Titles and Why I Love Them

Mt Rushmore ©1995 Collage by Janet Brugos

Titles and Why I love them
Part 1

I love titles. I usually find myself collecting titles for use at some future time.

While wanting to get feedback about my art work, I went into a gallery in San Francisco in 2007. I told the owner that I was not seeking representation in his gallery because my work would not fit with the work of their current artists. He looked at my binder full of images of my work.

He stopped at one called Mt Rushmore and said the work reminded him of Romare Bearden. I was honored to be compared to a well known exceptional artist. That piece is an early one from the 1990s. I had the idea to create not only their faces but include other symbols that spoke of their influence. He said looking at my work, you should make them all untitled. I took his suggestion with grace but I thought, there is nothing like finding the right title for a work of art or a piece of writing. Like naming a child before birth and then either confirming it or finding a suitable one later.

Many times, I come up with the title before completing the piece or sometimes even before the piece has been birthed.

Footnote about Mt Rushmore. I got the best reward for that piece that I have gotten in my entire life. Two teachers in Nebraska had their students visit an art show where there was an abundance of artwork. The students were to write a letter to the artist of the painting they liked most. I received about 20 letters from 9 and 10 ten olds. They are still a treasure to me. I answered each one with my animal note cards. The surveyor’s map was because Washington had been a surveyor. The revolutionary drum joined Washington and Jefferson as they were both active in the American Revolution. Jefferson was a man of many talents. Teddy Roosevelt was one of the rough riders and eventually started the national parks. It was under Lincoln that we started have our paper money known as greenbacks.

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Whirlpool ©2009 by Janet Brugos
 water wets my whistle 
salts my tears  
runs down the panes of windows 
 courses through my bloodstream
 floats in my eye 
flows down the planes of my face
quenches my thirst
cleanses my body
nourishes my being

 the color of water appears 
clear in the liquid we drink
white in rushing rivers 
green in still waters 
red in lakes reflecting sunsets 
deep blue in global seas

 rain drop, snowflake, puddle, pond, 
lake, geyser, glacier, 
iceberg, spring, stream, river, 
waterfall, whirlpool, ocean

 water surrounds us in the womb  
 comforts us in a bath  
cleanses our senses
nourishes our beings

taste, feel, smell, hear and see water

wonderful water wanders the world 
willfully wild or carefully constrained

by Janet Brugos 2009
revised 2020
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Wildfire 2019 Mixed Media Art by Janet Brugos


Life takes a tumble, the wind blows fires out of control, hurricane winds blow around selected spots to make a change, wipes things out or leaves a protected oasis. We never know where we might be when it happens. So all of us need to be ready.

Recently in California, we have had so many wildfires that were out of control.  For days and often weeks firefighters worked to contain and stop these fires.  We all owe them a great debt for putting their life on the line. Often the air was tinged with ash.

It became so hard to breath. We moved into the worst air conditions for all living beings. Vegetation was threatened. So many trees were cremated. It was deeply disturbing for our state, our country, our planet and all wild life and humanity.

Make a list of what is important in your life and pack your emergency bag.

  • local Family
  • out of Town Family
  • local Friends
  • cash
  • insurance Information
  • bank accounts
  • credit cards
  • flashlight & batteries
  • clothing
  • sleeping bag or blanket
  • non perishable food
  • medications
  • water

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My People

My people – Bob

sunlight filters warmth
into the library windows
while Bob works
with tiny brown leaves
places them
on small white papers
lines up the leaves
rolls all the leaves
into a tube
my five year old self
My favorite part
he licks his tongue
on the white paper
so it all stays together

The tubes are
my fingers’ size

he make the tubes
over and over
I love Bob
mother calls him father
others call him Doctor
or the Maj

he sits back
in his favorite chair
in the library
he stretches
puts a match to the tiny tube
then into his mouth
he breaths out puffs
of white and gray


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2020 Masks

2020 Masks

days of yore
on the radio
that masked man
followed by
the thunder of hoof beats.
now, no hoof beats
thumping heart beats
hiding behind that paper mask
that medical grade surgical mask
or that piece of fashion mask

Are we in
an annual, biennial or dreaded perennial
mask year

mask as a disguise
playful or sinister
intention is prevention
hiding droplets
to protect others

Instagram search
finds many masks
funny serious gorgeous
or mundane

a zebra mask
a leopard mask
but no ant eater
or elephant masks.

masks do little
to hide our pain.

by Janet Brugos


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Ode to the Pandemic 2020

Wondering 2018

Good morning, my apps.

Hello digital world.

How are you, my emojis?

Wiggle my fingers.

Waddle my toes.

Breathe deeply in.

And Breathe deeply out.

Don’t touch my nose.

My eyes or my face

Select my mask

Is that the task?

Be that patterned or plain.

Or is that splattered with pain?

And what about gloves,

Reusable or disposable?

Or reusable disposables?

Think kindly and gently about

All those suffering,

All those wondering,

All those on the brink of dispair.

Acknowledge those already there.

What about all those working?

Hours long and days unnumbered.

Store clerks, delivery persons,

Doctors, nurses, cleaners,

Fire, Police, Military,

Those in Transportation, Sanitation

And more.

The rest of us sheltering,

In space, in place.

Worrying, wondering.

How can we assist?

Or, will we be safe?

Now is the time to zoom in.

Or is that zoom out?

By Janet Brugos

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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?

Posted in #StandUpForScience, Anarctica, Arctic, Blue Planet, Contempory, Ice Cap | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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



Posted in Contempory, Experience the Moment, love of life, Poet | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments