Real Human Beings

Tonight I am hosting a film event at Young Eyes Gallery. It’s actually a thank you celebration for the people who contributed to my projects in Jordan and to honor Palestine. Amira and I picked up the “Seven Women’s House Keys” canvas from Gallery 14 yesterday. The canvas will be the focal point of the event tonight.

One shop I failed to mention is the Smoke Shop just off of Paris Circle. The smoke shops are worth seeing, even for those who don’t smoke. I went by there today and took some photos.1 smoke shop2 smoke shop3 smoke shop4 smoke shopOn my walk back to my apartment I thought about how accustomed I’ve become to saying hello to familiar and unfamiliar passerby’s while walking to and from Paris Circle. The people I’ve come to know here remind me of a young man from Russia I met years ago in the Sinai Desert. He owned literally nothing and his job as a garbage collector paid three dollars a day. He invited me to his apartment for dinner. After entering his apartment he presented me with a gift of a scarf his mother made, asked me to sit down and served me a plate filled with chicken and a fork. I asked if he was going to eat and he replied, “I’m not  hungry. Please eat.” Before leaving his apartment I glanced into his kitchen. There was nothing in the kitchen except a pot with a partially cooked chicken boiling on a hotplate . I was using the one plate and fork that he owned. When I said goodbye I told him how exceptionally kind he was. He replied, “No, I am not exceptionally kind. I am a human being. This is how human beings treat other human beings. Anything less is not being a human being.”5 walk home6 walk home7 walk home8 walk homeIn two days I’ll be on a plane flying to the United States.  My experience in Jordan can be compared to a little spot on this earth brimming over with real human beings.

Beauty Queens and Jamming

There are a couple of shops in Paris Circle that are definitely worth knowing about. Oregano is a cosmetics and “nifty stuff” shop owned by Aiman All Jallad. Aiman can be contacted on Facebook.1 AimanAnjulee works in the shop. I’m not sure how to spell or pronounce her name so I call her Jenny.2 Aiman's shop, Jenny-OhjaneyHis shop has  numerous colors and brands of lipsticks and cosmetics. I have been searching for a purple lipstick on line and off line for ten years. I told Aiman about my purple lipstick dilemma and he said, “Don’t worry, I’ll get it for you.” Within in a few days I returned to his shop and purchased five tubes of purple lipstick for one JD each. Amazing!3 Aiman's shop4 Aiman's shop, Jenny5 Aiman's shop6 Aiman's shop7 Aiman's shop8 Aiman's shop9 Aiman's shop10 Suzanne and AimanThe shop a couple of doorways from Aiman’s shop is Namliyeh Jam Shop. The owners are two young women, Manal Abushmais and Aya Shaban.11 jam girls12Manal and Aya make the jam from fresh Jordanian produce, the best fruit I’ve ever tasted. Their jam and marmalade is, by far, the best I have ever eaten.1313a Amira141517Before walking back to my apartment from Paris Circle I noticed Ibriheem decorating a shiny new automobile with flowers in front of his shop.18 Ibriheem's wedding carI went over to talk to the men surrounding the car to find out why the car was being decorated.  One of the men explained that his nineteen year old cousin was getting married that evening. It’s a custom to decorate the groom’s car with floral arrangements a few hours prior to the wedding. When a man asks the father of a female for permission to marry her he is required to sign a contract. The contract stipulates that the future son-in-law must own a car, is employed, owns a house, pays a substantial dowry, and pays for the wedding expenses. 19 wedding car (2)20 wedding car (1)A low-end amount for a wedding is fifteen thousand JD’s. If he can’t provide the aforementioned then he is not given permission to marry the man’s daughter. Sounds like good planning to me!

Walking down the hill to my apartment I stopped at the little corner market, Al Nahas, owned by Saleem.21 Al-Nahas, Saleem's corner storeI’ve been here almost six months. It wasn’t until about ten days ago that I first went into the little market. I had been purposely avoiding it because I thought the prices would be higher than in the large market in Paris Circle. My false assumption about little markets selling things at higher prices was totally wrong. I could have saved lots and lots of money by shopping at Saleem’s market instead of trekking up the hill to Stop and Shop.23 Interior Saleem's shop22 Saleem and SuzanneLive and learn!

Farewell Dinner

Wa’el, the owner of Potato and Salad Restaurant in Webdeh, invited Julie De Soto and I to a farewell dinner for me the other night.1 Julie and Wael.Ya’arob Rousan, a fantastic chef, prepared and roasted “the best cut” of lamb and stuffed it with his special rice mixed with herbs and other ingedients. It was incredibly delicious. I could eat it every night for the rest of my life, but considering Ya’arob lives in Jordan and I live in Arizona I’ll be eating it in my dreams.2 Layth and Ya'arob.3 Ya'arob.4 Ya'arob.5 Layth, browning lamb roast.While I was taking photos white orbs kept appearing in the lens frame. Regardless of where I stood in the room round orbs and orbs with tails kept zooming around in the room.6 ghost auras.7 ghost auras moved.Ya’arob’s mother and some of Wa’el’s friends joined us for dinner.9 Ya'arob and his mother.8.10 eating crew.11 pre-eating.12 Layth carving.13.14 auras watching.15 dinner.16 the best part.17 fini.A huge THANK YOU to the beautiful men, who all know how to cook, for my farewell dinner! Their warmth, friendship and hospitality is enough to compensate for any unrequited “hospitality” in the past and for the rest of my life!

Night Gallery Photos of Art Exhibit, Klotz, Painter, White

My friends Taj Sabet and Holly Harris and her son Zane went to the Night Gallery in Tempe Market Place where I am currently having and exhibition with James White and Brian Painter. The title of the exhibition is “Three Friends-Four Dimensions.” I’ve known Jim and Brian for years and have always been impressed with their work. I’m honored to be sharing an exhibit with them. Jim and Brian are both Professors in Sculpture Departments, Jim at Arizona State University and Brian at Northern Arizona University. My contributions to the exhibit are some of my tapestry canvases. The large canvases are painted, embroidered and beaded. Each takes about a year to create.  I return from Jordan February 1, the day the exhibition ends. I’m so sorry I will miss seeing their newest work in person because it ‘charges’ my life.

I’m always surprised by the uniqueness of their concepts and exceptional technical abilities. Each of their works causes me to verbally react when I first see them by uttering a loud “ha” followed by a smile and my inner voice saying “You have got to be kidding me.” My reaction to their work is the greatest compliment I could give any artist. Their work visually encapsulates years of my thoughts and questions and creates answers and endings for them.  Jim is the king of formulating his ideas in neon. His sculptures in the exhibit say more about Arizona and life in the desert than any words could adequately express. Brian’s metal and bronze sculptures are uniquely Brian. To me, they are structures that ‘solidify” the fleeting impressions in dreams with the concrete reality of daily living. I know I would have walked away from the exhibit feeling uplifted and more complete.  In lieu of attending the exhibit, Taj Sabet emailed me the following photos so I could enjoy the exhibit from afar:1 Suzanne Klotz, James White, Brian Painter. To view Jim White’s sculpture go to

Images of my canvases in the exhibit can be viewed at

If anyone took a video of the exhibition please email it to me and I will post it.

The Fate of Goat Grazing

After being in a foreign land for awhile it is easy to forget that my surroundings are “unusual” when compared to my life in Arizona. This afternoon I looked out my living room window at my neighbor’s yard and noticed some lumps moving in my peripheral vision on a sparse piece of land that divides the street in front of my apartment from the main street. Both streets are prime parking areas for the building permit government office, a short distance from my apartment. Looking closely at the lumps I realized the lumps were goats and a man with a staff herding the goats.1 neighbor's yard.The last time I saw a similar scene was in Bethlehem years ago. A sheep herder was herding his sheep on a hillside outside my hotel window. I wish I’d taken a photograph. The comparison photos would represent the fate of many Palestinian goat and  sheep herders; relegated to grazing their goats and sheep in the medians of roadways in a foreign land.2 goat herder.3 grazing goats4 goats.5 edge of my apartment building.

The Shop of Wonders

This week is reserved for preparing for my departure from Jordan. My preparations include arranging a film event for the people who contributed to the creation and exhibition of the canvas “Seven Women’s House Keys.” Interspersed with preparing for the event are farewell dinners and goodbye coffee klatches.

The film event will be at Young Eyes Gallery. Khalid Homsi, the director of the gallery, is creating a recycled map of Palestine that will function as an interactive artwork at the event.1b Khalid Homsi's recycled map of Palestine in-progress 2.

One of my farewell dinners was prepared by the Al-Afghani brothers at Al-Afghani Bazaar, a shop located about three blocks from Paris circle. The shop is filled to the ceiling with inspirational  items, ranging from historic relics to contemporary knick knacks from Jordan, Palestine, Afghanistan, Egypt and other areas of the world. I could spend years inside the shop asking questions and researching the objects. The purpose of this research would ultimately be to formulate ideas for future works of art. Rather than spending the rest of my life inside the shop, or taking the shop home with me to Arizona, I’m settling for photographing items I find of interest. As is evident in the following photographs, the shop is brimming over with intriguing items:1c interior.2 interior.3 interior.4 interior.5 interior.6 interior.7 interior.8 interior.9 interior.10 interior.11 interior.If I owned the contents of this shop I would deconstruct all of the objects and integrate them into one monumental sculpture or mosaic wall relief.  The piece would conceptually and visually reflect aspects of the diverse cultures, histories, traditions, values, and religions in the Middle East. Ultimately, it would speak to the beauty of unity in diversity.  13 Al-Afghani Bazaar.14 dinner.15 rice and lamb dinner.16 rice and lamb.

Coffee girls!17  Graffiti coffee with Claire.18 Coffee with Julie.19 Nehal and Suzanne, Kepi Cafe.

Wham Bam Knock on Plastic!

I’ve traveled to many countries in this world but I’ve never met more respectful, hospitable, thoughtful and kind people in one country than I have in Jordan.  The people I’ve come to know here are dynamic forces of example of the human potential for kindness. In other words, they appear to have acquired the divine art of living, the highest art of all. My hope for humanity has been restored and I plan to take this hope home with me when I return to the States in two weeks.

While walking the other night I stopped by the Potato and Salad shop to say hello to the “men.”  After saying, “Hello men!” I was offered a seat on a bench and we began one of our many philosophical discussions. The topic for the night was, “What does the expression knock on wood mean to you?”  After hearing six different versions of the meaning, and knocking on all objects within reach, I inadvertently announced that I was no longer taking taxis other than to go to the airport. To solidify my decision we all knocked three times on the plastic table top and I left.1 men only.2 men.3 men.

The next night Zohreh invited me to a dinner party at her apartment. Getting to Zohreh’s requires taking a taxi. After undergoing an inner battle about riding in taxis, that I lost, I rescheduled what I had planned and took a taxi to Zohreh’s. We all had a wonderful evening and delicious food while discussing movies and parasites. Before departing I brought up the subject of “knocking on wood” and asked for the input of everyone there.4 Zohreh's dinner5 Zohreh's dinner6 Zohreh's dinner7 Zohreh's dinner8 Julie's strawberries at Zohreh's dinner

After hearing different versions of the meaning of ‘knock on wood” I said my goodbyes and Julie, Christina and I headed out the door to find a taxi. After hailing a cab, I sat in the passenger’s seat next to the driver and Julie and Christina sat in the back seat. On the drive back to Paris Circle I realized I didn’t have my seat belt on and visualized the time I was in Mexico when the jeep I was riding in rolled three times and landed upside down in a deep, wet gully. The driver of the jeep ended up with a broken arm and I ended up with a slight concussion, barely escaping a crushed head from the roll bar. While visualizing the mosquito infested gully, and leaning towards the center of the cab to fasten my seat belt, wham bam, a car driving 35 mph smashed into the passenger’s door. Knock on plastic, I wasn’t resting comfortably against the door. I’m looking forward to sharing my taxi experience with “the men.” A possible topic for our next philosophic conversation could be “paying attention to one’s inner voice.” How exciting! I can’t wait to hear their stories. What better topics are there to learn about the “art of living?”

By the way, the Seven Keys + More exhibit received some positive attention from the press and television. The following are links to a few of the articles:

Ask Any Bear

I emailed Sophia Isajiw, my blog manager, the other day and mentioned that my apartment is extremely cold and I am so tired that I feel like I could sleep for a year. Sophia lives in Canada. My home base is in Arizona, and has been since 1975. Sophia is accustomed to cold weather. I am not. Sophia’s response to my email was, “You need some warmth to sleep for a year! Being in the cold is not very conducive to good sleep, as any bear will tell you!” I haven’t seen any bears here to ask about the effects of the cold on sleep, but I have seen hundreds of cats.

The cats, although feral, are quite friendly and appear to be healthy. They take up residence in trash bins, apartment hallways, under tables at outdoor cafes, and any place of their choosing.1 trash bin with cat.3 cat on couch.3 cats in street.

Fulbrighter Julie DeSoto and I went to Graffiti Cafe to escape our cold apartments the other night to talk about all the things we have left to do on our bucket lists. Mustafa, our waiter, made Julie the most uniquely creative and cat-friendly cappuccino I’ve ever seen.4 Julie at Graffiti Cafe.5 Rabbit.6 Julie and Mustafa.

When Julie added sugar the rabbit actually pursed it’s little lips and swallowed it!7 Rabbit eating sugar.

Between Webdeh and downtown Amman there are some beautiful meditative places. Within the walled confine of Darat Al Funon there are steps that lead downward to numerous terraces that eventually bring one closer to downtown. Yesterday, while visiting the terraces at Darat Al Funon, I happened upon Fulbrighter Jordan Denari who was also enjoying some quiet time viewing the ancient ruins.8 Jordan at Darat Al Funon terrace.9 Darat Al Funon terrace.10 Darat Al Funon terrace.11 Darat Al Funon terrace.12 Darat Al Funon terrace.13 Darat Al Funon mosaic path.14 Darat Al Funon terrace.15 Darat Al Funon terrace wall.16 Jordan, Darat Al Funon terrace.

7 Keys + More Grand Success

The opening of the exhibit “7 Keys + More” at Gallery 14 was a grand success. To sum it up, thanks to the efforts, creativity and friendship of many exceptional people the exhibition and opening could not have been better! 1 Embroideres and artists.A heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed and supported the exhibition!2 Amira, Suzanne, Sharif Hind Nasser, gallery director.3 canvas and keys.4 group.5 group.6 Khaled Homsi, Suliman, Suzanne, Garrett.7 Alain, Eda, Kathy.8 Dima, Suzanne, Deyala, Dalal.9 Hind's Interactive piece.10 Nahid and Hind's interactive piece.11 group.12 Suliman, Iraheem, Suzanne, Amira.13 Artists and embroiderers.14 Suliman, Hanan, Bssma Elias, Tahseen.15 Suzanne and canvas.16 artists and embroiderers.17 Majedah, embroidered dress.18 Majedah.19 Hanan, Suzanne, Majedah.