Category Archives: Artists

From ‘That Girl’ to ‘That Woman in the Arena’

I used to know three things beyond a doubt: the Berlin Wall would never fall; Nelson Mandela would never be released from his South African prison; and the USSR would never give up communism or any of their states. Yeah well, in three short years from 1989-1991 all three happened one right after another.

Glibly, I also used to say, “Oh, sure, not in my lifetime but one day a woman will be president of the United States.”

Uh huh, I was THAT naive. Or, that conditioned. But when I look back over the years, I can see the portrayal of women changing across the TV screen, helping to pave the way for the idea that a woman can be a world leader. Now, these are just the shows I watched growing up. (Yes, I know there are many other wonderful female characters that deserve recognition, too.)

1ThatGirlThe first time I remember watching an actress portraying her own woman, albeit still worried about daddy and boyfriend opinions, was Marlo Thomas as That Girl. (1966-1971)


HOWEVER, she was outclassed, in my humble 1.5NichelleNicholsasUhuruopinion, by the powerful Lt. Uhuru on Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols. A lady and an officer. (1966-1969)


2Mary Richards Desk

Soon we had the Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977). Now, THAT was independence. “Oh, Mr. Grant!” She often held the moral highground.



Then came Maude, portrayed brilliantly by Bea Arthur. She had the audacity to not take crap from any man! (1972-1978)



Lynda Carter WAS Wonder Woman (1975 – 1979). Wait! What? A woman superhero? *boom – head exploding*


5cagney and lacey

But, no woman should ever forget the legacy of Cagney and Lacey. (1981 – 1988) Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly were tough cops doing a man’s job in a man’s world with the sense and sensibilities of women. Yes, we can!


G6The Golden GirlssBea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, and Estelle Getty were The Golden Girls, showing that female sexuality, dreams of success, and the ability to be funny doesn’t fade with age. It also reinforced the idea that friendships between women are strong, enduring long after divorces and widowhood. (1985 – 1992)

7Dana Scully The X Files


A skeptical, no-nonsense, fact chasing woman! The voice of reason, yet willing to suspend disbelief in search of the truth. She even reined in her loose cannon partner. Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully on The X Files (1993 – 2002)


8Xena and Gabrielle


Be still , my beating heart. Lucy Lawless as Xena: Warrior Princess and Renee O’Connor as Gabrielle. Their sexuality burned up the screen, as did the idea that women could be very effective warriors. (1995 – 2001)

9Captain Janeway

And finally, Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager set the new bar. Women could captain spaceships! And only twenty-nine years after Uhuru took her place on the bridge. Now, that’s progress. (1995 – 2001)


After 2001 I pretty much quit watching TV in order to write, so forgive me for not going forward. Buffy, Ally, The Gilmore Girls, and all the other powerful women all the way up to Agent Carter, have led up to this decisive moment. And now we are:


How Readers and Writers are Different

 I think writing and reading are two different forms of communication.

When writing, the author gives the reader a single-voiced, one-way experience. As a storyteller, the author provides hours of her/his view of the world and creative inspiration. They do it without ever knowing who their reader will be – a shout into the darkness, a gift to the cosmos, a prayer to be heard.

The reader receives this communication, and then chooses whether to attempt to engage the author in a conversation, or not. It used to be the author’s prerogative to refuse to talk to readers, but that time is over. Modern authors that don’t engage with their readers risk marginalization, or worse, revengeful reviews.

Personally, I think every author should cherish communications from their readers, and answer their questions in good faith. I also think readers should feel free to respond to the author’s body of work, but treat the relationship in the same way a purchaser of a painting would one with the artist. Asking about inspiration, technique, subject matter, any manner of things pertaining to the author’s work is fair and encouraged, but it’s crossing a line to ask for personal information, or to presume on a friendship that doesn’t exist. One might develop over time, but in the beginning the author knows nothing about the reader, while the reader has already gathered an impression of the author from the books they’ve written.

It’s easy for a reader to feel close to an author long before the feeling might be reciprocated. Please, gentle readers, approach authors you wish to befriend with a quiet understanding that they are most likely loners by nature. They have to be or no books would ever get written. And it’s their speculative introspection that makes most authors nervous about new relationships.

An Interview with Artist Laurie Salmela

I met artist Laurie Salmela at a woman artist’s retreat. The keynote speaker, she encouraged women of all ages to express their artistic selves. I found her supportive, energizing, and very, very talented. She’s agreed to an interview with me today.

ANA:  I saw photos of some of your work in paint, and collages. Then I enjoyed the work you did at Celebrate Yourself! in clay, expressing the female form. Tell us about the mediums you use, and why and how you choose them.

“Calhoun Sails”  plein aire watercolor

L Salmela: My degree is in drawing and painting which is the main focus of my art. I use whatever medium calls my name on a given day, frequently combining them before a work is completed. I work in the traditional oil, watercolor, acrylic,but have an obscene cache of alternative art materials from which to choose including such things as the lowly crayon, highlighters, Sharpies and totally non-art materials on occasion – whatever seems right at the moment. What I choose depends on what materials catch my attention, where and the conditions under which I am working and  whether I have specific plan for the work.

“La Mesa Santa del Remedios” 

If I am working out of doors or traveling on one my art adventures I usually use watercolor and drawing materials for ease of transporting and logistical necessities. The focus is then about recording the place and experience so is more on the figurative side.  In the studio I work in oil, acrylic and whatever else I have there and becomes focused on the media and expression – what’s inside my head rather than without and thus becomes more abstract. My collage work comes primarily from old or failed work remade , hopefully retaining it’s original inspiration with the addition of some new.

I have also worked in clay and assemblage and enjoy both but I  run a “clean” studio (a figure os speech rather the actual state of the studio most of the time!) where I rent some spaces to other artists, so the grubbier art forms need to be done elsewhere to protect their interests. This necessitates that I take only occasional forays into these realms away from my studio at the Northrup King Building.

ANA:  Where do you find the inspiration for your work? Do you go looking for it, or does it find you?
“Sun-washed Playa Caribe, Akumal” 

L. Salmela:    Inspiration finds me.  I am always open and I never have to wait.  I only have to choose from the multitude of inspiring stuff that comes my way. It can be something I see, in my head or in the world ; a phrase from a book;  the title of a song; the sky… I am easily inspired just by the process of making art  and often feel that urge to paint just walking into the Northrup King Building and smelling all the creativity that resides there!  Just looking at and handling the tools and materials is enough to get me started. The act of doing, alone, can be a powerful inspiration. I may think I am going to paint something in particular upon starting, but  it will change in the process without  my notice or permission!  The only time a enter the studio with a hard and fast plan is when I have had a request from a client.

” Images of Balam Ek”

ANA:  Some authors create every day, others write only when inspired. What methods do you find the most successful and productive when creating art?

L. Salmela: I try to make time each day to do some kind of art making even when I have a full day of teaching just to keep the juices flowing even if its just some crazy drawing from stuff in my house! I often find those little things more engaging than some of more “serious” work, perhaps because they are more playful and were made only for me. I do find the studio atmosphere to be the most satisfying though, as the atmosphere seems so charged with creative energy with the “stuff of art all about the place!

ANA:  I understand you create artwork for book covers. Children’s books, especially, sell best with illustrations. Would you be open to authors approaching you with ideas for cover work? How would they contact you?

“The Bird Hour” 

Salmela: I have had a number of diverse “art jobs” over the years.  The very first was painting two wine labels for Northern Vineyards.  I have curated many exhibitions for the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota, two of which featuring only art about shoes! In the mix, I have done a book cover for a text book with Greywolf Press with bits of drawing in the interior and also some small pieces for a poetry magazine.  I am always up for a new adventure and would love to do more. If anyone is interested in collaborating in this way they can contact me by email through my website: Writing is alot like painting but creating the images through words.  I think it is much more difficult to do in words and those who can accomplish it deserve our utmost respect! I am always thrilled to find authors whose writing is so beautifully descriptive that feels as though they are painting a picture for the reader. During one of my stays in Mexico, I painted a series of small works from a book recommended to me by a friend that was so rich with imagery relating to Mexico and the sea, that I felt compelled to paint what I was seeing from her words!

ANA:  Do you have any upcoming projects or shows? Where can we see some of your artwork on display?

“Free at Last ” 

Salmela: I am always working on something.  Currently I am preparing the Minneapolis Arts District yearly spring studio event, ART-A-WHIRL.  The Northrup King Building that is my art home is the largest venue on the tour by far, with over 250 artists under one roof!  Its quite the affair with live music, food trucks in the parking lot, last year roller girls as hostesses and best of all, masses of great art.  I invite all to stop in for a visit.  Just take the elevator at door F to the fourth floor and you’ll find me in NKB Studio/Gallery 425.  Stop by for my famous home made salsa and  my fresh baked bread too.  We believe in keeping up the strength of our clientele!!! Again this year MTC (NKB bus stop is 14th and Central Avenue)is giving away free bus passes for the weekend on their website and there is free trolley service to take visitors about the district once they arrive. We are all busily getting our studios in order and finishing and framing our latest work. 

“The Glebe”

I am also working on creating some visual lesson aids for my four, lifelong learning programs using my ipad and keynote app to help the deaf and hearing impaired participants understand some art methods and concepts that, I feel, they have been missing.

Besides the above mentioned  programs, I teach in my studio as well and hope to have my summer schedule out by the big Art-A-Whirl event and it may seem crazy early, but I am working on setting dates and starting registration for my next Akumal Art Adventure/Painting in Paradise trip.  Every year I take a small group to Mexico to learn to travel journal using watercolor.  I rent a private villa on the water with pool and gardens for a week of fun and art adventuring.  

You can see photos of past trips on my website or my studio facebook page: NKB Studio/Gallery 425