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Irene Torres

Irene Torres

Sunday, 01 May 2016 07:08

Wednesday Walks with Walter

Not many people have a forest named for them. Most who do died long before receiving such a tribute. The Walter R. Briggs Old Growth Forest near Arlington, Washington, is an exception, for Briggs is very much alive. There is “no greater honor” than having a forest bear his name, he said.

Sunday, 01 May 2016 07:06

Sandplay Therapy for Trauma and More

Nearing completion of her master's degree in 2011, Claudia Patchen had been looking for an internship opportunity. An acquaintance, Daniel Thompson, from Olalla, suggested Jumping Mouse Children’s Center in Port Townsend. There she met Dott Kelly, who would become her mentor in Sandplay Therapy. Patchen made a commitment to commute two and a half hours every week from her home near Carney Lake to work with children ages 3 through 10. “That was the best experience of my life,” she said.

Saturday, 02 April 2016 01:20

Doug MacLeod Live: Exactly Like This

It was the third concert for songwriter Doug MacLeod at the Blend Wine Shop in Key Center, where he played and sang to a sold-out house Mar. 12. Blend’s proprietor, Don Swensen, said, "I could have sold twice as many tickets if I had room."

MacLeod began his career as a bass player in St. Louis in 1962. He said he had been abused as a child and developed a stutter, but when he sang there was no trace of a speech impediment. He said he’d "rather be in that world without a stutter."

There is no more "Makin’ Bacon" at the corner of 134th Avenue and the Key Peninsula Highway, where Marnie Kirk has reopened her vintage and handmade home decor store, "Marnie Farmers."

Kirk was finally realizing her childhood dream to have her own shop at its original location across from Charboneau at Brookside on SR-302, when another tenant leased that site and she had to move. She spent two years looking for a building.

As a young girl, Michaelina Tenney observed and learned as her mother, Mary Ellen Pinches taught art classes. But her real motivation to become a painter came after a serious motor vehicle accident.

She listened to African music during her recovery. "The colors are so uplifting, the bright yellows, greens and reds. I painted myself to happiness," she said.

Tenney uses a palette knife in acrylic to create her African-themed art, the southwest Native American Kokopelli figure, wine art and abstract nudes. Her studio is in the basement of her Lake Minterwood home, a picturesque location. I experiment a lot and I think I get better as I go," she said. "There is a community of fellow artists and I am learning more about technique and style."

Tenney called on Raphael Murrell, a Key Peninsula artist, to help her learn how to paint African facial features. "It is nice to get together with other artists and promote art to the community as a whole," she said. "Art is to promote an emotion. It saddens me that art is being taken out of schools. It is a positive way for the kids to express themselves, which promotes learning in other areas."

One of Tenney’s paintings took third place at a juried art show in the Proctor District of Tacoma and was sold that day. "I realized that the canvasses started to overwhelm my house and I started to look for venues to display and sell my work," she said. "If you don’t peddle, you don’t paint."

Tenney started an art group for other artists who didn’t want to promote their own artwork and found a location in Kitsap County, but she was called back to a job in contract negotiations. She now works as an adjunct professor in communications, which allows her time to paint and to travel. She has sold four paintings in the past year, part of more than 100 that she’s “peddled." "I keep prices really low so anyone can enjoy the art. I don’t want this painting in my house. I want it in yours,” she said.

Tenney will exhibit some of her work at Blend Wine Shop in Key Center  on March 5, with a wine tasting and artist reception on the evening of Friday, March 11.

Thursday, 04 February 2016 13:06

Words and Music hosts online fundraiser

Hosting house concert programs to nearly 5,000 guests since 2006, Jerry and Pam Libstaff have spent close to $100,000 to bring national and international talent to the Key Peninsula. As they move into the 2016 concert season, they have decided to host an online fundraiser to continue their support of the literary arts.

Watermark Writers is a nonprofit with a mission to provide a platform for writers, songwriters and artists.

We offer a weekly writers' workshop, monthly author readings at two local venues where local writers can meet well known authors and share their own work with the public, Libstaff said.

A major focus of the organization is to host as many as a dozen concerts a year presenting writers, singers and artists. Among the performers were Cheryl Wheeler, John Gorka, Antje Duvekot, David Wilcox, Tom Kimmel and Ari Hest. The concerts include food and beverages, and the performers receive a fee.

Unlike many organizations who request percentages of sales and part of the take, Watermark receives no income from our programs. We support the arts. Our cost for these events approaches $10,000 per year, Libstaff said. This coming year, we will again present the best experiences we can offer for our community and help provide income for our artists.We would like your help this time around.

Singer/songwriter Larry Murante said, Jerry and Pam Libstaff run one of the best house concert series in the country. The performer faces an audience who have not only an unobstructed, upclose and personal view of the talent in front of them, but an astounding view of the Salish Sea and the Olympic Mountains over the artists shoulder.

Blend shop keeper Don Swensen said the Watermark Writers Words and Wine series offers a unique platform for local writers to share their work.

The venue provides a sociable atmosphere where these writers and, occasionally, members of the audience,feel comfortable sharing their work, enjoying the company of others and sometimes even creating new works of on the spot improvisation, he said. Jerrys excellent work as emcee helps to bring all these factors together, making each Words and Wine event an unforgettable evening, celebrating and highlighting the great pool of local talent here on the Key Peninsula.

Newly published author Linda Whaley said the writers group that meets Wednesdays has emboldened her to write her first novel, Those Before Never Leave.

[The group] introduced me to some of the most creative writers and poets I have ever met, she said.

The Muse at Morso, a program Libstaff created in collaboration with Morso Wine Bar owner Steve Lynn, has become a favorite Gig Harbor venue for authors. For more than two years, Morso opens up its gallery every second Thursday of the month to host well-known authors and poets from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

These acclaimed, published writers come to read and share their work then stay to listen as locals read at an open mic, Lynn said. Jerry has been great to partner with, as his depth of knowledge and commitment are unsurpassed. He has been that driving literary influence for the Muse.

Storyteller Carolyn Wiley said The Muse at Morsois one of the highlights of her month.

It is a time to enjoy the writing of some of the most talented poets/authors in the state, and share my own work, with a live audience, she said.

The online fundraiser has levels of giving and includes incentives that range from signed books by local authors to vinyl albums from the 50s to the 70s.

Of course, if you'd like, you can simply donate to our cause. Any amount will be appreciated and your donations may be tax deductible, Libstaff said. “We so look forward to continuing our programs and we thank you in advance for helping us do so. 


To donate, go to For more about the upcoming concerts, go to

WayPoint Church is offering LIFT 2015, a weeklong summer camp between June 22 and 27 for youth ages 12 to18. 

Every June for the last 23 years, teens have been coming to an amazing week at Sound View Camp. This year, we have named this event LIFT. This name was inspired by an old hymn, Love Lifted Me. It epitomizes what this week of camp has been all about, said youth pastor Rory Adams.

Sound View Camp is at the far south end of the Key Peninsula and is owned and operated by the Olympia Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Sound View Camp hosts its own weekly programs beginning in July, but the last full week of June it rents out the camp to WayPoint Church.

Pastor Tim Cedarland of Community Bible Fellowship (a church that used to meet at Minter Elementary School and then Key Peninsula Middle School before moving in to a facility in Gig Harbor) ran the weeklong camp for 21 years, but in 2013, passed the leadership over to Adams and WayPoint Church.

Adams said teens come from the Key Peninsula, Burley, Port Orchard, Gig Harbor, Olalla and even as far as Everett and Vancouver.

We are able to keep the cost much lower than most weeklong summer camps because all the staff are volunteers. We charge $175 per camper while many camps run $275 to $350. We have a lot of fun (obstacle course, team sports and group challenges) and we spend a lot of time studying the Bible and worshiping God, Adams said.

Campers need to register before June 10. Details can be found at


For information, call Adams at (253) 579-5533. 

 What more info?

Summer Youth Camp

June 22-27

$175 includes a camp sweatshirt

Drop-off at camp –– Monday, June 22, 5 p.m.

Pickup from camp –– Saturday, June 27, 1 p.m.

Sound View Camp is located at 8515 Key Peninsula Highway South.

For directions visit

Ollala resident Dianne Gardners screenplay of Cassandras Castle came in as a semifinalist out of 2,400 entries in a film festival. She describes this as a fantasy story, based on the historical events of the Portuguese revolution, with a cautionary theme.

At this point, she is working on a concept trailer featuring actors from the Key Peninsula, Port Angeles, Port Orchard, Port Townsend, Seattle, Tacoma, Federal Way, Monroe and Olympia. 

An actress from New York called to ask for a tryout after a casting call was made on Facebook and through the grapevine,Gardner said.  Her project summary was presented at FilmCom in Nashville, but she had no footage, so didnt get too far,she said. She hopes it can be a miniseries, a pilot for a television series or a full-feature film.

At press time, the trailer was being filmed on Key Peninsula property owned by Stuart Campion as an fundraiser campaign and project. A seven-minute trailer can run about $2,000 in costs. When complete, the film can be presented to potential producers and distributors. An independent film could cost $800,000 to make, whereas a feature film could cost $10 million or more.

Directing the trailer and mentoring the cast is local KP actor William Michael Paul. He also has an acting part in the film, playing Silvio, the wizard. He sees his role on the project as a way of giving back to the actors, through his own experience, to help them improve. He describes this as his act of kindness to this community and asks for community support to make the project happen.

Alaina Brooke-Simcoe is the costume designer. She lives on the Key Peninsula. The combat choreographer for staging the sword fight is Tom Martin from Port Orchard, with Kitsap Fencing Center. 

Gardner, an author, has attended workshops, read books about writing and filmmaking, and has participated in internet forums. She is a member of the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators. She says, Magic has to have rules. It needs grounding or it goes beyond believability. If it turns that corner, it loses credibility.

She has been involved with stage productions with her church, a coffee house and at the fairgrounds. She said she would rather work behind the scenes and describes her talent as finding people with talent and putting them together.

She told the Key Peninsula News that she is a visionary, seeing things before they materialize, I am not going to quit until it is reality,he said

Details of the project can be found at For information, call 851-0339

Lake Holiday artist Raphael Murrell describes himself as the Black Dale Chihuly.

Like the glass sculptor of local fame, Murrell wears an eye patch because he has no vision in his right eye.

He holds two fine arts degrees from the University of Washington. He says he got a formal education to remove barriers. It energized me enough to make moves in painting, Murrell said.

He wanted to travel to see what art means to people around the world.

His connection as a flight attendant through Alaska Airlines made that possible, he said. 

After the terrorist attack on 9-11, he decided to retire from the airline business. The rigors of work drain you of your creativity, he said.

A U.S. Army veteran and now the owner of The Creative Principal Art Studio, Murrell specializes in fine arts paintings, prints and drawings. There are a few sculptures from his hands as well. 

A conversation with Murrell feels like a visit to the mountain. He talks about the need for positive images, how art is spiritual. He advises those who listen to center yourself and follow your conscience. 

People need to understand the painting process. Success comes with people liking your work, he said. One of his art students, Michaelina Tenney, said, Raphael is an old soul.

He said he is inspired by his love of music and ballet, color, and how they are deeply ingrained in the process of artistry. He likes creating social connections and socially mixing natural energies.

Some of his work is wall-sized, on a grand scale, though he says he is starting to paint more home-sized art.

Living on the Key Peninsula has helped him develop his own consciousness of nature in the country.

A New York Times article on Jan. 1, 2010 featured Murrell as an African American artist of this generation. 

Now 68 years old, he still credits his UW professor Dr. Jacob Lawrence, for instilling an interest in funding for nonprofits like the Murals Project and the Directory of Black Artists, which he continues to support. 

It elevates people when they work together, he said.  He spent time in Bali and two weeks in Paris and said he was amazed at the art culture. He decided that it is not necessary that you suffer (for your art), but it is not a bad thing.

He often travels for extended visits to Nicaragua and is excited to see how those visits will affect his color –– referring to the vibrant hues so abundant in Nicaraguan life and art.

He gives advice to aspiring artists, too. If you want to paint, do it.  Express yourself, your inner feelings. Your mood will be affected by the light in a certain way, he said.

He compares working with oils and acrylics this way: Oils are more archival, they last longer. And you can control your strokes enough to emulate feelings. With acrylics, you have to know what you are going to paint before you start.

Murrells art ranges from $3,500 for a 6-by-6 foot, 4-inch oil on canvas piece, Lady In Red, to a $25 butterfly print, ink on 8 ½ by 11 inch paper.

He recycles wood to make his own frames and canvas stretchers. He said he wants to become more involved in the local art community, as its artists strive to elevate and promote each other.


For information, call (253) 858-5095 or

Treads and Finding Thea: Stories of inspiration, determination and liberation

The Gig Harbor BoatShop will present two short films by hometown filmmakers that tell the stories of two women, one local and one half a world away, who take unconventional paths to self-sufficiency. Area filmmakers Nancy Bourne Haley (Finding Thea), Cathy Stevulak and Leonard Hill (Threads) will be at the fundraising event for questions and answers.

Finding Thea tells the story of Tacomas Thea Foss. Starting with a single rowboat, this 19th century Norwegian immigrant became the inspiration for the fictional heroine Tugboat Annie and creator of one of the Pacific's largest tugboat companies. Through her life and work, Foss became a pioneer archetype for women in the first half of the 20th century. Hers is a classic American immigrant success story born in the Pacific Northwest.

Threads was winner of Best Short Documentary award at the 2014 Gig Harbor Film Festival. It is about a visionary Bangladeshi Muslim woman who overcomes social and economic hardships and liberates herself and others by creating timeless works of fiber art, which are now in Queen Elizabeths collection and museums on four continents. Surayia Rahman takes the future of Bangladesh's women into her own hands, and changes lives for generations. 

Stevulak and Hill have owned a house on Herron Island for more than 20 years. Hill told the Key Peninsula News, We started working on Threads in 2009 while living full-time on the island, and many of the ideas that appear in the finished film come from friends there and on the Key Peninsula. Some of our first focus groups were held in the Brones Room of the library in Key Center. Readers of the Key Peninsula News were some of the earliest financial contributors to Threads.

The film website,, has detailed information on the film including images of the art of Surayia Rahman that took several years to find around the world.

We are extremely grateful for all of the help and encouragement we've received. People can still make tax-deductible contributions through the International Documentary Association to help bring Threads to other communities, Hill said.

Screening of the films will be on Tuesday, May 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Gig Harbor BoatShop, 3805 Harborview Drive. Tickets are $20 or $15 for BoatShop Members. Open seating is limited so plan to book early. Hot and cold refreshments will be served.


For information, call (253) 857-9344 or visit

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