Artist of the Month

Arts Council Menifee Honors Literary Artist Shirley Wible
by Shawnees Peacock, MSJC student intern journalist

Shirley Wible with Pamela Wagstaff

Pamela Wagstaff (L) and Shirley Wible (R)

Artist of the Month Shirley Wible has done what many people find difficult: finding a career that combines all of her dreams and passions.

Wible wears many hats here in the community. She currently works at the Sun City Library as the Adult Programmer and is a member of the Riverside Community Art Association.  She is an Arts Council Menifee Board Trustee and Chair of its Literary Arts Division.  (The Arts Council Menifee Literary Division meets the first Wednesday of each month at the Sun City Library from 5:00 to 6:00 PM.  The public is welcome to come.)

Shirley Wible is also both an accomplished visual and literary artist herself.  She recently had a show of her photography and poetry on display at the U.S. Bank. The piece was titled “Reflections at the Coot Pond” and was about her eerie yet thought-provoking experience with a coot.

“There were two poems I wrote that were on display with the photos.  The idea was that I was spending all my time reflecting on the past when a lone coot came up to me and began scolding. It brought me out of my reverie of the past,” said Wible. “He actually barked, warning me of my foolishness and advised me that I should look at what I had in front of me instead of concentrating on the past.”

Wible has also presented a two-man photo show at the Riverside Community Art Association in the early 2000s titled “Alice in Shadowland” and a solo show in the mid 2000s that included acrylic paintings, ceramics and collage work that were based on a paper doll theme.

The idea of reality and fantasy combining into one heady mixture is a theme present in many of Wible’s visual art shows. Her artwork stands out from the crowd since it is rooted in the concept of creating an installation piece as a framework for individual related subject pieces.

She thinks of every detail. Whether it’s the color of the cloth on the table that some of the work is being displayed upon or what other pieces should be displayed along with the central piece of artwork – details are of importance to her since the whole display is a single piece of art in itself.

Wible displays her artistic inclination toward blending reality and fantasy as a literary artist as well.  She views books as a medium that is rediscovering the identity of what a book is and its primary function to the consumer.

“The book is not only communicative, but also a piece of art,” said Wible.

“I’m very interested in what the reaches of a book are,” said Wible. “I’m really into art books. Not books about art, but the art of the book. The art of making a book is my real love. It’s not just a binder with pages in it – it can be so much more.”

As the Adult Programmer at the library, she spearheads all of the events there that are specific to the interests of adults in the community. She works to attract people who are in search of a fun, creative, and social environment.

“This community offers a golden opportunity for service to adults,” said Wible.

Wible is able to use her educational background in the visual arts and literature by creating programs that reflect her variety of interests. She received a B.A. in Studio Arts with a minor in English Literature from Humboldt University.

“Prior to the development of the Arts Council there wasn’t much available for art lovers to do out in the community. There were only nearby art guilds and the local community college activities.  So I decided to use the library to bring some of the creative art opportunities to the community,” said Wible.

Sun City Library offers programs such as poetry workshops, artist trading cards, live music concerts, knit & crochet meetings, Readers Theater, Photo Fun, author readings and signings, and always a monthly artist showcase. A new program starting this month by request is Adult Storytelling.

“What I accidentally found was that I started providing a place for people to come to enjoy diverse arts and to communicate with people with the same interests,” said Wible. “It’s thrilling for me.”

Wible’s programs are offered throughout each month at the Sun City Library, some continuing programs and others are stand-alone special events.

“My main thing is inspiring [people]. I don’t know where it comes from, or why it is, but I get goose bumps when I have a poet read aloud a new poem, and they have a great line in it or if a photographer takes an interesting shot,” said Wible. “I like the idea of being able to see an artist birth something new into the world that didn’t exist before.”


Arts Council Menifee Honors
Edie Schmoll – Artist of the Month
By Shawnees Peacock, MSJC student intern and journalist


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    Painting by Edie Schmoll
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    Edie Schmoll at the Piano
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    Edie Schmoll at the Piano

Describing local pianist, music educator, writer and painter Edie Schmoll as a dedicated and hardworking woman is an understatement.

Schmoll began taking piano lessons at 13 in her hometown of Boston and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about playing classical music. She continued to refine her piano skills for many years, including most recently classes here in Menifee.

“Music is my forte,” said Schmoll. “I’ve been playing the piano and organ off and on for many years.”

At 16, she performed in her first recital in front of a crowd of 200.  That is also the age at which she began one of her many careers: as a music educator.  She has had over 200 private students and still teaches piano, organ and accordion.  “I like teaching music, it’s fun” says Schmoll. “My students are like my family.”

Schmoll shares her musical talents throughout the community by working as a performer and composer. She entertains several times a year at many local hospitals, convalescent centers and retirement centers. Last month, she performed piano selections during Arts Council Menifee’s Gallery Reception.

She has also performed at several churches in the area.  At Trinity Lutheran Church in Hemet, she debuted her original hymn titled “Now the Lord Said (My Will Be Done) as part of a church service in 2009.

In an effort to be a well-rounded artist, Schmoll is now a visual and literary artist as well.

Her beginning with oil and pastel painting occurred four years ago following the loss of her husband.  Her paintings emit the same level of passion that she has for her other artistic endeavors, the only difference being in the senses involved.  Schmoll’s lively, colorful and impressionistic style of artwork is the main reason why she was nominated in 2011 for the prestigious National Artwork Award by the group American Mensa for a piece titled “Glow”.

Schmoll has also been writing for 10 years and has published articles in several online magazines.  After taking one semester of creative writing at a community college, she won a National Poetry Award from American Mensa in 2008 for her poem titled “And Now” and became a contributing writer and resident poet for Inland Empire Mensa.

She is also the author of four books: “A Crime Against One Person: HMO Nightmare” (2010), “Serenade: Word Songs” (2011), “Rain and Rainbows: Short Story Collection” (2011), and “Holly, The Christmas Tree Fairy” (2012). She is currently composing a new book containing a collection of “Music Songs” for piano and vocal, which will be published sometime this year.

Schmoll says her success at juggling all of her professional and artistic commitments is due to her dedication to continue learning and growing.

“Anyone who has retired should do volunteer work to help themselves and others,” she says. “Everyone should keep learning and trying new things.”

For more information on Edie Schmoll, other Arts Council Menifee Artists of the Month and various Arts Council Menifee activities, please visit

Local Playwright Payden Ackerman Receives Honor
By Shawnees Peacock,
MSJC Student Intern Journalist for Arts Council Menifee

Payden Ackerman and Linda Denver

Payden Ackerman, 26, is a well-trained playwright who decided to return back to his hometown of Menifee to help further enrich the growing presence of the theater arts.  That was after receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts from Cal State Fullerton and Master of Arts in Theater Studies from Central Washington University.

As a student at Paloma Valley High School, Ackerman had a strong interest in musical theater. The teacher that inspired him to take theater seriously was the well-respected long time Drama Teacher at Heritage High School, Greg Newman.

“He is the main reason I am doing this today,” said Ackerman.

After taking his first playwright class in college, Ackerman’s career path in theater as a playwright came into focus.

“Playwriting is creating a world on stage. As the playwright, you’re almost an architect. You are creating a blueprint for this world that everyone else is filling in,” said Ackerman. “That is the most exciting part for me, seeing what everyone else wants to bring to that blueprint.”

Upon returning to this area, Ackerman landed an Associate Faculty teaching position at Mt. San Jacinto College and in recent months has aligned himself with Arts Council Menifee’s Theater Division to help curate a program called “Pen to Production”. The first presentation from this program will debut in the fall of 2014.

“Pen to Production” is a creative literary and theatrical process envisioned by Linda Denver ¸the Chair of Arts Council Menifee’s Theater Arts Division.  Along with her husband John, who is a Menifee City Councilman, she hopes to create a play that would educate the community on Menifee’s history through the lens of theater.

“The goal is to compose interesting material that we could use for a full theatrical production about the history of Menifee,” said Ackerman. “The play will be a way of examining our past through theatrical techniques.”

The format of the play will use 10-minute vignettes, each composed by individual students of the playwriting courses.

“These related vignettes which examine Menifee’s history may be humorous, dramatic, or even abstract,” said Ackerman. “It’s going to mirror the entertainment that people see in YouTube videos, such that each video is sort of self-contained and may also be related.”

“It evolved from the idea of teaching the community their history, and doing it through a playwright class,” said Mrs. Denver. “The sessions provide the students with the skills to develop characters, plot, story structure and so forth.”

Ackerman was able to act as a guide rather than a traditional teacher for these students who signed up for these low-cost playwright classes. Another playwriting session will be offered in the spring of 2014.

“One very important thing for me is telling the story that you want to tell,” said Ackerman. “For a lot of these (Menifee) writers, it was the first play they had written and we really saw some exceptional work from people who have never done this before. It was a really inspiring for me, as teacher, to witness.”

Ackerman gave the students the freedom to explore their own ideas and connections to Menifee to share with the public through an artistic medium.

“With theater arts, not only does it draw together all of the arts, such as music, dance, visual, and the performing arts, but it’s also drawing the community together with all of those pieces put into one organization, one city, and one production,” said Mrs. Denver.

“[Theater] is a one-of-a-kind experience that brings everyone together in one moment. I think the strength of what theater does is to bring a group of people into a shared experience, and that’s valuable. It’s something that we need since we lack those shared experiences,” said Ackerman.

“Coming back to Menifee was a blessing for me. I wanted there to be more theater opportunities when I was living here, and now I find myself in a position to be able to contribute to that, which is very satisfying,” said Ackerman.

For more information on this playwriting program or the Theater Arts Division, please visit, or contact Linda Denver via email at:

Writer Bob White receives honor from Arts Council Menifee
By Shawnees Peacock
MSJC Student Intern Journalist

Bob White

Arts Council Menifee’s Literary Division has considerably grown over the last few years and continues to support a diversified body of prominent writers within the community. Arts Council Menifee has chosen to highlight the literary arts by selecting self-published mystery genre writer Bob White as December’s Artist of the Month.

White, a So-Cal native, has authored a total of 4 books since he began seriously constructing novels roughly ten years ago. He plans to release his new, more sinisterly toned book entitled To Catch a Monster in 2014, and is currently busying himself by writing yet another novel titled Demons from the Past.

He is also currently actively involved in the literary critique Live People from Mt. San Jacinto College and an online critique group called The Internet Writing Group.

Although White was always an avid reader growing up, he fell in love with literature and the art of writing during high school. He was a writer for the school newspaper as a sophomore and began writing short stories around this time.

“I sold my first short story at age 19 and got 5 bucks for it,” White says with a laugh.

He continued to write short stories and sell them through his college years, but eventually made the transition to writing full-length novels that would allow him the length and freedom to explore the characters and plots that he would visualize.

“Writing short stories is not as satisfying as writing novels since you have to economize your words and ideas,” he said. “I wanted to tell the bigger story.”

Writing novels has provided White with the opportunity to weave all of his life experiences, observations, knowledge and countless hours of research into an intriguing story that assumes a life of its own.

White centers his style of writing and plots around the subgenre of detective fiction known as police procedural. This genre has become highly popularized in literature, television and movies due to its ability to illustrate the activities of a police force as they investigate crimes.

Arts Council Menifee selects Judy Irwin as
November Artist of the Month
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)
Judy Irwin

 Judy Irwin joined Arts Council Menifee a little over two years ago and has had the opportunity to discover her niche in the art world.  “Joining the Arts Council opened up opportunities for me to show my artwork that had never been available to me before,” said Irwin.

Upon retiring almost 17 years ago, Irwin and her husband traveled across the United States for many years before settling in Menifee.

“I got into the art world through a strange set of circumstances,” said Irwin.  After going out shopping with a friend one afternoon, Irwin wanted to buy a watermelon paper plate holder in the store; however, she was told that she had to paint it herself instead.

“’Never having painted a thing in my life, I replied, ‘No, not me, I don’t paint’, to which they said, ‘We’ll teach you’” said Irwin.  “That was my start in the art world.”

Irwin has now been painting for 18 years.

“[I] can say that art opened a new door in my life,” said Irwin. “I see things differently now, the beauty in nature and the vast array of colors in objects.”

Irwin’s pieces are a testament to her ability to use a wide variety of materials and techniques in her artwork.

“I would say my style is realistic and I use vibrant colors in my work,” said Irwin.

Irwin did Tole painting during her first few years of painting.  That is a type of decorative painting technique that uses media like tin, wood, and other miscellaneous objects.  But after taking a few painting workshops, Irwin fell in love with using watercolors and has been using that medium ever since. “I did oil for a while but was fascinated by the watercolors.  I signed up for watercolor classes with Kathy Pickett, who became my mentor and still is today,” said Irwin.

In addition to painting regular sized watercolor pieces, she is currently involved in creating miniature paintings, which she sells online.

Irwin continues to push herself creatively. She showcases her work publicly in the community to share her love for painting with other people. She hopes that others will take a leap of faith and discover painting like she did.

“Anyone can learn to paint, some better than others, but everyone can learn and enjoy the relaxation and the accomplishment of their own artwork,” says Irwin. “I would say to anyone wanting to paint, go for it!”

Judy Irwin’s artwork is currently on display at Arts Council Menifee’s art gallery which is open to the public at the Key Ceniceros Center in Menifee.

“We are proud to have Judy’s brilliant creations on display along with many other pieces by local artists at our gallery. We hope the community will stop by and see how talented Menifee’s artists are,” said Bill Zimmerman, President of the group.


 Steve and Kat Sanders
Arts Council Menifee’s October Artists of the Month
By MSJC Student Intern Shawnees Peacock

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    Kat Sanders
    Kat Sanders
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    Kat & Steve Sanders
    Kat & Steve Sanders

Steve and Kat Sanders, the well-known Menifee musical duo and owners of Unstoppable Entertainment, have devoted their time to each other and their music after experiencing a major health scare.

In 2010, Kat experienced a profound experience at the age of 49.  “I died from a massive brain hemorrhage on the way to the hospital,” says Mrs. Sanders. “The brain trauma was unexpected and scary.”  Fortunately the hospital was able to bring her back to life.

Due to this event, her musical aspirations were put on hold for a bit.  But Kat and Steve used this opportunity to re-start their lives and enjoy life more.

“We knew we would do things differently,” says Kat. “We would spend more time with family, play more music, enjoy walks and each other’s company.”

During this time, they started drafting a bucket list. That list grew into a book titled Unstoppable Life, which describes Mrs. Sanders’s near-death experience and how it affected both of their lives.

“We are living what we preach,” she says. “Music is our new life and second or third careers.”  They bring a positive energy and playful attitude to everything they do.

Their meeting even has a musical twist to it.  “At a Chamber breakfast meeting, Steve re-introduced himself to me,” says Mrs. Sanders. “The song ‘Lady in Red’ was popular at the time. I was wearing a business professional red dress. Steve shook my hand and said, ‘Boy, you really are the lady in red’”.

She laughs and says, “Realizing that it was one of the worst pickup lines of all time, he turned as red as my dress, shook my hand and slunk away, mortified beyond belief.”

But he didn’t give up.  He won her over and two years later, he asked her to marry him. They celebrated an anniversary last month.

“Apparently corny lines work…sometimes,” says Mrs. Sanders, laughing.

Mr. and Mrs. Sanders were blessed with musically talented genes and an environment that fostered their creativity.

Mr. Sanders has been performing since the age of five. He can play both the guitar and piano, and is a talented singer.  He gave a solo performance at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse as a young singer.

Ted. E. Davis

Arts Council Menifee’s September Artist of the Month
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)

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    Ted Davis with Camera
    Ted Davis with camera
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    Ted Davis Artist of the Month
    Ted Davis September Artist of the Month
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    Ted Davis and his lovely mother
    Ted Davis and his lovely mother

 In a world where everyone seems to be a budding photographer with the simple click of a button on their smartphones, it might appear to some that the art of photography is sadly dwindling. However, one glance at local photographer Ted E. Davis’ pieces illustrates how the fusion of modern day technology and art is advancing the field and pushing each photographer’s creativity to new heights.

Davis has been a photographer for the last 50 years while also juggling his professional career. He completed two tours in Vietnam, worked for the Coast Guard for 25 years, retiring with the title of Chief Warrant Office and worked as a Contractor for the U.S. Government for over 20 years.

After retiring in July 2010, he has dedicated himself to a new job title: Full Time Photographer.  “I don’t perceive myself as a professional. Some people call me a professional, but I call myself an avid enthusiast,” says Davis. “I don’t care if I sell it, I care if I take [the picture] or not.”

 Davis picked up his first camera, an all-mechanical Olympus OM-1 MD that he still owns, in the early 1970’s. He still favors Olympus camera, but has models that are much more sophisticated now.

 He took many courses about black and white photography around that time to learn about the craft that he had such an interest in.  After enjoying some success as a black and white photographer for many years, Davis decided to make the transition into digital photography in 2008 in order to quench his thirst for continually learning new skills.

“I’m addicted to the sound of the shuttr,” says Davis. He also says his wife Sheila is supportive and very understanding.

 This addiction to taking pictures is an ingrained characteristic of his. His camera has become an extension of himself that allows him to see the world from a fresh point of view. His camera has practically integrated itself into his identity.

“I think in pictures. I even take my camera with me if go get a loaf of bread,” says Davis when asked about how he captures those rare moments illustrated in his photographs.

One can immediately see his love for the process of taking a photograph within the context of the subjects he favors. His artwork showcases his unique perception of the world through the discerning power of the lens.

“My pictures represent me,” says Davis.

Davis’s description of himself as being “a jack of all trades and master of none” is represented in his photos. He likes to photograph a wide spectrum of subjects.

His photographs tends to deal with illustrating an altered form of beauty by shooting objects or natural landscapes that are often overlooked by many. For example he may take a photo of an exotic-looking plant that appears to be from a distant country, but is actually located on the side of the freeway in Menifee. Or he may choose to photograph the soiled shoes of a pedestrian for the mysterious stories they tell.

Davis was introduced to infused metal photography by fellow Arts Council Menifee photographers Doug Hartwick (of Mom & Pop’s Framing Shop) and Bodhi Smith.  “I like this technique since it’s durable,” says Davis. “It’s like each photo is achieved forever.”  Along with other photographers, he uses that presentation when it seems a good fit.

Through the power of irony and an eye that can see what is special in those fleeting moments, Davis is able to produce thought-provoking photographs that cause the viewer to question their perception of the world around them.

“Photography is changing so fast,” says Davis. His artwork and journey as a photographer are a testament to how dedicated artists can learn to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

You can see some of his fine work at the Arts Council Menifee Gallery, which is a large collection of paintings and photographs by Menifee-area artists.  Enjoy the exhibit for free any weekday at the Kay Ceniceros Center, Newport and Evans Rds., Menifee.

You can also see his photographs and meet Ted E. Davis this Saturday at 6PM at La Paloma Park, 3000 Menifee Road.

For more info about Arts Council Menifee, visit

Shawnees Peacock, Literary Artist, is Arts Council Menifee’s “Artist of the Month” August 2013
By Bill Zimmerman
President, Arts Council Menifee

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    Shawnees Peacock
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    Shawnees Peacock Portrait

Each month Arts Council Menifee’s Board of Trustees selects an artist to be honored as Artist of the Month. The recipient is notified and congratulated, and then contacted by our MSJC student intern Shawnees Peacock to schedule an interview so that the article can be composed.

This month is a little bit different.

The recipient for August is none other than Shawnees herself. The Trustees wanted to select a Literary artist, and when the recommendation to honor our student journalist was made, all were in favor.

Shawnees, a 20 year old sophomore at MSJC, has always felt a need to be doing something creative. Although reading and writing are most ingrained in her life today, Shawnees’ childhood was filled with dance and fine art.

“I’ve danced for about ten years, competitively for three years. It was definitely a full time commitment for my family and me,” says Shawnees.

These days Shawnees is focused on academics, with writing being the chosen outlet for her thoughts and opinions. She has remained on the President’s Honor Roll list since her first semester at MSJC. She is part of the Honors Enrichment Program at MSJC and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society there as well. She is also President, Assistant Editor, and Staff writer of “The Talon”, which is MSJC’s first student-run newspaper in the last decade. Shawnees is currently being trained to work as a writing center tutor for the Fall 2013 semester.

Arts Council Menifee is thankful for the relationship that has been forged with our local college. Last year, MSJC’s Dean of Student Development JoAnna Quejada recommended Shawnees as an intern Journalist, and Arts Council Menifee has benefited from Shawnees’ talented writing style each month since.

“We are blessed to have working with us a student Journalist, a literary artist, who appreciates our mission of bringing local artists to the community” says Shirley Wible, Arts Council Menifee’s Literary Arts Division Chairperson.

When speaking with Shawnees, you get a real sense of her own passion for creative arts and the beauty that she has discovered in it.

“I have an immense love for art. I would live in a modern art museum if that were socially acceptable. My interest in art ultimately influenced my decision to write for Arts Council Menifee,” said Shawnees.

As Shawnees continues in her pursuit of a higher education, she has also made a commitment to continue volunteering her time to compose articles for the non-profit arts group. The Arts Council has enjoyed seeing Shawnees develop her skills and confidence, and knows that with her passion to excel in her interests, she will find success in all that she aspires to do.

“Whatever career path I choose, my ultimate goal is to make an impact in some way or another. When I look back on my life, I want to be proud of what I have accomplished. I want to feel that I have lived out my dreams. I want to know that I have experienced all that I can experience”.

With such a positive attitude, it is clear why she deserves to be awarded August’s “Artist of the Month”. Congratulations to literary artist Shawnees Peacock.

July Artist of the Month- Alias Movement
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)

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    Alias Movement
    Dancers Alisa Oiko & Janae Gregory / photo by Sue Brenner
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    Full Company
    Alias Movement, Full Company / photo by Sue Brenner

Each month, Arts Council Menifee selects a recipient to be honored as “Artist of the Month”. For July, they have selected Alias Movement, a repertory and performance  dance ensemble.

“Arts Council Menifee has many divisions, one of those being dance. We are blessed to have Alias Movement participate as performing artists at many of our events. They consistently bring a high level of beauty and grace that our audience appreciates,” says Bill Zimmerman, Arts Council Menifee’s new President.

Artistic directors Alexis Weisbrod and Natalia Morales of the Alias Movement dance company have made it their mission to bring the art of dance to the local community.  They want to showcase the abundance of talent that resides here and, more importantly, celebrate the role of dance as an artistic discipline.

Since the dance company’s formation in 2011, they have performed throughout San Diego and Riverside counties. The dancers have shown their talents at the prestigious, invitation-only “Ignite Choreographer’s Festival” for the last two consecutive years, at Art Council Menifee’s annual “Menifee’s Got Talent” event, as well as several dance concerts at Mt. San Jacinto College.

The Alias Movement also produces a full-length concert every year to present their repertory to the community.

Weisbrod and Morales serve as Associate Faculty members for the dance program at Mt. San Jacinto College. After meeting each other at the college, they developed the dance company and named it Alias Movement.

“To some extent having a studio has always been a dream,” says Weisbrod. “It was something we often discussed, but usually not seriously, because we didn’t have the resources to follow it through.”

After teaming up with Preet Mutneja, their third partner for the dance center, the two artistic directors were able to make their dreams a reality by opening the Alias Movement Center.  Its slogan is “Discover the Joy of Dance.

“We really believe in dance as an important art form because it uses the one thing that all people have in common, the human body,” says Weisbrod.

She continues, “We tell so much of our personal and cultural histories through our body, whether we intend to or not. Dance has the power to highlight this and create performative moments or movement experiences from which people can learn and begin to understand the world or the life of another person.”

The Alias Movement stands out among other dance companies in the Inland Empire because of its dedication to display diversity to every audience for whom they perform.

They are a multi-disciplinary group that aims to create skilled and knowledgeable dancers who are well-versed in various genres, including modern, contemporary, jazz and hip hop. The dancers themselves also illustrate the importance of diversity.  The dancers have widely-varying background and training experiences, but they are all fully-embraced.

“The most exhilarating and moving part of dance is that it can utilize all the arts. At its base, dance is a visual, aural, physical experience. People typically think of dance as using music, and it often does, but it can also use literary arts for example either as inspiration or even as direct sound accompaniment” says ­­Weisbrod.

At the core of this dance company lies two missions:

  1. To bring dance into the community by creating an artistic space for professional and pre-professional dancers to learn and grow.
  2. To be seen as the “go to place” where audiences can experience high caliber dance. 

For more information on the Alias Movement Dance Company and to see upcoming performance dates, please visit

June 2013 Artist of the Month: Margaret Wood
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)

Margaret Wood

Since deciding to retire after 41 years of work as a secretary, local fine artist Margaret Wood has made it her mission to enjoy this new period in her life by devoting time to develop her craft as an artist.

Wood was first introduced to painting at the age of 18 when she came in contact with a co-worker who was married to an artist. Her co-worker’s husband taught her the basics of stretching canvas and how to work with oils.  This was during at-home classes he taught to a people who were eager to learn.

This crash course – in everything about the process and technique that art requires – sparked her interest in art.  It propelled her to continue to take as many art classes as she could while still working full-time.

Retiring from her professional career finally gave Wood the time she desired to perfect her skills as a painter. She accomplished this by joining Arts Council Menifee’s “Visual Arts” group last year.

“I’ve always been interested in painting but I never devoted so much time to it,” says Wood. “But now that I am retired, I have the time to be a part of an art community like this.”

This sense of community she found with Arts Council Menifee has helped to fill the void created after Wood retired. It allows her to engage with like-minded people who have a similar passion for art.

“When you are working, you’ve got a host of people around you.  But when you retire, there’s nobody there. You have to find some sort of outlet to connect with people” says Wood.

She continued, “I’m enjoying being a part of this group. I get to do something fun now.”

Being a part of Arts Council Menifee for the last year has given Wood the opportunity to share her artwork with the Menifee community and to learn from other local artists as well. Just in the last year, Wood has displayed her paintings in six shows.

“It’s inspirational to be around other people who are doing the same thing as you are”, says Woods. “Even though we are all different, I’m inspired by them.”

Although Wood is still finding her niche in the art world through experimentation with different techniques, materials and subject matter, her “nature inspired” pieces stay true to her goal of relating a sense of joy through the use of vibrant colors.

Her use of highly-pigmented colors, done with acrylic paint and visible brushstrokes in some of her pieces, helps to create real energy in the work that translates to the viewer.

Wood has also begun to experiment with portraits in the last year, with the help and support of her peers at Arts Council Menifee. She hopes to continue to develop her skills as an artist and to make long-lasting friendships with other creative people who live in the Menifee community.

April 2013 Artist of the Month: Kathleen Crain
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)

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    Kathleen Crain
    Kathleen Crain
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Menifee’s own Kathleen Crain, a painter and photographer, has had a colorful life full of ups and downs, but has turned towards her undying love for art as therapy and to give her life purpose.

This mother of two juggled her family life while trying to discover her calling in life career wise. Crain worked as an instructional aide for 13 years, attended Crafton Hills College and graduated with an AA in Art.  She persevered in her education and received a B.A. in Education and a M.S. in Special Education from National University.

Prior to her years of being a teacher and attending college, Crain’s life was turned upside down.  She suffered from a brain injury at the age of 20 due to a car accident. She was in a coma for almost two weeks.

Instead of letting this accident completely sideline her life, she was determined to discover her path in life.  She fully immersed herself in her education in order to achieve her career and life goals.

Although she did not initially see herself as a teacher since she originally wanted to be involved in the arts, teaching became an equally important part of her life.

“I saw the light in a child’s eyes when they understood something… and that’s when I decided that I wanted to be a teacher rather than go into the arts” said Crain.  “I really love working with kids.”

Crain’s head injury occurred on the more creative and artistic right side of the brain, which she says caused her to become more of a left brained mathematical logical thinker. This switch proved to be helpful for her career as a teacher, but caused her to struggle more so artistically.

In an oddly serendipitous fashion, Crain suffered yet another head injury. This event caused her to make the decision to retire early from teaching, but it also allowed her to think artistically again.

Art has become a more integral part in Crain’s life now. Her long time love for arts and crafts has morphed into a slight obsession for her, as she feverishly paints and photographs the world around her.

Crain describes herself as an “exploratory artist” who paints anything and everything. Her artistic inspirations, Pierre Joseph Redoutè and Monet, embody her own artistic philosophy. Her paintings and photographs are similar to the works of Impressionists like Monet, due to her goal of “capturing the moment” in her works. Her work focuses on fleeting subjects in nature, like flowers, birds, and landscapes with changing light and shadows.  The moments she encapsulates are unique and will never occur again in that identical manner.

“I like the idea of freezing time in my work”, said Crain.

Crain is also not afraid to try using different mediums within her works. Although the majority of her pieces are watercolor, she has also dabbled in collages, oil and tole painting (which Wikipedia defines as “the folk art of decorative painting on tin and wooden utensils, objects and furniture”).

Despite the fact she only came back to painting in August of 2012, her technique and overall identity as an artist have developed.  She is still an active art student at Sun City Core and Mt. San Jacinto College.  She says “Teachers and the community have been a valuable source since I’m not too sure of myself at times. They help lessen my anxiety.”

At first it was difficult listening to her intuition and believing in her artistic instincts. But now Crain has become much more independent and confident in her artistic voice. “I feel that I think like an artist now” said Crain. “I’m more willing to do things on my own.”

On on of everything else, she is also writing poetry along with the Sun City Library’s group and the Literary Arts Division of Arts Council Menifee.

Crain views art as a means of “self-expression and joy”.  Her work illustrates so much more than this. Her pieces embody vitality, perseverance and the ability to create and enjoy the fleeting moments in nature and in life.

She says, “I would like those who have had head trauma to know that life may not be the same as it was before, but if they work at it, it can be better than they ever imagined”.

To view artwork by Kathleen Crain (and others), please visit Arts Council Menifee’s Gallery at the Kay Ceniceros Center (Newport and Evans Rd in Menifee) or attend a show at noon on Sunday April 28th at the Sun City Library.


March 2013 Artist

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    Linda Morrison
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    Linda Morrison

Artist of the Month: Linda Morrison
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)

Fate has an odd way of abruptly changing the trajectory of one’s life. In the case of  local artist Linda Morrison, fate was the boost she needed in order to break out of her mold and discover her true passion for painting and for life.

Linda, a wife and mother of three, has lived in the Menifee community for the last nine years. Her husband has been her biggest supporter.

She created a name for herself in the corporate world for many years, having served as the CFO for various companies.  However, the down-turning economy in 2008 prompted the real estate company she was working for at the time to make the difficult decision to lay her off.

“I thought, I’ve done the career thing, and I’ve raised my children.  What do I do now?” says Morrison.  Morrison’s answer to this question many people ask themselves is quite simple: find your passion.

Instead of letting this event negatively govern her future, Morrison made the executive decision to let it propel her forward.  She forged a new path for herself both professionally and personally. Separating herself from the demanding nature of the business world and becoming semi-retired has allowed Morrison to discover her passion for painting. (She does continue to work as a freelance accountant and therapist.)

“I came from a career of intense left brain work, art has allowed me to tap into the right brain,” says Morrison. “Art has provided a venue to express my creativity. Once we get in touch with the things that alter our mood, that make us feel positive or happy, we need to integrate them into our lives.”

Morrison is still a newbie to the art scene considering she didn’t start seriously painting until 2008, but her works are a testament to the profound amount of skill she has gained in a short amount of time.

After being laid off in 2008, she picked up painting after watching instructional videos by the well-known painter and art instructor Bob Ross.  He is best known for his television program The Joy of Painting on PBS. Ross stressed the idea that anyone can pick up the craft of painting and Mrs. Morrison did just that as she watched his programs, mimicked his technique, and soon developed her own style of painting.

When one views Morrison’s work, it is tempting to label her as a seascape or naturalistic artist, considering she typically paints ocean scenes, gardens, and forests.  However, Morrison is an eclectic artist who is not bound by painting certain subjects or in a specific style. Her lack of ties to a specific genre or subject matter may indicate her desire to continually seek creative challenges.

This self-taught artist has developed a deep connection with the act of painting and even describes it as a spiritual experience.  “[Painting] is very therapeutic.” says Morrison. “What I like to accomplish when people view my art is a sense of peace. Nature is very spiritual. When I start doing landscapes, it becomes a spiritual quest.”

Being a student of nature has proved to be beneficial to Morrison since she is able to illustrate the beauty of the world through her own eyes.

She does most of her painting either in the pseudo-studio that is her kitchen or in her yard.  “My church is my patio”, says Morrison.

Morrison’s primary goal with her artwork is to share her passion and talent for art with others so that they too can discover the creativity that lives within them and find their passions.

She is an embodiment of the manta “It is never too late to follow your bliss”. Pursuing a career in business may have deterred her from becoming an artist earlier in life, but Morrison has no regrets about her decision.

“It took all this time to understand what my passion was”, says Morrison, but her journey to discovering her love and artistry for painting may have comeat the best time in her life since she is able to devote the necessary amount of time to developing her craft.

Some people may reach their peak earlier in life and fulfill their goals then, but some are late bloomers who require a little bit more time and life experience before putting their energy solely into themselves.

With age comes wisdom and the feeling of infinite possibilities to live out our life dreams, and artist Linda Morrison has accomplished just that.

Morrison’s artwork has been displayed around the Menifee community, for example at Mount San Jacinto College’s 50th anniversary and last year’s Taste of Menifee.  She has even donated paintings to the local Animal Shelter to be auctioned off.

She is currently in the midst of painting a few new pieces and will be showing her artwork on July 28th at the Menifee Public Library in Sun City, CA.

Morrison also keeps herself busy by being in active and devoted volunteer for Arts Council Menifee.

“Arts Council Menifee is not only blessed to show Linda Morrison’s artistic talents, but we benefit from her willingness to volunteer behind the scenes at all of our events. She rolls up her sleeves and helps set up displays.  She often serves as host by welcoming our guests. We really appreciate all she does”, says Bill Zimmerman, Vice President, Arts Council Menifee.

For more information on Linda Morrison and a more in-depth look at her artwork, please visit

February 2013 Artist

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    Beneath the Door
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    Pamela and Shawnees Peacock
    Pamela Wagstaff and Shawnees Peacock
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    Celebrity Karaoke
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    Beneath the Door
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    The Still

Artist of the Month: PS Wagstaff
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)

From scriptwriting for television and radio to photography to music to poetry, to giving back to her community by mentoring aspiring writers, to self-publishing two books with a third on the way, author PS Wagstaff is undoubtedly the jack-of-all-trades.

Wagstaff is a New York native who has been a part of the Menifee community for the last three years. She has a background in advertising and has worked in the field of Radio and Television for 27 years. One would think that transitioning from advertising to writing poetry would be difficult. However, Wagstaff’s professional experience over the years has helped her hone in on her creative talents even more so.

Her love affair with the art of writing began at the young age of 12; however, she did not truly realize her talents until she was 16 years old. At the age of 16, Wagstaff’s younger brother died at the age of five. This hardship directed her into the world of writing as she began to feverishly type pages of short, free verse poetry. Adversity continued to confront Ms. Wagstaff as her husband, sister and mother and father passed away at various times in her life. Although these events were emotionally debilitating, Wagstaff was able to use her personal tragedies as a catalyst for getting serious about her writing and as a consistent source of inspiration that would end up influencing the themes in her books. Writing became the medium that she turned to in order to cope and grieve with this series of unfortunate events.

One can see the crossover that lies between Wagstaff’s own life experiences and her work. Her style of writing appeals to a niche market due to what she describes as its “dark, topical, abstract and intellectual” nature. However, the themes that appear in her books Beneath the Door: Poetry in Abstract, Paradoxes: Parallel Dimensions of Art & Poetry and her soon to be released book The Still: Poetry & Art of Time & Relevance are quite relatable on a large scale. Much of her inspiration is derived from “everyday life and things that are going on in the world that are not so wonderful”. Her attraction to more dark and despondent subjects allow her readers to identify with her work in a more intimate manner, as they are able to empathize with Wagstaff’s words.

A few of her favorite writers are; William Shakespeare ,William Blake, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, John Keats, Ernest Hemingway, Rod McKuen and Jim Morrison.

Wagstaff has skillfully forged her own unique style of writing by creating her own genre.  It combines the mechanics of the spoken word, unorthodox free-verse poetry, prose, with even a hint of a “slow, downbeat rap style that is indicative of The Beat movement of the 1950′s”. “My genre touches on levels to many readers,” says Wagstaff. This ability for readers to identify with Wagstaff’s works and understand that her thoughts and opinions while still being able to interpret it for themselves is exactly why Wagstaff is successful and why she is leaving such an individual and indelible mark on the writing community.

Her books interestingly act as a platform for her to experiment and showcase her other adept artistic talents as well. Being a self-published author gives her a greater amount of freedom during both the writing and publishing processes than she might have if dealing with a publishing house. For example, her own black and white photography can be found throughout her books as they tie in to her pieces. This creates a hybrid experience between the verbal and visual as the reader is able to experience the two in tandem – thus enhancing the understanding of her poetry. Wagstaff also designs the covers of her books, in conjunction with her niece, Mysti French who focuses on the layouts.

This author, artist and poetess does not expect to be putting the brakes on her work and creativity anytime soon. Her third book of this series, The Still: Poetry & Art of Time & Relevance which will be available for purchase sometime in February on  It stays true to her unique writing style as she “explores the outer reaches of time. The relevance within our need to live, to hold onto time”.

Although Wagstaff is primarily focused on her poetry, she still finds the time to be philanthropic by serving as Menifee Valley Chamber Ambassador and also Lady Ms. 2011 Menifee Valley Chamber Of Commerce Queen. She now serves as Board of Director for The Menifee Chamber. She also serves as mentor through social media for other aspiring writers and is a patron and volunteer for Arts Council Menifee, as well as The Sun City Library Literary Division.

To purchase PS Wagstaff’s books, please visit If you’d like to stay up to date with her, please connect with her at www.facebook/AuthorpsWagstaff


January 2013 Artist

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    Jr Reed in Studio 3
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    Jr Reed in Studio 1
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    Jr Reed in Studio 2
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    Jr Reed on Sax
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    Jr Reed Outside 2
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    Jr Reed Outside 1

Artist of the Month: Michael “Junior” Reed
By Shawnees Peacock (MSJC Student)

The rock gods must be very proud of 14-year-old musician Michael Reed Jr. whose jaw-dropping guitar skills are paving the way for him to turn his passion for music into a possible career.

This Menifee-area performer may be young, but his music contains a level of maturity and refinement that many adult musicians are still working to find. While listening to a few of the original tracks that he writes himself, one can immediately hear the rock and metal influences from his favorite bands. They include Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd and guitarist Joe Satriani.  Those influences are mixed with stylistic undertones that indicate a more diverse “mixture of funk and a soft Santana style”, which is how he describes the music he currently makes and the style he hopes to continue in the future.

Michael’s interest in music was sparked at the age of just two years old when he was introduced to the drums by his father, Mike Reed Sr., who is a talented drummer and multi-skilled musician himself.  He has been playing drums since he was three years old. As a young man he recorded and toured with such bands as Wings of Faith, Final Warning, Cloud Merchants, Jupiter 6, and Deliverance (which appeared on MTV’s Headbangers Ball in the 80′s).

Over time young Michael and his father have naturally become a father-son duo who creatively influence one another when it comes to making music. He notes that his father is one his biggest musical influences, in part because he taught him to never give up.

Michael received his first guitar when he was 10 years old and soon performed at a talent show at Crown Hill Elementary school when he was in 5th grade.  He found he was irresistibly drawn to music, the guitar and performing in front of live audiences. He learned some of the basics from his dad and then more from local highly-esteemed flamenco guitarist Charles Curinga.  (He still studies with him at Sounds of Music / The Vault in Temecula).

Michael’s guitar-playing and musical skills come from a mixture of natural talent and many hours of practice. From a young age he has had an exceptional ear for music as a result of being exposed to various styles, bands, and artists (all of whom are older than he is). This natural affinity for music has allowed him to become proficient on not only the guitar and drums but also the saxophone, bass guitar and piano.

Now in 9th grade, Michael is in the midst of forming a band and recording some tracks.  (His sister Aleksis plays bass occasionally when Junior asks for a jam session.)  He can play both acoustic and electric guitar, but prefers the latter.  He is collaborating with local and non-local artists in the hopes of creating music for a demo recording that he hopes to release soon.  He has written and copyrighted songs (but does not write lyrics).  He’s seeking sponsorship from Gibson and Ibanez, two of the top guitar manufacturers.

This young, hard-working musician is definitely on a path leading towards success and to fulfilling his goal of making music professionally.

You can see more of Michael “Junior” Reed at his Facebook page, which is under JR Reed Band.  On, search by shanareed1 to see some of his performances.

He can be seen live on Sunday afternoons jamming with blues players at Bratts in Temecula.  He hopes to play at the Vault in late January and at the Annual Menifee Jam Fest.

Be sure to hear him play at Arts Council Menifee’s Menifee’s Got Talent, which will be held this year at Paloma High School theater, on April 5, 6 and 7.  Last year, he won.



December 2012 Artist

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    Sea Turtle 
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    Roadside Wonder 
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    Lion Test 
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    Asian Beauty 

Carol South, an esteemed and talented artist, also works to help other Menifee artists. Her work with fellow Trustee Kathleen Pickett has led to the opening of the the Arts Council Menifee Gallery. Visit it and see works by many local painters and photographers. Free admission and open Monday – Friday 9-5. Address Kay Ceniceros Center, 29995 Evans Rd, Menifee (corner of Newport and Evans Roads).

Carol J. South

 Art Biography

Artist Carol J. South utilizes a wide variety of media and techniques to create her award-winning art work.   The subject matter inspires her selection of oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, colored pencil, mixed-media, printmaking or collage to render the image.

South ‘s  photo-realistic images fascinate without tiring the viewer’s eyes. As a small child growing up in New Mexico, her introduction to painting was her mother, an award-winning, professional photo-colorist who applied transparent oils to sepia-toned portrait photographs.  South’s early portrait painting instruction has enabled her to produce life-like portraits.

Following a successful business career, South’s interest in art re-surfaced in the 80’s when she discovered the beauty of watercolor under the instruction of Newport Beach professional artist, Ruth Hynd.   South pursued her passion by taking every art-related class offered by Irvine Valley Community College and Saddleback Community College while maintaining Honor Society eligibility.  A two-week art workshop at La Romita, Umbria, Italy, provided an introduction to printmaking and embossing techniques. Upon moving from Orange County to The Oasis Community in Menifee, South founded the Oasis Fine Arts Group, serving as president for four years as well as teaching oil painting and drawing classes.

South is a Founding Member and Trustee of the Arts Council Menifee, member of the Oasis Fine Arts Group, Fallbrook Art Association and Fallbrook Art Center Artist’s Guild.

Website: Email ACM’s Visual Arts Division for Carol’s email address etc.