Celebrating an Artist’s Breakthrough


Gayle Skidmore: one of San Diego's finest musicians.

When Gayle first began to talk about releasing a full length album it would have been hard to imagine even for a musician just how much it would take to make this happen. The vicissitudes of Gayle’s journey have included moments where it looked like releasing this album would never happen as well as where needed breakthroughs came through in surpising ways and at just the right times. The process that began over a year and a half ago has finally reached its culmination. Gayle’s new album “Make Believe” and best work to date will release this Saturday evening, November 13th. The CD Release Show will be at the Ruby Room in San Diego at 7 PM.

I’ve had the good fortune of being a friend of Gayle’s over the past several years. This has allowed me to witness firsthand the heart that she has for music and the relentless effort that she is willing to put forth to bring beauty to the world through her art. She has a captivating voice and an expressive soul that feels deeply. She combines this with an intelligence that makes her lyrics searching and relatable for those who travel through life on a quest for love and meaning.

Gayle’s latest album “Make Believe” is a masterful blend of engaging tunes and heartfelt lyrics. After listening to the album over the past few days I am captivated and believe that this will be her breakthrough. Don’t miss the chance to be there for her historic CD Release Show! It will be a time to celebrate two years of an artist’s dedication to bringing her work to light. Gayle’s heart and soul ring through in the album and it is one that you will want to own to enjoy again and again.

Click here to get more information about the CD Release Show.
Gayle’s account of releasing “Make Believe”
Gayle’s new album “Make Believe” on iTunes
Find more information about Gayle at www.GayleSidmore.com


The Trees Don’t Have to be Green

Culture, Life

I love artists who develop unique styles that are compelling. Grant Pecoff is a painter who grew up in Encinitas, California and has a gallery in San Diego’s Little Italy. I have often admired his impressionistic style and in particular his paintings of sailboats and local city scenes around San Diego. Noticing the gallery open this evening, I stepped in and to my surprise found Grant there painting. He has spent most of the last ten years traveling and painting from various destinations so I had never met him.

He explained to me that since he was in town for awhile taking care of family matters, he recently decided to take a road trip to New Mexico to see what inspiration he could find in our own region. What has resulted is a series of works that he is currently painting featuring the strong adobe oranges and vibrant sky blues that he loves. At that moment he was painting a picture of a beautiful home in the Santa Fe area.

Mentioning that I loved his style, I asked Grant how he came across it. “I was taking a class on art history”, he explained, “and began to really admire the works of the impressionists. One of my assignments in this class was to pick a scene and paint it with an impressionistic style. I chose a Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul. As I painted the walls a deep orange and the sky blue, I realized how striking these colors were together. I tried to figure out how I could keep this color scheme because I was about to paint the trees green since green is the color that you paint trees. Then I realized, I don’t have to paint the trees green. And that is how it started. I began to focus less on details and more on the essence of things.”

I found this story quite inspiring. Discoveries are made when we challenge the way we have always seen things and how they “have to be.” Our self-imposed limits are often a mere lack of creativity. We think that we cannot accomplish what we hope, fulfill our dreams, or do what we feel called to do because trees always have to be green. We get caught up in details like the trees that make us miss the forest. We want to see the big picture but usually struggle to do so unless we find some way like travel to free up our minds from cluttering details to allow ourselves to think again.

Grant found a style uniquely his own when he colored outside the lines. We find our own voice and purpose only as we think outside the box of what we are almost sure that we can and cannot accomplish and begin instead to pursue that which we love and what makes us come alive. Grant and I engaged in lively conversation about travel and living on sailboats, something that he and his wife have also done. I’m so glad that I had a chance to meet the artist whose work I so admire.

For those of you in the San Diego area who love art, you need to check out the Grant Pecoff Studio at 1825 India Street in Little Italy. The best time to visit is on the weekends and if you are lucky you might meet Grant and find him working on one of his beautiful works of art.


Spontaneity and the Merchant of Venice

Coffee, Culture, Featured, Travel

One of the things I love about travel is the increased openness I feel to see and respond to daily opportunities. Travel is an invitation to spontaneity. It is a chance to live how we would like to live if we didn’t feel too busy to do so. In this way it also reminds us to dust off the interests and passions that we have allowed to lay dormant and to live more fully by focusing again on what we love.

Pouring over lists of hostels last week my only concern was to find a place to stay somewhere in between Crater Lake and Lassen Volcanic National Park. Realizing that I would probably leave Crater Lake in the evening I thought it might be nice to have a place to crash after a few days of camping. I also love hostels and jump at opportunities to discover new ones. Finding a hostel in Ashland, Oregon looked perfect for my route.

Planning merely to pass through I discovered that I had stumbled across a gem of a town in Ashland. The hostel proved to be a warm and friendly place. It was an actual home right on Main Street with large common areas to relax and converse with other visitors. While talking with Eric and Roger, two road-tripers from Northern California, I learned that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is not just an event as I had supposed, but that it is ongoing. Curious, I looked up the list of current plays and decided that the Merchant of Venice looked the most interesting. To my delight, it just so happened that this was to be the featured play the following evening.

Now I had a decision to make. Do I continue on with my plan to pass through to the next place or do I change everything to stop and live in the moment? The next morning I awoke still pondering this decision. Having been warned that I should get my ticket as soon as possible if I hoped to go, I decided that attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in a place that literally revolves around this attraction was a wonderful opportunity.

One of Ashland's local musicians dressed like a sprite and playing beautifully on various wind instruments.

One of Ashland's local musicians dressed like a sprite and playing beautifully on various wind instruments.

Driving downtown to seek out tickets I felt like I had stepped into a village on the English countryside. Tudor styled homes and typical British names for businesses lined the streets. I learned from the friendly attendant that there were not any tickets left for the Merchant of Venice at the lower price. He asked if I was a member or new somebody from town who was so that I could get the tickets half-priced. Mentioning that I was in town for the day and did not know anyone, he said that he would check and see if he could use a local friend’s discount. He then offered me the lower price for a seat. I love it when spontaneity aligns with good fortune and things work out!

I spent the first part of the day cheering on Spain in their World Cup match versus Germany. Learning from Yelp about a local coffee shop that roasts its own coffee, I decided to check it out. I loved the place the moment I walked in the door. It is large and open with somewhat of a rustic feel. The most interesting looking menu item that I had never tried was called “siphon service.” It seemed the more adventurous path to try something new and I was not disappointed. The process of siphoning coffee is something that has to be seen to be understood. I have posted a link to a video of the process at www.justandyblog.com/2010/07/coffee-siphon-service/

Forewarned that I might want to prepare before watching the play, I purchased a summary and analysis of the Merchant of Venice and sat down in beautiful Lithia Park to read it. I also attended a brief lecture given as a preface to show on the festival’s campus. Feeling prepared to comprehend the show, I stepped outside and found a girl dressed as a sprite playing a variety of interesting looking wind instruments. Her music was mesmerizing and seemed quite fitting for the streets of Ashland.

Every evening at 7:15 there is a free outdoor event called The Green Show” and I attended for a musical journey through the history of blues. It was quite entertaining and drew a large crowd. At last the time had come for the play.

The Tudor-styled Elizabethan Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Tudor-styled Elizabethan Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Finding my way to my seat on the upper level, I was immediately drawn in by the scene. Of Ashland’s three theatres, this play was held at the Elizabethan Stage, a large outdoor venue with a beautiful Tudor-styled set as its backdrop. The play was absolutely fabulous, professionally executed within a beautiful set. The acting was so well done that I leaned forward and felt like I was living part of the story, empathizing with Antonio, hoping the best for Bassanio and struggling to understand the cruelty of Shylock. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival provided an exceptional cultural experience.

It was a very satisfying day for a traveler. One that began with one plan and ended having followed another. I stumbled across a wonderful opportunity, gladly responded to it and experienced its rewards.

Noble Coffee Roasting is one of the finest coffee shops that I have ever visited.