Branch News, Spring 2021

Santa Clara County Honors Five Longtime Members

By Patricia Dennis, Santa Clara County Branch

Top row: Mary Lou Taylor (left) and Carol Brolin. Bottom row, left to right: : Bonnie Vaughan, Edie L. Matthews, and Dianne Glass MacNair.



Through a virtual Zoom ceremony, the Santa Clara County Branch was proud to honor five women who have been members of the National League of American Pen Women, Inc. for more than 20 years. We congratulate them on these years of achievement and dedication to the organization. Ladies, it’s an honor to know you.

The five recognized members are:
• Dianne Glass MacNair: Letters member in SCC Branch since 2005 and Pen Woman since November 2001
• Edie L. Matthews: Letters member since 2001
• Bonnie Vaughan: Letters member since 2001
• Carol Brolin: Art member in SCC Branch since 2005 and Pen Woman since October 2001
• Mary Lou Taylor: Letters member since 2001



Diablo-Alameda Hosts Virtual Multimedia Show


Show poster


The Diablo-Alameda Branch recently launched its annual show online, presenting it as a virtual multimedia show titled “Peace & Peaceful Activism.”

“With compassion and foresight, contributors to this show demonstrate how 2020 has influenced our lives and how peace and peaceful activism make for a better world,” branch President Winifred Thompson said. “We hope our show might be a blueprint to help other branches in using new forms of expression.”

You may view the branch’s show on YouTube:
Online art show
Playlist for artist talks


Boca Raton Stays Connected, Productive Virtually

All of Boca Raton Branch’s board meetings and events are now held via Zoom. Membership, Music, and Outreach Chair Sheila Firestone is the Zoom organizer and moderator.

The January Zoom event featured three of the branch’s authors, who discussed their books and then answered audience questions. Lea Hope Becker discussed her newly published “Think Yourself Young,” a collection of humorous poems, cartoons, and chatter. Barbara Bixon, a novelist, screenwriter, and comedy writer (writing under the pen name of A.R. Alan) presented “Confessions of a Slut,” a spoof on internet dating services. Meryl Davids Landau presented “Warrior Won,” a mindfulness and yoga women’s novel.

The February meeting speaker was Dr. Rose Feinberg. The subject of her discussion focused on how two accomplished women, Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, became major decision makers and established an industry under each of their names.

The Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) planned to join the branch for a writers workshop on April 14 via Zoom, hosted by the Delray Beach Public Library. Letters Chair Carol White and Linda Rosen of WNBA are the workshop co-moderators.

Holly and Central New York Meet Virtually, Share Projects

As a member of two NLAPW branches, Joan Applebaum was in the enviable position of knowing Pen Women in two regions of the country. Applebaum suggested and organized a Zoom meeting to share ideas and professional work with her Holly Branch in Delaware and the Central New York Branch in New York State on Jan. 18. Working with CNY Branch President Nancy Dafoe, Applebaum and Holly Branch President Dorene Petrosky set the date and hosted the Zoom meet and greet.

meeting sketch of members
Sketch of joint branch meeting participants created in real time by artist Sue Murphy, CNY Branch member.

“I was delighted to be able to bring the two Pen Women branches together,” Applebaum said. “The exchange of ideas and energies was invigorating.”

Pen Women artists and writers shared poems, stories, paintings, and art projects, as well as offering one another advice and links to websites for publishing and art shows. Pen Women had much to discuss and shared personal stories in addition to professional work during the two-hour meeting.

“I’m loving the chance to get to know other Pen Women from a distance, using Zoom,” said CNY Branch member Janine DeBaise.

Pen Woman Nancy Dafoe, NLAPW letters chair, noted, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a trial for America and the world, but these wonderful Pen Women found a way to extend our reach and support to one another even during a pandemic.”

Eighteen members of the two Pen Women branches were able to attend the virtual meeting. CNY Branch artist Sue Murphy sketched in real time as the meeting progressed, finishing her colorful character sketch of all the participants by the end.

Kari Ann Ebert, Holly Branch member and poetry editor of The Broadkill Review, said after the meeting, “What a wonderful way to spend the morning getting to know the CNY Branch Pen Women. Listening to what inspires them and what their current projects are left me inspired and energized to get back to my own work-in-progress. One of the great things about the creative spark is that it catches when a connection is made. I’m looking forward to connecting with these ladies again.”

Holly Branch President Dorene Petrosky, PhD, summed it up nicely by describing the event as “connection with members, not just a show-and-tell but a stimulating interchange of ideas.”


Golden Gate-Marin Learns about Historic Artists’ Spaces

By Melissa Woodburn

Taking advantage of our continued need to meet remotely, Golden Gate-Marin President Lucy Arnold and branch member Catherine Bohrman arranged a January meeting for us that would not have been possible if we had been meeting in person.

book coverCatherine Bohrman, a former member of the Pioneer Branch, Connecticut, arranged a presentation by her friend Valerie Balint, senior program manager of Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation). Balint’s program was titled  “Women of the Chisel and Brush: Artists, Muses, and Preservationists of the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program.”

The 35 attendees of the Zoom meeting included our special guest, national President Evelyn Wofford. Other invitees included members of the NorCal branches: Diablo-Alameda, Santa Clara County, Stockton-Lodi, Modesto, and Golden Gate-Marin. The Greenwich and Pioneer branches from Connecticut were also invited.

Balint is a passionate supporter of the arts and the historic preservation of the sites where artists have created their works. Her fascinating talk focused on the studios of many East Coast women artists, but also included Grace Hudson of California, Elisabet Ney of Texas, Clementine Hunter of Louisiana, and Georgia O’Keefe of New Mexico. The presentation provided insights into the careers and marriages of these women artists, some of whom were overlooked in favor of their more well-known male partners, and many of whom led the efforts to preserve these historic sites.

A particular favorite studio of Balint’s is Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollack’s cottage in the East Hamptons. The floors and walls there are still covered in the paint splatters that evidence the energy and physicality of their work.

Valerie Balint’s recently published book, “Guide to Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios,” is widely available.

For more information about these historic sites, go to

Central Ohio Members Busy with Exhibits

Central Ohio members have been busy despite COVID restrictions. Many showed their work at various exhibits.

Five Central Ohio Pen Women’s work was displayed in the 2020 Ohio Art League Juried Show:

  • Evangelia Philippidis: “Bayou Blues”
  • Dawn Petrill: “I Wanted You to Know”
  • Robie Benve: “Christmas at the Ohio Theatre” and “Scioto Deer”
  • Rebecca Zelanin: “ Tangled Eyes” and “Floating Away”
  • Jane Flewellen: “Freesia Delight”

Darlene Yeager-Torre had three works on display in November and December. “Along the Road to Sinawave,” a travel photograph, was juried into an international exhibit at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon. The exhibit ran Dec. 1 – 20. One of Torre’s painting-with-light seascapes was also selected for the juried international photography exhibition, “After Dark: Dusk to Dawn” at PRAXIS Photography Gallery in Minneapolis.

Photo by Darlene Yeager-Torre
“Along the Road to Sinawave,” photography by Darlene Yeager-Torre

Three works by Anita Burgess were accepted into the Akron Society of Artists 89th Anniversary Juried Member Show in December 2020. Her mixed-media piece, “Transformation,” received honorable mention.

Rebecca Zelanin’s solo exhibition was on display at 3060 Artworks in Columbus, Ohio, through Jan. 29.

Works by Jane Flewellen, Robie Benve, Bev Goldie, and Darlene Yeager-Torre were juried into the 2021 Bryn Du Art Show in Granville,  Ohio.

painting by Jane Flewellen
“Freesia Delight” by Jane Flewellen


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.