the fearless beth lederman

I used to be a fire lookout on O’Leary Peak. I was a Forest Service employee for four years, musician Beth Lederman shares with me. My mom was the Woody Mountain Lookout for over ten years and my sister was the lookout on Mt. Ord.

You ‘looked’ for fires?

The fire lookout conversation leads to an interesting revelation …. I like to practice fearlessness, Beth comments.

I think of hand-stands. How do you ‘practice’ fearlessness? I ask.

…you know… walking in the dark.

I’d looked forward to meeting Beth Lederman for some time. And last Saturday I spent the afternoon photographing her.

My loves are Latin jazz, Brazilian jazz, straight ahead jazz, salsa and Latin music, swing, and anything else that grooves.  Among the various musicians she collaborates with, she also has a group she co-founded.  Novo Mundo was my band for a long time. We have a gig in April coming up, April 27th …Wine, WoMen and Jazz at the Az Culinary Institute. 

Beth plays keyboards and in fact can truly be called eclectic.

… back to fearlessness …

I practice being brave in front of audiences, in trying new things when I am improvising, in taking risks,  in playing with all kinds of bands – sometimes with people I have never met!. I try to just get up there on stage and help share the feeling of being strong, and confident, and tapped in to this bigger flow which is music/spirit/life.

I also practice doing things even though I am afraid…like taking on the job of being a Spanish teacher 3 years ago, or making mistakes when I speak in my non-native tongue, or sitting in at jam sessions.  …. you know … walking in “dark” places.

The afternoon goes smoothly. We get lots of great photos.  I’ve said this before, the performer is a natural in front of the camera.  She adds… experience has allot to do with it.

My hope with these shots, is that you get a glimpse of both Beth’s fluid nature, and  her grounded quality. It’s one great combination for a piano player/educator/woman.

For more about Beth Lederman, who’s been making music for over 20 years, visit → her website.

Note the → calendar because next weekend she’ll be performing at both the Mesa Arts Center (on Saturday March 10th) and at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts (March 11th).

Catch Beth live and while you’re at it pay attention to how she practices fearlessness.

pianist and vocalist

I met Pamela Morita during the Yoga, Music, and Art weekend, Meg, Mary and I hosted last December. She was part of the live trio that played that Sunday afternoon. Mary Petrich (on Sax), John Chapman (on Bass) and Pam on keyboard. Her vocals were sweet and rich with emotion. She closed the afternoon meditation with a beautiful rendition of I Can See Clearly Now.

Last week Pam contacted me, and asked if I would photograph her.  She’s having a new web site designed and wanted images.  I was happy to oblige.  I designed and created Mary’s site, which included photographing Mary with her sax. Pam liked the work I did, and wanted me to shoot her as well.

She came over to the studio on a Tuesday afternoon, and we got right to work.  She mentioned being nervous or uncomfortable with being photographed, though she appeared to be a natural to me. It must be the performer element in her, I told her afterwards, the one that visual artists for the most part, don’t have (unless they’re performers).

A little about Pam and her music…

Pam holds a master’s from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. A professional pianist/singer since 1980, she started in Chicago and played at the Drake Hotel, Park Hyatt Hotel, the Fairmont, the Palmer House, well-known jazz clubs as Andy’s and the Green Mill. In 1985 she traveled to Sweden where she played/sang in clubs around the country and onboard the Silja Line Cruise Boat, which sailed between Helsinki and Stockholm. In 1994,  moving to Norway she met  Swedish jazz artists Ronnie Gardiner and Johan Setterlind who recorded her first CD, Strings that, with her. She also met Doris Spears, a jazz singer from New Jersey, who collaborated with Pam to record her CD, The Duchess. They toured together traveling throughout Scandinavia.

In 2000, Pam moved to Phoenix. While in the valley, she’s played in the C.C. Jones Orchestra, performed with musicians Dennis Rowlands, Sherry Roberson, Felix Sainz, Dave Grale, Dennis Sexton, Paul-Eirik Melhus, Richard Palalay, Andy Gross, and Paul Anderson.

Pam, Mary Petrich, and John Chapman have formed an acoustic, jazz trio which caters to intimate venues like private parties, home concerts, and weddings…and events like our Yoga, Music, and Art Afternoon.  Their repertoire consists of jazz standards, originals, and classical music.

Pam really is  a natural…in front of the camera, and in front of an audience. Catch a live performance and hear it for yourself.

Pam will be performing tonight and next Friday night:

Who: Pam Morita piano/vocals

Where: Electric Eel Restaurant
30815 N. Cave Creek Rd. Cave Creek, AZ
(N of Tatum, SE corner of Cave Creek and Desert Willow Parkway)

When: Saturday, Nov.13th and
Friday, Nov. 19th
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Call: 480-595-9000 for more info.

Pam also teaches.
To hire Pam for concert and/or teaching contact her at: (602) 478-1676 or e-mail: Pam

yoga, music and art

Join Mary, Meg and myself for…


A couple of friends and I have organized a Sunday afternoon event the first weekend in December. It will include a yoga practice led by Certified Anusara Yoga® Instructor  Meg Byerlein. The practice will be accompanied by live music from professional Jazz saxophonist Mary Petrich. My paintings, drawings and prints will hang in the space. The afternoon will end with a community reception of live Jazz, art, cookies, and chai.
The Venue is the PHX ART LAB, centrally located in Phoenix, on 7th St. 

Mary, Meg, and I have, at various points in time, discussed working with one another.  
It’s A Happeningand you’re invited.

Who:        Meg Byerlein, Mary Petrich, and Monica Aissa Martinez

Where:    PHX ART LAB
                   3508 N. 7th St. Suite 135
                   Phoenix AZ 85014

When:      Sunday, December 6, 2009                  
                    2:00-3:15 Yoga Practice    *     3:45-4:45 Art, Jazz, Cookies and Chai

What:       We invite you to an experience which collectively celebrates
                    YOGA, MUSIC, and ART in COMMUNITY.

Doors will open at 1:30. Yoga begins at 2:00. Practice ends with an open eye meditation focusing on an artwork. Live music (trio) will accompany asana. Participate in all three events: yoga, music, and art. Or join us just for Jazz music and Art, after the practice.                 
(Yoga: All levels welcome. Bring your own mat and blanket)

Yoga, Music, Art, and Refreshments (2:00-4:45).
pre-registration $25.00, or $30.00 at the door.
Jazz, Art, and Refreshments (3:45-4:45),  $15.00 at the door.

Register by Nov. 30th.
Space is limited (for yoga participants).
Cash or check only, no credit cards please.
Sorry, no refund for no-shows.
Make check payable to: Monica Aissa Martinez
Mail to PHXARTLAB, at address above. On envelope: Attn.: Aissa

For more information contact Mary Petrich @ 602-565-3640 or email her at or contact monica

©2009 M3Productions

on a vision quest

Lawrence at 10 years old

Lawrence at 10 years old

I’ve known of Lawrence since he was a child because he is my nephew Manuel’s buddy. Lawrence is blind. He lives in El Paso, Texas, my home town. And attends El Paso high school, my old stomping grounds. I had a chance to better acquaint myself with him and his family in July of 2003, when they were in Phoenix, and dropped in to visit my studio.

His grandmother saw some newly completed masks on my walls. At the time I was working on creating a workshop, so I could apply to the Artist Roster at the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She asked if I could come to her school and work with her teachers. She was the principal of Vilas elementary at the time. She thought it would be great if I could teach her faculty the process and they could in turn work with their kids in the upcoming school year. The whole faculty would be involved. I jumped at the opportunity.

By August I was headed to El Paso, to my old neighborhood in fact, to teach a mask making In Service for teachers. The 2 day workshop was successful. I enjoyed all the staff and spent some time with family and friends, and then returned to Phoenix with a very full experience from which to complete the design of my current mask making workshop, The Who Am I Project.

In the process I worked with Lawrence. I made a mask of him at the request of his grandparents. I painted it. He informed me of his color choices, black and white he said. and he specifically asked if I could add African designs. He is of mixed descent, Hispanic and African American. I wondered how he understood color and how would he know an African design say… from Native American design? He answered my questions by simple description. I was impressed. I knew I would make the mask tactile so he could experience it with his hands.

interior of mask, internal life

interior of mask, representing a rich internal life

He got excited about the completed work, which I delivered. Why am I telling you about Lawrence?

Lawrence was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. His optic nerve never developed and he has been blind since birth. Recently his family learned of the Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Company, Ltd. located in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. This company has partnered with leading scientists, prestigious hospitals across China, and over 250 doctors specializing in delivering stem cell therapy to treat neurological and other ailments.

After researching the company and speaking with two patients who have had very positive results with the treatment, his mother submitted the necessary application requesting treatment for Lawrence. She received a letter of acceptance in March. The doctors in the medical department at Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Company, Ltd. feel confident that Lawrence’s Optic Nerve Hypoplasia can be treated successfully.

His mom, an El Paso elementary school teacher, has taken action to raise the funds.

My husband really wanted to help out. We decided to donate an artwork to the cause. Hank, over at the Art Center on Yandell street (and my one time employer) agreed to donate the framing.

Musical Colors

Musical Colors

If you are inclined to contribute, you can donate $10.00. By doing so your name will be entered into a drawing to win this 36″ x 24″, mixed media, framed and matted, painting on paper work I have designed. A name will be drawn at the end of May.

You can send a check payable to Lawrence Brown, for the $10.00. Include your name, address and contact info and mail to:

Georgina A. Brown
4349 N. Stanton Street
El Paso, Texas 79902
Questions? email Goergina

Or you can donate directly to a fund set up for Lawrence Brown III, at any Wells Fargo Bank, Account Number 7579914230.  As of this posting, they have acquired over half the funds.

To read more about Lawrence and this procedure, click here.



Update: click here.

*On a side note, I have since continued to teach the Who Am I ? Project across the valley, to adults and kids alike.

UPDATE: Posted on June 11, 2009: Winner of the painting is Mr. Jon Bardouché. He is a world geography teacher at El Paso High. Congrats Mr. Jon Bardouché!

Thanks everyone.  



The music was exquisite.

Leonard Cohen said he hoped we were satisfied. And that was after he came back 4 times after saying goodbye, only to continue the show. If my math is correct, according to what he said, he could be about 75.  

I left the concert thinking he was a truly generous human being.  He told us, the audience, he was grateful to everyone for keeping his music alive.
He acknowledged his singers and musicians, and on the final number he let each one of them take the spot light. Each of the musicians were extraordinary, and the back up singers had beautiful delicate, but very vivid voices. He also acknowledged the tech’s, the caterer’s, the bus driver’s and everyone who made the performance happen.

My feeling, on his last standing ovation, was that Cohen allows others to shine in his bright light, and he shines only because he is in the bright light of others. The Sanskrit word, namaste…at its simplest, means the creative spirit in one recognizes the creative spirit in the other.  Mr. Cohen embodies this word fully. 

He said he did not know when he would be back this way again. I was perfect with the thought because the experience, the moment, was a full and very live One.  

Namaste Leonard Cohen.

edge of knowledge; a bit of science, a bit of music

A few  odds and ends about this weekend, I feel are worth mentioning…

There is lots going on in the area this weekend.
The usual First Friday gallery openings, in the downtown Phoenix art scene, will be getting on in a few hours.

And…Arizona State University is currently having an Origins Symposium.
Science. I very much connect art and science. A couple of my favorite reads Art and Physics by Leonard Shlain, and  On Creativity by David Bohm.


Questions of origins resonate across all academic disciplines and among the general public because they directly confront the mysteries associated with our existence, our past, and our future. Click on this link  Origins Symposium to inform yourself about the various speakers, including Stephen Hawking,  and all the events.


If there were no paintings in the world,
Mine would be very important.
Same with the songs.
Since this is not the case, let us make haste to get in line,
Well towards the back.

If There Were No Painting by Leonard Cohen


And on a musical note: Leonard Cohen will be performing at the Dodge Theater this coming Sunday.
How did we ever get so lucky? It’s my understand that this is his first performance tour in 15 years. Phoenix will have the opportunity to experience beautiful cynicism.

The Curator has called this exhibition
Drawn to Words.
I call my work
Acceptable Decorations.

If There Were No Paintings by Leonard Cohen

creative world of her own

mary101Mary Petrich contacted me about re-designing her web site. We spoke a bit about her and her work. On the phone her energy came across high and strong. Mary is a saxophonist in the valley and I’d heard of her some time ago. 

We met at her central Phoenix home a week after our phone conversation. Quickly I noted her physical presence matched her voice…high energy, a natural performer. Her overall rhythm, steadily upbeat and open. In her space was sheet music, music stands and a variety of chairs, and saxophones, their were various ones. What an elegant instrument. It was very different from an artist studio. Though Mary did paint, she pointed out her works on the wall. In the room was a stack of vinyl record albums. Her husband Kevin was to eventually play one for me, as he explained the character of the sound. 

Mary asked if I would photograph a saxophone quartet she was a part of, called Prize Fighting Kangaroos. They would be performing the following Friday. I arrived early and took photos before they began their evening gig. And then I shot a few more during their performance. Introducing the group to the audience she  referred to the quartet’s collaboration as a creative structure. I jotted the words onto the palm of my hand. I wanted to remember them. The phrase is now on my studio wall. 

The saxophone’s resonated deeply in the intimate space. I could hear and feel the subtlety of the breath as it moved through each of the instruments, and as the sounds varied in each composition. Each member had a solo portion within their collaboration.  They appeared to enjoy the evening as much as the audience did. This music thing is very different from an art exhibit, it is immediately active…very much interactive. 


Prize Fighting Kangaroos Saxophone Quartet (Byron Ruth, Mary Petrich, Scott Zimmer, and Paul Brewer) will be performing at Sacred Grounds Jazz Coffee House (4425 N. Granite Reef Rd, in Scottsdale AZ, 85251) on January 29th at 7:30 PM.
The quartet is also scheduled to perform on February 1st, at 1:00 p.m. for one of the Spirit of the Senses salons. Visit the web site for location.

Mary also collaborates with pianist Beth Lederman.   beth_mary_surrealMary and Beth will be joined by a drummer and bass player for an upcoming performance at the McDowell Sonoran Jazz Festival on March 14th, at 4:00 p.m. (16435 N. Scottsdale Road).

More info about Mary Petrich can be found on her web site .  

Mary and I talked about collaborating for one evening. It would be great if it was a full moon night, like this one is tonight…art, music and a full moon…can I place such an order?
Will keep you posted.