Thursday, February 16, 2017

On the first anniversary of a cancer victory

Today is the first anniversary of the first major battle with cancer... below and together, you'll find the record of that event - it makes for an interesting read, and some good lessons in there as well...

February  16, 2016, 4:00AM

I'll be out of commission today, going under the knife for a major, somewhat urgent and quite unexpected surgery procedure with a substantial recovery period. Surgery starts at 0730; as I type this the main worry in my mind is getting from my house to the hospital (arrival time 0530) with all the ice still all over my neighborhood's twisty and windy streets.

Not looking forward to the next 2-3 weeks. But like Clint Eastwood once famously said: "Hog's breath is better than no breath at all..."

There are lots of things that I am afraid of, but weirdly enough, death is not one of them. I think that the fact that if I were to croak today I'd still be leaving behind around ten thousand pieces of artwork which have been sold, traded, given away, left in hotel rooms, inserted into Goodwill stores and/or otherwise left to leave an artistic footprint, is rather a calming feeling.

This is a major, multi-hour, robot-not-a-human-in-charge operation, which I am told has an 80% success rate where the John Doe doesn't bite the bucket (and frankly, I picked the robot over the human, because of something called "tremors" when it comes to a surgical scalpel), soooooooooo.... If I do bite the bucket, I'd like a tombstone that looks like a Pictish Stone, sort of like this one that I did in Scotland in 1989:

Clach Biorach Pictish Standing Stone  Edderton, Ross, Scotland  circa 1989 by F. Lennox Campello  Pen and Ink wash on paper, 9.5 x 6.5 inches
Clach Biorach Pictish Standing Stone
Edderton, Ross, Scotland
circa 1989 by F. Lennox Campello
Pen and Ink wash on paper, 9.5 x 6.5 inches

February 16, 3:03PM 

Nothing is ever easy! Last night's ice rain made for an interesting drive to the hospital this morning.  Since I knew that the ice rainfall was coming, I put my van inside the garage and laid out plenty of salt. Around 4am I got up, sprinkled more salt and pulled the van out and warmed it up.

The walk from the van back to the house was quite an event, as I hugged the walls to try to make it back in one piece, slipping and sliding all over the place.

The drive out of my neighborhood was almost surreal. To start, the start itself took two tries to get the van pointed in the right direction. I then crunched my way out via an interesting new path that avoided most hilly streets in my very hilly neighborhood.... I slid a few times, but made it out and eventually to the hospital.

February 19, 2016, 12:14PM

Going home today! This is my hospital allegory to Frida Kahlo's "What the water gave me."

February 26, 11:58AM

I've debated over and over about documenting my recent and brutal prostate biopsy (the brutality comes in the bloody evidence after the biopsy), the subsequent cancer diagnosis by a very aggressive form of cancer, the recent hospitalization for radical prostrate surgery, and the current harsh recovery. 

And I'm still not really sure why I started to do it here, because this is an art blog, not Lenny's diary or whine-blog, but here it goes.

Why? There are some excellent lessons learned in the process which maybe can help someone; who knows. If I had read this ahead of my own surgery, it would have made some things a lot easier. I also plan to print this and mail it to the hospital, as there is some good feedback in here for them.

It has been over a week since the surgery, which was done on Tuesday, February 16, and things are not all 100% good, but we're moving forwards (I hope).

As noted in an earlier post, I arrived at Suburban Hospital last Tuesday around 5:30AM for a scheduled robotic assisted prostate surgery. The road that led there was accented by multiple pokes, biopsies, meetings with doctors, nurses, and deciding between chemo or the knife.

I decided to get rid of the little fucker outright and quickly, rather than cook it to death. The end results are the same: your prostate is history, but with surgery at least it is out of your body, unable to spread, and they can also biopsy the surrounding areas so that they can verify that it hasn't spread. Surgery, especially the robot assisted surgery which eliminates surgeon's tremors, also has a decent chance that after recovery you'll be able to still get your crank up.

That's one giant-assed issue, know what I mean.

So, after arrival at the hospital, I was prepared for the surgery, which is done by a team of doctors and nurses and a robot. 

I'm imagining this guy from Star Wars, but I know that it must be something quite simpler looking; later on I discovered that I was pretty close! At least the top half.

To the left is what the DaVinci Robot looks like (note the artistic name).

My surgery was to be directed and done by a genial Mexican-born doctor who has loads of experience in this area.

The staff at Suburban is like Whole Foods, there are people from all over the planet, and the accents reveals Americans who were once Russians, Ethiopians, Filipinas, Jamaicans, Asians, Indians, Central Americans, Nigerians, and the Gulf States.

A smiling tech wearing a hijab puts the intravenous needle kit into my left arm, while a nurse reviews the pre-operative protocol for the 100th time at different stages.

At some point the anesthesiologist comes in and walks me through his part of the operation. Soon after, my doctor comes in and we converse in Spanish. He tells me that all will be OK.

As I am rolled to the operation room, all that is in my head is the fact that I will have to wear a catheter for 10 to 14 days. The thought makes me shudder, but the mind (and the gurney) rattles on. But at least I have been told by most people that I should be heading home the next day, if everything goes well.

At the operation room a smiling nurse puts a hair net on my hair and that's the last that I remember.

I wake up to a smiling and efficient Asian nurse who checks me out. I'm not feeling any pain or discomfort, but have a very sore throat. She explains that I had a tube going down my throat into my lungs. I am also very thirsty and start drinking lots of water.  I'm also beginning to cough, the familiar feeling of phlegm in my lungs ticking my throat.

Each cough feels like someone is stabbing my guts in five different places, the result of the multiple robotic probes and the macabre tube coming out of my stomach. I also know that it's there, but don't want to think about the catheter tube up my crank and reaching into my bladder.

My wife looks under the sheets and grimaces. "What?," I ask alarmed. She describes the multiple angry incisions in my belly, the stomach tube, etc. She also notes that I have been "manscaped down there."

Much later, when I've had a chance to get a mirror, I inspect the manscaping, which goes all the way from below my nipples to my testicles. Curiously, whoever did all the shaving stopped halfway through my balls, so the top of them are shaved, but the bottoms are still covered in pubic hair, somewhat making them look like balls with beards, or one of those Japanese haircuts where they shave your forehead all the way up to half of the top of your head.
Eventually I'm released from the recuperation ward and I'm taken to my room; and I'm pleased to see that I'm the only person there. When I was a teen and got whacked by a car running a red light in Brooklyn, I spent months in a giant ward at Kings County Hospital; not pretty.

My wife is there by my side with a bag of essentials, such as my iPad. I use it to snap this photo and Facebook the image. She notices that my eyes are watery, and I tell her that they feel very odd.

With the exception of my colleagues that were at Context Art Miami with me in December, my wife's immediate family, and my two daughters, no one knew that I had been diagnosed with cancer, much less that I was to undergo major surgery.

And thus, after the Facebook posting makes the rounds, the Cuban side of my family is surprised that I kept them in the dark. My reasoning for that is clear, as I explain it to them.

My mother is in her 90s and doing OK in her apartment of 40+ years in Florida; she doesn't need to worry about me, cancer, operations, etc.

My plan was to tell her after the operation (I did); had I told one of my relatives before the operation, I was afraid of the effects of Radio Bemba ahead of the operation

Radio Bemba is a Cuban expression that literally means Lip Radio. It's news, gossip, rumors, conjectures, etc. spread by word of mouth. In the Navy an equal expression is RUMORINT (Rumor Intelligence).

As soon as the Facebook news spread, I get emails from DMV artists Tim Tate and Elissa Farrow-Savos: "Avoid the Percocet!," they warn. "It will really mess up your bowels!".

The tone of their alarms gets to me and I insist to the nurses that I want to stay off that particular painkiller, even though they tell me that I'm on a stool softener. I also continue to drink a lot of water.

Considering the trauma of the event, the pain is mostly manageable. As recommended, I even get up a couple of times and do some walking zombie 15 minute strolls through the ward. A couple of other patients are already out there, and a nice nurse ties my hospital gown properly so that I can stop showing the crack of my ass.

We walk around in zombie patterns around the ward, rolling out the IV tower for support, and holding the urine and stomach fluids bags in the other hand.

I'm not hungry, but I know that I must eat, so I consume some clear liquids: chicken broth, lemonade, green tea and (as directed by the nurse) some most excellent lemon ice. The food delivery people from the hospital kitchens, both the tiny East Asian woman and the clean-cut, elegant, young African-American youngster, are friendly and vivacious. In fact, nearly everyone that I came across while at Suburban, starting with the Central American and the Dominican ladies at the check-in station, to the always-friendly, talkative and smiley (and pretty) African-American cleaning lady who cleaned my room everyday, were an unexpected joy at the kind of workplace that usually yields jaded, glum workers.

So far, the only thing that it really bothersome, and pain inducing when it happens, is the constant coughing to try to get rid of phlegm in my lungs. It is mostly futile and my throat is really sore. Each cough hurts my gut with multiple deep lances of pain, and a nice nurse brings me a HUG ME pillow.

"Hug it against your stomach when you cough," she advises.

I cough a lot; it hurts a lot. Otherwise, everything else is manageable.

My eyes have been feeling odd since I woke up, as if they were full of eyelashes inside your eyelids. After dinner I zombie-up to the bathroom to brush my teeth and look at my eyes.

What I see scares the crap out of me. A jell like substance, looking like the vitreous, jelly like substance that fills the center of the eye accumulates at the edges of my eye lids. As I tilt my head, it quickly slides around the eye ball to whatever direction gravity pulls it, but never spills out of the eyeball.

I am convinced that my eye vitreous has detached during surgery and is now floating around my eyeball. I bring my alarm to my nice Nigerian male nurse, a smiling, kind man always willing to help. He looks at my eyes and is also somewhat alarmed, although he tries to hide it.

"I will get the Physician's Assistant to look at it," he tells me.

A couple of hours pass, and I'm now obsessed with my eyes; even the coughing fits take second place to my concern about them. I get out of bed again, run into my nurse and ask about the PA. He assures me that she's on the floor and will soon see me.

Around midnight she shows up. She sits next to me and asks me if I get grossed out easy. From her friendly and smiley approach, I am somewhat relieved.

She describes the operating procedures that took place, including the fact that my eyes were filled with a thick lubricant, and taped up during the operation; that's what's in my eyes. She cleans them with a warm wash cloth, and tell me to do that gently over the next few days.

It sounds from her talk that she was actually part of the operating team that morning. She describes how my body is put into a 45 degree angle, with my head lowered, and how my pelvic and intestinal area is inflated with balloons to allow the robot arms access to the prostate, the seminal vessels, and the lymph nodes.

The main driver, in this case, my Mexican Doctor, sits at a console and does the cutting, re-attachment of the urethra to the bladder, and the stitching. I mention to her that the doctor had mentioned that the robot does "beautiful stitches."

She clarifies that it is the doctor, using the robot arms, who actually does the stitching. "Baseball stitches actually," she mentions. She adds that prior to the robotic advance, a surgeon could only do six stitches; now he or she gets to go all the way around and baseball-stitch that connection.

I'm curious as to how the prostate itself and other internal body parts are removed from the body, and I ask her. Her eyes light up. Apparently, that's her job at the operation; she "runs" the robot hand that contains a expansible bag that accepts the prostate as it is clipped off by another robotic arm. The bag is then closed and extracted from inside the body.

I go into a coughing fit and she looks alarmed at my pain. She asks me where my Incentive Spirometer is; my puzzled look is her answer, and she rushes out of the room and comes back with one of the devices.

"They were supposed to give you one of these when you came out of the operating room," she frowns as she teaches me how to use it. "It will re-start your lungs and help you get rid of the phlegm a lot easier."

I'm directed to exercise my lungs ten times an hour. As I do it, I wonder who fucked up the check list of what I'm supposed to do after a major operation. 

Within a couple of hours, my lungs are a lot better and a lot of gunk has been spit out. However, after ten hours of constant coughing, my throat has been abused and it is sore and the occasional cough from that issue still bugs me, but it's a million times better.

When my wife comes by the next morning, she's pretty upset that I had been Spirometer-less most of the day. Because she runs everyday, she actually runs from our home to the hospital (and back) everyday as part of her exercise routine; who knows how many miles this uberathlete logs on each round trip!

I'm expecting to be released later that day, but there's a problem.

It seems that something called a Jackson-Pratt (or JP drain); which is a soft, round plastic bulb that looks like a grenade and is attached to the end of my stomach tube, and "sucks" the fluid out of my body (from around the operated area), has been sucking too much fluid - there's a lot of fluid in that area.

Tests also indicate that there's elevated creatinine in that stomach tube liquid, higher than the creatinine levels in my blood. That essentially means that there's urine in the fluid. It doesn't take a medical degree to realize that the bladder (or something) is leaking piss inside my body.

I'm to be kept overnight and monitored; no one has mentioned the word "leak" yet - as in urine leaking from your bladder into your body. Later that night, the smiling female doctor from my doctor's practice assures me that things will be OK and that they just want to monitor the creatinine to see if it goes down.

Day two arrives, and the wasps make their first appearance... right after lunch.

DMV artist Tim Vermeulen has had a brutal couple of decades where his body has been wracked by pain due to side effects of some medical issues a couple of decades ago. He depicted this is pain in this chilling painting:

 The Seat of the Soul, Mixed media on panel by Tim Vermeulen
 The Seat of the SoulMixed media on panel by Tim Vermeulen

When I first saw it at Context Art Miami last December, it scared and chilled me to the bone. Little was I to know, that in a weird way, it would help me a tiny bit from Wednesday to Friday of last week. That's Tim at the bottom of the painting, hugging his stomach in quiet agony while the wasps go to town in his innards.

For me, it started as a little crampy sensation in my right pelvic area; suddenly one of my balls was in pain hell quickly and out of nowhere. It happened fast, so fast that it floored my senses, but soon the worst pain that I have ever felt was coursing through my pelvic region and my stomach. It was so unexpected, intense, fiery and full of living movement, that it surprised me and astounded me with the violence and level of the pain.

It felt like a million points of pain, each one a little needle poking into the meaty parts of your insides, drilling into your pelvic bone, and then moving quickly to a new spot to poke a hole inside your gut; it felt like a million wasps, and I remembered and recalled the Vermeulen painting.

The first time, after an agonizing 15 minutes, it was gone.

"Probably gas," said the nice nurse when I told her about it. "Call me if it comes back and I will give you some Percocet."

"Fuck that," I thought to myself, "I don't want to trade up to chunks of cement in my bowels."

The wasps came back three times or so that day. I cussed them out, begged them to leave, whined like an animal, and in my mind's eyes killed each little motherfucker one at a time inside my bowels. But there were so many! The clock became my friend, as I looked at the advance minute hand expecting the end of the agony. Within 12-15 minutes the wasps were usually gone and I was back to "normal."

That Wednesday night the JP Drain is out of control, filling up about once an hour. At one point it turns from the reddish, bloody discharge that it is supposed to be, to the same color as urine. I'm alarmed by that and mention it to the nurse. He tells me that it is not urine.

As Thursday arrives, the decision is made to keep me overnight once again, and my doctor comes in to visit. He explains that there's probably a leak, but that this is not uncommon. He also changes my stomach dressing and directs that the JP ball be changed to a gravity bag to hold the body fluids coming out of the stomach tube. He mentions that since the JP ball works with suction, it's filling out so quickly because of that.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

By now everyone is telling me not to worry that urine is leaking inside my body, because "urine is sterile."

"People even drink it," someone says grossing me out. 

At lunch, for the first time I sit down to eat. When I get up I notice that I am leaking fluid on the floor. It is coming from the stomach hole where the tube goes into my body. The nurse comes in, put me to bed and changes the dressing; as soon as she leaves the wasps make an appearance. 

I fight them with my own mental violence as I imagine pulling them off my insides one at the time, their stingers stretching my stomach walls as it refuses to release its penetration, and then the meat slapping back as the insect, angrily buzzing in my hand, is crushed between my fingers. But there are so many...

A couple of hours later, a nice PA comes in to check on me, and while he's checking me, the wasps make another appearance. He listens to my bowels as I'm whimpering in pain and talking to the little bastards. The nurse is called and she injects some pain killer into my IV; it is no of use, the pain is not affected by anything but time. Everyone has been telling me that the wasps are either gas or bladder spasms. I am told to be proactive, and that as soon as I feel the spasms begin to call for painkiller.

These wasps do not listen to painkillers.

There's a double nurse team on duty today. One nurse is young and pretty, the other is much older and wearing a formidable tool belt of medical supplies, sort of like a Medical Bat-belt for nurses. They are both efficient, friendly and concerned.

Bat Nurse is especially active. As I zombie around in my ward walks, I see her all over the place helping patients; she never seemed to rest.

Later the young nurse comes in with the PA to switch my stomach bag and there's some jury-rigging involved in switching the bags, and much tape is employed in the process. By now I've noticed that my stomach dressing is soaked because the hole in my belly, where the tube enters my body, is leaking again.

Bat Nurse switches my dressing efficiently; she's a nice lady on top of being a very dedicated nurse; she tells me that she's only been a nurse for six months.

Later that day, my doctor returns and quickly disassembles what the nurse and the PA had done and makes an efficient water-tight connection to the new bag. He also changes my belly dressing, as it is soaked again. He re-assures me that the leak will heal itself.

I sleep fitfully and then it's Friday; the wasps are not nocturnal.

On Friday I am to be discharged and sent home with the body bag. "Make an appointment for Monday to evaluate the situation and see if we can remove the stomach bag," my doctor advises.

I'm feeling fairly decent, and that day I walk around a lot. The wasps make an appearance after lunch, and then just a few minutes after they had left, as if they knew that I'm thinking of going home, while I'm standing in the room, they come back with the whole hive.

This time the pain is not only outside the pain scale, but the wasps have even conquered the clock! An hour passes and I'm still being attacked; these are extra-terrestial wasps from the planet Waspathron; this pain are a million Janices from 1959's The Wasp Woman; maybe I should not have insulted them earlier; for every one that I kill, a dozen more show up, their long stingers dripping with pain venom.

They are joined by hornets, not just any hornets but those giant Chinese motherfuckers called Vespa Mandarinia. "Is there a difference between hornets and wasps?," I ask them as I fight them.

My wife calls and detects the pain in my voice; she's alarmed. I try my best to sound OK, but she knows better and she heads to the hospital. This time she drives.

By now I'm nauseous with pain and lay down; it's no use, the pain won't leave me. I call the nurse and ask her to bring me the puke basin. She's alarmed at the level of my pain, but reacts to the nausea as well. She injects me with something and the nausea goes away, while I battle the wasps and the Mandarin hornets.

A new PA walks by and hears me talking to the wasps, begging them to leave me alone, and she comes in and listens to my belly. "The pain is because of bladder spasms," she notes, "It's very common when you have a catheter." This is the hundredth time that I've heard that diagnosis.

"I'll order some muscle relaxer to treat the spasms."

Wait, what?

This is the first time that anyone has mentioned something specific to treat the spasms; so far it has been painkillers to treat the pain. A fucking light goes on in my head and I warn the wasps that payback time is coming. I also wonder why nobody has suggested this treatment the entire three fucking days that the wasps have been attacking me.

She orders something called Oxybutynin which according to the Mayo Clinic: "Oxybutynin belongs to the group of medicines called antispasmodics. It helps decrease muscle spasms of the bladder." 

Memories of the Wasps Attacking at Suburban Hospital
2016 F. Lennox Campello
Ink and conte on paper 11x8 inches
I get it into my system and the wasps and hornets die. This is Raid to these fuckers; it's over... technology and modern medicine have won.

But, why on Friday? How come none of the other medical professionals realized that bladder spasms are very common when a catheter is first introduced? Why didn't anyone came to my aid to fight the wasps?

I'm discharged later that day and sent home with two tubes in my body. An awesome Filipina nurse trains my wife and I on the process of keeping track of the fluids coming out of my stomach and my penis, and also the process of switching the bags around as needed. She then walks us to the exit and hugs me, and wishes us good luck.

I read somewhere that over 97% of the men who go through this operation go home the next day and it's very rare when anyone has to go home with a stomach tube.

Welcome to rarity.

Next: This is what a Borg feels like at home.

March 4, 11:22AM

At the time that I checked into the hospital for my surgery, I was told that I would be discharged the next day, at least 97% of the men who undergo this type of surgery, get discharged within 24 hours of the operation. However, as fluids continued to come out of my body in prodigious quantities and the wasps continued to attack, I realized that I was part of the 3%.

I was released from the hospital on that Friday, three days after the surgery and two tubes sticking out of my body and uncomfortably sending chills of discomfort and pain every time that I moved. From there we headed out to the drugstore to pick up all of the different drugs that they had assigned for my return to home, including the anti-spasm medicine for my bladder that the medical system has so miserably failed to give me when the wasps first came at the hospital.

When we got to the drugstore, after the drive, made uncomfortable by two tubes sticking out of your body while you're sitting inside a car, I decided to take a small walk to the drugstore. As soon as I stepped inside, the tube from the catheter began to pull, making me really miserable.  

I looked around to make sure no one was looking at me, reached into my pants, adjusted my penis, and of course, as soon as I did that, an elderly lady wearing a yellow turban give me a long look as she came out from one of the aisles. 

She was quite a sight actually, only in Potomac do you get to see a 70-something older lady wearing a yellow turban, large loop earrings, full make up on, Daisy Duke shorts, a black leather jacket, giant Jackie Onassis sunglasses, and black Converse sneakers. 

Daisy Dukes in February! I actually smiled at her thinking "More power to you! But I best get the heck out of here before I get arrested." I could feel her eyes on me as I zombied out of Rite Aid.

As soon as I got home I took a hot shower. This was quite an exercise in controlled motion under the shower, as not only are there two tubes sticking out of one's body, but also they're very sensitive to any tugging and pulling. It also involves switching the large urine bag for the smaller one, and tying them around your leg. But the hot shower felt good, it was the first time since Tuesday that I had taken a shower. I wonder if Borgs shower.

There's a certain fascinating horror that comes with seeing the human body in extremis. There is a perverse sense of visual pain in seeing things that are wrong with one's body reflected in a full-size mirror for the first time in front of you: The angry scars left by the robot entry points into the body, the tube sticking out of your penis with a large bag at the end of it, and the tube sticking out of your stomach with a smaller bag at its own end. Each movement could be a disaster, each step a coordinated dance to avoid or minimize the movement of the tubes. Sleeping with tubes in your body is an art form in itself, but exhaustion always wins in the end.

For the next several days, I perfected the routine of switching the bandages around the stomach tube entry point into the belly, emptying and measuring bag after bag of fluids coming out of your body, and performing the delicate dance shower in order to to avoid hurting yourself.

At some point during the week, a nice nurse from Suburban Hospital called. She wants feedback on the stay, and as I relate the events detailed in my earlier blog post, she is horrified by the fact that no one gave me a Spirometer, that no one gave me medicine for the bladder spasms, and that no one helped me to combat the wasps.

And today, more than two weeks and three visits to the doctor later, I prepared for another visit to the doctor to evaluate pulling the tubes out and returning me to the human race, like Picard did from his time amongst the Borg as Locutus..

As the doctor pulls the stomach tube out, my wife's eyes widen as he does. Later on she tells me that she could not believe how long that tube was; it must have been coiled inside me.

The process didn't hurt as much as it was rather noticeable to my alarm senses, but quick. My doctor tells me that I need to return on Monday to see about pulling off the catheter.

Will that hurt? You bet, but still I look forward to that day; Borg no more!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The 2017 Athenaeum Invitational: GLOW

Submission Deadline: July 21
Exhibition: September 24 - October 29

Underwritten by TTR Sotheby's International Realty, The Athenaeum Invitational celebrates the visual arts of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. It is a theme-based event featuring the works of both specially-invited artists who have exhibited in the Athenaeum Gallery in the past, as well as works selected through an open call for submissions. A $1500 prize for the best work will be awarded to an invited artist, and $1000 to an artist from the open call. 

The 2017 Athenaeum Invitational: GLOW

Art selected for this show will convey a sense of lightness or hope emanating from something dark.  Entries may be literal, figurative, or allegorical, or abstract. Works will be selected based on artistic excellence, innovation, creativity, mastery of craft, and a demonstrated relevance to the theme as revealed in a brief artist statement

Athenaeum Gallery  | 201 Prince Street, Alexandria, Va 22314  |  703.548.0035 /

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Putin missed this one state

Former Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte lost her Senate race by 743 votes in New Hampshire, but did not challenge the results; Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in New Hampshire by less than 3,000 votes.

Putin! You let the Orange one down in NH!

Wasted rotten tomatoes

I have this dear friend who is a Senior Chief in the US Navy... he is African-American... 

On Inauguration Day he was part of the military/naval guard along the parade route... 

Today I was talking to him and he was telling me how for the few hours that he was at parade rest, and then at attention while POTUS drove by, some people were yelling at him calling him a "Nazi."

It made me sick to hear that... 

This hardworking, noble, smart man, doing service to his country, and an example to us all...

I was so furious for a while... the Cuban in me wanted to be there by his side and kicked some butt... and then I calmed down as I realized that I should not spend calories on mutant fools....

And to whoever was ignorant enough to have called my friend a Nazi, wasting that insult on an intelligent... no brilliant progressive man... FUCK YOU IGNORANT ASSWIPES! 

Ignorant is soooo much more an effective insult than Nazi.


The Perils of Iguanaing

Both my hands were very dirty from charcoal, as I had been rubbing a drawing for the longest time... and I was hungry.

Upstairs, the smell of freshly cooked steak wafted down to the basement. I went up, and soon there was a nice plate of steak, onions and mushrooms all ready to be eaten.

I was alone, and so I took the plate down, intending to eat while I continued to work.

Downstairs I realized that I had left the utensils upstairs... but the steak had been sliced into somewhat manageable portions.

I decided that I would iguana-eat a piece, so that I could eat it while I went back upstairs... and so I iguana'd the chunk of steak, but I was so hungry that I ate it too quickly... 

What to do?

Master iguana-eaters perfect their eating craft while carrying one of those giant buckets of pop corn (at the movies) in one hand, and a giant soft drink in the other.

No one can resist waiting to be seated to start on the pop corn, and so many of us iguana the pop corn en route to our seat... the head dips, the mouth opens and pop corn is iguana into the gullet.

As a master iguana-eater, I decided to grab another piece of steak, and then head upstairs for the utensils.... my head dipped down into the plate... black charcoaly hands spread out for balance.

I iguana'd the steak bite, raised my neck, and a smaller piece of meat, which had been barely attached to the larger piece in my mouth, went flying... and landed squarely on the middle of the drawing.



March 17 – May 5, 2017
Opening Reception, Friday, March 17, 7:00-9:00 pm
Benefit Reception, Friday, April 28,
7:00 - 10:00 pm
 Closing Reception, Friday, May 5, 7:00 pm
 All Benefit tickets will go on sale March 1st at
10:00 am
 Log in HERE to purchase your Benefit ticket
       This year not only marks Smith Center for Healing and the Arts' 20th anniversary, but also the 5th Alchemical Vessels exhibition and benefit. This year's concept for A-V-5 is The Night's Journey: 125 artists, chosen by 20 curators, have been asked to create or choose a vessel to tell their story about the cyclical passage from pain to healing - a journey that resonates with all of us.
       Once again we are offering the opportunity to take home one of these unique artworks and this year we've added an additional ticket option based on your feedback. Each ticket sold directly supports our mission as Washington DC's only independent integrative cancer support organization.
This years participating artists include:
        Lina Alattar, Jennifer Anderson, Kasse Andrews Weller, Sondra Arkin, Rushern Baker IV, Julia Mae Bancroft, Marilyn Banner, Joan Belmar, Michael Booker, Lenny Campello, Sally Canzoneri, Elana Casey, Mei Mei Chang, Hsin Hsi Chen, Schroeder Cherry, Vachu Chilakamarri, Travis Childers, Mara Clawson, Irene Clouthier, Ellen Cornett, Brian Dailey, Lama Dajani, Richard Dana, Delna Dastur, Ana U Davis, Rachel Debuque, Rex Delafkaran, Nehemiah Dixon III, Jim Doran, Spencer Dormitzer, Sarah Eargle, Mary Early, Cheryl Edwards, Lauren Emeritz, Heloisa Escudero, Lisa Farrell, Gregory Ferrand, Mary Freedman, Emily Fussner, Ric Garcia, Mark Garrett, Shaunté Gates, Donovan Gerald, Janis Goodman, Stefan Greene, Matthew Grimes, Adam Hager, Mia Halton, Key Han, Mansoora Hassan, Caroline Hatfield, Sean Hennessey, Jeffery Herrity, Mary Higgins, Leslie Holt, Jackie Hoysted, Aaron Hughes, Melissa Ichiuji, Sarah Irvin, Charles Jean Pierre, Wayson Jones, Jessica Kallista, Sally Kauffman, Don Kimes, JT Kirkland, Micheline Klagsbrun, Catherine Kleeman, Reagan Lake, Kyujin Lee, Liz Lescault, Yue Li, Erin Lisette, Nathan Loda, Steve Loya, Tsedaye Makonnen, Marty Ittner, Jenee Mateer, Carolina Mayorga, Freda Lee McCann, Olivia Morrow, Kristine Moss, Minna Nathanson, Nahid Navab, Nasrin Navab, Thien Nguyen, Shanti Norris, Sarah O'Donoghue, Javier Padilla, Anthony Palliparambil, John Paradiso, Nara Park, Judith Peck, Lyric Prince, Susana Raab, Carol Reed, Mojdeh Rezaeipour, Jamea Richmond Edwards, Lisa Rosenstein, Kevin Runyon, Jac Rust, Nancy Sausser, Gretchen Schermerhorn, Alma Selimovic, Samantha Sethi, Alexandra Sherman, Ellen Sinel, Anne C Smith, Michael Snowden, Susan Stacks, Hillary Steel, Dafna Steinberg, Anneliese Sullivan, Martin Swift, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Mars Tokyo, Patricia Underwood, Andrea Uravitch, Mark Walker, Jenny Walton, Leslie Weinberger, Ellyn Weiss, Josh Whipkey, Millicent Young, Helen Zughaib
Thank you to this year's curators:
Joan Belmar, Adah Rose Bitterbaum, Jim Doran, Nekisha Durrett, Tim Fleshner, Helen Frederick, Judith Heartsong, Phil Hutinet, Jessica Kallista, Kunj Patel, Gloria Nauden, Henry Thaggert, Anne C. Smith, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Dolly Vehlow, Zoma Wallace, Ellyn Weiss, Nikki Brugnoli Whipkey
Here's what's new this year:
Benefit Tickets for sale:
Premium - $300  TICKETS # 1-15
Admission for one to the benefit event and a priority ticket number to choose your favorite vessel (1-15).  *Tickets  1-15 are assigned first come, first serve beginning March 10th, 10:00 am – The 1st purchaser of a premium ticket will receive 1st choice of a vessel, 2nd purchaser will get the 2nd choice and so on.
Standard - $175                     TICKETS # 16-125
Admission for one to the benefit event and a standard ticket number to choose your favorite vessel (16-125).  *Tickets 16-125 are assigned first come, first serve beginning March 10th, 10:00 am – The 1st purchaser of a standard ticket will receive 16th choice of a vessel, 2nd purchaser will get the 17th choice and so on.
Benefit only - $50
Admission for one to attend the Alchemical Vessels benefit, a lovely and lively evening of catered food, live music and complimentary wine and beer all night. This ticket does not include the purchase of a vessel.
Please contact our Alchemical Vessels coordinator Deirdre Darden for any questions or more information. Thank you!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Opportunity for Artists

Artists wishing to be considered for an exhibit in the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) galleries are invited to submit a general exhibit application. The HCAC Exhibits Committee meets quarterly to review applications and select artists for the exhibit space. Artists, ages 18 and older, working in all media and styles including time-based and installation artists, are encouraged to apply either individually or as a group. The Committee also welcomes proposals from curators and organizations.
Detailed entry guidelines are available in the Exhibit Opportunities section of the HCAC website at, for pick-up at the Howard County Center for the Arts, or by mail by calling 410-313-2787 or emailing The next deadline for submissions is Saturday, April 1, 2017.
HCAC manages two galleries at the Howard County Center for the Arts with over 2100 square feet of exhibit space. The HCAC gallery program was established to enhance the public’s appreciation of the visual arts, provide a venue to exhibit the work of local, regional, and national artists in a professional space, and provide leadership in the arts by presenting a broad spectrum of arts in all media from both emerging and established artists.
HCAC presents 11-12 exhibits per year of national, regional, and local artists, including two-person, small and large group, juried, curated, and community shows.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, and Sunday 12-4pm. To learn more about HCAC programs and exhibits, call 410-313-ARTS (2787) or visit  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Heard it on the radio

Usually during the week, on the way home after I pick up Little Junes from school, we listen to Sports Talk radio... 

He loves the discussions about football... 

Today a song was playing on the radio - clearly about someone leaving someone - and he piped in: "They should call Cordell & Cordell" - FYI, that's a divorce law firm that caters to men and advertises on ESPN Radio... gotta be on watch ALL the time with little ones... Feh!

The curious case of the WaPo using a misleading photo (twice!)

The power of the photographic image at work!

Text of a letter from a reader published in the Washington Post:
Why did The Post choose an emotional image of a woman embracing her mother in a wheelchair on the front page of the Jan. 29 paper? The mother was from Dubai, which was not on President Trump’s list of countries from which travelers were banned, as the caption noted. The Post could equally well have used images of travelers from Canada or Australia because those countries’ citizens weren’t affected either.
This is a misleading image and not up to The Post’s standards.
To make matters worse, when you click on the letter to the WaPo here, what you get is a different photo, and the caption for that image published in the WaPo's website reads: Shanez Tabarsi, right, is greeted by her daughter Negin at Logan Airport in Boston on Feb. 6 after traveling to the United States from Iran.

That was NOT the image published in the print edition and the one that the reader refers to - here's the print edition - the image is halfway down.

This is the image published by the WaPo and the one that reader questions - See it here.

Of course, now when you see the whole thing online, the reader's concerns don't make sense? Because of the "new" image...

And the press/media wonders why no one trusts them... 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Who invented the term DMV?

Who invented the term "DMV" to refer to the District/Maryland/Virginia??? 

This post from 2003, is the earliest that I have using that term personally:

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Art Scam Alert!

Beware of this art scammer!


Hello, We have interest in purchasing your item and we sincerely hope to establish a long-term business relationship with your esteemed company, I will like to know if you sell in large quantities and if you accept bank transfer (wire transfer) as a mode of payment. Regards. Al-Fayid Al-Azeez ALFAYID GROUP OF COMPANIES IPIC Square, Muroor (4th) Road PO Box 107888, Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates

This is how the scam works and how to protect yourself... 

Vintage Vinyl Record Live Auction!

The Rockville Bookstore (4886 Boiling Brook Parkway, Rockville, MD) will host the Friends of the Montgomery County Library's first vinyl records auction on Saturday, February 25 at 12 p.m. Preview day Friday, February 24 at 12 p.m. On the block will be jazz and pop collectibles such as records by rock icons, like the Beatles and the legendary Miles Davis.

Click here for a full listing of records to be auctioned.

Auction catalogs will also be available at the bookstores. Email for more information.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Saatchi Gallery's Selfie Competition

To coincide with the announcement of the exhibition From Selfie to Self-Expression, Saatchi Gallery and Huawei have joined forces to offer artists, photographers, and enthusiasts around the globe a chance to show their most creative selfies internationally, and have their work exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery as part of the #SaatchiSelfie competition.
This global competition offers a chance for entrants to express themselves by exploring and advancing the creative potential of the selfie today.
Entries must take the form of a photographic selfie. We encourage submissions that are experimental and innovative that take the selfie in exciting new directions.
Who is eligible?

The #SaatchiSelfie competition is open to anyone aged 16 or over (See for further details).
What prizes can you win?

The shortlist of ten winners, selected by a judging panel of renowned artists and forward-thinkers, will have their work exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery and will also receive Huawei's newest smartphone.

The overall winner of the #SaatchiSelfie competition will be announced at the show’s launch in London on 30th March 2017 and will receive a priceless photographic experience, to be announced at a later date.
How do you enter?

It's easy to enter. The competition opens for submissions today and over the course of 7 weeks, you can submit up to six selfies on

Selfies can only be submitted in the form of still photographic images and not any other form of work (such as video).
Once you have submitted your entries, you can post them on social media directly from your profile page on the Saatchi Gallery’s website using #SaatchiSelfie.
For further details click here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Call for artists

Artists wishing to be considered for an exhibit in the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) galleries are invited to submit a general exhibit application. The HCAC Exhibits Committee meets quarterly to review applications and select artists for the exhibit space. Artists, ages 18 and older, working in all media and styles including time-based and installation artists, are encouraged to apply either individually or as a group. The Committee also welcomes proposals from curators and organizations.
Detailed entry guidelines are available in the Exhibit Opportunities section of the HCAC website at, for pick-up at the Howard County Center for the Arts, or by mail by calling 410-313-2787 or emailing The next deadline for submissions is Saturday, April 1, 2017.
HCAC manages two galleries at the Howard County Center for the Arts with over 2100 square feet of exhibit space. The HCAC gallery program was established to enhance the public’s appreciation of the visual arts, provide a venue to exhibit the work of local, regional, and national artists in a professional space, and provide leadership in the arts by presenting a broad spectrum of arts in all media from both emerging and established artists.
HCAC presents 11-12 exhibits per year of national, regional, and local artists, including two-person, small and large group, juried, curated, and community shows.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, and Sunday 12-4pm. To learn more about HCAC programs and exhibits, call 410-313-ARTS (2787) or visit  

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Call to Artists

Mark your calendars for MAP's 20th Annual Spring Benefit Exhibition & Silent Auction, Out of Order (OOO)!  

One of the most celebrated events among the Baltimore arts community, Out of Order provides an opportunity for artists to hang their work in a salon-style exhibition. Whether you are an emerging, mid career or established artist, join MAP by participating in their 20th annual Out of Order!

Click here for more information about OOO Artist Install Day!

Any artist is welcome to hang one original work of art on the first come, first served installation day, taking place on Thursday, March 30, 2017 from 7 am - midnight. No need to sign up in advance, just come by MAP's first floor gallery space @ 218 West Saratoga Street in the Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District!
  • All work must come ready to hang.  (size requirement TBA)
  • Registration is $10 and can be paid with check, cash or credit card
  • All works will be silently auctioned Friday, April 7, 2017 from 7 -10pm
Out of Order (OOO) is a one-night-only opportunity for collectors to acquire contemporary art at unbelievably low silent auction prices.  Purchase your tickets to Out of Order today! 

I've done this show many times and have always sold my work!

Amazing eraser

It's pretty hard to get excited about an eraser... unless you're an artist... and especially if you work in charcoal.

Over the years I've used and been a fan of kneaded erasers (and still am)... and yet, I've discovered this amazing new eraser that really, really works great!

It doesn't tear into the paper, and yet it removes a lot of... whatever!

I got mine from Jerry's Artarama for almost nothing... see it here.

Saturday, February 04, 2017


Congrats to one of the DMV's real blue chip artists and a great friend - the amazing Chawky Frenn - who just received a Fullbright to go to India!

Yay Chawky!

Friday, February 03, 2017

Wanna go to an opening tonight?

Opening Reception: Friday, February 3  6-9pm
11810 Parklawn Dr  Rockville, MD
Show open Feb 3-25; Tues-Sat 10am-4pm

The Compass Atelier's inaugural class of the Master Artist Program is graduating with a celebration of their talent and hard work. This Thesis Exhibition will showcase the incredible work of 17 local artists who have completed their 3-year course of study in this revolutionary art program.
The students of this unique school have produced an incredible array of high-concept, high-technique portfolios of work. Their accomplishment is overwhelming, especially given that many had never drawn or painted before this program. Now just three years later, many are poised to become professional artists with sales, shows, and gallery representation already beginning to add up.

The event is free and open to the public. Free parking. Wine and food will be served at the Opening Reception.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Idiot of the month

A Dallas teacher is in hot water after a controversial stunt she pulled inside a classroom went viral... Payal Modi, an art teacher at Adamson High School, was caught on camera shooting a squirt gun as a video of President Obama... projected onto a whiteboard. The 8-second video shows the teacher repeatedly pointing the water gun at the president and then yelling, “Die.”
Above quote from this CBS article edited for "fake news" effect just to get your brain rolling - but imagine it as noted above... and how you would have heard about this... and then read the article here. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Art Scam Alert!

Please ignore this mutant trying to rip off artists!
"Lindsey Supply Store."
     I want to place an order, to our branch in Singapore, and i want yo to answer below.
Do you accept pick up from your location?
Do you accept visa or master credit card?
I will be waiting your reply.
(786) 763-3919

Business Basics for Artists, Scholars, and Arts Management Professionals

Join VisArts for the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts' Creative Entrepreneurship series in Montgomery County! This program is just the ticket for working artists/scholars who need to know how to start and run a successful arts-business as well as established arts managers looking to brush up on best practices and industry standards.

Hosted over six weeks at
VisArts in Rockville, the series offers:
  1. Business Entity Formation, Feb 15, 7pm - 9pm
  2. Copyright/Trademark Protection and Use, Feb 22, 7pm - 9pm
  3. Contracts and Licensing, March 1, 7pm - 9pm
  4. Negotiation Strategies, March 8, 7pm - 9pm
  5. Grants and Leases, March 15, 7pm - 9pm
  6. Tax Strategies, March 22, 7pm - 9pm
Brought to you by a collaboration of The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) and Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA), each of the workshops is FREE FOR WALA MEMBERS or $20 per workshop for the general public. Individuals can register for a WALA membership through AHCMC for only $30 and organizations can register for only $100! Organizational membership extends member benefits (including free workshop registration) to all staff members and board members.

If you're not a WALA Member and would like to join, CLICK HERE* to get your discount membership through AHCMC! (instructions for discount below)

*Once at the WALA website, select "Other_____" and type in the discounted annual membership amount that applies to you.  $15 for Students (normally $20), $30 for Individual Artists and Scholars (normally $40), and $100 for Organizations (normally $150). If you use the pre-selected amounts, the discount will not be applied.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Pictish Nation finds a home after 14 years!

"Pictish Nation" c. 2003 F. Lennox Campello Charcoal on Paper 15x41 inches
In a private collection in New York City
Over a decade ago, I had a solo show at the original Fraser Gallery in Georgetown in which I focused all my work on my interest on the original people of Scotland before the Celts arrived from Spain (via Ireland). The show was titled Pictish Nation and was widely reviewed by multiple local newspapers (ahhh... the halcyon days of DMV mainstream media reviews, see some of them here, and here, and here...).

"This legion, which curbs the savage Scot and studies the designs marked with iron on the face of the dying Pict," are the written words of the Roman poet Claudian that give the only insight as to the name given by Rome to the untamed Britannic tribes living North of Hadrian's Walls and one of history's nearly forgotten Dark Ages people: The Picts.

Perhaps the greatest mystery of Scottish or even European history is the people who once inhabited the lands north of Roman England, as far north as the Shetlands. Who were these fiercely independent people? Where did the come from? Which language did they speak? What did they call themselves? We first hear of them in the third century from a Roman writer in Spain, who describes their fierceness and battle skills of both men and women. The writer Eumenius, writes about them 200 years after Rome has been in Britain, and the name associated with the Pict is forever coined. To this day, we do not know if this is truly as in "pictus" (the Latin for "painted") or a Latin form of a native name. Because of the isolation of northern Scotland, history yields little, and the Roman Empire's expeditions into the north ended in little gains.

"We, the most distant dwellers upon the earth, the last of the free, have been our remoteness and by the obscurity which has shrouded our name...Beyond us lies no nation, nothing but waves and rocks"...The above words by the Pictish chief Calgacus are recorded by the Roman enemy in the words of Tacitus and are a perfect example of the obscurity and legendary status held by the Picts almost 2,000 years ago.

In "Pictish Nation," I married my interest in history (I am one of the world's earliest and leading Pictologists) with art. The show consisted of two dozen charcoal drawings that interpreted and delivered my vision of how Pictish men and women, and their tattooed bodies, may have appeared.

Borrowing from the designs in the unique Pictish standing stones that dot the Scottish countryside, I re-created, for the first time in nearly 1200 years (The Picts ceased to exist as an independent people in 845 AD, when Kenneth MacAlpin, Scottish by father and Pictish by Mother, usurped the throne of the Picts and Scots and proceeded to erase all traces of Pictish culture from Scotland), the unique Pictish designs of animals, objects and imaginary beasts.

Most of the show sold, and it completely sold out over the years, except for the key central piece (Pictish Nation depicted above). I kept this work for my own, and in 2004 I had Old Town Editions in Alexandria do a small Gyclee edition of 10 reproductions of the work - all of which also sold.

Last year I decided to sell the drawing.

It has now found a home with a well-known collector in New York.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat

Just saying...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Art fairs that we're doing in 2017

  • Affordable Art Fair New York (Spring)
  • Scope Art Fair New York
  • Affordable Art Fair New York (Fall)
  • Chicago EXPO
  • Texas Contemporary (Houston)
  • Context Art Fair, Miami
  • Scope Art Fair Miami Beach

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Caissons Go Rolling Along...

US Army female soldiers meme kicking ass

Something about nuns

Not sure why, but over the years I just keep coming back to this subject... maybe it is all thanks to the sisters of Our Lady of Loreto School in Brooklyn... cough, cough

Elvis and Buster Keaton as Nuns, c. 2001 Charcoal and Conte on Paper By F. Lennox Campello
Elvis and Buster Keaton as Nuns, c. 2001 Charcoal and Conte on Paper By F. Lennox Campello
Two Cool Nuns, c. 2005 Charcoal and Conte on Paper By F. Lennox Campello

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards

The 2017 Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards application is now available!

The deadline to submit is Friday, April 7.

The prizes are:
Best in Show - $10,000
Second Place - $2,000
Third Place - $1,000
Young Artist (must be born after April 7, 1987 to enter this category) - $1,000

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and permanent, full-time residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. All original 2-D and 3-D fine art including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, fiber art, digital, mixed media and video will be accepted. The jury will select up to 10 finalists for a group exhibition in Bethesda in September 2017.