Tom Heinz: Totems and Portraits


These images are not manipulated in any way.  They are straight from nature to camera to print. 


These are portraits of the spirits that live at the interface of this world and another.


Portraits of the Earth Goddess


These are reflections of our own dualistic psyche, reflecting our good side and a side that is not so good.


When you change your point of view you see things differently.


This photographic passion began when I awoke one morning facing an alpine lake in Banff, BC.


     The face of Mother Nature I saw beckoned for her portrait.   She doesn’t stay around long enough to pose.  Her fleeting moments will never be seen again.


I can’t say these faces talk to me but I sure talk to them.  I say hello, then thank them for coming to my photographic session.


My body of work consists of:

 Portraits – single faces

New Pacific Totem Poles – face upon face upon face

Footprints – traces of mankind


Every time you look at these you’ll see something different.        





Tom Heinz        P.O. Box 874   Brisbane, CA  94005        415.468.8587


These, and many more, can be seen at:


Link to Tom Heinz’ biography:


Reverse Trick-Or-Treating, Live in Berkeley


More blurbs from the editor…

Last Halloween I followed UC Berkeley college students Moravia DeLao and her friend Sandy for Reverse Trick-Or-Treating, a project of the international fair-trade company Global Exchange – an organization spotlighted in October’s issue, “Field Notes.” Link to our spotlight:

During this worldwide event, people who choose to participate can order fair-trade chocolate from Global Exchange’s website.  

Then, for Reverse Trick-Or-Treating, people dress in costume, go house to house, and give out the chocolate, along with information about fair trade practices. (In the United States, children typically ask for candies at each house.) Moravia was Waldo from the children’s book Where’s Waldo, and I dressed as Theano, wife of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras.

Berkeley gave birth to many social-justice, international-awareness, and ecological movements over the years, and most homes high up in the hills already knew of and bought fair trade products when possible. Still, most accepted our chocolates, and even gave us candy anyway! (Most trick-or-treaters are very young, elementary school age or younger.)

Global Exchange remains in business with their justice-oriented corporate philosophy, and, although orders and revenue have declined, withstood the past year and a half of global recession.

Their chocolate and other products are all purchased from suppliers which they know strive to pay the farm families who grew the plants a wage on which they can live. Also, cacao, tea, and coffee growers have joined together in Global Exchange-facilitated cooperatives to pool capital for longer-term investments – medical clinics, schools, ecologically workable technologies to increase crop yield.

Global Exchange’s website with more information here:


Organs are not dead – reviving the classic instrument at Berkeley’s Community Theater


“It’s really just a big box of whistles.”

A fellow organist and audience member gestured towards the giant Wurlitzer regularly showcased in concert at the Berkeley Community Theater.

Once providing grandiose piped sound for churches and movie theaters across the United States, organs are now relegated to special events and formal weddings and funerals.

Yet, enthusiasts still play and perform classic organ pieces, and several shared insights into the instrument’s workings and history during Berkeley’s early November concert.

“Making music with air and pipes goes way back in history, at least to the ancient Greeks,” said Gordon Pratt, organ player of many years.

Over time, technology advanced so that organs became more elaborate, with larger instruments containing five levels of keys, and entire arrays of tabs and pedals for further sound variety. One may select the exact type of sound one needs by setting tabs for each pipe in particular ways before one begins playing, and sustain a note by pressing foot pedals.

Asked how an organ player could move his or hands up and down quickly enough to keep up with a musical piece, Pratt and others explained that one became better with practice.

“A piano has a long horizontal set of keys, and classical pianists learn to move their fingers where they need to go, so organists can do the same.”

Church organs are physically different from many instruments intended for old-time movie theaters. A theater organ can produce more vibrato for horror-style sound effects, while a church organ typically plays more melodious hymns. The Berkeley Theater’s Wurlitzer is capable of playing both styles of music, pulling off Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and music from the Phantom of the Opera with ease.

An older crowd attended the organ performance, many of whom remembered playing the instrument themselves at church or in high school. Volunteers sold organ music on vinyl records or cassette tapes. Yet not all the music played, either on the Wurlitzer or the accompanying piano, was nostalgic. We were also treated to the theme from Jurassic Park and a dramatic, complex rendering of the theme from the Man from Snowy River in addition to the classical pieces and old Broadway showtunes.

Many types of modern and traditional music can be performed on an organ – and the Berkeley Community Theater’s regular, monthly first-Sunday concerts invite the public to enjoy the art form.

More information on the Berkeley Community Theater and the organ’s workings and constructions here:

First-timers are free for the relatively inexpensive concerts!

Stephen Williams – acrylic work ‘where dreams and memory collide’

Stephen Williams grew up in Oregon where he studied photography and watercolor. After moving to San Francisco in the late 80s, he has found himself obsessed with making art, acrylic paintings especially, out of his apartment. For over ten years he’s watched his inventory grow as he participated in the occasional private sale and fundraising benefit at galleries such as the Lab. Now he is ready to bring his art to the public.

          Inspired by illustrations in comic books, photography and dioramas, his use of saturated color and crisp detail matched with intense atmospheric light create moody, nostalgic images. Aiming for ‘naturalistic artifice,’ he uses his figures, costumes, props and settings to explore effects of form and space, identity and performance. The world he creates is a gauzy realm where dreams and memory collide.


He may be reached at


Spencer Hallam: Varied Illustrations




Illustration is the task to create visual content in close association with another publication or product in order to provide greater identification with the intended audience. This is possible since bonded with the painted layers of any good illustration can exist compelling insight into truth.  As an illustrator I find this to be one satisfying way to pass on a meaningful narrative and bring significance to living. Though my works are fantastical, futuristic, abstract, or absurdist parody, they all represent attempts to allegorize some truth underlying their nature, or they would blow away, having no foundation.


-Spencer Hallam

Spencer may be reached at

End of the world, teens to the rescue: review of Ashley Boettcher’s Threshold


Ashley Boettcher’s Threshold represents an ambitious undertaking for a first time novelist. The book weaves together an alternate American military and political history with a secret-agent mystery tale involving a threatened presidential assassination. Also, she provides a gently humorous slice of teen and family social life, interspersed with a mystical element complete with real-life Sirens and ancient evils gowned witches hide away from otherworldly flames.

Even with the fate of the civilized world at stake, Boettcher’s characters fight to avoid detentions, develop crushes on each other, and resent that their little kid brothers get assigned the most exciting parts of the investigation. Boettcher’s observant eye for the idealism and insecurity of the teenage psyche allows her to create coherent main characters and scenes which drive the story forward. Meanwhile, the beauty of the otherworldly, magical scenes take the narrative outside of its high-school confines, connecting the tale to larger spiritual and moral dramas.  

The best mystery novels allow readers to piece together clues along with fictional investigators, solving the puzzle right before the character makes his or her final ‘Aha!’ pronouncement. Threshold considers itself a mystery, as the novel jumps among plot threads and freezes its characters at precise moments of suspense. Especially in the first half, however, readers are still working out the alternate history and likely will not catch the significance of certain clues. The effective pacing and authentic rhythm and dialogue of the piece works well for a suspense thriller. And the entire piece could be strengthened by ‘setting the stage’ beforehand through a prologue or some telling details, so readers may focus on the unfolding drama of the killer’s stalking the President and the detectives without attempting to grasp two mysteries at once.

Also, some of the novel’s plot points, while imaginative, seem fantastical. And not the ones involving Sirens, exorcism, prophecies and science-fiction cloning/eugenics from the secretive Society. Those actually create a supernatural mood of mystical horror where arguing over the feasibility of details becomes less necessary. And the notes from the assassin, slightly tedious at the beginning while completely inexplicable, foreshadow a chilling, Hamlet-like exploration of obsession and post-traumatic stress syndrome and the healing role of faith.

Some of the real-life, modern-day scenes feel not quite real: two teens unearthing the President’s family secrets ‘on the Internet,’ the young detectives’ hiding in a trunk and surviving a car bomb, the eventual escape of the ‘copycat’ killer with a pen. Threshold could be strengthened by ensuring the technical feasibility of the ‘real-life’ scenes through researching and then subtly weaving details into the narrative to convey that knowledge.

Threshold presents a stark contrast between good and evil, life and death, love and terror. Perhaps this is the novel’s greatest strength – we see life in all its confusing glory, humanity in all its manifestations, posited as the antithesis to a one-dimensional secret society obsessed with power and death.

Hopefully Boettcher will continue writing, playing to her strengths with the help of qualified editors.

n  Ashley Boettcher’s Threshold is an upcoming novel, available in present form directly from the author – who may be reached at


Lisa Demb: More of Happy Armageddon and Margaritaville


San Francisco artist Lisa Demb continues her “Happy Armageddon” and “Margaritaville” series with further work, again experimenting with gentle transitional shading and different color schemes.

Each set of color evokes slightly different feelings in many viewers, and Demb has created a personal gallery where the multiple renderings of the similar images hang next to and flow into one another. No one knows exactly how the ‘end of the world’ or the future will look, and the variety calls attention to the idealized, conceptual images which appear for every color scheme while drawing viewers in through the visual brilliance.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting her home artist studio, and we discussed her creative process over Beethoven sonatas and warm tea. For Demb, pencil drawing is one current manifestation of a lifelong creative journey and a means to explore personal questions of faith and destiny.

Lisa Demb welcomes comments, questions, requests, and any feedback regarding her artwork. She also produces custom-designed stationery, which you may order directly from her. You may write to Ms. Demb at 140 Jones Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 or call 415-776-2115 and ask for her by name.

Laura Callin Bennett – Love Frog Three


Love Frog Three
Medium: India ink and acrylic on paper
: 4″ x 6″
Date: 2009

I am an artist who is interested in evolution, natural selection, artificial
breeding, and genetic engineering.

I think evolution is beautiful. It gives elegant explanations for why animals
look and act the way they do. I am working on a series of one hundred small
paintings that explore the idea of evolution in a playful way. They are all
the same size, four inches by six inches.

I think of the paintings as little organisms that are all related to one
another. Because they are related they have certain things in common,
including India ink outlines and acrylic paint in a particular range of
colors. If you look at a bird-watching field guide, you can see that related
birds often have the same colors, just rearranged into different patterns.
That is because they all inherited their colors from a common ancestor. A
systematic, limited palette of colors gives the same kind of unity to my
population of paintings.

Whenever I want to create a new painting, I start by looking at two of my
earlier paintings side by side. I imaginatively combine their ideas, designs,
and colors as I make a new “hybrid” offspring painting. Some of the
designs that recur throughout my work are images of rabbits, birds, and women.
Rabbits represent domesticity, comfort, and a certain childlike innocence. The
women are self-portraits or alter egos; I draw them when I am in an
introspective mood. Birds appear because they are the most visible creatures
in my environment. Most mammals stay hidden, but it only takes a short walk
around my apartment complex to see white-crowned sparrows, mourning doves,
scrub jays, and more. In my painting series I am taking in all of these ideas,
processing and reworking them, and watching as new and interesting forms

Laura Callin Bennett

Andrew Ek’s Illustrations: Movie Stills on Canvas


I am a self-taught painter. I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh briefly for Industrial Design Technology. My paintings are crystallized visions that have surfaced or have been captured, usually at random, from a thought or emotion. The creative process begins upon viewing an image or visiting a place and I feel compelled to develop that idea into a painting. I am interested in the flesh and draw inspiration from the figure. My aim is to envelop the viewer into an unfolding narrative in a vivid cinematic context, similar to a movie still. I live with my wife and two cats in the Bay Area.

Andrew’s advice to other aspiring painters, and his inspirations:

I guess my advice would be to completely immerse oneself in painting and read every book about it. Study the masters. Practice & develop your style through trial & error and never give up.

The painters who have influenced me over the years are many.But here are a few who inspired me to learn how to paint: Edward Hopper, Paul Delvaux, Philip Pearlstein, the Pre-Raphaelites, George Tooker, Eric Fischl. 


Andrew Ek may be reached at or through his website and his work is on exhibit at San Francisco’s Artist X-Change gallery, in the Mission District.

Priyanka Gupta – Om Namah Shivaya: Who am I?

Priyanka Gupta

My journey towards this series started with a question: ‘Who am I?’ These paintings represent my experiences during the search for the ultimate answer. Through a process of deep meditation and questioning, I happened to come across simple truths that I have tried to express in these works. This process was like peeling an onion where more and more is discovered with each layer. Each layer helped in understanding more of the inner Self.

In this series I explored the effects of one of the oldest mantras ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. This chant is devoted to Lord Shiva, who symbolizes the inner Self which is preserved even after everything is destroyed. The mantra has five syllables: na-mah-shi-va-ya. Among other things, these five represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space. Thus, the chant helps us to realize and understand the source of manifestation. From childhood this mantra was imbibed in me and through the exercise of regular chanting and meditating on this mantra I have tried to portray the effects on canvas.

The spiral is a recurring motif in my paintings. It is the symbol of the infinite Self, the mysterious connection with the Divinity and a visualization of the chakras within our systems. The colors used in the paintings also have great significance for me. Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable and committed. It is the color of peace and calm while golden is the color of spiritual energy. White is the symbol of purity, Red for me is love, passion, energy and vitality while the earth colors is associated with feelings of wholesomeness and stability and the connection with Mother Earth.

I further intend to carry on this quest for truth and discover more and more with each work.


For further information contact: Priyanka at, website:, Ph:  +1 650-862-0902

Short reflection from Sarah, mother and writer


Dear Carla and Robert, I’m sorry for the lost years. Life has not been kind to me. I lost you both when you were very young. I was very ill at that time and very broke. I was at the mercy of strangers who took pity on my condition. For that you both suffered.  I couldn’t give you the care and love you both deserve.  My mental illness caused me to neglect what I love most.  I am thankful however at that very tough time, your Nana was there to take you in.  I am very grateful to her, that my own Mom cared for and raised you.Losing custody of you both was the hardest thing I’ve ever endured. But now, if I were to lose your love and respect totally, it would be too devastating.

I don’t know all the feelings you’ve had.  I do know that you had to have suffered.  I can imagine your emotions have been mixed as to what you’ve thought about me all these years, and it has probably changed every now and then. I hope someday you could give me a chance to tell you my side of the story. I just want you to know that even though it may have seemed like I didn’t love you or didn’t care, that is far from the truth.  You are my children and I love you more than anything in the world.  It breaks my heart to keep reliving memories for years without you both by my side.

I wouldn’t want to do anything to upset your life now. My only fervent wish is that when I start seeing you more often, that you can open up your hearts just a little and try to forgive me as best as you can, for now.  I always miss you so much.

I’m so proud of you both, for your precious, good hearts, for your tenacity both with life’s struggles and in your artistic abilities, drawing, singing, and acting, character imitations, poems, and you both even have good looks, you’ve got it all!…  You’re deep thinkers, creative, intuitive, strong, intelligent, mature for your age, and very loving and caring young adults.

All these years I have tried to provide and send my love in one way or another.  I’ve tried with all my strength to conquer this illness. I have never given up on the hope that one day I will hold you both in my arms again, someday.

All my love,



aka: Mom
aka: Sarah


My side of the story:  The stress caused by the abrupt, and premature separation from my 3 and 4 year old children, Carla and Robert, has been horrendously painful for me and hasn’t ever stopped.  Michael and Megan are now 15 and 16 years old.  I love them more than anything in the world.  They live only about 3 to 5 minutes away from me and yet I only see them every month or so.  When they were first taken from me by the child protective services, it was because I failed to take them to the pre-school that the child protective services demanded I take them every day.  I was very poor, didn’t have a vehicle to get them there, and I have some severe mental challenges.  My children are only one year apart, exactly.  Michael was born in 1993.  Only three months after Michael was born, I became pregnant with Megan – born in 1994.  The rare but brutal mental disorder I suffer with is called Jealous Delusional Disorder.  I also have Attention Deficit Disorder and I survived several extremely emotionally and physically abusive relationships.  Before Megan was ever born, my grandmother, who had dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, came to live with my husband and me. We cared for her and earned some money for that through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services subsidized home caregiver program. 
Unfortunately, after I deliver a baby, my body has what the doctors call a water shift, which means my hormones change at a rapid and powerful pace, causing me to sometimes become so emotionally challenged that it turns into psychosis.  To deal with all the stress, my husband at the time turned to alcohol.  I became addicted to pain pills – Vicodin – and our worlds and lives began to crumble and we were falling so fast it was as if we were in quicksand.  The technical reason the child protective services took our children was “neglect.”  I really wish they would have been able to help us more than they did.  They threw some reunification plans at us that were not possible to complete.  Both Danny and I went in for psychological evaluations and the results were to be implicated into the plan by orders from the judge.  I was told that I needed to be in a full time dual diagnosis residential treatment center for 2 years before my kids could be returned to me, and Danny was told basically the same thing.  I was eager to get my kids back.  That’s all I cared about.  I looked everywhere in the near vicinity for a full time dual diagnosis residential treatment center and one where I could bring my kids in with me and take care of them there.  I couldn’t bear the thought of being without them for two years.  I searched and searched and was able to find a place called the Pomoroy House in San Francisco where Mothers could bring two children in with them, as long as they were under the age of 5.  I fit the criteria and hoped it wouldn’t be too long of a wait, even though they said the wait could be up to 2 years.  I waited, and called, and waited, but there was never an opening to the house and my Mother was awarded legal guardianship of my children. 
Sarah’s name has been changed to protect her family’s privacy…and she may be contacted through our magazine’s email address,, and we will pass on messages. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves her two children deeply and also is quite skilled with graphic design and photography and resume/career coaching and would love advice on legitimate ways to work from her home.  

Mythology series – Matthew Felix Sun

I just put together a group of work, on the theme of legend and mythology (both Chinese and Western.)

Myth, Legend and Religious stories have always served as the inspiration for art creations.  Having lived in China and the US, I was drawn to the mythology from both eastern and western cultures.

Over the past nine years, I have created several oil paintings based on Greek myth, Chinese legend and Judeo-Christian doctrine.

Below is the list of the work and the links to the images on my web site ( )

Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 30″, Completed in 2005
Minotaur, as I saw it, was a tragic figure, who was condemned and trapped by fate to his horrible condition and savageries.  He welcomed his slayer Theseus, who was approaching fast in a galley.  Holding Ariadne’s thread, which will help Theseus to leave his labyrinth, Minotaur pondered on his imminent death and anticipated his own relief with trepidation and anticipation.  A large tear rolled down his face, monstrous and beautiful.

Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 40″, Completed in 2009
A more or less straightforward rendition of the metamorphosis of Daphne into a laurel tree. Hands and arms of Daphne and the golden torso of Apollo dominated the canvas.  In the background, the killing of Daphne’s playmate Leukippos by the jealous Apollo and the chasing of Daphne were simultaneously portrayed, to complete the whole cycle of the story.

Oil on Canvas, 48″ x 24″, Completed in 2003
I put Sisyphus in the most hard to sustain position, to emphasis the difficulty and impossibility of his task and punishment.

Adam and Eve
Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 40″, Completed in 2008
Adam and Eve were portrayed as sad and resigned figures.  Adam cast down his eyes, as if he was trying to avoid eye contact with viewers, or his judges, while Eve reached out to Adam tentatively with right hand, whilst shielding her guilty face with her left hand.  A heavy, lead-colored cloud hanging directly above them, shaped like a giant question mark.  It also functioned like Damocles’ sword, threatening to crush them both. 

Oil on Canvas, 36″ x 48″, Completed in 2002
Virgin Mary, on learning her pregnancy by the holy spirit, wailed for herself and the fate of her unborn son Jesus.  She howled in grief beyond console.  Perhaps, she was grieving for the entirety of humanity – by then, she must have learned the burden on her shoulders.

Jingwei Filling Up the Sea
Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 36″, Completed in 2008
Jingwei, in Chinese mythology, perished at a young age in the East Sea. After her death she chose to assume the shape of a bird in order to exact revenge upon the sea by bringing stones and small twigs from the mountains nearby over the sea in an effort to fill it up. Jingwei even has a short dialogue with the sea where the sea scoffs her, claiming that she wouldn’t be able to fill it up even in a million years, whereupon she claims that she will then proceed to take ten million years, even one hundred million years, whatever it takes to fill up the sea so that others would not have to perish as she did.
Again, I grouped a few events together to contain the cycle of the story in one canvas.  The predominant feature is a sad fish with large tear.  Here, the struggle is between elements and human activity and I tried to give sympathy to both.
Nüwa Creating Humans
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 40″
Completed in 2007
Nüwa is a goddess in ancient Chinese mythology best known for creating mankind and repairing the wall of heaven.  This painting is the tribute to my heritage.  What can be more fitting then credit a female god as the creator of humans?  The sad twist in this canvas is that the humans she created resembled, unfortunately, robots.  No creation would be perfect.


Nüwa Patching Up the Sky
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 30″
Completed in 2006
Two powerful gods quarreled and caused the collapse of the pillar which supported the sky and rain powered down to drown the living creatures on earth. This is the independent corroboration of the deluge in the Bible. Nüwa cut off the legs of a giant tortoise and used them to supplant the fallen pillar, alleviating the situation and sealing the broken sky using stones of seven different colors, but she was unable to fully correct the tilted sky. This explains the phenomenon that sun, moon, and stars move towards the northwest, and that rivers in China flow southeast into the Pacific Ocean. She also melted five-colored boulders to seal off the cracks of the sky.  Other versions of the story describe Nüwa going up to heaven and filling the gap with her body (half human half serpent) and thus stopping the flood.  The image I put forth was an earth-toned large woman, floating against cobalt blue boulders and running water in between, struggling to maintain her balance, in order to finish her Herculean (or shall we say,

Nüwaian) job.


Matthew Felix Sun