Tag Archives: miracles



Magic and Miracles

Action Painting in Mexico

March 11-18 2017

Jerry Ann Fenter…Instructor and Guide

I’m excited to be offering another art experience in Mexico! This year’s workshop is again located in Melaque, Mexico. Melaque is a beautiful small town in the state of Jalisco on the west coast of Mexico. The class will be held at La Paloma Resort in Melaque right on the water. This year we will focus on some loose, experimental and fun types of drawing and painting that will help you capture the joy and energy of Mexico itself, its colors, its texture and its magic. It will help you to let go, free yourself from any self-consciousness and create your own special kind of art. I will be working alongside all of you as your teacher, your coach and your fellow experimenter. This class is for all levels of experience. Don’t worry if you haven’t done art in years or ever for that matter. I keep the class small.  This year we will be able to get most supplies (paper and paints) in Mexico.  I’ll send suggestions of anything else you might want to bring with you closer to March.

This year we will again be in Melaque during St. Patrick’s Day. There is celebration in town on that day that we can be a part of! The cost of the workshop is $475. (Not including airfare). Housing for the week will be arranged through La Paloma Resort www.lapalomamexico.com/. It will be up to each student to contact Kyla in the office to pay for your stay and choose your room. Mention you are coming for my workshop and you will get a discount. Travel, Art and Great Company plus plenty of time to relax! It’s a promise. You can find my work and my blog at www.jerryfenter.com.

To sign up for the workshop please fill out and send this form and a check for $475 made out to Jerry Ann Fenter. My address is 26 Frontier Road, Appleton, WA. 98602. Questions? Call me at 509-365-5119. My e-mail is fenter@gorge.net. The class will be limited in size so sign up now.



A Story From Mexico

Palms Mexico smaller Mexican Time by Jerry Fenter

“Get in the damned car”, barked Richard from the passenger side in the front seat. “This is going to be an adventure!” Richard never just spoke, he barked.

Like a decorated general from the old English Raj he talked to Nancy and me like he was addressing his troops. Car fully loaded we shot out of the parking lot of the Costco in Puerto Vallarta into bumper on bumper traffic. Traffic on the main highway was particularly slow this morning. We passed small accidents. A crowd of people stood in a circle around a crushed ice cream freezer pulled by a bike. It seems the driver had been distracted by what he thought were three people carrying a kicking goat in the lane next to him. Watching the goat and not the road, he’d rear-ended an old rusty Chevy. The impact caused him to fly through the air into oncoming traffic. He bounced off the hood of a tricked out Ford with a decal of Guadalupe on the back window. His bike and its contents were destroyed in the crash. Traffic was stopped. People watched the ruckus from open windows, cigarettes dangling from their lips. Street dogs were having their fill of the sweet melty liquid spilling out of the tiny broken freezer. They lapped it up. They rolled in it.
“I swear I saw them crossing, the goat was kicking and I didn’t want to hit anyone,” the ice cream man explained.
The Chevy driver was pissed. He hadn’t “seen any fuckin’goats or nothing”. Richard didn’t stop. The accident disappeared from view. Richard pulled out his map.

“By map it’s only two hours to San Sebastian.” Richard shoved the tail end of a Costco kosher hot dog into his mouth. “Piece a cake!”
Nancy rolled her eyes. She knew that two hours Mexican time could mean anything. In Mexico time can be bent, go backwards, even stop. Time will always surprise you. We turned left onto an unmarked road just past the Botanical Gardens. The car stumbled up the vertical highway, over topes, past broken parts of huge boulders, some that blocked parts of the road. Each of us took turns moving obstructions.

“And this is the new road,” said Richard, relaxing into the passenger seat while hooking up the new hand held gadget for driving directions he’d just bought.
“Check this out Nancy. It’s called the Tom-Tom. It’s the latest thing in getting to wherever you want to go. No getting lost. Saw it on TV. Picked it up back at Costco.”

Nancy looked hard at the little screened device. Her attention was fully on the gadget in Richard’s hand. I held on tight as the car absently drifted to the left side of the road just missing a noisy large group of crossing chickens. As we rumbled over loose rocks The Tom-Tom guided us with its feminine voice and detailed map. The voice was confident with a strong English accent. You could trust this that voice to get you anywhere.

Trucks full of livestock, cars stuffed with oxygen tanks and old pickups sped downhill, swerving just in time to miss our car. Signs saying PELIGROSO marked hairpin turns. Yet somehow I felt safe. I had moved into a fearless Mexican mode. I was invincible. I had lost all doubt. We had the Tom-Tom and the English lady’s calm reassurance. Also, luck seemed to always stay close to Richard.

An iguana languidly crossed the road. The blazing sun was gone. We had entered the jungle. Unfamiliar plants entwined road signs. We crawled by dwarfed pineapple trees and overloaded banana plants. A mist rose up from the pavement and clouded our windows. I couldn’t get enough air. It was like breathing under water. I cleared my window. Gold light shined out of small openings in the trees like a promise.

The map on the Tom-Tom was harder to follow as we drove higher. Roads on the screen split, turned and even curled backwards where no roads could exist. The calm female voice repeated that we’d missed our turn over and over despite the fact that there was only one way to go and that was straight up.

We were surrounded by jungle. I imagined ancient animals peering through dark branches. Irrational geography confused the real with the unreal.

We drove around potholes as the pavement became cracked and broken. To our right the trees opened up leaving a half moon shaped clearing by the road. We slowed to a crawl. Too our right was an entire traveling carnival alive with dwarves, sideshow characters and workmen trying to push a dilapidated fallen trailer to an upright position out of a deep muddy rut. People appeared from nowhere just to watch. They talked and smoked as Siamese twins tried to wedge a plank under the trailer’s sunken back-end, every careful movement the exact copy of the other’s. The twins whispered to one another as they struggled with the weight.

“Tamales, tortillas, pan dulce,” a birdlike man called out to the crowd hopping from one foot to the other then setting his platter down to spin around and around. People surrounded him. The food was gone.

Nancy and Richard were arguing about directions. The road grew narrow. Moss dripped with moisture as bright pink leaves and dirty speckled lizards fell on the car. So many bugs smashed to death on the windshield made it hard to see. I turned and watched the circus vanish as we rolled up the steep hill.
The screen on the Tom-Tom went blank.
The English lady went silent.

“Shit, let’s get rid of this God damned thing.” Richard rolled down his window and tossed out the Tom-Tom. It vanished, sucked into the shadow of the jungle wall.

The mountain air was fresh and fragrant with mangoes. I could breathe. Above the mist of the jungle the sky was cobalt blue. Two hours turned into four as we crossed a one lane bridge. We looked down. A creek ran under us surrounded by white water. Standing birds lifted their wings and danced near the shore. We had entered a place where magic could happen. Church bells chimed the hour. The road now was cobblestone. The city of San Sebastian Del Oeste shined white with casas de adobe. We were inside living history full of old haciendas, gold and silver mines protecting ghosts from the past, acres of sharp blue agave plants and broken down tequila tasting stands. Bakeries displayed pan dulces fresh from the oven. We passed the Catholic Church in the square, drove another half mile and pulled to a stop. A statue of San Sebastian pierced with arrows shone in the afternoon light. We had arrived at La Galerita de San Sebastian, once a ruined hacienda and now our destination.

Richard’s voice quieted as he and Nancy settled into their private casita. I was alone with the jungle. Tiny birds moved from tree to tree, each telling their own story. Coffee beans brushed against my face. I carefully pulled one from a cluster carefully leaving the stem. Smoke rose. The roasting coffee smelled amazing. The statue of St. Anthony with his tortured eyes watched as I picked up my bag. I stopped at the door of my own casita. Two dark purple orchids shifted then turned toward me from their tree branch. Their spicy aroma teased me as I walked up the steps into my own private sanctuary.

Hi everyone. I thought you might enjoy a story an experience I had in Mexico. I’m hoping to get a few more people to sign up for my painting workshop. This years Mexico Class is in Melaque, Mexico at www.lapalomamexico.com/. The place is beautiful, and so much fun. Check the last post on this website for a sign up sheet. If you have any questions just give me a call at 509-365-5119 or fenter@gorge.net. Our dates are March 14-18, 2016.

Baubles, Bangles and Bright Shiny Beads

John Hamm All the Way

Tonight are the Emmy Awards. I know (sadly), that like most people I come into contact with, those artsy types, you’re right now letting out a long sigh and saying, “Why would a full time artist and creativity counselor like Jerry look forward to a long evening of the Emmy awards on that small evil box in her living room?” It’s still a small box because we can’t afford the 55” TV flat screen set that we dream about. I am as always in love with the Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards and am not afraid or embarrassed to say so! My great friend and I think long lost sister in Phoenix, Nan Madsen, is just like me. When I stayed down at her house in Phoenix for so many winters we would look forward to award shows, cook for them, drink while they were on and even fill out pre-award ballots. We’d pay close attention to the fashion, even though I almost live my entire life in a tee-shirt and jeans with a flannel shirt over the top. Nan usually prefers scrubs…being an ex-nurse. I don’t care. I love fashion, I love TV, I love movies and I love watching the stars come out at night. Tonight my favorite TV show of all time (for the moment) is up for sixteen awards in the drama category. Mad Men has now taken over first place in my heart from The Sopranos. This took some time because just the thought of Tony Soprano can make my heart race. Who knows why? But now Betty and Don capture my imagination and also remind me so very much of my own parents and their suburban lifestyle while I was in Junior High and High School. If you haven’t seen Mad Men I’d suggest you rent the first two seasons from Netflix and watch them NOW. The writing is so incredibly good that you will be enchanted. Don is so much like my own father, distant, alcoholic and yet a hard working ad man (my dad was a salesman and later a tavern owner) who I think might have found making money for his family important but didn’t really feel totally emotionally devoted to them. His wife Betty is an interesting character, not as crazy as my mother, but like my mother shows mixed feelings toward her children and her position as a housewife. Wow, I don’t want to get into any psychotherapy here but there will be someone who you can identify with on the show. If you go to the Mad Men Official Website which is http:/www.amctv.com/originals/madmen/ you will get lots of information about the show, can find out how to make all of the 1960’s cocktails just like a bartender and even create your own avatar. I have my own avatar. Here she is.  I’m holding a martini straight up.  

                           My avatar                                                                                                           

 So I’m off to the red carpet for a magic night of dresses, awards, narcissism, long speeches and Chicken and Artichoke Delight Pizza in front of my tiny old fashioned almost sixties like TV. First I’ll watch the Emmy’s and then I’ll settle in for Mad Men and see what Betty and Don are up to. Then I’ll check on how Peggy is doing. Will she ever get that raise?

A few important notes: Don’t forget my classes at the Dalles Art Center next Saturday and Sunday from eleven to four. We’re doing some self portrait work. Also only four spaces left for Mexico. Sign up now. I just bought my plane ticket! Congratulations to Mark Cooksey and his new wife on their wedding. Congratulations to his mother, Susan Cooksey for making it through the whole thing. I’m so sorry we missed the two day celebration! More congratulations to my friend Bill for his three new job opportunities. Tavish and Hans …I love the Halloween Candles.  They are excellent and very very scary.  I’m off now on my magic carpet ride.

2010 Art in Mexico Workshop and Retreat

 Magical Realism by Jerry

 2010 Art in Mexico Workshop and Retreat

Jerry Fenter Instructor

Magical Realism


    It’s that time of year again to plan for something fun, relaxing and creative in a magical place.  It’s time to reserve your spot in Jerry’s 2010 workshop and retreat in Melaque, Mexico at the beautiful La Paloma Resort!  The workshop is open to experienced and inexperienced students. With some focus on watercolor and on the writings of the great Latin American authors, anyone with an interest in the arts, painters, poets, writers and photographers, are invited to spend the week of April 10th to April 17th 2010 with international artist and writer Jerry Fenter for a fun and rejuvenating workshop.

    With some background and information about Magical Realism, Jerry will teach you to play with painting and words in your own individual way to reflect the culture of Mexico with your work.

    Sound great?  The cost is $400 per person based on double occupancy at the La Paloma Resort for one week plus $600 per person for Jerry’s 5 day workshop.  The total comes to $1000 for the package (not including airfare).  For more details or questions call Jerry at 509-365-5119 or e-mail at fenter@gorge.net. To see the La Paloma Resort go to www.lapalomamexico.com/.



Sign Up

To save your place, please fill out and send this form and a check for $50 made out to Jerry Fenter ASAP. This check is non-refundable but will go to the price of the workshop. To make reservations at La Paloma for your accommodations email, retreat@prodigy.net.mx  Ouestions? Call Jerry at 509-365-5119. The address is 26 Frontier Rd., Appleton, WA 98602.  Don’t miss out. The class will be limited this year to 10 students. 







sign up now!!!!























Chainsaws, Hub Caps and Karma

Bob Smith tames the trees

Multitasking as a word doesn’t cover what this day is shaping up to be.  I woke up to a gigantic crashing sound as a fifty foot Douglas Fir hit the driveway.  Then, like bees, guys swarmed around and started cutting limbs with chainsaws.  If you’ve ever seen the show “Inside the Actor’s Studio” there is a question asked by the host near the end of every program of the celebrity being interviewed.  The question is “What is the sound you hate the most?”  As you’ve already guessed this celebrity would have answered “the sound of chain saws in the morning”. Wild Madd Max driver...me We’re in the middle of having about ten big trees taken out of our front and back yard.  Don’t worry…we have hundreds…four acres full.  But we decided to remove a few of them when my flower garden started moving out into the driveway by its own power because it was feeling so sun-deprived.  We live like vampires in our dark cabin and need some light to keep us sane and to promote some plants we’d like to try out in our wild garden.  So the falling trees.  What you can’t imagine, especially if you live in the city is what cutting a few trees down really means.  It means moving any fragile possessions that are anywhere near the place where trees will fall as far away as possible.  It means taking down your deer fence.  It means three huge machines (one called Madd Max that I’m in love with)Colorful interior of Madd Max and trucks drive over your lupines and park all over your property.  It means all of your kitties hide in the house in the top part of your closet and huddle there all day.  It means you have all of the left over branches from each tree to pile and burn or if they’re bigger branches but not big enough to sell to rescue and cut for firewood.  It means each day that there is cutting the entire day is unsettled and nerve wracking.


And of course I’m trying to work.  You’d never guess what I’m working on.  I’ve had a lot of strange things that I’ve used for a canvas…a life sized fiberglass cow for the Kows for Kids in Portland, Oregon, lots and lots of old wooden  ironing boards, cups, bowls, chairs and music carts for hospitals but this is the strangest.  I’m painting a hub-cap.  I was contacted by a gallery in Pennsylvania about painting a hub-cap for a project called The Landfill Art Project.  To take a look at it, go to www.landfillart.org. I knew nothing about this project until I was contacted by its director to do a piece for it.  I said yes because any profits from the pieces or the book done from the finished pieces will go to global reforestation.  (I guess to get my karma right with the trees it is no coincidence that I was asked to do this).  I’ve had some mystical experiences with hubcaps in the last four years.  When my mom was beginning to show definite signs of Alzheimer’s disease, she started a collection of hubcaps in her backyard.  There were hubcaps carefully placed in her garden, her front yard, her porch and her garage.  She must have seen that they were shiny and she liked shiny (not unlike myself).  So they continued to multiply until she finally collapsed and ended up in the hospital.  During her weekend in the hospital my daughter and I HAD to find a place where she could be cared for.  She refused to have any help in her huge house, or even to have Meals on Wheels feed her.  She was getting more and more confused each day so we had to find a good place FAST before the hospital just turned her loose on the street.  The hospital had some excellent social workers who totally understood what we were going through.  They gave us a long list of facilities to look at and off we went.  It was a Saturday.  We checked the list and found a few places that looked good to us.  We looked at some and were not happy.  Then we found a listing for St. Anthony Village in Southeast Portland.  It is a non-profit Catholic assisted living and Alzheimer care center near Powell Boulevard.  We got kind of excited because it fit our checklist for everything we were looking for.  We headed down Powell to go and see it.  As we got close to the turn off to St. Anthony, all of a sudden a shiny large hubcap flew right in front of my van window.  Amy and I looked at each other and took it as a sign. Both of us being Catholic we believe in signs and miracles. We went in, were shown around by a very nice caretaker but couldn’t talk to a director or apply until Monday.  We were also told that there were few openings and there was a waiting list.  We left our names and told the director to call us when she got back from her weekend.  Dismayed, we went home.  When we got there we had a call waiting from the director.  She had just happened to go in to work to finish up some project and got our message.  She said we could have the room for my mom.  It was a miracle.  At least that’s how we saw it.


So, the title of my piece, painted on a hub-cap for the Landfill Art Project is “Our Lady of Flying Hubcaps.”  I’ll post a picture when I’m done.  Isn’t life strange? There are no coincidences.


Yellow Flowers, Hummingbirds and Magic

Ok, listen to this… It Was a Morning of Birds


    “Then they went into Jose Arcadio Buendia’s room, shook him as hard as they could, shouted in his ear, put a mirror in front of his nostrils, but they could not awaken him.  A short time later, when the carpenter was taking measurements for the coffin, through the window they saw a light rain of tiny yellow flowers falling.  They fell on the town all through the night in a silent storm, and they covered the roofs and blocked the doors and smothered the animals who slept outdoors.  So many flowers fell from the sky that in the morning the streets were carpeted with a compact cushion and they had to clear them away with shovels and rakes so that the funeral procession could pass by.”

                                                                            –Gabriel Garcia Marquez                                 


This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I’ve ever read.  It comes from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Magic is in the air.  The magic is still just as exciting on the second reading of this wonderful book.  The paradox of opposites comes alive.  The beautiful yellow flowers raining down on the town on a sad day of a particular death capture the imagination.  I bet you can guess I’m getting ready for my retreat and class in Mexico.  Magical Realism is our subject matter and hopefully my students and I will create some of our own magic.  Through our painting and our writing we will try to capture the wonder and the spender of Melaque. Mexico becomes our teacher in that both joy and misery can exist side by side in the world.  We can begin to remember what things are like the first time we encounter them. We see with a child’s eyes.  Hopefully we’ll be able to tap into some of Mexico’s collective memory and feel the beauty in both the ancient history and the everyday life of the city.  I can’t wait.


The yellow flowers in the quotation remind me of about a three day period that happens up here in Timber Valley in the springtime.  For that period of time we have a fine yellow mist of pollen that falls from the pines and the Douglas fur trees.  Yellow covers everything and most of us that live here will take the end of this period as the first day of the real spring.  We don’t wash our cars before that.  We don’t sweep our porches or clean the windows of the house because it would be of no use whatsoever.  Of course it doesn’t smother our cats or chipmunks but it’s still a bit magical.  Before moving to the woods I had no idea that this kind of thing happened. 


So keep your eyes open.  You never know when you might see a flying carpet or a carnival coming down your very own street.  Be ready for it and don’t be surprised if time slows down and stops occasionally. Or time may really surprise you and go in reverse. I’ve suggested to friends that we subtract a year from our age on each birthday.  I think it’s a fine idea.


    “The things you’d least expect speak.  There they are: speaking.  Bones, thorns.  Pebbles, lianas. Little bushes and budding leaves.  The scorpion…The butterfly with rainbow wings.  The hummingbird…One and all have something to tell.”

                                                                                                                —Isabel Allende


If we all keep our eyes and ears open to storytelling and unleashed imagination we will hear and see the unheard and unseen.  If you have any magic you’d like to share please leave a comment.  It could change someone’s life. 

By the way you can see the original of the picture at the top of my post by going to the Attic Gallery in downtown Portland.  It’s for sale! 


Still Time to Sign Up For Mexico Retreat

palm tree MelaqueYes, there is still time for my Mexico Workshop and Retreat in Melaque, Mexico, April 18th-April 25th.  There is one mistake on my sign up form…in case you need to call me to use a credit card or ask questions my number is 509-365-5119.  This trip is going to be magical.   Here is a shrine that made me laugh while walking by a grade school in Melaque during The Day of the Dead.  Obviously miracles are different for different people.  I loved it!Shrine to Brad Pitt

Miracles on 4th Street

I now know I’m a very lucky person.  I had a remarkable weekend.  I got to do and teach the thing I love.  My beginning watercolor class at The Dalles Art Center was productive, fun and full all weekend!

It was icy and snowy outside but the tough individuals from The Dalles and surrounding areas all braved the questionable weather, bundled up and took a flying leap at learning something brand new.  It was a fearless group and as they came in the door they were greeted by myself and the new Art Center director, Carmen Toll.  Carmen had a warm comfortable room all ready for us.  The basement of the center was clean and welcoming and looked very professional.  Lots of art books and magazines in a small library corner spread good vibes all around. 

A brave group of students from Trout Lake, Washington, (all who I adore) car pooled to class in the icy weather.  Like myself being from Timber Valley they also have a pioneer spirit.  The weather seldom keeps them home.  I also think the calling of lunch at the Baldwin Saloon was a motivator for them!  All in all the class was filled with fascinating, talented and congenial people.

Miracles of course ocurred.

  • A painting was levitated  and a painting finished while floating  in mid air.
  • Some of the most unusual drawings of the hand were attempted for the first time.
  • At times people jumped up from their chairs and stood while they painted.  A true sign of a flip from the left brain to the right brain.
  • A fierce female African big game hunter entertained us with some exciting stories.
  • Friends and relatives came together and found out they really could draw.
  • A beautiful big pear was painted by Bonnie.
  • A young man treated us to his science fiction interpretations of fruit in watercolor and we loved it.
  • We all “survived” a blind contour drawing assignment with no physical attacks on me, the instructor.

I could spend every weekend this way.  Success, hard work, fellowship, music, laughter and beautiful colors surrounded all of us.  When the class had ended I finished the weekend with a tasty Mexican meal with a good friend and fellow artist, Heather Marlow, at Casa El Mirador.  The margarita and enchiladas were to die for. 

We all agreed to continue with the class one weekend per month.  Check my site often for dates.  The classes are still for beginning students and even if you haven’t touched a brush ever…why not  give it a try.  Call The Dalles Art Center for information and a supply list. 

”  You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you can have, the better it is–unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far.                                                                                                 –Alice Neelalice-neel