Archive for February 2016


Some of my friends have requested that I write the story of my accident and its aftermath. It’s pretty much ready to go. When I think its ready, I’ll post the first few paragraphs here and then supply the link to the rest of it on my web site for those who are interested.

In the meantime, with the Sowers Gallery series complete, I thought I’d insert this review of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses.”  I am permitted to post it here, but it won’t show up on

(The review is a perk for entering the contest. I didn’t win or show.)


 Review of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses.”

 “Judge, 3rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards.”

The synopsis is intriguing, although this “command” form – live, suffer, experience – sounds too much like a commercial. I also prefer the title “Mr. [sic] Job.”

Your use of language has an immediate flow and flavor reminiscent of the more poetic passages of the King James Bible.

Your powers of imagination are deep – envisioning, for instance, how that first day of married life must have been for her (33%).* The universal fear, for instance, that she will never be the kind of mother that she sees all around her. To tell the truth, I wanted to” 45% Funny! An intriguing argument, also. Good use of conflict.

Your descriptive powers are potent. Describing her pregnancy as a “heaving, jolting rock inside of me.” 56% * You also have the ability to portray inner monologues that remain interesting, which is quite a skill.

It’s odd, though, that it takes so long to get to the point of the story. The anthropological/cultural work is impressive, but you seem almost afraid to get to one of the best plot turns in history.

And that is heartbreaking when it arrives. “Surely now we can accept the bad fortune, too!” Very tough to live up to the world’s most patient man!

*Percentages refer to progress on e-reader.


By the way, I (Mona) do think a major point of the story is Dara’s search for a resolution to the conflict created by Job’s demand issued sometime during her sixth pregnancy. (Nope. I’m not going to introduce a spoiler.)




Husband and wife team John Hopkins and Susan Lince are more than artists. They are generous, energetic, community-oriented folk who donate an amazing amount of time to many activities for which we can be grateful. The Sower Gallery is but one of them.

And here is some of John’s art as displayed at the gallery. Look below to find the three items separated out, followed by the back story.



Version 4

Version 3


Version 2Back Story: Half a Century! A span of 50 years from painting to painting!

It seems amazing when I stop to think about it, but art, especially landscape painting, has been a constant theme of my life – and, still it continues to this day. From my earliest memories, experiences across the globe have woven for me a fascination with mountains, trees, sky, and the grand beauty of nature into a myriad of drawings, paintings, and photographs.

From 1956 through 1959, my family was with my father, a professional military man, in Japan. By the summer of 1958, he decided it was time for my sister and me to climb Mt. Fuji with him. The trip to the top was full of visual “hits” that collected in my consciousness. At age 10, I already had a year and a half of training as an oil painter. Upon return to my “paints”,   I painted from memory one of the scenes from our adventure that stood out for me.

Fast Forward 50 years…………..

With my wife, Susan, and my mother, we were on a one-week family outing to Ruidoso, New Mexico to check in with a gallery there that was showing some of my paintings. It was high summer and Sierra Blanca and the surrounding landscape were beautiful and inviting. Of course, I had to do a bit of plein-aire painting up on “the mountain” while we were there. We found a nice roadside turnout that had a great view over the Mescalero Apache Reservation so I set up to paint under the blue sky.

I was well occupied, but my two ladies were getting a bit tired of just watching me paint. After a while, they decided to take off together and do a little sightseeing. There I was in my ragged painting outfit replete with ripped jacket and paint filled pants, all by myself at the side of the road halfway up Sierra Blanca. As the cars full of tourists drove by, a few stopped to see what I was doing. To my surprise, some of them put money into my paint-box! After a few hours of painting, I had eight dollars plus a little change to show for it.

  1. R. Lince-Hopkins








If you live close enough to get there, be aware that you have a limited time left to enjoy it.

Today I hope you’ll delight in Art Manno’s “Marbles” and the back story.

I feel the need to add a comment here, as I’ll bet some of you will too. The only game I was good at as a child was marbles. and we played for keepsies. For some reason my parents objected to that. Nonetheless, I had my fat bag of marbles. We played so many of the other games too, growing up in the suburb of Forestville, Connecticut.

Even more, Art’s backstory reminds me of the delight I took in hearing my former husband’s tales of growing up in his Italian neighborhood in New Haven.




When I first saw this photo I couldn’t resist, I had to paint it. It brought back so many fond childhood memories growing up in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn New York, of all the fun games and the crazy things we used to play and do in the streets until it got dark. You always made it home for supper and back to the streets!

           Marbles were a big part of our childhood. Everyone had their favorite marble they called their shooter, and we would never use that marble in the game to lose. We would line up marbles in the dirt and the ones you hit out of the line you won. You did that until you missed. Then the next shooter would get a turn.

         I remember our pockets bulging with marbles and sounding like broken glass jingling when you walked. If you were a good shot you ended up with a lot of marbles, and if you weren’t a good shot you lost your marbles; I’ll bet that’s where that phrase comes from!

         Stickball and Punch ball were big games of the day. The ball we used was called a Spalding, which was the brand name, and we called it a spaldeen, due to our Brooklyn accent. It was pink in color. We sawed off a broom or mop handle for a bat.

There was always someone watching out the window, often a Grandma type. She would be yelling that we were going to break her window, usually in broken English!

     Two hand tag football, Box ball, and Stoopball were some of the other street sports we played. Handball was one of my favorites. We also played Ringoleavio, where one person had to find everyone in the game who was hiding. We had boundaries, and rooftops were included.

       Johnny-on-the-pony was fun. It required one team to line in a row, bent over from the waist, while members of the other team jumped on their backs, one by one until the combined weight forced everyone to fall to the ground.

       There was Skelly; we used bottle caps to shoot with our fingers to slide them either on the sidewalks or streets. There was Hopscotch and tag, and one we called War, which we played with our pocketknives by throwing them in the dirt to see whose knife landed in the biggest part of the circle that had been drawn in the dirt, divided like a piece of pie. Kick-the-Can, Red light Green light 1,2,3! Flipping baseball cards, the card that lands on the pile wins them all. We would also trade one another for the cards we were trying to get.

     When we weren’t playing we were making Scooters and Go-carts for joy riding , most kids didn’t own bikes. This painting of the boy playing marbles will always bring back those wonderful memories growing up when life was simpler, when all we had was our ingenuity to create our own fun.

The street was my world and as a young artist also my easel, where I used to draw comic and cartoon characters. I have been truly blessed to be a part of it.

Childhood Memories       Art Manno


Cubicles by Sara Hanlon at the Sower Gallery   13 comments

When I read the backstory to this work by Sara Hanlon, I knew why it reached out to me


Cubicles by Sara Hanlon

Back Story: “Cubicles”     Sara Hanlon

Like several other artworks described in my book, Sara Hanlon, Art and Attitude from the Queen of Garbage, “Cubicles” reflects on the tendency the great many of us have to “fit in” rather than “stand out”, and to make a living rather than “make a statement”. It also has to do with the isolation that follows from the use of technology in our workplace and in our lives.

The biggest problem is how we are losing our interpersonal contact. 
Much is accomplished via our computer terminals. Face to face, touching, 
tone of voice, even what a person looks like….it’s all lost to our own 
isolation in our rooms (or cubicles) containing our computers.

I believe that many of us are in danger of compartmentalizing (think cubicles in corporations), and isolation from other humans (think how technology reduces real life human interactions involving sight, sound and touch). Our global economy demands ever greater levels of productivity, and many of us are separated from each other and from our inner selves, as well.

If you live nearby you can enjoy a visit the Sower Gallery at:

Shepherd of the Hill Church

Corner of Engler and Highway 41 Chaska,

Minnesota Open Monday – Thursday 9:00 AM to Noon


Here’s another from the Sower Gallery Display – “The Comfort of Family” by Kelsey Swanson. The back story is included below. To add to your delight, check out her web site after you’ve savored this presentation.











Back Story : The Comforts of Family      Kelsey Swanson

As an artist, I spend a lot of time working on portraits. Sometimes, there is nothing as raw as a rendition of a person caught in a natural moment. A single snapshot can capture a lifetime, and it can reveal the fundamental desires of our souls.

From the mother:

“I still remember the time this picture was taken so perfectly… I was going through a divorce. After months of living in friend’s houses and sleeping on couches or mattresses, we finally got into our own place. They [the kids] had their own room with all their toys and beds out of storage, but no matter how hard I tried, they would both end up in my bed by the time the sun came up. They would say that they didn’t want me to wake up alone. That particular day was a Saturday morning… We didn’t have to wake up at 5 am to make it to daycare, and I didn’t have to run off to work, we got to just lay in bed to talk, cuddle and just BE together.“


Posted February 20, 2016 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Thanks for your response to the entry from the Sower Gallery. Here’s more. This one is also by Bob McLain, and a nice example of an artist’s versatility. As with all the art at the Sower Gallery, the backstory is presented along with the art itself.

Bob's Produce

Bob McLain

Paris Market

When in Paris, France, we visited a large, organic, colorful, outdoor food market.   I took many reference photos and after getting home, started doing small studies of the fruits and vegetables.

To get everything in my painting, I decided to do a diptych – two pieces that work together and are strong enough to stand on their own.

The mediums used in this piece are acrylic paint and colored pencil on watercolor board. The pieces are sprayed with many coats of UV resistant clear acrylic coating for protection.

If you live in the area, please accept the invitation to stop by and enrich your day. The show will be up through March 20, 2016

Shepherd of the Hill Church

Corner of Engler and Highway 41 Chaska, Minnesota

Open Monday – Thursday 9:00 AM to Noon












You may not have been able to make it to the grand opening, but if you live in the area you can get to see the exposition Mondays thru Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Today I’m presenting to you Bob McLain’s “Mil,” with the backstory. Once you’ve enjoyed it, scroll to the end for a reminder of the Sower Gallery’s purpose and location.

Bob McLain Artist Statement

“The human head has intrigued me for many years.

The phrase “The eyes are the windows to the soul” and how moods are created in the look of a person have also fascinated me. Because of this strong interest, I have created a long term study project called “Project Faces.”

This project will include proper proportions of the facial parts from nine positions of the head. I will also create different moods in the faces from small children to seniors and in many different nationalities.

The entire study will be done with graphite pencils to work on tonal values of the face.

Once this study is complete, I will start a new study of skin colors. This will be done in acrylics and colored pencils.

The artwork titled “Mil” is the first finished graphite drawing in my study.”





“For most of Mil Scheman’s life, she suffered from schizophrenia, a disabling brain disease. This illness made her agitated, anxious, and disconnected with others. In Mil’s mid 30’s, she was committed to a secure psychiatric hospital located in St. Peter, MN. When the smoking ban on state property was instituted, Mil went in front of a judge convincing him that she was of sound mind and in control of her mental illness. Mil spent the final years of her life at Divine Providence Nursing Home in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota where she was allowed to smoke six cigarettes a day.

Mil connected with animals more than people. She called herself the “Queen of the Beasties”. Mil shocked the staff at the Apple Valley and Como zoos when she kissed a snake (not in a cage) and kissed a camel that she had just ridden!

Mil had several stuffed animals that she called her kids. Her gorilla and tiger went everywhere with her. When it was time for “a smoke” she would often hold the cigarette to the gorilla’s mouth for a puff. Mil tore out a magazine picture of the Marlboro cigarette man and said he was her husband. When we did something that Mil didn’t like she at times would say, “Al is gonna get you for this!” (Referring to “boyfriend” Al Capone.)

Things changed when the great nieces and nephews were born. Mil loved to hold them as babies and referred to them as “the littles.” Just as Jesus has placed his mark on us and called us by name, Mil’s family and the Sister’s and staff of Divine Providence Nursing Home kept reaching out to Mil, inviting her to be a part of their lives.

Mil remained childlike in her love for all creatures, great and small. True bliss to Mil were her visits with family, delighting in babies and children, trips to the zoo, animal magazines, Camel cigarettes, Hershey candy bars and Dr. Pepper. Mil was God’s gift to us. She delighted and charmed us over the years. What a blessing she was.”

Sower Gallery


I’ve just posted on my website two versions of a very short story to be included in a local anthology. The first is my original, the second is the result of working with a very talented editor, KJ Neun. You can read both versions if you go to my web site and click on the fiction tab. I’d love to know what you think of the comparison.


If you are local, you have two more chances to see the amazing production of The Man of La Mancha at Theater 301. Last night’s audience leapt to their feet.

Posted February 6, 2016 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Man of La Mancha at theater 301   12 comments

This will be an amazing production of MAN OF LA MANCHA. If you live nearby, plan to be there for one of the four presentations — if you can get a ticket. Last year some of the performances sold out.

I am only a little biased, since my son Doug designed and built (with lots of help) the set, and is directing along with Joan Olson, assistant director.

See the link below for more interesting details. (and click on the photo to enlarge it)

molm dates


molm tickets








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