Branch News, Winter 2021

Diamond State Spends a Week Creating, Socializing

By Mary Lou Griffin

Diamond State Pen Women
Diamond State Branch members: seated from left to right, Karen Kuhrt, Betsy Greer, Trina Gardner, Mary Lou Griffin, Diane Bauer, Sandra Michel, and Linda Campbell Arena.

Diamond State Branch members continued the tradition of spending time together at the end of September in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. This year, prospective member Carol Mangano joined seven Pen Women for a week of painting, writing, walking, talking, cooking, and eating together.

Rehoboth Beach requires wearing masks while out in public areas, except for on the beach. Everyone wore masks when on the boardwalk or in town. The weather was beautiful, so many days were spent out in the fresh air, painting around the lovely rental home two blocks from the beach and across from Lake Gerar.

On Saturday evening, the artists took part in a Zoom Draw-a-thon from Eastport Arts Center in Maine. They hooked up the big TV in the finished basement family room so that everyone could see the poses and participate.

Art show

The Diamond State Branch Board Artshow at Station Gallery, Greenville.

Karen Hearn, who is the newest branch art member, joined the group virtually from her home in Wilmington. It was fun to see what others in the group did with these unusual poses. Who would have guessed live model drawing could be done in this way?

There were enough Diamond State Branch board members in Rehoboth to have a board meeting and plan for a long-overdue branch meeting and program. A date was set for Oct. 27 at Sandra Michel’s home.

The week ended with the Oct. 2 opening of the Diamond State Branch Board Artshow at the Station Gallery in Greenville. Although state gathering restrictions prevented a formal opening reception, the gallery was open daily, publicized the event on its website and Facebook page, and encouraged in-person visits from members and patrons.


Sarasota Launches Season with Garden Gratitude Luncheon

Pamela Olin
Newest art member Pamela Olin shows off her mask.
Photography by Diana de Avila

On Oct. 14, the Sarasota Branch launched the 2020-2021 season with a Garden Gratitude party on the grounds of Villa Serena, the home of

Bayfront meeting
Sarasota Branch enjoys a bayfront meeting. Photography by Diana de Avila

Lynn Wilson, co-president. With 400-year-old oaks in the backyard and 200 feet of bayfront, members and guests, each donned with a mask and hat, shared their gratitude for the outgoing board and welcomed the new officers, something they’d been longing to do in person since April.

They learned the history of the villa and studio, once home to Charles W. Jordan, the advertising manager of John Ringling, who often sailed over from his dock to Jordan’s to talk — think 1925-ish. They heard plans for the season (which culminate with a performance luncheon where monetary awards are given to high school seniors in Sarasota and Manatee in letters, art, and music), and enjoyed delicious boxed lunches at a safe distance from one another.

Outside on a glorious day, 26 women found it easy to socially distance and took every precaution. Several even took home prizes for the most creative hats and masks!


Santa Clara County Embraces ‘the New Normal’

By Patricia Dennis

The phrase “new normal” has been thrown around. Who would have thought we would now have to think twice about leaving the house to do simple grocery shopping, not to mention limiting our exposure to family and friends. Social distancing has given us all time to stop and reflect on whether we ever really had a normal life or not! But we all need to adjust.

Second-place winner Elvira Rascov, with “Girl with Pink Umbrella”

The art world is no different. Galleries are closed and events canceled. Many are shaking their heads and asking, how can artists display their work? There is no other solution. We simply have to adapt. Necessity forces us to turn to the internet if we want to keep afloat. Technology offers a means for clubs to engage their members and showcase creative endeavors.

The Santa Clara County Branch took this opportunity to offer a virtual art show. We had 45 entries, and the public could see participating members’ art from the comfort of their own homes. How cool is that!

The idea was for each member to share the website link with their own social network and engage them in participating by “liking’’ their favorites. As curator and webmaster, I have to say putting up the gallery and working through the challenges and seeing the end result was rewarding.

Third-place winner Karen Franzenburg with photo of the lighthouse at Pt. Arena

Our official launch was Aug. 1, and members were encouraged to ask friends and family to view the gallery and like no more than five favorites. The result was overwhelmingly accepted and everyone had a chance to engage. We had over 895 visitors to the site and from all parts of the country.

Everyone received a certificate indicating which entry the public favored the most. Simply by stepping out and participating, we were all winners. The challenges we face give us the opportunity to grow — and we all know you can’t keep a good Pen Woman down.

View the show online at


Fort Lauderdale Hosts ‘Zoom-Tini’ Party

By Lois Perdue, First Vice President and Program Chair

Party invite
Party invite

At the Fort Lauderdale Branch’s September board meeting, President Phoenix Marks’ focus was on finding new, creative ways to provide value and relevance for members during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time planning as normal a season as possible. The first members’ luncheon meeting of the season was in less than five weeks. Since holding in-person meetings in the foreseeable future wasn’t possible, and knowing that many members weren’t familiar with online virtual technology, it was decided a Zoom presentation before the regular meeting could help ensure a good turnout.

The “Zoom-Tini” party idea was born: a meeting to inspire excitement among all attendees and help all navigate the technology.

The next step was developing clever invitations. With four weeks until “showtime,” a small committee created the “martini” recipe to accompany the nonalcoholic Emergen-C drink package enclosed with the die cut and hand-lettered invitations. Members and branch friends received their special invitations via snail mail rather than email, as would be done for regular meetings. Immediately, RSVPs poured in.

Zoom-Tini Party was a hit. Members became familiar with the Zoom technology, had fun reconnecting, and it was a positive way to kick off a virtual season. Two days later, the first business “luncheon” meeting of the season took place in the virtual environment, including hosting a nationally recognized author. Of course, lunch was on each member’s own — before, during, or after the meeting. It was a huge success and attendance equaled previous years.


Pensacola Makes Impressive Showing in Annual Competition

By Karen Morris

“2020,” mixed media by Chris Bryde Pack

Pensacola, Florida, is known as the City of Five Flags, and Artel Gallery’s prestigious art competition Cinco Banderas takes place annually in the late fall.

In the 32nd Cinco show, which ran from Oct. 27 to Dec. 3, juried in were Kathy Breazeale’s “Waste Not-What Knot” (acrylic and thread) and “When One Eye Closes” (acrylic pastiche), and Chris Bryde Pack’s “2020” (mixed).

In Artel’s corner gallery, the Vault, Bev Elliot’s collage, “I Know That Little Coffee Shop Is Here Somewhere,” and Kathy Breazeale’s gesso, “There Will Be an Answer,” were part of a 17-artist exhibit called “Art Among Friends – The 24X24 Show.”

Artel’s mission is to provide “a continuous forum for quality experimental and contemporary art exhibitions.” Congratulations to these talented Pen Women for their impressive showing.

Huntsville Tours Botanical Garden

By Susan Livingston, Huntsville Branch President

Sara McDaris
Sara McDaris with “Great Trees” poetry stone.

One of Sara McDaris’ longtime goals has been to create poetry stones for the Huntsville Botanical Garden. A longtime enthusiast of the Brookgreen

Branch members
Huntsville Branch members with “My
Cathedral” poetry stone.

Gardens near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she admired the poetry stones and wanted to bring such beauties to the garden.

Although her proposal was initially declined, she persisted and was eventually given permission to proceed, and in 2019 the project was completed. She selected two poems — “My Cathedral” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “Great Trees” by Wendell Berry — whose subjects are the beauty of nature. These poems were inscribed on black tablets, lettered in gold, and then mounted on large rocks. One is near the children’s railroad and the other is nestled within the Azalea Trail.

In October 2020, our branch took a field trip to the botanical garden to see these displays. On the way out, we stopped at the Herb Garden, which features a plot dedicated to William Shakespeare, where only herbs mentioned in his plays are planted.

Our literary excursion gave us a chance to continue our meetings, enjoy the outdoors, and strengthen friendships within our branch. And as one member said, “This is just what I needed today. It was good for my soul.”

We applaud Pen Woman Sara McDaris for her persistence and vision and are grateful for her gift to the Huntsville Botanical Garden and also our city.


Golden Gate-Marin Stays Busy Creating

By Melissa Woodburn

Even during this pandemic, the Golden Gate-Marin Branch members have been busy creating. This quarter, the branch would like to congratulate the following members:

Lucinda Watson

Book cover Lucinda Watson’s collection of poems, “The Favorite,” has been published recently by Golden Antelope Press, a small press out of Missouri, fulfilling her dream of over 20 years to publish a book of her poems. She writes, “I’ve had numerous poems in journals but the idea of having my own book in print and seeing it in a bookstore was an exciting goal. It’s finally happened, and I’ve been having a great time doing some radio work and Zoom meetings selling the book. So far, the feedback has been wonderful, and I am very proud.”

Lucy Arnold

Book coverLucy Arnold’s latest children’s picture book, “Druk and Mita,” was released on Oct. 18 in a live-streamed event from Sausalito Books by the Bay. Illustrated by Arnold and written by Tracy Tandy, the book was inspired by the author’s trip to Bhutan. In the story, two friends find each other in a dream. They grow in love for each other and the wonders of the world, becoming forever transformed. The illustrations feature flora and fauna of the Himalayas and is rich in Buddhist imagery.

“Druk and Mita” is Arnold’s third collaboration as illustrator with Tandy. Their books are published by Inevitable Ink.

Linda Larsen

Linda Larsen’s 24x24-inch oil painting, “Mourning Cloak,”
Linda Larsen’s 24×24-inch oil painting, “Mourning Cloak”

Linda Larsen’s 24×24-inch oil painting, “Mourning Cloak,” was one of only 877 works out of 11,521 entries accepted for the de Young Open Art Exhibition.

She writes, “‘Mourning Cloak’ was inspired by the flight and presence of the impressive Mourning Cloak butterfly, an annual and solitary visitor to the native ceanothus and manzanita bushes growing in my Novato backyard. Its wings are a deep brownish black with yellow ruffled edge outlined in small blue dots. I began my painting by mixing a number of warm and cool iron oxide pigments.

Using this paint mixture, I allowed the gesture of the butterfly’s flight to influence the strokes I applied to the canvas. At this point, the form, the composition, the outcome of the painting was no longer under my control and I accepted what my subconscious and the butterfly had created. To don a mourning cloak seems appropriate right now. The image of this Mourning Cloak implies wholeness and healing to me and gives me hope.”

Modesto Participates in Ekphrastic Show

Modesto Branch members were active participants in “Women in America: An Artistic Celebration of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment,” which took place recently at the Mistlin Gallery in Modesto, California. Originally scheduled to open June 30, due to the pandemic, the ekphrastic show opened on Sept. 24 and ran through Nov. 6.

Artists and writers partnered for the show, responding creatively to the other’s work. The NLAPW sign and background poster identified the branch’s part of the exhibit, with the artwork of each Pen Woman artist accompanied by the work of a letters member — either poetry, prose, or essay — mounted next to the art.

The ekphrastic method has been popular with the branch, whose members participated in another exhibit at the Carnegie Arts Center in 2015 and published a Pen Women catalogue of all of the works in the show. In February 2018, the branch also hosted an ekphrastic exhibit at the Carolyn Huff Photography Studio and Gallery.

“The Women in America” exhibit received many positive comments about the work, and viewers took their time to contemplate both the art and the accompanying writing.


One of the ekphrastic collaborations from “The Women in America” by Modesto Branch’s artist Ann Williams Bailey and writer Lynn Hansen.








Poem by Lynn M. Hansen
Art by Ann Williams Bailey

As part of a timeless sisterhood
we see ourselves at Seneca Falls
marching with Suffragettes.
Like these sisters, we have found our voices.
We are able, we are free,
no longer someone’s property.
We are blood, we are bone,
we are anger, we are love,
we are sisters –
we persist.

We are the sister who marries the one she loves,
we are mothers grieving loss because of a drunk driver,
we are Sandyhook survivors advocating for safe schools,
we are immigrant women whose babies are ripped
from our arms as we seek sanctuary,
we are those who disappear into the shadow
of domestic abuse.
There is still work for us to do.
We are blood, we are bone
we are anger, we are love,
we are sisters –
we persist.

When we are held up, held down,
bulldozed and blackjacked,
walked on and cheated,
mooched and squeezed,
still we rise.
We are MADD, we vote for ERA,
We Call BS, shout Sí se puede,
# Me Too and Black Lives Matter.
We are blood, we are bone,
we are anger, we are love,
we are sisters –
we persist.

As sisters, we may not always agree
but use our voices,
create community here,
have purpose driven lives.
We are blood, we are bone,
we are anger, we are love,
we are sisters – and yes,


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