of the history of toys and how children used to entertain themselves.  There are no video games here.

The National Gallery contains one of the best collections of Western European paintings.  Here you’ll find paintings from 1250 to 1900 including Van Eyck, Botticelli, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, and Cezanne.

Did you know that all National British Museums are free?  Though I haven’t found out the history behind this decision, I believe it may have some history with Queen Victoria and her support of the arts.  Whatever the history behind this, I think it is wonderful that the museums are free to all citizens and visitors.  After all, shouldn’t art be available to everyone?  A donation of 3 pounds or $5 U.S dollars is requested and separate fees are charged for special exhibits.


Big Ben, at dusk, as seen from the entrance to the National Gallery.  The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square.

Next: The Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and Spamalot.



Do you doodle?

I don’t doodle very often; even in school I wasn’t much of a “doodler.”  I’m prone to sketching which can sometimes be too demanding on my brain because a little voice in my head likes to speak up and talk about “perfection.”

However; yesterday I found myself doodling and drawing for a time while listening to David Sylvian.  It is curious what we create when listening to music.  I’m sure I’ll do this again.  Doodling seems to be a good way to clear the mind.



Video Improvisations: Dr. T and the Impromptu 3

Eric had a gig Friday night at Gallery 119 in Lowell.  He played with two other musicians; Karen on augmented cello and Michael on bass and table guitar.  The three of them (Impromptu 3) were accompanied by Dr. T, who provided video mixing.

So what does that mean?

Dr. T (aka Emile Tobenfeld) mixes video images that he has compiled and projects them on a large screen while the musicians create music to compliment the images.  I consider it performance art that is truly spontaneous.  You’re not quite sure what images Dr. T will project on the screen, though he will give the musicians a general theme as a starting point.  From there they have to keep an eye on what is projected on the screen, develop and play music to match (or perhaps not) the images, and then also try to compliment what each other is playing.

Hence the names improvisation and impromptu (also because Dr. T often knows each musician, but they may not know each other.)

As I watched and listened to the performances I started to think about altered art work.  How the artist starts with an image or surface and then adds elements, removes elements, and transforms the piece until it feels complete.  Or perhaps round robin art events where individual pieces of art are passed amongst a group of artists, each person adding elements until the piece returns, transformed, to the original artist.

I also wondered what it would be like to make art to music.  I don’t mean working on art while listening to music but making an original piece of art influenced or inspired by a piece of music.  (For some reason Jackson Pollock paintings come to mind.)  You’re constrained by the type of music and the length of time the song plays.  But often out of constraint and limitation something wonderful emerges.

And so it was with the performances on Friday night.  A little constraint to begin with as the images appeared onscreen and one musician would begin to play a rhythm.  As more images appeared, changed, and repeated, the musicians joined in; each adding his or her signature to the piece.  The music would swell, dip, and sometimes become a little frenzied.  A range of emotions was sometimes evident. 

And then the improvisation, the pictures, the music, would quiet and come to a close.  And before the audience was a finished piece.

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