Tuesday, June 20, 2017



Dave Kopka, Nancy Doniger, Donna Miskend, Carol (Klio) Burrell
special guests: 
Michael Patrick Hearn, James Armstrong, Charlie Vazquez

James Armstrong, as Edgar Allan Poe

The opening reception started off with a performance reading by James Armstrong of Poe's lesser known works represented by the artists in the exhibit.
James Armstrong and audience reading of The Bells, by Edgar Allan Poe
The last selection was a reading of The Bells with audience participation including Lucy Aponte, Community Associate of Poe Park Visitor Center, and exhibitor Dave Kopka.

AN INTERVIEW with playwright James Armstrong

 conducted by the curator, Donna Miskend

DM: What draws you to the work of Poe?
JA: I love how Poe uses language to create such evocative images. He is always choosing words that have the exact right sound for what he is trying to say. A poem like "The Bells" for instance, fuses form and meaning. The final part doesn't just have a creepy meaning, but it even sounds creepy. The same could be said of "The Raven." Every time I get to the end of "The Raven" and read about how the bird "still is sitting, still is sitting" it gives me the shivers.

DM: Does performing his stories/poems change or add to your interpretation of Poe's work?
JA: Like many nineteenth-century authors, Poe expected his work to be read aloud, and you don't fully appreciate his writing until you hear or recite it. Saying the word "Amontillado" over and over again is a different experience than just reading it in your head. If you ever wonder why Poe keeps repeating certain words and phrases, read the piece out loud. You'll understand.

DM: Does his work inspire you as a playwright?
JA: I've never adapted the work of Poe into a play before, but Poe knew Charles Dickens, and so I worked him into a play called Dickens Condensed which is now published and has been performed all over the place. Poe's one play, Politian, is not generally respected by scholars, but I rather like it. Poe never finished it, and I really wish he had. I think he had the makings of being a fine playwright if he had kept at it.

DM: Who are the writers that influence your work?
JA: I really like writers who create entertaining plays that also make you think. Aristophanes, Henrik Ibsen, and Bertolt Brecht were all great at that. Their plays can have you laughing out of your chair or sitting on the edge of your seat with anticipation, but they do more than that. You finish their plays, and you have all these new things to think about that you'd never before considered. Tom Stoppard also does that, as does Paula Vogel.

DM: Any upcoming performances or your plays or appearances?
JA: My play Capital about Karl Marx and his teenage daughter just finished a run at Detroit Repertory Theatre, and I'm hoping some other theaters will be picking it up soon. I also wrote an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that's going to be touring in North Carolina next year. Stay tuned!

For more about James visit his web site
For more interviews with people in the arts visit Donna's interview blog

July 15th
Poe themed writing workshop
with Charlie Vazquez, author and Director, Bronx Writing Center 
For more information call the visitor center 718.365.5516 or visit their website calendar under Poe Park Visitor Center.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


I've curated a new show to celebrate the work of Edgar Allan Poe


Illustrations of beloved tales and lesser known works by Edgar Allan Poe will be exhibited in the Poe Park Visitor Center from June 3 through July 29, 2017

Nancy Doniger, Dave Kopka, Carol (Klio) Burrell, and Donna Miskend


JUNE 10 - opening reception 
12pm  a performance reading by playwright James Armstrong
2pm -  a talk with literary historian Michael Patrick Hearn about his forthcoming book, An Annotated Edgar Allan Poe

July 15
Poe themed writer's workshop with Charlie Vasquez, director, Bronx Writing Center

July 29
Artists Panel

visit www.nycparks.gov/parks for further information 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Morgan Book Project

I'm so happy to be a part of the Morgan Book Project as a judge. It's a wonderful program developed by the Morgan Library and Museum that integrates core curriculum in the areas of art, science, history and literature in schools. This year they changed the format slightly and began with 3rd G+.  See my previous posts about this program, but in a nutshell, the kids use the Morgan's collection of illuminated manuscripts as their inspiration. They learn to make their own paint, and are given professional, archival materials to produce their books on a variety of subjects from creative writing to social studies. Click http://www.themorgan.org/education/morgan-book-project/special-awards/2016 to view the winning submissions. The special awards books were on view at the museum.

Monday, May 2, 2016

New Work - natural science

More birds. For this ecological habitat illustration, I've focused on a female mallard. The pattern of the feathers gave me the direction of the style I chose. The dragonfly is found here in N.Y. and the frogs are bullfrogs. My thanks go out to Eric, Kristine and Esther at the NY Botanical Gardens for helping me to identify the plants. I love working in this style, but I must get a stylus and program to use it with. I'm still using a mouse!
POND, mixed media, natural science, Donna Miskend 2016
(libellula cyanea, peltandra virginica, lemna minor, typhalatifolia, Anas platyrhynchos, Rana catesbeiana)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

EARTH DAY- a little late, so make it Earth Year!

We live in a disposable society. I see a lot of things people throw away in our building that could still be used. I visit the library at least once a week, so I take any books I find with me, but there are plenty of other places that will take them too. Most things will just wind up in a landfill. With a little research on the web and a few phone calls, you can make a huge difference not only in reducing waste, but also to our community organizations where every penny counts.

Here are some ideas of where you can donate unwanted items:
Books - a library, school, Veteran's facility, hospital, senior center, community center, thrift store.
Vintage items - clothing and other vintage items (dishes, telephone, furniture, etc.) are great for your local school drama departments and professional theater companies to add to their prop departments.
TDF Costume Collection
Donated costumes are the reason the Costume Collection is able to provide not-for-profit organizations with wardrobe for their productions. If you’d like to help TDF continue their mission, please consider donating your costumes or vintage clothing items. All donations are tax-deductible. To arrange a donation or for more information email the TDF Costume Collection or call (212) 989-5855.
Wearable Collections
is a NYC based company focused on keeping clothing, textiles and shoes out of landfills while generating funds for charities.

Office supplies - schools, animal shelters
Towels, sheets - animal shelters
Misc. Items:
Get creative. what could that broken chair become? The seat could become a table top or shelf.
not only takes furniture and appliances that meet current environmental standards, but they also take building and decorative materials. So if you are remodeling, contact them to see if they will take any of the flooring, tiles, lighting or other materials.

Happy Earth Year...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New Work - Natural Science

Burrowing Owl, natural science, collage, Donna Miskend 2016
(Cynomys Ludovicianus, Bouteloua Gracias, Camnula Pellucida
Athene Cunicularia, Melanoplus Bivittatus)
I'm building my portfolio of animals starting with birds. This is the habitat of the burrowing owl on the Canadian prairies.

And a female Kestral. More to come!

Kestral, natural science, graphite, Donna Miskend 2016
(Falco Sparverius)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Scholastic Writing Awards for kids

I am excited and inspired after a day of reading kids' submissions to the Scholastic Writing Awards.  I read some fantastic work. And even those entry's that were less successful had kernals of wonderful work to come. I read beautifully crafted sentences. There was dialogue that made me feel I was eavesdropping,  the words were so true and genuine. There were photographic descriptions, and poetic turns of phrases that could have come from the most accomplished writers. All this from 9th-12th graders (in my batch)! Of course my fingers are crossed for the submissions I nominated. It's all subjective though, so I hope all the participants continue to write.

The arts seem to be under assault these days where kids are concerned. Programs in schools are being cut in favor of a push for more math and science over arts education.  There's nothing wrong with math and science,  but I believe the emphasis in school should be on developing intellectual curiosity for life long learning, and a broad education that embraces the humanities. After school programs and libraries can also fill the gap, but they need your support. And get kids to participate. The greater the demand, the more attention these programs will receive.

Here's a link to the submissions guidelines. I encourage everyone to let kids know about this wonderful opportunity. http://www.artandwriting.org/the-awards/how-to-enter/
And thank you to Writopia Lab in Hartsdale for hosting. Writopia offers writing workshops for kids across the country. http://www.writopialab.org/ Happy writing.