Christmas in Ann Norton Sculpture Garden

The Ann Norton Sculpture Garden’s 5th Annual Festival of Trees, “Magic of the Movies,” is coming right up.

Its Gala Reception is Friday, Dec. 2. (tickets are $225 for non-members) and its seven Community Days are December 3 and 4 and December 7-11, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. ($15 for adults and $5 for children).

More than 30 trees have been artfully decorated, so for good ideas, take a look, and some fun, following are a few of the works in progress. This year, decorators used a movie theme. So, here are the movies – You make the matches…

101 Dalmations, Annie, Balto, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Casablanca, Charlotte’s Web, Finding Nemo, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Gigi, Gladiator, It’s a Wonderful Life, Indiana Jones, King Kong, Looney Tunes, Marie Antionette, Miracle on 34th Street, Music of the Movies, Nightmare Before Christmas, Out of Africa, Pink Panther, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, Sandlot, Some Like It Hot, Star Wars, The Lion King, The Teahouse of the August Moon, Toy Story, Up, Wall-E, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Yellow Submarine…

Decorated by Stephen Mooney (and there are no surprises in the boxes).

Decorated by Ted Matz. Don’t you love the mops and feather dusters?

Decorated by Jennifer Garrigues. Airplane makes smooth landing. Other “ornaments” include passports and Indian lanterns.
My Grand Kids’ favorite movie! Decorated by Michael Powers. And to think this whole thing is made from what? silvered plastic cartons?
Decorated by Tom Mathieu, Tracey Large, John Mandeville and Scott Bolden. Every lady who is going places should wear an ornamental ship in her hair.
The decorator is Katherine Shenaman. The dogs are from Melissa and Doug.
yellow submarine
The Decorator is Veronica Volani-Inza. I like the musical note ornaments, and the sub is a nice touch…
The Decorators are Deborah Malle and Angela Wood. A sword coming out of the top looks sharp, don’t you think?
The Decorator is Chad Renfro. Seafans, shells, silvered netting…
Decorated by Melody Smith. When the kids are finished playing with their toys, put them in the tree.
Decorated by Rosarian Academy Fourth Graders. Don’t you love the cut-out monkeys?
Decorated by Cynthia Thomas. Large glass red balls and squiggly sparkly thingamajigs are hard to miss.
Decorated by Joanne Colt. A non-tree, tree.
Decorated y Scott Robertson. And yet another “wooden” tree.
This pink gem will go on top. The tree will be decorated by Patrick Killian.
The Decorator is Maisie Grace. The river runs through it, and another plane lands in the treetop.
Decorated by Rodger G. Chew II and Caroline Forrest. Great way to decorate so that your tree can stay up two months!
Decorated by Isolde Koester. Need some architectural training to build this tree.
Decorator Joseph Publillones is just getting started, but he’s got his topped off (and finished) with a chandelier.
Charlotte's Web
Joseph Pubillones is doing this tree, too. Aren’t his “found objects” terrific?
Scotty Rawley is just getting started, too, but, so far, the gold spray painting is finished.
Decorated by Gil Walsh. Red works nicely for fire hydrants and garbage pails.

The Ann Norton Sculpture Garden is located at 253 Barcelona Road, West Palm Beach. For tickets to the Gala, call Donna at 561-832-5328. Tickets on the Community Days can be purchased at the door.

Photos by Carol Korpi-McKinley

Discover Local Artists: Ceramics Holiday Sale

Find the perfect handmade holiday gift — unique bowls, ceramic sculptures, platters, pitchers, cups, mugs and teapots made by 15 professional and student artists at the 8th Annual Ceramic Art Show and Sale, Palm Beach State College, the Art Gallery at Eissey Campus. Mark your calendar for Friday, Dec 2, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday Dec 3, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ellen Bates

Ellen Bates of Palm Springs is currently exploring the effects of atmospheric firing in both soda and wood kilns. With porcelain as her clay body, she is developing a sense for using various clay slips in combination with thoughtful positioning in the kiln to enhance the decorative effects of flame, soda and wood ash as they mark and glaze the work during firing. “Throughout my career, I have been attracted to a juxtaposition of rustic, earthy, textured or matte glazes with strongly colored clear, silky glazes,” she said.

Soda Fired Sandwich Plate by Ellen Bates, $40.

“I think of this as “precious color,” like a still, turquoise pool in a field of gray volcanic rock, or a surviving red maple leaf after a forest fire. I am experimenting with techniques to add elements of vivid color to the natural, earth tones produced by these firing methods.”

Soda Fired Cheese Plate by Ellen Bates, $40.
Joshua Meives

Joshua Meives of North Palm Beach has always been fascinated by the world around him. Little did he know that his strong tactile nature and love for texture and color as a child would pave the way for the future artist he would become. His first experience on the potter’s wheel at the age of 16 was not as frustrating as it can be for most. As he interacted with the clay, it was then that he became aware of his natural talent and skill.


Joshua Meives’ “Trancendance Tile,” $250.

“I understood that the clay was an extension of my mind as a medium for expression and creativity and with this new understanding, I formed a passion for the act of creating. From then on I’v been captivated by the clay and learned how to throw production quality pieces with artist David Bradley, raku fire with instructor Sue Raymond and I was able to study high-fire wood techniques with Don Bendel in Flagstaff, Arizona.”

Large Bowl by Joshua Meives, $100.

Hoping to perfect his techniques with a strong historical and philosophical foundation Meives graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with an emphasis in art theory and philosophy from Northern Arizona University. Currently, he continues to cultivate his artistic gifts through different mediums such as music, painting, writing and of course ceramics, all of which can be viewed and are available for purchase on his website

The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located in the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd.  For more information, contact Karla Walter, art gallery specialist, at 561-207-5015.

Discover Local Artist: Caren Hackman

Caren Hackman is hosting a show and sale of her work in Palm Beach Gardens by appointment through December 31. “A large grouping of pieces out on exhibit with an organization in Gainesville this year. So, this exhibit is an opportunity to open my studio to visitors so that they can stroll through and see a collection of my work.”

House in Giverny, 24 by 18 inches, oil on canvas, $450

She enjoys working in all three of the media that she uses: watercolor, acrylic and oil.

“Yaffo,” 24″ x 18″ oil on canvas, $400

“I choose the medium I will use for a painting after deciding how I feel about the subject matter,” she said. “The choice of media is an emotional one. If I am after a great deal of freedom and want to feel movement and flow I might choose watercolor. If I want to move more slowly with my work and am after a deeper more mellow, rich feeling I might gravitate towards working on the piece in oils. The acrylics offer a middle ground for me. I work primarily with Golden Fluid Acrylics which offers me options to simulate the action of watercolors as well as the richness gained from working with oils.”

“Ginger,” 36 by 24 inches, $950.

Hackman also is interested in a variety of subject matter, either studying one for several years or going back and forth between two.  “I like to work with close up images of plants. The value patterns are intriguing to me and hold my attention. That’s what you see in Ginger.”

She also has a great love for architecture and texture, she said. “I enjoy working with contrasts such as the contrast between aged wood or craggy stone work and lush plant life in House in Giverney . In Yaffo Contrast I’ve also included the bright red motor scooter which forms a stark contrast to thousands-of-year-old stone work and lush green vines. My third interest which is the moving human figure Slide image.. Most of these are executed in watercolor. I find working with moving images is challenging and exhilarating.”

“Slide,” 22 by 30 inches,  $950.

Hackman sketches and photographs her subject matter  on location, and most often, she completes her work in her studio. Every year or so she likes to travel to a destination with all her gear and paint on location. She has  won two artist-in-residence positions with National Parks (Herbert Hoover national Historic Site and Necedah National Wildlife Refuge) where she was able to draw and paint on location.
For an appointment, call Hackman at (561) 622-4884.

Chocoholic Alert

I used to be a vanilla person. Until Sunday. Now, I am a chocolate convert.

This past weekend, Nov. 20, on our day off and our nature walk rained out, we ended up at the Festival of Chocolate at the Palm Beach Convention Center, “working.” Ha!

The last afternoon of that two-day event found us at the stage of the Chocolate Game Show Experience, where a member of the audience, Adam Blow of Stuart, volunteered to try chocolate-covered alligator gerky. He was shaking his head while chewing with that faraway look in his eye, thinking about what he was eating (my guess). Leaving the stage, he took a long swig from his water bottle.

“Wasn’t bad,” he commented…

You could get your own gator at Chateau Confections’ booth, Double Dare You, where Donna Moore’s unusual items dipped in chocolate had already sold out (except for the alligator gerky, $2 a piece). Those popular items were chocolate covered crickets ($1 a piece), chocolate-covered bacon ($28 per pound) and chocolate-covered potato chips (a bag of potato chips, 8 to 12 ounces, $8). If you want these items, email Moore at

Jennifer Rochelle of Boynton Beach tried on Chateau Confections’ lips ($3 each).

And speaking of lips, nearby was a lip-balm-making booth. Here’s the recipe says, Elizabeth Guillermo of West Palm Beach. You need to get your hands on some cosmetic oil, she said, because that’s the base. Then, for a very small container worth, you add ¼ tsp. of vitamin E, ¼ tsp. of vegetable oil and ½ tsp. of powdered chocolate. Refrigerate. Dab on lips. Yum! Chocolate!

Cute as a Cupcake is based out of Lake Worth and its owner is Stacey McCollum. She makes cupcakes, obviously, and for more than a dozen, she’ll deliver from Broward to Martin Counties. Her adorable and delicious cupcakes start at $2.75 for one and $25 a dozen. Right now, pumpkin-and-spice cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting are the rage.

Cute as a Cupcake’s Stacey McCollum

We all know Sloan’s – there are several local locations in Palm Beach County. Sloan’s will also deliver holiday baskets locally, said Ilaria Tagariello. The baskets contain two quarts and two pints of ice cream. Some other sweets she suggests for the holidays are dipped chocolate strawberries or apples. Chocolate is sold by the weight starting at $3 a pound, and the baskets of ice cream start at $50. Sloan’s Palm Beach Gardens is at Downtown at the Gardens, Suite 1106, 11700 Lake Victoria Gardens Avenue. The phone number is (561) 627-4301.

Sloan’s will deliver holiday ice-cream baskets.

Over at Rocky Mountain Chocolate, owner Brian Almon gave us a taste of his pralines, $19.95 a pound. Buy one pound and get a half-pound free. Here’s how he suggests eating it: microwave some for 10 to 15 seconds and then serve it over your favorite ice cream. He likes Blue Bell vanilla. You can reach Almon at or (407) 465-1002.

Melt it up and put it on your ice cream.[
Over at the Dove booth were sweet and savory items. For a taster, Dove had a dip made from its Sweet N Spice Cocoa Rub, $10. You make it with 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup sour cream and season it with 2 to 3 teaspoons of the cocoa.

Also featured were Sweet n Smoky Chocolate BBQ, $12; Chocolate Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, $12; and Chocolate Chipotle Spiced Nut Clusters, $25. For these, call Stephanie Weinberger at (856) 465-4080 or http:/

Dove’s chocolate dip

Mary Lou Atkinson, of A Slice of Heaven and Cake & Candy Designs, was packing up when we got to her. She had taken part in the cake decorating competition. She and the other bakers were given two hours to decorate, she said. And, Wow! What a job she did! Her cake was chocolate hazelnut (chocolate hazelnut liquor was mixed in the cake batter), with a chocolate hazelnut ganache between the layers, with a chocolate butter-cream icing and chocolate ganache swirls (I think I have that straight. I was busy eating, while she was talking). Two of her costumers’ favorites: French strawberry mouse and her amaretto cheesecake, the six-inch size is $13.99.

Just part of Atkinson’s killer cake

Atkinson’s cakes and candies can be found at Antonio’s Deli, 14137 US Highway One, Juno Beach. Here’s her Website:

Chocolate deserves to be celebrated, say Aileen Mand, ex Disney producer, and her husband, third-generation chocolatier Edgar Schaked. Looks like others agree. Presale tickets for the West Palm Beach event numbered more than 6,000. So, that weekend, festival visitors (the proverbial kids in the candy shop) bought little chocolate-chip coins for $1 each as currency in exchange for chocolate goodies offered by festival exhibitors. The goal was to promote local businesses, Mand said.

Go here for other local vendors

Photography by Carol Korpi-McKinley

Baram on Iraq

A week ago, I was asked by the Shiny Sheet to cover a talk by Amatzia Baram, professor emeritus in the Department of Middle East  History and director of the center for Iraq Studies at the University of Haifa. The gist of his talk: The United States needs to know what’s going on at the local level in the Middle East. I was limited in length, and there were other points he made that  I found interesting, and I wanted to get them down. (The original story is cut and pasted at the end of this post.)


Baram said he knew who the key players were in the instances he brought up in the story below, because he had read their papers (He added that he knows how to read Arabic and Persian), and he understood that the Grand Ayatollah Abul-Qassim al-Khoei could have been our ally. Khoei was against the same things we were. We didn’t realize that, and when Khoei asked us for help, we chose not to. So, said Baram, we missed a big opportunity after the Gulf War to really contain Hussein and foster a real friend in Iraq — if we had helped Khoei then, we would have avoided all our recent troubles in Iraq.

Baram recounted this interesting story: Immediately after the Gulf War, Khoei, who had agreed to lead the revolutionaries against Hussein at that time, sent his eldest son, Majid, to ask the Americans to allow them to go behind American lines to gather up Hussein’s weapon caches. Easy for the U.S., but very dangerous for them…

Majid never got to discuss it with the Americans. The French didn’t know what to do with him. They shuffled him to the English, who sent him to London. And Majid got stuck there for years. The U.S. did not allow the revolutionaries to gather up the cache, and the rest is history — Hussein repressed the revolt, tens of thousands of people were killed and two million Iraqis fled for their lives.

Khoei was arrested by Hussein. He was eventually allowed to return to Najaf, but he was placed under house arrest, and died in 1992 — Baram said he thought he had been poisoned.  Majid finally returned to Iraq in 2003, and was murdered shortly after.

Baram came up with two solutions that would help the U.S. gather information on a local level in Arab countries. He said that if the United States hired its young people and sent them to positions in the Middle East, they’d quickly understand what happens on the local level.

He also said it would be helpful if U.S. businesses set up in the Middle East. He recognized the fact that business owners are fearful, but, he said, that does not have to be. Employ locals, and train them to management positions within the company. No way, he said, would the powers that be on the local level let anything negative happen to those providing livelihood for their community members…

Following is the original story…

… It’s like an IED that is still exploding, and you have to be one step ahead, explained  Baram.

IED.  Here’s his translation: “Identity, Economy, Dignity.”

The United States, he says, faces a complicated situation in the Middle East and it is torn between its ideals and its core interests, which don’t always coincide. Nevertheless, it must make choices. And, in his opinion, although U.S. experts meet with political leaders and the military in Arab states, they often don’t understand what’s going on at the grass-root level.

The revolt in Egypt, he explains, is about the economy and dignity.

“An Egyptian worker works hard and is hardly paid enough. He knows those on top are skimming, and becoming super rich while he’s getting super poor and he can’t get out. He feels like he’s being squeezed like a lemon.”

It’s about identity in Iraq. “In 1991 — the first revolt — the major revolt against a dictator in the Arab world in our lifetime — rested 95 percent with identity. It was in Iraq in 1991. That was the Gulf War, and, of course, Kuwait should have been liberated, but after the war ended (February 1991), the guns fell silent.”

America better understands the identity issues in Iraq today, but it came with a cost, he says.

“Hussein’s army was destroyed in the Gulf War, but the United States didn’t know who was leading the revolt (against Hussein, which started one day after the Gulf War ceasefire). The Grand Ayatollah (Abul-Qassim al-Khoei) was your secret friend.”

He had been asked by the revolutionaries to be their leader, and had cautiously agreed. “He was anti-Saddam and his whole philosophy. He wanted very little from the Americans, but it was crucial that he get it. He wanted the Americans to allow his men to go behind the American lines and get Saddam’s weapon caches. And the Americans said no.”

That was a true tragedy and “it was because a lack of knowledge,” he says. “You must know more than you do about grass roots, and Who’s Who in every Arab country in the Arab world.

“If Iraq’s identity issues were understood at that time, America would have saved 4,500 (soldiers’) lives, a trillion dollars, and would have had Iraq as its friend.”

Fast forward, Syria. It’s about identity, and then, economy. “The Sunni are revolting against the Alawite tribes,” he says.

In Libya, it’s about identity and economy. “The United States didn’t know who were the revolutionaries against Gaddafi. Some are Al Quaida, and now, there’s talk of reintroducing sharia. As is Egypt.”

With growing frustration and no forward motion, identity becomes the issue and Islam wells up — from moderate to very radical Islam — because Islam looks like the solution, he says.

And this can be dangerous and lead to more instability in the Middle East. “America needs good judgment and to find a balance between its interests and democracy. This is a crucial time for American policy. My practical advice: America need to know more than it does.”