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Crista Cloutier

Black and White and Blue All Over

What’s black and white and blue all over? A magpie! I should know. My best friend was a magpie. We met when I first went to France. Each day I followed the same forest trail that led me to my favorite spot in the world, a hillside abbey built in the 13th century. I loved [...]

Le Halloweeen

It was 1999 and I was spending that autumn at a small art school for American students in a tiny French village. They didn’t celebrate Halloween there. Non costumes. Non pumpkins. Non bons-bons. Like good Americans, we decided to change all that. We dragged pumpkins into the local school and gave the children big sharp [...]

The Last Dance

We were just 18 years old and Mimi was the first of our friends to slip to the other side – into adulthood. Mimi was getting married and she had asked me to be a bridesmaid. My lone task would be a simple one, and to which I was well suited, the bachelorette party. Eight [...]

Mastering the Law of Attraction

London’s Alternatives is the city’s most popular venue for New Age workshops, teaching classes in areas surrounding spirituality, creativity, wellbeing and self-development. “All our events”, their website boasts, “are offered in the spirit of love, joy and service.” With that in mind, I chose “Master the Law of Attraction” as my first dip of the [...]

Voices From Beyond the Grave

It was with nervous anticipation that I first approached London’s Spiritualist Mission on that cold Wednesday evening. Perhaps I might receive a message from beyond? The church, built in 1912, was beautiful and warm. Music played softly. I relaxed. It’s not often one hears show-tunes in church. It was a decent sized crowd for a [...]

What the Quaker Oats Man Knows

The Religious Society of Friends (RSOF), aka “Quakers,” was founded in England in 1652. Though there are still about 300,000 Quakers in the world today, when I mention the religion in polite company I often get puzzled looks, “Quakers? Aren’t they mythical, like fairies?” and “How do they get by without using electricity or driving [...]

A Guild of Vergers

Photo by Crista Cloutier Because I am weird this way, I crashed the Annual Conference of the Church of England Guild of Vergers at the All Saints Pastoral Centre in the English town of London Colnay. The Guild is not a trade union, not a club, nor is it some sort of sect, instead it [...]

Oranges and Lemons

Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clement’s You owe me five farthings, Say the bells of St. Martin’s When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey. When I grow rich, Say the bells of Shoreditch. When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney I do not know, Says the [...]

Dandy in the Underworld

The gallery is small but not the crowd for the “Private View” of exhibition Dandy in the Underworld: Portraits of Adam Ant. He really was beautiful. Chrissie Hynde is here! Walking around as if she were a mere mortal. And there are rows of mohawks, as the punks have come out too. Companion tells me [...]

Where the Cowboys Pray

First in a series of Worship Reviews I usually win on the horses. I have an instinct. But I should have known better than to follow the “hot tip” I received at church that morning. My horse came in third. Turf Paradise Race Track on a warm Arizona afternoon is the place to be. But [...]

William Wegman, His Dogs, and His Soul

Hanging out with William Wegman and his dogs in NYC. I am there to interview him for my forthcoming Working Artist video. Up until a few years ago, I worked in the art business and Wegman w as one of my artists. In my office I had the last photograph he ever took of his first [...]

I Brought No Italian With Me to Rome

I brought no Italian with me to Rome. At the Brazilian Embassy, I tell the guard that I am to there to see visiting artist Vik Muniz. He speaks no English. My best mime only warrants a raised eyebrow. In desperation, I plead, “Parlez francais?” though I do not. A call is placed and I [...]

The Sting

It was a hot day so I opened the big doors and settled down for an undeserved siesta. When I woke, it seemed that all of nature had moved in. Ants covered the floor. A bird perched on the shelf. A lizard slithered toward the fireplace. And somehow a bee got inside my shirt. Now, [...]

The market preacher

London’s largest Middle Eastern market is just outside my door. Constantly in the background is a broadcast of the Koran with someone singing beautifully in Arabic followed by an unnerving posh British accent translating into English. The people here know me because I visit every day. They say hello and often tell me their stories. [...]