2017 Thought Provoking Altars

2017 Day of the Dead Exhibit at Sun Gallery, Hayward, CA

Maureen Langenbach Altar to her mother

I had the extreme good fortune of finding the Sun Gallery in Hayward.  It was one of those love at first encounter affairs.  A friend had me join her as she had an artist quilt maker friend taking part in a wonderful exhibit in 2016.  I loved the work, loved Niambi’s quilts and enjoyed the warm atmosphere of the entire staff, artists and event goers.  So in 2017 I was inspired to enter the Blue Planet, Stand up for Science exhibit scheduled for April 2017. It inspired me to create a series called “Ice Thins”.  I loved the whole experience.

When I learned of the “Dia de Los Muertos” or Day of the Dead  Exhibit I noted it on my calendar to attend the Reception on November 4.  The exhibit featured several artists who created thought provoking altars that were unexpected.  Those altars touched on raw nerves in current day United States life.  A reverence for both the living and deceased was expressed.

Maureen  Langenbach  had a sincere, many layered altar to her mother, Connie Dillon who had passed away this year.  We came to know her mother, as an artist, collector of blue and white china, someone who was an essential element in the Napa Community.  It was done with love and enhanced with colorful paper flowers that were about 3 feet in diameter.

2017 Sun Gallery, Hayward CA

Peter Langenbach & Sun Gallery staff  Altar to Dreamers


The Altar to the Dreamers was done by Peter Langenbach in collaboration with the Sun Gallery.  It was quite poignant.  We as artists and as sensitive beings feel for these people who came to dwell in the United States as children.  They had no knowledge that they were illegal aliens.  Under President Obama, they were given special status to be on their way to citizenship.  Many lives were changed starting January 21, 2017 when our new President was sworn in.

I do know something about being an immigrant as I lived in France for a number of years.  I had the “carte de residence” which was equivalent of a green card in the US.  Even though I was there legally, I had some degree of difficulty in working thru the complex system.  But one of many differences was I came as an adult.  I had the necessary documentation. I also had the assistance of my husband who was a natural-born citizen of France. 

Dreamers came as children.  They may have felt at the time that it was a great adventure.  Then under President Obama’s administration, they began to relax and feel they did really belong here.  They believed that they were on their way to becoming US citizens.

The altar to dreamers was simple in execution with the letters spelled out using red, white and green letters with the paper flowers and skulls of a Day of the Dead altar. It was as though their status was partly deceased and partly alive but definitely vibrant.  Exhibit viewers could write messages to the Dreamers.  I was moved as were others who studied the messages, wrote their own message and thought about what a huge potential these dreamers had if . . . . . .they were allowed to stay.

Other relevant altars included an altar to the hurricane Maria’s victims in Puerto Rico done by Peter Langenbach.  The implied message was these inhabitants are also Americans.  It is our country’s responsibility to care for them in their hour of need.


Andrew Kong Knight Altar to Victims of Las Vegas Attack

The fourth altar that came to my attention was the altar in tribute to those slain in Las Vegas in October of this year done by Andrew Kong Knight. Attention to detail had photo images of the 51 people who were slain as well as 51 bullet holes in the flag and 51 candles lit to warm our memories of them.

I highly recommend visiting the Sun Gallery.  It has its finger on the pulse of our nation.  The artists in this exhibit did not blare the obvious, did not overstate the problem.  They did with great acuity, point out what these problems are.

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2017 Artist statement

As the planet warms from

Fossil fuels use,

Ice in both the Arctic

And the Antarctic

Begins to melt.

In so doing

Walls of beauty

Float on their way

to the ocean.

Ice thins.

Tunnels the height of

The Eiffel Tower

Emerge beneath the ice.

Ice thins.

The Larsen Ice Shelf on

Antarctica widens, it splits

To over 100 miles.

Ice thins.

Warns humans and animals

Of an uncertain future.

The question is,

Will the warning

Be heeded?

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It was an Arranged Marriage

Happened Upon a Delhi Wedding 2015

2015 Delhi Scene of an Indian Marriage

Continue reading

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Dreams are both Goals & Resolutions


Spirits of Recoleta ©2006 by Janet Brugos  (private collection)


Day dreams are goals.

Night dreams are conflict resolutions.

I have used both

To enjoy some magnificent adventures.

starting with

My trip to Europe

with my Girl Scout Troop at age sixteen.

I worked to earn the money for it.

Which was a life lesson gift.

My love of travel was a day dream.

So I made it come to pass

by my work in the Travel Industry.

My dream to take a trip around the world

was a day dream that came to pass in 1999.

My dream to become an artist was both day and night dreams.

They came to pass while living in France.

The conflict resolution was to get a separate life.

I got one as an artist

And have continued from that time on.

I thank my French husband for inadvertently

pushing me away and into the visual arts.

That was a true gift.

I first exhibited my work at the

Grand Palais in Paris in the 1990s.

My last fulfilled dream

Was completed in March 2015

By taking a trip to India.

Let there be more and more trips to that

land of enchantment.

My current dream?

To inspire others

To feel enthusiasm for life.

Janet Brugos, July 2016,  Oakland, California



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Sands of Time

Sands of Time ©1994

Sands of Time ©1994 by Janet Brugos private collection


What time is it?

Nap time.

Wrap time.

How much time do you have?

Not much time.

Too much time

No time at all.

Does my time count?

How can you count time?

By the good times?

The bad times?

The best times?

The worst times?

What time is it?

What time did you say?

Is that Pacific time?

Or Eastern Time?

Or Euro Time?

or FaceTime?

The Right time?

The Wrong time?

Get the time right!

How do you race time?

On your mark,

Get set.


Time’s up.

Time’s over.

Time’s out.

The  End  of  T I M E.


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Ball Three

Ball Three                                     B a l l  T h r e e

                       Three dog night.

                          Three little words.

                       Three hens a laying.

                        Third time’s a charm.

                         And baby makes three.

                      Three’s a crowd.

                       The third degree.

                        Three blind mice.

                           I bet you can’t eat three.

                              Three strikes and you’re OUT.

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Ball Two


Ball Two.  Stairway Ball.

Anchor ball.

Belted ball.

Cinch ball.

Dunked ball.

Elevated ball.

Foul ball.

Ground ball.

High Ball.

Eye ball.

Jumping ball.

Kept ball.

Loosing ball.

Mushroom ball.

No ball.

Out ball.

Passing ball.

Que ball.

Ruffled ball.

Snow ball.

Tennis ball.

Upper ball.

Vicious ball.

Winning ball.

X ball.

Yucky ball.

Zee ball.

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Ball One

Sun is a ball. Mixed Media Art.

Sun is a ball. Detail from “Shoe Trees on a Hillside” ©2015

Was it you who threw out the first ball?

I caught the ball and ran with it.

Was it a tennis ball, a hand ball, a low ball or

A high ball? At the black and white ball?

Well, it certainly wasn’t a foul ball.

Great balls of fire, it was a bowling ball.

How is that for heavy handed ball?

Well it was certainly  NOT a foot ball.

Oh, the many balls I have known:

A golf ball, a cricket ball, a soccer ball.

Does that ball hurt?

She has balls!  Now what kinds of balls are those?

Are they hanging balls, sliding balls, fast balls?

Now that is a ball of a different color.

Or was that a horse?  What is a horse doing at a ballpark?

Take a swing at that ball!

I was inspired to do this post after reading my daughter Alejna’s post recently. 

I recommend it. https://collectingtokens.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/keeping-the-ball-rolling/

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Day 12: Black Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague Charles Bridge, Prague

Black Prague

Black, black, black. How can I see when it is all black? Where am I? My eyes are open but I cannot see. My fingers reach beside me. It is gritty, ropy, some kind of texture. The smell of must pervades the air. I was sleeping but there is no bed. I stretch my arm as far as I can reach. Smooth. Small indentations like a groove. Roll over. Breath in. Very musty. No ventilation. Slide along reaching with fingers. I can’t move far. I can’t sit. My head’s wet. Tastes like salt. Salt. Salt Lake. Ocean. Water.

My head throbs. Head’s wet. Arm’s dry.  Try to remember. Dancing. Dancing. Cannot return to the table. Ted is looking very agitated. 

Yes. We met the Czech cousins in Prague. They were able to get away during the week from their teaching jobs. We met their superior, the minister of Education for Slovakia. Joined them for dinner. Lots of slivovitz. Destination: After hours place.

Nightclub appeared closed. But after a wrap, wrap, wrap, it opened. We emerged into a large ballroom with a 12-piece orchestra, large dance floor and many clothed tables. Strange that no one other than our group was here. Ted can speak with his cousin, Elizabetha but not with her husband. Ted’s parents came to the US from Austria Hungary so his first language was a Slovakian dialect.

Twelve in our party; mostly men in dark suits. Only two other women besides Elizabetha and me. One very handsome, tall man asked me to dance, not in words but by gesture. It was a polka, whirling, whirling, whirling, legs up in the air polka. After 3 dances, I wanted to return to the table. My partner did not understand. I tried to release myself from his grasp but he held me in place. We started dancing again. Ted was looking extremely agitated. Shaking his finger saying, “No. No. No.”

My legs were aching. Trying to pull away. Handsome man transforming into sinister enemy. Unable to return to the safety of my husband’s presence. 4:45AM. Dizzying dancing. Endless dancing. Deliberate dancing.

At last we return to the table. Ted was sweating. A large trail of sweat was just about to reach the collar of his shirt. Reaching over to wipe it away, I was restrained. My quizzical expression went unanswered by Ted.

I was permitted to leave the table to use the restroom. A woman, also dressed in black, placed her hand in the small of my back pressing me in the direction intended. Down a long hallway I was propelled. Shoved.

Blackness. Nothingness. Silence. How long have I been here? A stripe of light. So cold. Crawling towards the stripe. Slight waft of air fingers my face. Where is Ted?

Sounds approaching. Approaching louder. Door thrust open. Brightness invades.

Elizabetha stoops down to help me up. “You must have fallen.” I nod. “Where is Ted?” Elizabetha replied,  “He is in the taxi waiting for you.”

The large doors to the club were unlocked to let us out. The red orange rays of early dawn were just crossing the sidewalk. It was 6:15 in the morning.

Ted’s concerned look and index finger pressed against his mouth answered none of my (unspoken) questions. Silent cab ride to where? Prison? Torture? Execution? Escape? Where were we being taken? Taken somewhere to disappear? The cousins were no longer with us but we were not alone in the cab. We were being “protected” by an unknown dark suited man.

My heart’s beating faster. My throat’s dry. Eyes pressed closed. Ted’s hand on my arm. The cab slowed down. Then stopped. The doors released. My eyes opened. My head turned. Destination was our H O T E L . Not taken. Safe.  A L I V E.


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Day 11: Kimbark Chronicles Overview

Coming home from school was a bit of an adventure.  Kenwood School was on Dorchester Avenue on the South Side of Chicago.  The best part of walking home was going by St Paul’s Episcopal Church where I was in the girls’ choir.  Mr. Rayfield was the choir director and also a piano teacher.  He was very strict and shouted a lot.  My parents finally said it was OK if I stopped my piano lessons with Mr. Rayfield. He made me cry.  I hated crying in front of people.  He would just raise his arms and shout, “No, No.  You must play it softly and then crescendo.”  It was enough that I could play it all since he was ready to shout at any moment.  I really liked the piano.  My grandmother in Colorado played the piano.  Sometimes she would play the piano for hours.  It wasn’t like practicing at all because when she played it was beautiful, almost as if she were in another life.

Oh dear, here I am walking past the church and falling into a day dream.  I have to be careful to think about what I am doing.  But now I can cross Farmers Field.  I don’t know why they call it that as it isn’t a farm at all.  Maybe it once was.  But if I go kitty corner thru the field it seems faster.  Sometimes I have to use the sidewalk if some boys are playing baseball.  But not today.  Coming up to Kenwood Avenue,  that is just a block from Kimbark. Now walking along 49th Street.  When I climb fences behind our house I can see into the other people’s yard.  Dr Apt lives directly behind us.  So it is easy to see in his yard.  He is the doctor for Tommy, Kathy and me, but not for Mother and Dad.

Now I take a right hand turn onto Kimbark.  I know just about all the people who live on this block because I sell them girls scout cookies.  One lady on the other side of the street  hides when she sees me come onto their porch–even before I ring the bell.  Maybe it is because one time she came to the door she was acting strange. Swaying and holding on to the door.  She kept saying I should not come to the door so early in the morning.  I did not tell her but it was after 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  She even was hiccupping.  I don’t go there anymore.

My best friend, Marcia, lives across the street.  Marcia is a year younger than me. I love to go to Marcia’s  house. In her bedroom, Marcia applies lipstick, then rouge and eyebrow pencil. I watch her in the mirror.  Mother tells me it is not good to wear makeup because I am too young.  I don’t care about that.  It just takes too much time.  I would rather think about things like how I could go on a train to visit my grandmother.

Here I am back at 4823.  I walk up the steps across the porch.   The porch goes around the side. Mother can stop the car there and unload groceries.  I love this house. We moved in when I was in second grade.  Then not much furniture except for the square baby piano or is it a baby square piano.  It came with the house.

Let me introduce you to my house.  It is big with 3 floors, five bedrooms on the second floor, one apartment on the third floor, four bathrooms and one basement.  The first floor has the kitchen and its pantries.  Also the big entry hall, music room, living room and dining room.   Look, see how the sun comes in thru those high windows and makes rainbows across the floor.  Daddy said it is called leaded glass.  Just like a lead pencil.

Yes, that is the first fireplace in the hall.  We don’t use this one but at Christmas, we hang our stockings to be filled by Santa. We have more fireplaces in the living room, dining room and upstairs in Mother and Dad’s room.   Here on the second floor is our other telephone.  It was so funny when we first lived here, I would pick up the phone and someone else would be talking.  I ran downstairs and no-one was on the downstairs phone. Mother told me we had a “party line”.  When I listened, it was no party.  So dull that I would just hang up quietly.  We don’t have that anymore.  I mean the phone is only for our family.

Of the five bedrooms on the second floor, I have slept in three of them. All of them have stories.  Some are really big and others are just medium big.  This was my parents’ room when they brought home my little sister four years ago.  You see this place right here.  That is where her crib was.  Now if we look out the big window, we can see the back yard.  In the summer we put up a tent and pretend we live there.  We even put cots inside.

Anyway I know you don’t have much time so let’s go down to the kitchen.  We start down the front stairs, then in the middle through this door we take the back stairs.  The back stairs don’t have any carpeting.  They are just wood.  Then we come thru the tiny room where the telephone is.  It has a door to the entry hall, a door to the basement and this door to the kitchen.

I love the kitchen.  See, we even have a dishwasher.  That is new.  It’s so fun when the dishwasher finishes, the top pops up and steam comes out.  Just like our breath outside in winter.  Can you see we even have two pantries.  This back one is where my uncle hides the garlic.  My mother keeps red cherries in bottles and olives back here.  My brother loves the red cherries.  I think they are yuck.  The front pantry is my favorite.  We keep all the glasses and china in these cabinets with glass doors.   My mother puts the cake right here after she makes it.  It has a cover.  She has a special glass plate that she uses only for the cake.

Here’s a secret. After we have cake for dinner, it goes back right here.  Then a few people in the family sneak back, open the lid and slice out a sliver of cake.  Just a tiny sliver.  I think we all do that.  So that would be seven or eight people.

You have to go now.  Will you be back another day?



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