Tag Archives: African American

Black Madonna – Donated to Bulkeley High in Hartford Connecticut, but HATED by them, apparently…

BLACK MADONNA, In Her Hands. Donated, 2014, to Bulkeley High School in Hartford, Connecticut (but never a word of thanks or even acknowledgment)


Although I added a coat of protective varnish to this at the last minute, I don’t think this  ruined it or justified Bulkeley high school in Hartford, Connecticut  hating the piece so much that they would have refused to acknowledge receiving it…But indeed,  that school, located on Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford, CT took this beautiful piece, but decided I did not deserve either a word of thanks or even notification of  receipt that the piece arrived.

I cannot tell you how much this hurt me, but what do they care? I imagine the probably hated it, but why take it if they were only going to store it in the basement? I would’ve gladly kept it and NOT given it to those ungrateful wretches…I LOVE the piece and even with the shiny varnish I loved her…And I hate to think that the so and so’s at Bulkley high school just threw her in a hole so no one would ever see this lovely Black Madonna, and they never even told me they did not want her!

How dare they? I mean, if someone offers you, an organization, a piece of art and You do NOT want it, please do not take it, for it is an insult beyond insults not to display it. Furthermore, to not even thank the artist who likely spent many hours  on the piece, is really an abhorrent act. But what do you expect from administrators of a high school? Apparently no more than boorishness just like this…

Screw them…But it makes me want not to donate art anywhere ever again if their response is typical.

Varnished version, in a bad photo…but you can see she is much more realistic, even though the photo is bad…(taken by a teacher at the school while the piece was in transit, or in storage)


Jason DeRulo: New portrait

Jason DeRulo, painted with fantastic CARAN D’ACHE Lumiere pencils, among the most expensive yet worth every penny. smooth and incredibly buttery color that just swipes on…Yet  hard enough to keep a point and not crumble under pressure.

Just make sure you sharpen each pencil by hand as you don’t want to waste a smidgen of these valuable tools!

Jason Derulo
Jason DeRulo = my art photo isn’t the best but it gives you an goodish idea of the portrait..(colorized from B&W and reversed so the left is right etc.)

I have loaded a DeRulo music vide (lyrics) to go with my portrait, but who knows how long it will remain playable. ANy opinions on portrait welcome. I had to imagine the colors from a B&W photo, then imagine Derulo again, having reversed the orientation horizontally so his left becomes his right  etc.

(Now it might not look like him at all, taken from the mirror reversal of the photo.) Enjoy song for as long as I can keep it here. (since embed buttons exist, I have to assume it is okay to “borrow” these vids.

Would love your opinion.



PS am very very sleepy so not entirely sure I am uploading anything that makes sense. If not, forgive me. I will do better after a nap!

RIP ERIC GARNER: Man Killed By NYPD for breaking up a fight…


This video is pretty sickening and difficult to watch. However it is brief and necessary, if you care about what the police are doing tp everyday citizens in this country… (Need I mention that Eric happens to be African American, which I believe was significant in his treatment, just as a mental illness would have been or other supposedly extraneous factors…


"Obama Bright" a portrait  of Barack Obama in acrylics and graphite with Swarovski crystals that apparently didn't please our leader...Or he doesn't have the common courtesy to thank me for it.
“Obama Bright” a portrait of Barack Obama in acrylics and graphite with Swarovski crystals that apparently didn’t please our leader…Or he doesn’t have the common courtesy to thank me for it.


I am serious. I sent this portrait of Barack Obama to the White House in January 2014, and only just received a small form card, saying nothing personal, only that the “gift was received” from the American people, thank you very much…and Obama and Michelle’s signatures scrawled on the bottom, as if that means anything to me. He clearly didn’t send it to me personally to thank me for any portrait. WTF. I spent HOURS drawing that very closely detailed portrait, first in  graphite, then I had to copy it, before I hand painted the background and certain details over the copy. I am really really upset. EVERYONE i know here loved that portrait and encouraged me to send it to Obama, but I was worried that he wouldn’t like it or perhaps it would be destroyed by the Secret Service because of looking for anthrax or something stupid like that under the swarovski crystal that are glued on the background. Like i said, WTF. I am never sending anyone important any of my artwork again. The wealthy and important clearly don’t get the rules of common courtesy, do they?

New Portraits of African Americans by Pamwagg


Alice Walker - from PBS interview
  Alice Walker – from PBS interview


Eddy Joe LLoyd -- Innocent
Eddy Joe LLoyd — Innocent


Vincent Moto - Innocent, but still trying to expunge his record
Vincent Moto – Innocent, but still trying to expunge his record


Bob Moses - Interviewed by Julian Bond
Bob Moses – Interviewed by Julian Bond

Trying to Hold it Together: Doing Art To Save My Life

What the voices tell me to do, set myself on fire...In art therapy I was supposed to just play with the paint, do a blob and a line to get started. I got carried away with the child's paints and this is what resulted...
What the voices tell me to do, set myself on fire…In art therapy I was supposed to just play with the paint, do a blob and a line to get started. I got carried away with the child’s paints and this is what resulted…


I also finished a good drawing of a house in Tuscany, Italy and a painting of a child I started a long time ago, which I will post here. (The house drawing is at the framers, where it is being matted because it is too large for a precut mat. I am sorry that I have posted the painting with little faked watermarks on it, but I do not like the fact that people can simply print out my pictures otherwise and not have to pay me for the prints or the paintings…)

Acrylic portrait of African American Child in red watch cap and lavender sweatshirt...
Acrylic portrait of African American Child in red watch cap and lavender sweatshirt…

As for the rest, I am coping, that is all I can say. I try to “fake it till I will be able to make it” — meaning that I do not tell people how difficult it is, most of the time, because that only makes it harder. If I can try to ignore as much as possible what is going on that is all for the best. And when I cannot, I stay by myself and try to deal with it. Or i see someone, my therapist or a person I have hired to stay with me. Or I simply tough it out as best I can. Things could be worse. After all, I am not in the hospital and I have to keep telling myself that! 8)


In the meantime, I don’t have a lot to say. Doing art takes all my time and energy, and the rest is spent simply dealing with things and coping. Forgive me. I will be back. I just wanted to post this to allay anyone’s fear that I was back in the bin.

Today’s Art Journal Pages:West Farms Mall: You are Here…PLUS

Near the Apple Store, sketching all day at West Farms Mall, West Hartford CT.
Near the Apple Store, sketching all day at West Farms Mall, West Hartford CT.


Sketch after Mary Frances Berry Phd. Ballpoint and Colored pencil (from television image)
Sketch after Mary Frances Berry Phd. Ballpoint and Colored pencil (from television image) 
Otheriwse Known as Pammy but trying to be known as Miss Wagner, so the boundaries remain professional, even if they never stay firm and strong.
Otheriwse Known as Pammy but trying to be known as Miss Wagner, so the boundaries remain professional, even if they never stay firm and strong.


Despite the MALFUNCTION picture above, there was nothing at all wrong with my ipad…I simply didnt understand the three finger tap function. But once i did, all was  well. And the geniuses at the Genius bar were blessed again. I left to do the drawing of the West Farms Mall, rather than waste the 25 minute drive it had taken me to get over there.


That said, I need to add that I did one thing this weekend that Martha, my youngest sister picked up on immediately and knew at once was the wrong call, so to speak. She is an emotional genius of the highest order, and I dunno how, but somehow wrote me a text message that gave me permission to solve the problem…


To make the story clear, let me explain that it has LONG been part of my ethic that if I treasure something, especially a THING, I make a practice indeed a habit of giving it away. This is in part so I do not get attached to things, and so that I am not ” allowed to have any particular beloved items” that I need too much or covet too much. A form and practice of self-denial that runs very deep and started when I was remarkably young. I won’t go longer into this practice now except to add that as I wrote in my art journal on one page, one summer a few years ago, I took my very first vacation that was not a “hospital vacation” but was instead a planned stay at a Arts and craft camp called Snow Farm up in Florence, Massachusetts, where I signed up for a metal jewelry course. I already knew how to do the basics, but what this course promised was to teach sawing and riveting and soldering of metals, something I could not do at home.

Martha, who is five years younger than I, lives very close to Snow Farm, and without her support I never would have survived my weeklong stay. Partly because it turned out that I was much too paranoid to eat in the dining room, so she supplied me with enough food to make do with “canned” that is to say mostly fresh and decent food in my single room in the sleeping quarters. Late at night I would creep down to the emptied dining room and make myself a large PB sandwich to supplement these as well, from the supplies that were left out at all hours. But except for the one time the APRN who was then the manager of Snow Farm actually came and got me for supper and the other time that Martha also went with me to eat, I made do alone…

An equal hardship, one I am less able to explain, is that during the entire weeklong course, no one in the class of mostly women, more or less my age, spoke to me. They were a chatty bunch and talked a lot among themselves, but not a person said a thing to me, except I  think one woman, towards the end of the week, offered the use of her tools or something, which became the occasion of a final breakthrough. But for the most part it was a lonely awful time.If it hadn’t been for the teacher herself, Abigail, who spent time with me (she knew my background from my application). I’d have withered from sheer isolation, both self- and other-imposed.

The final hardship was that I was very thin at the time, and using a metal saw required that one hold it against the chest wall while tightening any replacement saw bands and at other times as well. For some reason, I kept breaking my saws, which were delicate enough that if you twisted it while sawing a copper sheet, it could snap in a second. But holding the saw in a vise against my chest wall was simply impossible: It caused me exquisite physical pain, and I could not withstand the pain long enough to replace a single blade. So I had to give up learning to saw, and thus never learned to rivet either. Anything that involved the saw was simply beyond me. Either nobody observed the problem, or all decided that it was not worth coming to my aid. In any event, I was left with no alternative but to do the only thing I was able to finally do: to solder silver rings.


Yes, when it turned out that I could with ease hammer silver half-round sterling into a ring shape and  solder it together into a permanent ring, and no one placed a limit on how many I made (since we paid for silver materials as we went along) I simply made silver rings for the rest of the week. Then the one woman who was semi-friendly with me gave me a few sterling silver pre-made bezel cups that would hold a 3 mm cabochon, were I to obtain them. And the teacher showed me how to solder the bezel cup onto a couple of my rings finally as well, (I could never learn to make my own bezel cups because that involved sawing…)

I left Snow Farm with about ten rings, two of which had soldered-on bezel cups. Some were big enough for men, the others were varying women’s sizes, but all were 100% sterling silver. None were anything mind you but amateurish, but that mattered little to me or anyone I gave one to. No one knew the difference, and if I did, it ceased to matter. I ordered little cabochons of grade A lapis lazuli, the lovely blue stone that is so famous, and managed to secure two of them into the two rings with bezel cups on them in a fairly decent if untutored manner (no adhesive used, that much I was proud of).


But of course, one of these lapis lazuli rings was in due course given away to a friend who was on and off not a friend. and who verbally abused me in such fashion that it was from her that I learned the awful language and names that I called the nurses and aides at Natchaug and Yale. (I hate the fact that I even have the c__nt word in my working vocabulary. I never did before this friend who is no friend of mine used it on me…But once heard as an name-calling term of verbal abuse, it became “valid,” it became part of my language…much as I wish it had never. And now I confess that when enraged at the people at the hospital, but ONLY then, I call them c––nts and variants on the terms rather freely, because I know what a terribly word it is and what effect it will have on them. (Chip my brother roared with laughter when I told him I called the single nurse restrained me for walking away from the quiet room at the IOL a “snarky little c––nt” and praised me for being able to laugh too. but in truth  I wish I did not even have the word in my working vocabulary at all. I would prefer a lack of insults to use on people to being able to hurt anyone with this word…)


Now this “friend” is out of my life and I have the single ring left,..my single remaining treasure from that troublesome perfect vacation.


But what happened at the end of that vacation? Well, the last night, we were told to make something for the camp auction and so I brought earring making equipment and starting making a slew of those, and that, plus the fact that I’d brought over  a copy of DIVIDED MINDS, finally just to introduce myself (I think the woman who had given me the bezel cups had asked me a question and elicited the fact that I had written two books…wanted to see them). Well, this was what finally broke the ice. And it did it in a major way. People were really interested, and curious. And they now asked me questions and seemed less scared to talk with me, as if the book’s subject matter somehow explained “everything.” I dunno…Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. But the last day there , with the auction and the final dinner went fine. and I would say that I “love Snow Farm” despite everything.


Which is why I treasure that one remaining lapis  lazuli ring. It means that I actually made something from a situation that could have been unmitigated disaster. I made lemonade from lemons, and I survived a vacation all on my own. SO when I managed to practically beg Martha, my compassionate genius of a younger sister to take this ring from my finger…she was dubious to begin with. For one thing, she has her own two important rings. One is her own gift to herself for surviving Breast Cancer…and it is her most important ring. But I practically made her take my ring from me. I think I have done this to her before…And she didn’t want to take it then either….She KNOWS things, this wonderful sister of mine, and either it is in part that she has these other rings of her own, or that she has inklings about my propensity to give my treasures away to others (I love)  she is not and has not been a willing taker of my ring  on either occasion.


What a good egg, This night I received an email from her saying she wanted to “trade it back to me” or at least have each of us wear it so she wasn’t taking it from me…But she knew, she knew. I dunno how, but something told her that it was not just ANY ring I made. God knows I have made her things,  and she had accepted them. So she isn’t just refusing to take anything I made. no. I made the papier mache hummingbird JUST FOR MARTHA after all. And in point of fact she knew that I didnt want to part with Christobelle or the Using Klimt collages, but felt okay about taking them as long as she paid me the full price that I was asking…. (Actually I feel like shit, not just giving the collages to her! But that is another story.)


But the ring, oh the ring is so different. HOW DID SHE KNOW that the ring was different? It is not that my offer was false. I wanted her to have my treasure. I did. I loved giving it to her. It is just that I also know that I missed the ring, and wanted also to have it too. And in that sense alone I regretted my impulsivity. And the need to impoverish myself and deprive myself just because i had to. WHY? WHy am I not allowed to keep my ring, symbol of so much? Would it kill me to keep it? Would it be such a terrible mortal sin to allow me to keep my ONE treasure? It isn’t that precious, after all. The solder seam is visible on the bottom  not under the bezel and it is a pretty shoddy piece of handmade jewelry. Not worth a nickle to anyone, in reality. Even the lapis cost me all of a dollar or two. So why does it cost me so much emotionally to keep it??????


Martha gets it, though. She really did and does. She KNOWS. She knows the real value of the ring is not the monetary value, but what it means to me. And that is why she is uncomfortable keeping it. The ring aint worth shit, not qua ring. It is only worth something as memory and as symbol and then only to me…and to Martha by extension and because of her depth of understanding.

Martha, if you read this, i hope I understood you correctly.  You certainly got me on the dime. Thank you from the depths of even my impoverished dried up little heart for understanding. You deserve a ring far better than any crappy lapis ring I could ever make…You are a sister beyond dreams. Thank you…I really love you more than I can say.



New Art (2)

Small acrylic portrait of an African-american man in glasses and a winter scarf, 3" by 5"
Small acrylic portrait of an African-american man in glasses and a winter scarf, 3″ by 5″


Small acrylic portrait of a white man in front of streetlamp at night. 3" by 5"
Small acrylic portrait of a white man in front of streetlamp at night. 3″ by 5″

Am working on continuation of the blog post from a couple of days ago. Sorry to take so long, but things are very stressful at the moment. The east coast heat wave broke yesterday at least, but I survived it largely without air condtioning, and that wasn’t easy. Thank heavens the downstairs community room has A/C so when I could stand other people staring at me or giving me the evil eye, I could go there to cool off.


I tried sleeping in the parlor downstairs as well one night, but someone found me (ah, an easy target!) and kept me up till 2:30am talking at me, until I finally went back to the 12th floor where I live, under the heat-absorbing black roof, to try to sleep in my 94°F-98°F (not including heat index) stifling apartment. Yes, I have 2 fans, but they only blow the heat around at such temperatures. In any event, sleep that night was not very successful. Even after the end of the heat wave, i have been waking every single morning with a pounding headache, dunno why and I cannot figure out the trigger…


Oh pore Pammy, woe is she! (Shut up, Pam, with your litany of woes! Others have it so much worse!!!!!) Sorry folks. I did get carried away a bit there and I am not generally a complainer about such circumstances…The sky is clear and cooler today and this bodes well. Every day is a new day and I am 60 and well and I thank gosh for each day that is granted me.


Anyhow, a new air conditioner is arriving today, along with a week of cooler weather! PBTG. But the truth is, the stone facts are, even when the temps are in the 80s, we bake, up here on the 12th floor with all the heat rising from the other floors. I asked the building manager when they were redoing the roof why they could not coat it with a white coating, but I think he just laughed at me. To do something so “different” seemed to him unthinkable. I dunno why, it would save everyone energy costs, one, and two, it is a very effective and efficient way to reflect sun rays and avoid heating the building in the summer.


Not to be listened to or heard is something I am very familiar with. It is why I want to write about the Dr Mary B. O’Malley’s deliberate misdiagnosis of BPD in 2003 and the damage it  has done and continues to do to me for more than a decade. In fact it can be traced directly to the torture I experienced at the Institute of Living last winter.


I will be writing more on that in the days to come. But due to PTSD issues, this causes extreme stress. Even as I write this my fingers are trembling and I can feel my heart race. So I need to do it in small doses and carefully. Thanks for understanding.

Monet or Moi?

Monet or me? Well, okay, I am no Monet and this time I didn’t copy him… I painted this, with oil pastels, my second imagined seascape. mostly from memory. © Pamela Spiro Wagner All Rights Reserved

Better version of the above photo of my art piece is below this post (I managed to capture the entire picture finally and didn’t cut off most of the sky…)

I have just given a speech that I want either to record for putting up here, once I upgrade to Pro, or if it gets published as an Op-ed somewhere I will point you to it. But for now, let it only be a hint of things to come…

Otherwise, exhausted, I don’t have a great deal to say today except to point people to an article that I found in Science Daily, an article that I found both obvious in the extreme, and yet which I believe most people desperately need to read. If it isn’t time now to stop incarcerating people of color, for NO reason other than the color of their skin, then I dunno what time will be right for it.

Systematic Incarceration of African American Males Is a Wrong, Costly Path

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2012) — Mental health experts from Meharry Medical College School of Medicine have released the first comprehensive report on the correlation between the incarceration of African American males and substance abuse and other health problems in the United States. Published in Frontiers in Psychology on the 12th of November, the report looks at decades of data concerning the African American population rates of incarceration and subsequent health issues. The authors conclude that the moral and economic costs of current racial disparities in the judicial system are fundamentally avoidable, especially if more resources are spent on education and treatment.

“Instead of getting health care and education from civil society, African American males are being funneled into the prison system. Much of this costly practice could be avoided in the long-term by transferring funds away from prisons and into education,” says Dr. William D Richie, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College, lead author of the paper.

Money would be better spent on treatment than on incarceration

The study highlights the fact that with regard to African American males in the prison system, individual States are paying more to lock up non-violent offenders than they are for education, since 60% of incarcerations are due to non-violent, illicit drug-related crimes. The authors also point to a previous study from 2,000 showing that the total cost of substance abuse–be it incarceration, crime or treatment–is over $500 billion per year for the US.

These and other statistics have led the authors–scientific experts often called upon to testify in court–to conclude in the paper that: “Spending money on prevention and intervention of substance abuse treatment programs will yield better results than spending on correctional facilities.”

Need more teachers of color

Even though crime rates have dropped across the country over the past two decades, incarceration rates have continued to skyrocket–with black people accounting for a largely disproportionate 38% of inmates. More alarmingly, incarceration rates for African American males jumped 500% between 1986 and 2004. And while substance abuse increases the chances of individuals’ ending up in prison, those without any previous history of substance abuse have a higher risk of substance abuse once they leave the prison system, and could more easily fall back into the judicial system instead of getting a solid job or education.

According to Richie, much of this disparity is due to a fundamental problem of perception on both sides. For example, negative reinforcement of disruptive behavior is prevalent already in preschool–young children of color are often treated more harshly for behavior similar to their white peers.

“One step in the right direction, would be to have more black teachers during the early stages of development” says Dr. Richie. “From a behavioral scientific perspective, having teachers that look like the students and the parents of students from an early age could go a long way in changing perceptions of authority for black youth.”

Getting more African American teachers means increasing the number of African Americans in the higher education system and getting them out of the incarceration system. In the end, the authors conclude, effective treatment of substance use disorders and alternatives to prison would cost the United States much less and improve the lives of African American males, their families, and the entire country.


The Original Science Daily article can be accessed here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112090734.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Mind+%26+Brain+News%29

And PDF of the original paper (fairly short) can be found at this site:



Newest Artwork — Palimpsest: Sister Lillian

Those of you who are familiar with my “older”works (meaning the ones I did in 2009 when I first started painting) might recognize the earlier piece, more recently uploaded, called Woman with Earring, or Sister Soulidad. Well, this painting is a palimpsest of that one, a palimpsest being simply a painting over another painting. You can see hints of the old one underneath this one, indeed, as the earrings are the same, as is the necklace and even the lips. Even though the rest of the face is much changed, nevertheless there are definitely echoes of Sister Soulidad in her.

New Artwork on Display Soon

This piece and many others will be on exhibit at the Wethersfield, Connecticut public library from May 1- June 30, 2012. Another new small sculpture below will be in the display case, along with The African Queen of Paranoia, which may be seen if you do a search for it on this blog site or go to my photobucket artwork site, and small jewelry or pill boxes I made with reproductions of my artwork on the tops.

I made this bird because I wanted simply to make a hummingbird. But after I did so, it reminded me of the poem “Of Mere Being” by Wallace Stevens.

Of Mere Being

by Wallace Stevens

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Speaking of Wallace Stevens, here is a poem I wrote that one of  Stevens’ lines inspired. It will be in my next book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS (saison d’enfers means “season of hell”)


by Pamela Spiro Wagner

“For the listener, who listens in the snow…”
Wallace Stevens

In those days I was always cold
as I had been a long time, mindful of winter
even at the solstice of my high summer days

always, always the crumb and crust of loss
and near-loss of everything held dear
before the saison d’enfers and the ice to come

But there was the wind
There was still the wind making music,
and I, at one with the quirky stir of air

bowing the suppliant trees
bowing the branches of those trees for the sound
of songs held long in their wood

Changes change us: rings of birth, death, another season
and we hold on for nothing and no reason
but to sing.

Two new artworks

Female Torso, posing in tight dress

I took an image off the internet and substantially changed it (enough so that I made it my own, according to those in the know). I wanted to see how to draw folds in fabric, especially how it draped around the human body. It also interested me to continue to study the hand, and I enjoyed drawing these. Josephine told me they were too big. One person said they made the woman look like a man, even a drag queen, but my response to that was, well, it only adds a nice bit of ambiguity, which is fine by me! In fact I prefer that to the clarity of the following piece, much as I know that my brother will love it, and that is is “better” than the drawing that preceded it in this blog (see the entry below).

Claire, older sis and Adriane, the younger, best of friends

Both of these drawing are done entirely in colored pencils. I used a colorless blender sometimes, but mostly used either white or a lighter color on top of the other colors in order to “smooth” out certain surfaces, and on others, like the black fleecy top that Adriane wears, I used only the technique of drawing tiny circles in black on top of indigo blue, to imitate the texture of nubbly fleece.

BTW, I still see some flaws, which I aim to fix before sending it on to my brother, but I won’t masochistically point them out this time…Why flagellate myself if no one else will necessarily be stunned into unconsciousness by them?

I want to write about Joe, but it has been very upsetting, so I am trying to draw a dream I had about him a couple of nights ago…If I am successful, I will post it here. Or I will write about it in time.