art, writing, aikido and the universe


April 2014

Exteriors and Interiors: Part 2

IMG_2329Imrana Sayed and Wick O’Brien have made their beautiful house by building and decorating in and onto an existing house in Staten Island.   They bought their house many years ago but over time have changed it.  Wick is a skilled builder.  He redid the kitchen, tore off the roof, built stairs, and made the attic into a master bedroom with attached bath.  Imrana is skilled at sewing. She regularly sews clothes or makes toys (like stuffed bears) for children.  She sewed slip covers for couches and chairs as well as creating all the curtains. I think the couch they are sitting in is about to get a remake!  Imrana also did a lot of the less skilled work that required patience and persistence, like stripping layers of paint from the original wood and refinishing it. Then, she decorated the house with found objects and friends’ artwork.  I have experienced their hospitality in the house more times than I can count and it’s always like coming home.


Dining room. Painting by Mike Hamilton.  For more beautiful paintings go to his website  Disclosure: He’s the father of my children, too.  Makes beautiful kids and paintings!



Below is the dining room wall opposite Mike’s painting.  The cross in the corner was actually a wooden mould for metal pipes.


A corner of the living room.  My painting of a lamplit street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was done at night in winter, under a street light and wearing many layers of clothing.



I saw this whimsical, carved and painted fence when I was bicycling around the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.  Although this is on the outside of the house, I consider gardens and fences to be part of the house so I included it in this part of the conversation.


Betsy Bennett is an actor, comedian, writerIMG_2485 and also my sister-in-law.  She decorated her apartment in an idiosyncratic way, with family heirlooms plus objects and artwork she found at thrift stores and flea markets.  I found it delightful to stay at her home when I went to visit.  In every nook there was a surprise!



For a taste of Betsy’s most recent comedy, “Assisted Living: The Musical” go to


Although I love traveling,  I am always happy to come home.




Exteriors and Interiors: Part 1

In the past months, I’ve been contemplating creativity in many forms and randomly taking photographs along the way.  A chance to review all those photos gave me the realization that I photographed outdoor murals, architecture, and the wild beauty of Falls Road in Baltimore, plus the interiors of two homes I admired.  Hence, this blog entry and the next will be about the deliberate impact of artists, architects and builders on both exterior and interior space.

This entry will feature some of Baltimore’s murals and roads in public spaces.  The next will be about domestic design and projects.  Perhaps it will inspire you toward some creative project of your own – they are certainly making me think of new ideas.

These sights are on the way to Baltimore Aikido, around or along Falls Road.





The mural below has a bicycle shop below it.



I am always intrigued by bridges and the way they interact with the surrounding area.  This is a favorite tunnel created by a bridge over the Falls River and Road.



In a city, overlapping roads and railways are inevitable and the controlled chaos they create is beautiful and made more so by nature sneaking through the concrete.




My favorite mural is by Freddy Sam.  It is so big I took two photos to show the whole thing.  Freddy Sam’s website,, is well worth checking out. He is an experienced muralist from South Africa and has created murals in many parts of the world.




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