Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain had been on my To Read pile for ages despite being a fan of his food/travel TV series. I don’t know what took me so long. I finally read it last month and it is now one of my favorite books – for writing. A raw, probing, honest, classic account of the restaurant business culture, the book is about people. A character study of those in the business, and a personal story of Bourdain’s struggles as he built his career. The writing is direct and brilliantly crafted, engaging from the first line. He had what publishers seek and writers aspire for, a voice unmistakably his own. Warning, there is foul language, instances of objectification of women, locker room antics and debauchery. He wrote it as shop talk for those in the business and was later surprised the book found a wider audience. 

Today is Anthony Bourdain Day. Gather your friends, put down your smartphones and have a conversation over a good meal. Then curl up with Kitchen Confidential and allow yourself to be drawn in by a consummate observer who was curious and thoughtful. Bourdain was, no is, a raconteur in the best of storytelling tradition. I urge you to read it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Work In Progress

New series - seed pods. Finished work is on my website.
(Bark TBD, Catalpa sp., Paulownia tomantosa, Echinosystis lobata)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Family Arts Bash and ArtsMobile

Loads of fun drawing and painting animals at my station!

Seniors try their hand at painting flowers and fruit at New Rochelle Senior Center with Arts Westchester's Mobile Arts Van, bringing art to everyone.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Arts Westchester Family Arts Bash

Saturday, May 18th Family Arts Bash event for kids. Art activities based on the theme of FAMILY. A social unit or a tribe with a common ancestor is called a CLAN. All over the world, you'll see clan symbols, often associated with animals.  Think totems, crests, and flags, or perhaps it's a sports team mascot. Stop by and design your family symbol and visit the gallery to see  MODERN FAMILIES, a contemporary interpretation photo exhibit.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Morgan Book Project

Over the years that I have participated as a judge for the Morgan Book Project, I've watched it develop and grow. The Morgan Library & Museum fully supports this educational program for children by looking for new ways to reach more kids. They've expanded the age range, included special needs and English language learners, and increased the number of participating schools. The students have the opportunity to visit the museum and experience the collection firsthand, fostering a connection to museums in general, and encouraging a lifelong interest in the arts.  Using original illuminated manuscripts from the collection as inspiration for their illustrations, the kids make the paint, write, and put the books together. They learn to appreciate books as an art form. The books are aligned with core curriculum studies: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Visual Arts. Topics range from biographies of noted individuals, history, world culture, poetry, and nature, to sometimes heart wrenching personal stories. The winning entries are viewed as representing the students' schools, and the kids are celebrated with an awards ceremony at the museum. The books are displayed on the Morgan Library's website, and 12 books will be on display in an exhibition at the museum, Inspiring and Illuminating the Classroom. The Morgan Library & Museum truly goes all out for this program. The exhibition will be on view from May 14 through June 16th.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Earth Day

©DonnaMiskend, Coney Island beachgrass planting
Volunteers stepped up this past Sunday to plant beachgrass in Coney Island with the NYC Parks Department. Once the beachgrass takes root, it will form sand dunes that will act as a natural buffer against windblown sand and help with area flooding. It was a great way to spend a few hours at the beach making a difference to help the environment. 
Earth Day celebrations are happening throughout the month of April, but there are nature related volunteer opportunities all year round.

Read more on my website.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Scholastic Writing Awards and Irish Arts Center Book Day

In January, I happily read scores of work by 7-12th graders who compete annually in The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The competition starts regionally and then moves to the national competition. When the winners are announced I scan the list of titles to see if the work I loved received an award. As I am one of the judges and the entries I read are anonymous, this is when I learn the names of the writers. I'm jumping up and down as if I know them personally, and make a mental note to keep an eye out for them as they hopefully embark on a career as a writer. I imagine one day standing in line at their book signing and telling them that I loved the story/play/essay/poem they wrote when they were in school. 
This year, Yuzhen Zou, and Isabel Stronski (both 11th graders), received gold awards in the memoir/personal essay category. Award winning work from this year will be available to read HERE after April 15th. 
Congratulations to all the entrants. It was a privilege to read your work. For information about how to enter click HERE.  

IRISH ARTS CENTER BOOK DAY is an annual event around St. Patrick's Day. They partner with other cultural organizations to give away free books to the public at various locations throughout NYC. This year they partnered with the Asian Alliance to offer asian authors in addition to Irish and Irish American authors. There are different genres available: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, adult and children's books. It's great fun to help passers-by to find a new book to read. Cristian Verdugo picked up books for members of his family too, including a book by an Irish author translated into Spanish.
Cristian Verdugo
That's what's great about this program. From one person, several more can be exposed to new books as well. The books I added to my To Read pile:


The Irish Arts Center offers performances and classes in writing, music, dance and Irish language.