Friday, June 28, 2019

Lecture: Art with a Twist

Sunday, October 13, 2pm.

Lecture: Art with a Twist

Montpelier Art Center

9652 Muirkirk Rd

Join me as I take a fun walk through art history that culminates in contemporary art where I will discuss the work of some DC area artists and our regional art scene, and answer questions.

Lecture is free and open to the public.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Picasso at auction

This gorgeous 1994 drawing of the great Spanish master - done way back then as a commission - in now up for auction at a fraction of its original cost... See it and more photos and bid for it here.

"Picasso, El Terrible" 1994 by F. Lennox Campello
"Picasso, El Terrible" 1994 by F. Lennox Campello

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Residency opportunity for immigrant artists


With support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities CentroNia offers an opportunity for artists to make work in residence at the Columbia Heights campus. Through the residency, selected artists will be provided free and dedicated studio space during the months of July and/or August and honoraria of $500 or $1000 dollars.

There is no cost to to apply. To apply artists should submit at least an image and artist bio or statement about how you’d like to use the residency. The Residency will provide access to a non-exclusive studio space in the early childhood education campus of CentroNia in Columbia Heights. Because children use the building during the day artists can only use non-toxic and non-odorous materials. Artists are expected to store their in-process art work and art supplies and clean up their work space after each session. CentroNia will provide a locked storage space.

To learn more and to apply online visit

Monday, June 24, 2019

Chenven Foundation Awards

Deadline: July 15, 2019
The Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation gives annual awards of $1500 to individual artists living and working in the United States, and who are engaged in or planning a new craft or visual art project.

Gallery B in July

Gallery B has announced its July exhibition, “MFA @ Gallery B,” a juried exhibition of work by Maryland Federation of Art members. The exhibit will be on display from July 3 – 27, 2019 at Gallery B, located at 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite E, Bethesda, MD. Gallery hours for the show will be Wednesday – Saturday, 12-6pm.

Gallery B will be open for a public reception on Friday, July 12 from 6-8pm. Opening receptions will also be held that evening at Studio B, 7475 Wisconsin Avenue; Triangle Art Studios, 7711 Old Georgetown Road and Waverly Street Gallery, 4600 East West Highway in downtown Bethesda.

“MFA @ Gallery B” was juried by Robert Yi, an Academic Advisor in the College of Visual & Performing Arts, School of Art in Fairfax, VA. 

Selected works by the following artists will be featured:

  • Fran Abrams, Rockville, MD
  • Beth Altman, Washington, D.C.
  • Diane Blackwell, Oakton, VA
  • Stephen Borko, Bethesda, MD
  • George Patrick Clagett, Upper Marlboro, MD
  • Ron Colbroth, McLean, VA
  • David Diaz, Annapolis, MD
  • Marianne DiBrino, Silver Spring, MD
  • Kay Fuller, Annapolis, MD
  • Nico Gozal, Suitland, MD
  • James Francis Hollan, Arnold, MD
  • Jinny Dee Isserow, Fairfax, VA
  • Judy Ann Jordan, Annapolis, MD
  • Deborah Kommalan, Pasadena, MD
  • Guy Terry Kuhn, Hagerstown, MD
  • Malka Kutnick, Kensington, MD
  • Susan La Mont, McLean, VA
  • Jonathan S. Mann, Woodbine, MD
  • Emily Carter Mitchell, Pasadena, MD
  • Allen E. Neyman, Rockville, MD
  • Mary Opasik, Catonsville, MD
  • Ed Palaszynski, Clarksburg, MD
  • William Peirce, Silver Spring, MD
  • Dean Peterson, Salisbury, MD
  • Susan F. Picard, Arnold, MD
  • Will Scott, Annapolis, MD
  • Meryl Silver, Bethesda, MD
  • Timothy A. Stephens, Frederick, MD
  • Gil Ugiansky, Annapolis, MD
  • Marilyn Block Ugiansky, Annapolis, MD
  • Dominique Vargo, Bowie, MD

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Brentwood Arts Exchange is Hiring an Assistant Director

The Brentwood Arts Exchange is Hiring an Assistant Director
The Assistant Director at the Brentwood Arts Exchange, under general supervision of the Director, performs a wide variety of duties to assist in managing a multi-faceted arts center that includes contemporary art galleries, small concerts, youth and adult art classes, and fine craft retail. Performs numerous tasks in support of the following job functions: supervises art center operations; participates in planning, organizing and implementing community based arts programs; create marketing and public relations materials. Volunteer coordination; assists in exhibition coordination and installation; participates in budget planning; supervises designated staff; maintains administrative records and cash reports; coordinates externally ad internally to perform other related duties as assigned. The arts center operates six days per week. Works various hours, which may include evenings and weekends.
The Brentwood Arts Exchange is part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wanna go to an art film tomorrow?

Halcyon - "By the People"

A Curatorial Project by Zenith Community Arts Foundation
Festival Dates June 15-23, 2019
On June 22, 2:00-7:00 pm, visit H-Space to see performances & interactive projects!
Rachael Bohlander, "U Street Scene"
Elizabeth Ashe, "Aim/Draw from 3 feet."
Katherine Smith-Morse "And Yet, We're Still Waiting" V. 2.
Heliosa Escudero, "Say it Nicely."
Jason Coile, Pierre Davis, & Sarah Klotz, "Ocean Walk."  
Afer 5pm, Music produced by AJ.
Activities will stagger between 2-7pm.
H-SPACE, 1932 9 and 1/2 Street NW, Washington DC 20001   MAP 
(An alley off U Street, NW)
New Summer Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 4-7pm. Saturday, 12-6pm. Sunday, 1-5pm

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Artists' Boot Camp

The Artists’ Boot Camp

Saturday, November 2nd, 10am-4pm , in the John Addison Concert Hall of Harmony Hall
Harmony Hall Arts Center presents Mr. Lenny Campello’s seminar, “The Artists’ Boot Camp”, open to all Prince George’s County artists, 16 and up.  Mr. Campello is the Greater Washington D.C. area’s pre-eminent art dealer, critic, consultant and blogger as well as artist. He designed his seminar to deliver information, data and proven tactics to artists, and to allow them to develop and sustain a career in the fine arts. Some of the topics that he will cover are, creating a resume, creating a body of work, selling your art, juried shows and news releases, just to name a few. 

The seminar is free and lunch is included. Seating is limited so please call 301.446.3251 or email to register and provide lunch preference.

Deadline is by 5pm, October 25th, but this seminar usually books very quickly, so I'd recommend that you RSVP as soon as possible!

Harmony Hall
10701 Livingston Road 
Fort Washington, MD 20744

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Artist Talk this Sunday


Artist Talk: Sunday, June 23rd, 2-4pm

June 9 - July 6, 2019

Women’s Caucus for Art of Greater Washington
Change/Transformation is presented by the members of the Women’s Caucus for Art of Greater Washington. The works carry the theme of personal, political, social, economic, cultural or any other kind of transformative change that occur throughout our lives. These works reflect change witnessed and experienced by the artists themselves, and also the transformation of the role of women in the society today.
Waverly Street Gallery 4600 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 12-6 pm
Ample parking in the county lot next door: park free on the weekends. The Bethesda Metro takes you almost to their door.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Prove or deny the landing on the Moon

Deadline: July 12, 2019


Try to answer question above, using photographs (up to five) or a short film (up to 15 seconds). Everyone is invited, and everything is allowed – you can use any technique, send real or fictitious stories, create real or manipulated pictures, prove or deny landing on the Moon. Everything depends on you. Original idea and creativity will count most! 

No Entry Fee. 


Monday, June 10, 2019

Lecture: On Identity in the Arts: What Does It Mean to be Latinx?

Lecture: On Identity in the Arts: What Does It Mean to be Latinx?

Montpelier Art Center

9652 Muirkirk Rd

Saturday, September 14, 2pm.

I will be delving deep into the history and evolution of the Latino ethnic label and then discussing important questions on the issue while wrapping it around the context of the fine arts in a sometimes funny, but always informative presentation. 

Lecture is free and open to the public.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Biodiversity Drawing Competition

Organized by the Municipality of Vila Real and Zona Livre, the Biodiversity Drawing Competition has as main objective to promote the subject of biological natural heritage, like the natural regions, the ecosystems, the habitats and the species of wild fauna and flora, through the selection and classification of works, drawings and illustrations related to this subject. 

No Entry Fee. 


Saturday, June 08, 2019

More Obsessions: Thoughts and things that keep living in my head

F. Lennox Campello
More Obsessions: Thoughts and things that keep living in my head

Stone Tower Gallery
7300 MacArthur Blvd.
Glen Echo, MD 20812
Exhibition:  F. Lennox Campello: More Obsessions
Exhibition dates: July 5 to 28, 2019
Gallery Hours: Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 6pm and by appointment
Art Walk Reception: Friday, July 5, 6 to 8pm

Is technology part of contemporary art? Of course it is! 
Is technology a drug that causes obsessions? Of course it is! 
A compulsive drive to work the same image or idea repeatedly is not that rare an issue in the pages of art history. Nearly every major museum in Europe has a similar version of El Greco’s vision of Christ throwingthe merchants from the Temple, and Mondrian redefined the same abstractcomposition of color blocks over and over, and over, as did Italian artist Giorgio Morandi, who obsessively returned to the same basic still life over, and over, and over. 
What drives those “obsessions” is a matter for debate, as well as for much furrowing of eyebrows at art schools across the planet, where it is generally noted as a negative trait for an artist. 
F. Lennox Campello, who the Washington City Paper included a few years back in their annuallisting of Washington’s most interesting people, not only relishes in returning to the same subject many times over, but in some cases the “many times” have over the four decades of obsessions delivered interpretations now numbering in the hundreds for a single subject. 
A new obsession to Campello has been the incorporation of technology to help his other obsession (telling a story via his artwork) succeed.  Video and sound become powerful narrative additions to almost classical drawings.

“Your Portrait in a Gallery of Portraits” is such an obsessive narrative technical and technological composition. In the charcoal and conte drawing, we see a solitary figure from the back, as she visits an art gallery. To both sides of the figure embedded digital screen search online and put a new portrait of a famous person every five seconds on each screen. The center screen seems empty at first, until a viewer approaches it, and realizes that their image is now part of the work (captured by a hidden miniature camera). 

The work (exhibited in the DC area for the first time), has kindled an unexpected response from the viewers during its initial exhibition at the Art Basel week of art fairs in Miami last year. “I noticed – and recorded – hundreds and then thousands of people taking a selfie of themselves ‘inside’ my artwork,” notes Campello, “… a selfie of a selfie, if you will…,” he adds. 
Other obsessions also make an appearance: the Picts of ancient pre-Celtic Scotland (where Campello lived for several years), Argentine revolutionary mass murderer Ché Guevara, the Biblical Eve, and the Kabbalah’s Lilith, Saint Sebastian, Saint John the Baptist, a naked Supergirl, enjoying a nudie flight, Campello’s own secret messages in a secret written code. 
The artist, who was a US Navy cryptologic officer for over two decades, has invented a secret visual written language which is a marriage of ancient Celtic Ogham (the secret writing code of the ancient Druids) with the more modern US Navy Falcon Codes, a series of phrases with double meanings. They also appear, hidden in the shadows of bodies and objects throughout some of the drawings.

Friday, June 07, 2019

ARTSFAIRFAX Artist Residency Program

Application Deadline: June 22, 2019

ARTSFAIRFAX invites professional artists of all disciplines interested in conducting a teaching artist residency to apply for the FY20 Artist Residency Program.  

The program is a collaboration between the ARTSFAIRFAX and the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) for artist residencies that engage students in cross-curricular learning through the arts.  Arts disciplines include, but are not limited to, visual arts, music, theater, literature, dance, choreography, storytelling, design arts, architecture, sculpture, media/film, animation, and digital art.  Professional artist includes individuals who have exhibited, performed, presented and/or published artistic work in a public context that demonstrates an ongoing commitment to their artistic discipline at a professional level.  

Application Deadline: June 22, 2018.  

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Bethesda Painting Awards prize winners announced!

Best in Show Winner Mary Anne Arntzen Awarded $10,000

The Bethesda Arts and Entertainment District announced the top three Bethesda Painting Awards prize winners on Wednesday evening during the exhibition’s opening at Gallery B. Mary Anne Arntzen of Baltimore, MD was awarded “Best in Show” with $10,000; W.C. Richardson of University Park, MD was named second place and was given $2,000 and Nicole Santiago of Williamsburg, VA received third place and was awarded $1,000. Additionally, McKinley Wallace III of Baltimore, MD was recognized with the Young Artist Award and received $1,000.

Pictured from L to R: Catriona Fraser, Painting Awards Chair; Nicole Santiago, Third Place Winner; Carol Trawick, Founder; Kyle Hackett, 2019 Painting Awards Judge
Pictured from L to R: Catriona Fraser, Painting Awards Chair; Nicole Santiago, Third Place Winner; Carol Trawick, Founder; Kyle Hackett, 2019 Painting Awards Judge
Mary Anne Arntzen earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Boston University. Her work has been shown nationally, including recent exhibits at the Walters Art Museum, the Painting Center and St. Charles Projects in Baltimore, MD. She has completed residencies at the Wassaic Project, Vermont Studio Center and Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. She was a 2018 nominee for the Joan Mitchell Painting and Sculpture Grant and a finalist for the Sondheim Prize in 2017. Arntzen has taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, George Washington University, and the Community College of Baltimore County. She is also a member of ICA Baltimore.

Mary Anne Arntzen
The eight artists selected as finalists are:

Mary Anne Arntzen, Baltimore, MD

Taha Heydari, Baltimore, MD

Lillian Bayley Hoover, Baltimore, MD

Gina Gwen Palacios, Baltimore, MD

Erin Raedeke, Montgomery Village, MD

W.C. Richardson, University Park, MD

Nicole Santiago, Williamsburg, VA

McKinley Wallace III, Baltimore, MD

Personally, my favorite was Nicole Santiago, and she would have been my top prize winner (she was awarded 3rd place). However, art is very subjective, never objective and we all know where I stand on that issue when it comes to art!

By Nicole Santiago
A public opening will be held on Friday, June 14, from 6-8pm. Gallery B is located at 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite E in downtown Bethesda. The work of the eight finalists will be on display from June 5-29, 2019. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 12-6pm.

The competition jurors were Kyle Hackett, Professor of Art, American University and the 2014 Bethesda Painting Awards; Sue Johnson, Professor of Art, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and Susan Zurbrigg, Painting and Drawing Area Head, Professor of Art, James Madison University.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

News from the world of fine arts glass: Queer Glass!

I've been hearing this "new" (at least new to me) art term "Queer Glass" all over the glass artmosphere of the art planet lately -  the term is used to describe fine art glass about and by LGBTQ artists and issues -- and thus in honor of Pride month, I'd like to share this essay on the early days of Queer Glass... 

From the Washington Glass School:
Queer Glass : A Personal History
Tim Tate: Queer Glass
I’ve heard the term “Queer Glass” being used lately, which completely excites me! Meegan Coll’s “Transparency.” LGBTQ exhibit at the Liberty Museum last year, Jan Smith’s Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Reflecting Perspectives: Artists Confront Social Issues of Diversity and Inclusion and Susie Silbert’s (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at The Corning Museum of Glass) upcoming seminar discussion in October ( thank you Meegan and Susie!). This makes me want to cheer from the roof tops. Thank you to Meegan for curating that first show, and thank you to Susie for being the first institution to use the term Queer Glass.
One of the reasons I’m happy about this is that it gave me a reason to compile a history of my own Queer Glass, an excessive I had never undertaken. There are a few more reasons as well.
One of Tim Tate’s earliest glass pieces from the mid 90’s. Said Tim of the work: “I lost 9 friends to AIDS in one year. This bowl with 9 angels covered by positive symbols was my tribute.”
In 1990 I began taking glass classes at Penland School of Crafts. I went there to heal by creating. A few years earlier I received a terminal diagnosis: I was told that I had one year to live; I was a gay man who had AIDS. I embraced glass at that time so that I would at least die as the artist that I had wanted to be, rather than my former job…the job that everyone else thought that I should have.
In this 2-week class I met another gay man who was a very nice guy. I didn’t come out to him right away, as I was going to do it later that week. Before I could, however, this young man went to another well-known glass artists studio, covered the ground with newspapers, and fatally shot himself in the head.
I was not to meet another gay man in glass for the next 15 years.
Said Tim Tate of this image of New Orlean’s AIDS Memorial – “The cornerstone of my Queer Glass Series is of course The New Orleans AIDS Memorial. I designed it in 1996 and my friend Mitchell Gaudet cast the glass when it finally got installed. This was one of the very first AIDS memorial sculptures in this country. It represents one of my proudest achievements as an artist. Thank you all who helped make it come to fruition. Its in Washington Park in the French Quarter.”
I had no idea at that time just how scarce gay people were in the world of fine art glass. It was a hetero-normative art form. They are still scarce, though things are getting better. Frequently when I mention this fact to people, they start telling me the names of gay people they knew of (almost always the same 5 or 6 names). Comparing this list to the number of heterosexual glass artists is ridiculous. If anyone else was making direct queer work back then I would love to hear from you.  
I had heard of several gay women artists, and eventually heard of a few gay men. Thank God for them! It always gave me hope. But being a gay person making glass sculpture does not mean that you make Queer Art. I believe Queer Art should address the concerns of gay people. They should be fighting issues that stand in our way towards equality. At least to me, they should also be identified as Queer Art… no “passing” allowed! I’m just happy that we live in a time when we can publicly embrace the word queer to re-empower ourselves.
The queer issues then centered around HIV, marriage equality, violence towards gay men and women, all vast civil rights. Today’s issues seem to be centered around getting acceptance of family, civil rights (still), political advancement and keeping the extreme right at bay in order to keep the rights that we now have. So – as I waited to meet other queer men in glass, I made my art. 
To be clear, there were other queer people making art…but not glass art. So, I began on my own. I never saw another piece of queer glass until the Liberty Museum’s “Transparency” show last year. What a delight to meet others embracing their self-identities for all to see!
The vast majority of my queer work goes back to 1992 to 1999, when I was the founder and director of the Triangle Artists Group (TAG) in Washington, DC…. which at one time boasted over 200 members who curated over 40 shows. Most notable was a show curated by Ruth Trevarrow entitled, “Too Queer”, which examined society’s homophobia and our own internalized homophobia. We worked with art and what was then called the “Prison Project” (concerning how gay people at that time were 3 times more likely to be incarcerated and 10 times more likely to be sexually abused in prison). AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) played an important role among many TAG members. We were fighting to stay alive. 
As such, this was the soup in which I swam. I was an HIV+ gay man surrounded by the politics and artistic expression of our times. I just never saw or experienced any queer glass art, other than my own. I saw the creation of this type of issue driven art as healing to me. Not only healing in the act of creating, but also healing for the viewers who shared these issues. Loss and healing became the main theme of many of my works. In one year alone, I went to 9 funerals. My friends, my partners… my world – was dying before my eyes. It was impossible for us to stay silent. HIV and Matthew Shepard’s death defined the late 90’s. Either a faceless disease or homophobic murderers were going to kill us. This seemed to be the worst time in the last century to be gay. The world’s queer artists united together – but not queer glass artists.
Tim Tate; “In The Dark Hours”; 16″ x 7″ x 7″; Blown and Cast Glass, Electronics, Video; 2006. Said Tim of this work: “In the early days of AIDS, there was a great deal of shame associated with contracting the disease. It felt like all control had been taken from your life, so many people took back the that control by committing suicide before the onset of symptoms. Suicide was the first thought I had when I discovered I was positive.” Photo by Pete Duvall.
There was also a few gay glass collectors that existed. Unlike the fine art world, they rarely supported struggling queer glass artists (they still rarely do). Perhaps it was the old internalized homophobia rearing its ugly head again. One glass art gallery that I showed my work in said that I could make glass with a gay narrative, but they would not exhibit those works in the gallery. They said they had no clients for it. The economics were on the side of hetero-normity.
I was lucky in that I discovered that some many non-gay collectors would acquire my work, even queer work. The artwork just needed to be very good work as well. The glass and art collectors of the time were, for the most part, enlightened liberals. Museum curators were much more open to showing queer artwork. In the earliest days it was never about the economics anyway. It still isn’t. It’s about refusing to stay invisible. SILENCE = DEATH was the mantra for queer artists.
I assume that there were regional pockets of queer glass artists that I was just not aware of. I hope I was just not seeing a collective queer effort in glass. I saw work by queer glass artists, but nothing was in any way obvious. My point with my artwork was to escape the invisibility of being a gay glass artist at that time. Invisibility had to be left behind. I was eventually lucky enough to be asked to speak at Yale university by Glenn Adamson on the topic of Art and Conflict in a panel sponsored by the Chipstone Foundation.
So much has changed for gay people: HIV can now be controlled, we can now marry, and we have achieved some human rights. We have 10 openly gay men and women serving in Congress. We have a gay man running for president. Attitudes in the American public have improved drastically towards gay marriage. My fear is that we are becoming complacent with the gains that we have made. Anti-gay violence is on an alarming increase. The civil rights we have achieved are being eroded by the far right. This seems like the perfect time to focus again on queer art and defending what we have struggled for. I just thought I would gather that history here. Younger people than I will take it from here.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Remembering a powerful woman

Three years ago my courageous mother died... this is my eulogy from that day:
When my father died last year, I began his eulogy by noting that another oak had fallen.

This morning, around 1:25AM, Ana Olivia Cruzata Marrero de Campello, his wife of over 60 years, and my beloved mother, passed on on the day of her 97th birthday.

If my father was an oak, then my mother was an equally strong, but also very pliable, and elegant tree.  When hurricanes attack the mainlands of the world, the strong tall trees often fall, but the pliable ones, like plantain trees, always give with the wind, and survive the storms, and thrive in the drenching rains.

My mother was like a an aged plantain tree, not only immensely strong and pliable, but also giving and nurturing.

Like many Cuban women of her generation and her social-economic background, she had never worked for a living in Cuba, and yet within a few days of our arrival in New York in the 1960s, she was working long hours in a sewing factory, putting her formidable seamstress skills, honed in the social sewing and embroidery gathering of young Cuban girls, to use in the "piece work" process of the New York sewing factories.

As soon as we saved the money, one of the first things that my mother bought was an electric sewing machine - a novelty to her, as she had always used one of the those ancient Singer machines with a foot pedal.

I remember as a child in Brooklyn, that women used to bring her fabric and a page from a magazine with a woman wearing a dress. Without the benefit of a sewing pattern, my mother would whip up a copy of the dress that was more often than not probably better made than the original. As the word of her skills spread, so did her customers and soon she was making more money working at home than at the factory - but she kept both jobs.

I once noted to her that I admired the courage that it must have taken  her to leave her family and immigrate to the United States. "We didn't come here as immigrants," she corrected me. "We came as political refugees, and I initially thought that we'd be back in Cuba within a few years at the most."

When the brutal Castro dictatorship refused to loosen its stranglehold on her birth place, she became an immigrant, and from there on an American citizen from her white-streaked hair down to her heel bone (that's a Cuban saying). Like my father, she loved her adopted country with a ferocity, that I sometimes feel that only people who have been bloodied by Communism can feel for a new, free homeland.

As as I've noted before, Cubans are archaic immigrants... we love this great nation because we recognize its singular and unique greatness; perhaps it is because our forebears had the same chance at greatness and blew it.

I remember as a teenager, once I started going out to parties and things at night on my own (around age 16 or so), that my mother would wait up for me, sitting by the third floor window of our Brooklyn apartment, where she could survey the whole neighborhood and see as far as the elevated LL subway station a few blocks away, to watch me descend the station stairs and trace my way home.

My mother was always fit and, as once described by my father, "flaca como un fusil" (as slim as a rifle). She was strong and fast. She was also quiet, but never silenced, and when needed, could and would command attention.

My mother was always well dressed and superbly coiffed. When we'd go to parties and events, women would always ask her where she'd gotten that dress! The answer was always the same: she'd made it!

At least once a week, to my father's dismay, and in spite of his demands that my mother stop it, she'd get her hair done at the nearby peluqueria (hair dresser).

My dad knew, and respected his limits with my mother. 

I remember one time that my father and I were returning from shopping at the supermarket, dragging one of those wheeled folding carts that could carry four full paper grocery bags. It had been snowing, so the Brooklyn streets were wet and muddy.

When we got to our apartment my father opened the door. He then stood there.

"Go in!" I demanded.

"We'll have to wait," he said gloomily, "Your mother mopped the floor and it's still wet." This giant, tough, street-brawling Galician then looked at me sheepishly, "I'd rather walk through a mine field than step on your mother's wet floor."

I learned a lesson there.

She used to delight in telling stories how, as a child, she would often win the horse races that kids staged around the small country towns where she was raised in Oriente province, where her father was a Mayoral.

"I almost always won," she'd say, and then would add: "Even though I was a skinny girl."

Once, in her seventies, back in the days where you could actually accompany people to the departing gates at airports, we were escorting my oldest daughter Vanessa, who had come to visit, and we were running late. As we got to the airport, we ran to the gate, and to everyone's surprise, Abuela got there first. I still remember how delighted my daughter was that her grandmother could still run like a gazelle.

When I joined the Navy at age 17, my first duty station was USS SARATOGA, which at the time was stationed in Mayport in Florida, and thus my parents decided to migrate south to Florida and moved to Miami... just to be close to me.

They spent the next 40 years in the same apartment while I was stationed all over the world.

The mostly Cuban-American families that lived over the years in that apartment loved my mother, and would always tell me stories about my mother, ever the nurturer, bringing them food when she knew that they were going over tough times, or riding the buses with them, just to show them the routes.

This week, when I arrived in Miami, already somewhat knowing that this was approaching the end, I saw her with tubes coming out of her mouth and her eyes closed. When I spoke to her she opened her eyes, and in spite of the visuals that my eyes were seeing she somehow still managed to look strong. 

I showed her photos and movies of her grand children, and talked to her for a long time.

I thanked her for having the courage to leave her motherland and afford me the opportunity to grow as an American.

When she was being extubated, a young woman came into the room with a guitar and played and sang the haunting free prose of Guajira Guantanamera (The peasant girl from Guantanamo); a most fitting song, since my mother was from Guantanamo, and she came from strong Cuban peasant stock.

"Guajira pero fina (A peasant, but a very refined woman)", noted a neighbor and loving caretaker. 

The song, which can start with just about any prose, started with the Jose Marti poem:
 Yo quiero, cuando me muerasin patria, pero sin amo, tener en mi tumba un ramo de flores y una bandera
I want to, when I die, without my motherland, but without a master, to have on my tomb a bunch of flowers and a flag.
She died without a master, a strong and pliable woman who not only gave me the gift of life, but also the gift of freedom.

And as my mother died in her sleep in the early hours of the morning, in the capital city of the bitter Cuban Diaspora, all that I could gather to say to her was mostly the same that I said to my father when he passed last year: "Thank you for your courage... from me, and from my children... and soon from their children. You opened a whole new world for them."

I love you Mami... Un Abrazo Fuerte! Thank you for your gifts to me and my children, and happy birthday in Heaven!

Sunday, June 02, 2019


"The Eve, Running Away from Eden"
Charcoal on broken Bisque
5x3x1 inches, circa 2019 by F. Lennox Campello

Saturday, June 01, 2019

The Morrigan

"The Morrigan" Charcoal on broken Bisque 4x3x1 inches, circa 2019 by F. Lennox Campello
"The Morrigan"
Charcoal on broken Bisque
4x3x1 inches, circa 2019 by F. Lennox Campello