“I studied painting in college and got away from it when my kids were growing up,” explains artist and businesswoman Stephanie Schriger. About 10 years ago, she and her husband Stan bought a cabin on Whidbey Island and “I started painting there [again].” She imagined offering that experience to a wider circle of women and this spring she and her friend, Peg Elefant, co-founded Whidbey Island Painting Retreats (www.whidbeypaintingretreats.com). Their first day-long retreat was in May and “we’ve had about one or two a month…since then.”
Complete novices to completely experienced painters are welcome at the women-only retreats, which focus on oil painting en plein air, or outdoors.
“The whole idea is to be creative in a very beautiful place,” says Stephanie.
The day begins with coffee, goodies and introductions. After giving “techniques or pointers that relate to the location,” participants paint for three to four hours with breaks for feedback and instruction. Most finish their paintings and pizza boxes are provided to transport the wet canvases home.
The group then reconvenes indoors to sample local wine and cheeses. A member of the Whidbey Island Grown organization, Stephanie tries “to keep it local” in support of other island businesses.
The Schrigers, both native Californians, moved to the Seattle area in 1997 after living in Israel for 15 years. Growing up in a Zionist household, Stephanie always planned to make aliyah once she had a profession. With a graduate degree in design from Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles (and undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz), she moved to Israel, where she worked for the Jerusalem Post and started a graphic design business with a friend.
Here she founded Design & Graphics (www.designandgraphics.biz), a design, print and mailing business, and Stan works with her.
Stephanie says the Northwest is “a beautiful and picturesque place,” but “I will always live a dual identity. I will always miss Israel.”
The next painting retreat is the first weekend in November with an optional overnight at the Captain Whidbey Inn. Stephanie has plans for cooking and jewelry-making retreats and there’s more information on the website.
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Yoav Duman was collecting data in Spain when the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) announced that he had received a $15,000 Schusterman Scholar Award for his doctoral studies in political science at the University of Washington. It’s his third award from the foundation.
The Ra’anana, Israel, native told me the town, near Tel Aviv, is home to “a lot of Anglos,” including many South Africans. Yoav did his military service in the office of the IDF ombudsman and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Ben Gurion and Tel Aviv Universities. He founded a Hebrew-language academic journal that publishes high-quality political science work in both the original Hebrew and in translation. (Find it at www.public-sphere.com, but non-Hebrew readers will need Google translator.)
“I really wanted to work with Joel Migdal,” of the UW’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, says Yoav, which brought him to Seattle.
His research is on immigration and Israeli politics, especially the “relationship between the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the issue of labor migration.”
Israel has a huge number of migrant laborers, legal and illegal, and has now become a sanctuary for about 70,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees (mostly Muslim), though not without controversy. It faces similar immigration issues as the U.S., but intensified by its smaller size and population.
“In societies that receive immigration, it always causes a lot of complexity,” he observes. When they “have an acute demographic problem these issues become even bigger.”
Catalonia (Spain) and Quebec are also included in his studies as regions that desire independence, but rely on immigrant labor, creating “demographic issues [and] competition between groups.”
Yoav says “it’s a great honor” to receive the Schusterman award, which allows “people to do field work in Israel, to study Israeli politics.” The award brings professional validation, funds travel for data collection, and puts him in a select group of scholars. “I’m proud to be part of the project,” he says.
Yoav and his wife are beginning their fourth year in Seattle, and while they appreciate the high quality of life in “a beautiful city,” he admits that when it’s still “raining in June,” the weather can get to him. (Present dry spell not included, of course.)