May 30, 2009

Post-Yoga Snapshots

On my walk home from yoga at the Alameda Yoga Station I encountered some interesting sites including arriving at home to an army of toys.

Critical Mass

Dining last night in SOMA (South of Market) with Naomi we had the pleasure of witnessing Critical Mass cyclists from our restaurant window. Ike the Bike was locked up outside just hoping and waiting for me to jump on and join the group.

More Headlands Surprises

Back at the Headlands Center for the Arts yesterday and look who also came to visit - a flock of wild turkeys.

May 29, 2009

What Men Want

Naomi and I went to see a dance performance this evening of Scott Wells and Dancers as part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival. The title of this sold out show was What Men Want and our grand conclusion was "each other."

The pieces ranged from delicately choreographed to agressive homoerotic wrestling. Very San Francisco in terms of pushing the gender boundaries. There is something so wonderful about the male form in dance. Often I find modern dance difficult to watch with the tendancy to use a jagged dance vocabulary. With this work I was enthralled by the fluidity of movement.

Living Out Loud

Today, whilst attending a client meeting, I had a what the *beep* moment when I truly realized that bloggers are "living out loud". The story goes as so...

Last week, following my visit to the SFMOMA Rooftop Sculpture Garden with Megan, I posted about the excursion. What I didn't mention in that post is that I am on a Task Force with the Garden's architect Mark Jensen. This morning we had a Task Force meeting and I was approaching Mark to say that I had seen the beautiful garden and at the same moment he said, "so, you visited the Rooftop Sculpture Garden at SFMOMA?" Huh? Did I already mention my visit? How did he know? Then it hit me, the blog.

Turns out Mark uses Google Alerts to track posts about the garden and my post showed up. Of course, now this post will too. How's that for living out loud?

May 28, 2009

International Ocarina

My neighbor and fellow consultant Theron just introduced me to the coolest iPhone application I've ever experienced. Its called the Ocarina, which is like a flute and the application is created by Smule. This application turns your iPhone into an Ocarina with the touchscreen acting as the wind instrument and your breathing into the microphone is the wind. It instantly produces beautiful music.

Here's the best part - you can link into people playing their iPhone Ocarinas all over the world. They can hear your music and you hear theirs. Now to get in tune!

May 26, 2009

Sharing Breakfast

Couldn't resist sharing my breakfast.

Morning Cuddles

7:45am at my favorite Julie's Cafe in Alameda and I get a warm, cozy welcome from the cafe cat.

May 21, 2009

Kat Kismet

Last Friday, prior to setting off on our road trip Rene and I had dinner in Glenview, an Oakland neighborhood in which I use to live. He had no idea when making the restaurant reservation that I had once rented a little cottage just two doors away.

We snuck a peak at the cottage which was now being used as an arts center. As we exited the property and closed the gate I suddenly heard a familiar little jingle. Re-opening the gate I saw the source of the sound and my heart did a flip flop. This set of bells were ones I had put there when I lived in the little cottage eight years earlier.

The bells remind me of Tika the cat.

More Images of LA

Looking back at my photos from our LA road trip I've found more images to share.

Headlands Center for the Arts

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the day working at
Headlands Center for the Arts in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. The day was spent mostly in their kitchen as I interviewed various staff members including the Chef, Baker and Caterer. Here are some of the images.

May 20, 2009

Life is Good

Reflecting on my daily activities I've realized that my life is very
good. To be able to make a career in the arts is a dream. I consult
with dynamic individuals who inspire me daily and believe that my
approach to strategic planning allows them to reach their goals by

My provides me access to arts and cultural events every day of the
week. Plus, I can take mini-excursions any day of the week and
consider them work-related research without bending the truth.

Beyond the arts management consulting I am also able to keep connected
with my extended consulting team in the UK. Leah and I are starting a
new consulting job with Martin who is working with the UN.

Nurturing my inner-artist is also on the radar screen. One of my felt
pieces has been accepted into a show called The Many Faces of Frida
which opens July in Oakland. Now to get more photography into the

May 19, 2009

SFMOMA Rooftop Garden

This new rooftop garden at SFMOMA is superb. Here's Megan getting silly. So nice to be able to take mid-day break from work and hang out at the museum.

Child with Poodles

Megan and I are at SFMOMA and here Is one of the strangest pieces they have on exhibition.

Back in Sync with my "Stuff"

In the next couple of weeks my "stuff" is being transported from the Houston storage facility to one in San Francisco. This is a big commitment to staying settled in the Bay Area. For the past nine months I've questioned my next steps - should I stay or should I go? I am going to stay. This is such a great feeling!

So, three giant storage containers are being reduced to one. The items I'm keeping are all my kitchen stuff, books, CDs, art, photography equipment, and some favorite pieces of furniture. These items are going into immediate storage here in the Bay Area since I don't have room for them in my current housing. But just knowing that my favorite cookbook is a quick City Car Share ride away eases my mind.

All this stuff has been in storage since June 2006 when I relocated to Connecticut, then London, followed by DC and then back here to San Francisco (Alameda Island to be specific). Whenever I thought about this stuff my reaction was, "throw it over a cliff." But now I am excited to have it back. Perhaps I am reclaiming my history and am ready to get back in sync. As my friend Lucy says, life is a series of chapters in your œuvre and the items/experiences you carry along are the stanzas.

May 18, 2009

iPhone Challenges

Posting photos from my iPhone is proving challenging. As you can see I get that horrible ShoZu logo and it takes forever for them to be sent. That's why you're seeing my Bike to Work Day image three days late. Working out the technological glitches.

A Place to Create

Dream building to restore in the LA arts district.

Ike to Work Day

May 17, 2009

Men and Machines

Rene has asked me to add:

Oliver band saw
Yates-American, Tannewitz

Kismet in Kalifornia

My friend Rene introduced me to a new word today "kismet". It is the the confluence of coincidence and future fortune. This has been the theme of our road trip to LA LA land to prospect, purchase and transport antique woodworking machines back to Oakland.

The story of each of these machines is intertwined with the history of the men (and women?) who inherited them and are now in need of liquidity. As we meet these "sellers" we hear their stories which reflect the bittersweet legacies attached to the machines now moving out the door.

Yesterday we journeyed to Van Nuys, CA to meet a guy selling a band saw. At first he really just was a "guy" who was late for our meeting and who, when he finally did arrive, had forgotten his keys. After climbing over the security gate to let us in, the guy guided us to the saw which was berried amongst other sleeping iron giants.

As Rene explored the saw's inner workings the seller began a spontaneous monologue about his grandfather and father who had started the family business he was now regretfully closing. He whispered under his breath "this shop use to be filled with men."

Suddenly the seller had become Andrew and for the remainder of our journey we have been discussing his mixed messages of wanting to sell yet setting up every possible barrier to completing the transaction. As we parted ways, leaving the saw behind, Andrew's reluctance to close the doors was reflected in his lifeless stance. It was obvious to us that he was hearing the buzz of men and machines now gone.

Again, sharing his inner dialogue, Andrew told us that he was the only one remaining to close the doors and wasn't certain the he himself would continue his craft.

May 16, 2009

Road Tripping

Me and my friend Rene are heading down to LA and back, by car, to pick up some Woodworking tools he bought on Craigslist. I love roadtrips. I'll provide updates and hopefully figure out to send photos.

Reach your goals by Leading-Together

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May 14, 2009

Under the Apple Tree

I had the most wonderful massage this afternoon. It was the first time I ever had a professional massage at home. I suggested that we setup the table in the backyard. Ah, the joys of living in California. There I was for two hours under our apple tree listening to birds and relaxing as Dan worked all the tension out of my back and Jaw. Heavenly.

Test from iPhone

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May 13, 2009

Daniel Goleman ECOlogical Intelligence

Leah and I took a road trip to Marin tonight to hear Daniel Goleman speak. Amazingly it was a free event. Unfortunately the topic was not tapping into his best expertise. Yes, it is important to be smart about what we consume and how it is produced. But, Goleman didn't tie the topic to his inspirational work around emotional and social intelligence expertise. The cynic in me thought that maybe he was McDonald-izing his "Intelligence" brand.

Bike to Work Day

Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day and I am a member of the Fruitvale BART BRATz team. We are competing with other Bay Area teams to accumulate points, based on how many miles we bike, throughout the month of May.

For the big day tomorrow I will be riding to BART, taking Ike the bike into the City, riding to meetings, take Ike back on BART and then ride to a board meeting in Alameda.

Establishing an Arts Management Consulting Community of Practice

For the past several months I have been considering the possibility of creating a formalized connection amongst independent arts management consultants. Following Michael Kaiser's discussion at the Commonwealth Club I am now inspired to make this happen.

Recently an IT consultant friend of mine told me about a "Community of Practice" she established with several fellow consultants. Members are able to tap into these benefits:

* Develop new capabilities and knowledge across the sector
* Advance and standardize best practices
* Collaborate on consulting engagements
* Create a pipeline of clients
* Establish a "brand value" and qualification for members
* Influence public policy and funding priorities within the sector
* Publish best practice articles and guides

I believe that establishing a community of practice amongst independent arts management consultants, beginning with those serving the Bay Area, is a powerful opportunity to pursue the above-mentioned benefits. Each of us has our own subject matter expertise and collectively we touch nearly every arts and culture organization in the Bay Area. In coming together as a community of practice we can establish an influential voice in the field – locally, nationally and internationally.

To begin I suggest a meeting to discuss this opportunity. Please let me know by June 1st if you are interested in getting involved. The next step will be creating a face-to-face meeting at which we can explore this concept and begin moving forward. Also, please pass this email along to other consultants who you believe should be involved.

The Arts Need You!

That's what Michael Kaiser wrote in my copy of his book The Art of the Turnaround when I went to see him speak at The Commonwealth Club of California on Monday night. He is totally inspirational and changed my view of arts administration as a career path. Previously, for some reason, I felt uncommitted to arts management consulting - a burnout I had been feeling for about four years. Being back in San Francisco I have found a fantastic niche in strategic planning for arts organizations and that has recharged my batteries. Reading Kaiser's book totally sparked my passion and then hearing him speak has fueled the flame. The ultimate affirmation was briefly chatting with him after the event. Here's how it went:

Amy: Hi, I'm Amy Kweskin, an arts management consultant.
Michael: Nice to meet you.
Amy: I wanted to tell you that you have totally re-inspired my passion for arts administration.
Michael: Fantastic!
Amy: I was burnt out and after reading your book I realized that this is a valid career path.
Michael: That's exactly what I want to hear!
Amy: Will you sign my book?
Michael: Yes!

Here's what he wrote: "Amy, the arts need you!" Michael Kaiser

Feeling the love.

Crackberry Rest in Pieces

Poor Mr. Crackberry. May he rest in peace. Here he is post-lobotomy. The saddest part is that I can't turn it off so it is going to die a slow, painful death. I was able to pull off my calendar and contacts, thankfully. This is the first blogged photo taken with my icrack. Need to work on the focus and also sending directly from the phone. Mark this as a new era in my information technology life.

May 12, 2009

Another Technology Meltdown

What a challenging tech day. The rollerball mouse on my crackberry got stuck and so I searched on the web for cleaning options. I found a website that explains how to get the rollerball out and clean it. Mind you, I am not a gentle technology user. As soon as I had the little mechanism removed all the pieces exploded. Plus, there was no little fuzzball clogging up the rollerball like they showed on the website. Like taking apart a car engine, I tried to put it back together but there were extra miniscule parts and the little cover wouldn't fit back on.

Well, time for a new crackberry. However, I have to pay full price because I still have many months left on my current one. Suddenly I had a brainstorm - why not get an iphone (aka icrack) instead? It would synch with my Mac computer and be so super hip and cool.

I packed up all the little bits and pieces from my poor crackberry, that now has a hole in its head like it had a lobotomy, and treked into the City to get an iphone. The guy at the store was nice enough, of course since he was selling me a hugely expensive vanity phone product, but he didn't seem to get the phone setup correctly - or even at all. I had to run to facilitate a client board meeting so I figured I would get back to the icrack later in the evening.

Here I am, later in the evening and I can't get my Mac to talk to the iphone. Are they in disagreement? One jelous of the other? Plus, I can't scroll through my crackberry to get phone numbers and check my calendar because the bloody rollerball is out. To top it off I can't find hte little bag that I put the roller ball into to save all its itsy bitsy parts.

So sorry Mr. Crackberry that I poked your eye and was disloyal in quickly replacing you with an icrack that is spiteful. Ah, another technology meltdown.

May 11, 2009

May 10, 2009

Sunny Mother's Day

At the beach in Alameda. Just two blocks from my house but I never go.

May 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Ben!

Ben's Birthday Cake. I have lived with this cake for the past 24 hours.

Lake Merritt

Celebrating cousin Ben's birthday on his roof deck overlooking Lake Merritt in Oakland.

Flowery Toes

Spring in my step.

May 8, 2009

Beat it Like Ginsberg

How's this for interesting juxtaposition? Check out Beckham's shirt. The optimist in me says he knows something about Allen Ginsberg.

Curly Hair Day

Thoughts on Two Month 40 Birthday Anniversary

Approaching 40 was scary. Hitting 40 was daunting. Two months into 40 and loving it. Suddenly 39 seems so naive and 40 feels like I've arrived.

Not sure what changed. It may be that so many of my peeps are also 40 and some are many moons past the milestone. We're a wonderful vintage, living life to the fullest, clear about our intentions and moving towards our goals.

Breathing easier and deeper.

May 5, 2009

Against the Odds

Miracles do happen. Somehow I managed to receive an A- grade for Statistics. Certainly it was against all probability that this would be the case. Perhaps it is the variable factor of "pain equals gain". Or, maybe my team rocked!

Next, Economics. Waiting until July to register for another course. That's when I am a California resident and am eligible for State pricing instead.

Rainbeau Ridge Farm Cooking Class

Mom and I are taking a cooking class Rainbeau Ridge Farm in Bedford Hills, NY. Our instructor is Carol Wasserman.

May 4, 2009

Family Circle

Last night at the JCC Gala we were all dancing the hora and it was a spectacular occurrence. The dance began as mostly women, perhaps because four women were being honored. These women spontaneously grabbed a chair and began to lift each of the honorees as we danced around them (Grammie was safely on the sidelines). Women lifting women was new for this group. I was so proud of my mom for getting up there on the chair.

The chair was eventually returned to its place as the hora continued and my dad, brother and dad's friend Len joined the group of 30 or so women. Then the honorees moved into the center and danced with their families swinging each other around in two's. My brother really gained momentum with me and we were practically flying.

Our family dancing spontaneously became a circle inside the circle. My mom, dad, sister, brother and I danced as fast as we could holding hands in a circle. It was so amazing to be looking at their smiling faces as we screamed with laughter. Suddenly we were just five of us again. The circle was so small without Rachel, Mandeep and Sam. But it felt really amazing like we were back in time at one of our Bar/Bat Mitzvas whooping up a storm. It was transcendental.

May 3, 2009

Me and Marlene

Here are me and my sister soldier Marlene. I hope you can see the shot taken by Marlene's husband Mandeep.

Mom and Grammie Honored

Check out these two matriarches being honored by the Jewish Community Center!

Sam's First Gala

Again, yummmmm.

Cleans Up Well

Grammie says I look London. Heading out to Grammie and Mom's gala honoring event.

One Year Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of my return to the States. What a fast, long year it has been. So much has changed in one year, all for the better.

I am the person I've always wanted to be, even recognizing the bumps and bruises of figuring it all out. So many friendships and deep connections with my peeps across the planet.

All kinds of sparks have been rekindled including my passion for arts management which was squelched for several years. Now I am celebrating my expertise instead of running from it.

Meditation has been the key factor in my happiness. In moments of confusion I am able to find that strong foundation of calm. This has been tested by the various opportunities I have had to stand on the 35th floor of buildings in the UK and US, without fear and with strength, over the past 12 months. These triumphs have really a metaphor for my successful journey.

I believe that I can catch any curveball life has to pitch. In fact, I'm the coach and player of my own game.

May 2, 2009


There is something so wonderful in seeing your closest relatives and recognizing yourself in their looks, voices and behaviors. Being here in Stamford this weekend with my folks, grandmothers, sibs, uncle and nephew I am finding much reassurance in being around folks like me.

I feel a bit sorry that my sister-in-law Rachel keeps hearing us say how much baby Sam looks like a Kweskin or a Plotkin. However, as the first grandchild we are all finding our direct links to him.

This evening we had the opportunity to look at videos of our first cousins. And realized how much they look and act like us - even at 18 years younger.

I like these connections. Living out in CA I keep feeling adrift - far from my kin. Luckily I have a few close cousins who keep me connected via California. But there is something so unique and special about being around your sibs and first cousins that I miss.

Hopefully one day I will have a family of my own but for now I am all loved-up with my nephew who is so much like us. This must be what it is like to have a growing tribe.

Aunt Esta and Sam

Aunt Esta made the blanket. Are we all loved up or what? Gush, gush.

Marlene and Matthew

When was the last time we were all in Stamford together?


Amy and Sam


The Chattering Class: Getting to Know You...or is it Just Me?

Living life out loud with email, crackberries, Facebook and blogs allows for instantaneous communications. Suddenly the introverted can be extraverted and the extraverted become even more "out".

Through all this talking, which some may consider chatter and others perceive as monologues, (is that not what this blog really is?) a new expectation for communications has been set. You put the word out...and you expect something back, immediately. Ping. Pong.

But then there are those who receive and do not return. Perhaps that's the majority of folks. Those who observe, absorb, consume and navigate the chatter. Is this a dysfunctional yet symbiotic relationship between the extras and intros?

As you can imagine, my circle of close peeps likes to ping and pong all day long. We can carry on a conversation, or email thread, for weeks. A single word back and forth keeps us in-the-know.

Chatting, in real-time and in-person with Leah during our Sacramento road trip, we realized that we are similar when it comes to getting to know someone. When we meet a person that catches our fancy we want to "know all". Romantic, platonic, professional...we are intrigued and invested in building resonance towards shared understanding. We're communicators and connectors. I'm really noticing this in the Bay Area. So many interesting people and so easy to stay linked-in, met-up, face-booked, blogged, emailed, text-ed and twittered.

So when you send out a communication and the ping goes un-ponged, you hit a black hole of communications. Confusion. Is this how our lives use to be? Face-to-face, letters, phone conversations? That was so 2006.

Electronic "Hellooooo....." Silence.

Is this a zen silence? A living in the moment? Sometimes I believe that the crackberry and icrack (my new term for iphone) are living in the moment. But is electronic communications really being "present" or the complete opposite? Are we passively-actively hiding behind these devices when we could be connecting in real-time? How often are we in a room filled with people who aren't talking or interacting with each other but are actively chatting on their devices? Where is the receiver? They could be sitting at the desk next to you or far off in the UK.

We've created a universe in which we are chatting in real time across the planet. It is a new "class" of people. You are hearing it here first, the "Chattering Class."

Are we replacing the cool touch of plastic instead of the warm touch of flesh? The linearity of letters making words instead of the spark of eye contact and reading lips? The sounds of clicking keys instead of hearing someone else breathing?

May 1, 2009

Shabbat Dinner

Ah yes, the family shabbat dinner table all setup. Tonight I'm the only non-regular attendee joining my parents, grandmothers and great aunt.

RBS Stamford

A wee bit of Scotland in my hometown. Actually, a huge building. Adds some royalty to Stamford's skyline.