Monthly Archives: October 2013


William Eaton is a four time Grammy nominee, who has performed on stages large and small, he is a designer and builder of unique guitars that have been written about and exhibited internationally, and he is the director of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, the longest running guitar making school in North America, located in downtown Phoenix.  In addition, he and his wife Christie run The Old Town Center for the Arts,  a performing arts center in Cottonwood.   Also this year, after almost a forty year hiatus from the sport, he is the number one pole vaulter in the USA in his age category.


William Eaton

William Eaton


For thirty years at Spirit of the Senses salons, William Eaton has been performing inside interesting acoustic environments to enhance the experience of listening to sound and music.  Once Monitor Radio recorded his performance a half mile deep inside a 20’ diameter cement drainage pipe, several times William explored the soundscapes of the three story tiled office lobby, another time a performance was created in a desert canyon, another time inside a planetarium, and once at a home that was made of boulders.  In the Spring for Spirit of the Senses, William will be performing inside an atrium. These musical acoustic experiences have been called Mystery Sound Environments.


The many other Spirit of the Senses salon performances, that involve classical or jazz forms of music, also have much musical intimacy and engage the listener with rapture.  The differences in the experiences may be that William Eaton’s Mystery Sound Environments also emphasize every sound in the space, including birds, unexpected noises, and the listener’s movements.  There may or may not be familiar melodies.  The environments become a larger player on the experience, both acoustically and visually.  The echos inside these spaces can engulf the listener and be a major part of the sound experience.


At a salon coming up in the Spring, William Eaton will also discuss his musical instruments, that are works of art.   These guitars, lyres, and variations of harps, are exotic to see.   Somehow his musical instruments at the same moment look both ancient and futuristic in style.   His musical instruments become a part of the theatre of the acoustic experience that William offers.  The environments that he performs inside then become extensions of his musical instruments.


Perhaps something that the listener can take away from experiencing a Mystery Sound Environments performance by William Eaton is that one can find mystery sound environments everywhere.  In this way, the world is experienced as a special place that enchants the listener.



Gertraud Wild, author, photographer, and adventurer, first crossed paths with Spirit of the Senses almost twenty years ago during a chance meeting with someone while at Biltmore Fashion Park.    She and her husband joined the group right away.


Gertraud and her husband David Ricks live in Vienna, Austria and reside part of the year at their home in the greater Biltmore area.  She describes the salons of Spirit of the Senses as the soul of Phoenix for her.   The salons offer an abundance of exposure to the arts, sciences, and culture that gives enrichment to her every day life.  “Spirit of the Senses makes me feel at home and the group provides a continuity and belonging while I’m in Phoenix” she says.


Over the past few years, Gertraud has been invited to talk at salons about her exotic walking treks in different parts of the world.   She has spoken about her travels in Ethiopia and in Nepal.   She has also written two books in the German language about these treks.   The two books are filled with her photographs that reflect her personal encounters and offer a diary of how she experienced her travels.  Her salon discussions at Spirit of the Senses have provided her an additional way to revisit these experiences and show others images of her personal treks.


“When traveling I like to experience directly the places I am visiting by having a close  relationship with the place, the people and the culture.  I want to experience with all my senses.”


One evening at a salon discussion, Gertaud spoke of her travels with her oldest son Lawrence through urban and remote parts of Ethiopia.  She showed photographs of the people she met along her trek and discussed her encounters with the culture and religion.


Another evening at a salon discussion, Gertraud discussed and shared photos of her 21  day trek in Nepal with her younger son Robert and daughter Anna-Sophie.  In preparation for her trek in the Himalayas, Gertraud trained by hiking Piestawa Peak every day.   Gertraud’s trek to Nepal was close to the Tibetan border along ancient trade routes to the base camp of the mountain Manaslu, the eighth highest peak in the world.   Gertraud and her son and daughter also trekked in the sacred Buddhist region, The Tsum Valley.


Gertraud is planning her next salon for sometime this winter with Spirit of the Senses.   She will discuss her 14 day trek along the World Heritage Trail through the Wachau Valley along the Danube River in her native Austria.


Spirit of the Senses brings different perspectives together in conversation on important issues.  Spirit of the Senses invites many of the leading thinkers and talents in the arts, architecture, science, medicine, law and philosophy to have conversations that enlighten awareness of the world and stimulate ideas.  Many of these salon discussions are hosted in homes near and in the Biltmore area.   In addition to the salons hosted in  the Phoenix area, Spirit of the Senses plans salon trips to New York City, California, and Boston.   If you would like to become a part of the conversation you can find information about Spirit of the Senses at or by calling (602) 906-0091.


Robert, Anna-Sophie, Gertraud Wild in Nepal

Robert, Anna-Sophie, Gertraud Wild in Nepal



“The music of Spooky Kool at a recent Salon was spooky good, and a prime example

of the great musical performances — jazz and otherwise — provided by

Spirit of the Senses.” – Brad Christensen


Spooky Kool

Spooky Kool


Gabriel Bey, aka Spooky Kool has enchanted the musical memories of those that have attended Spirit of the Senses the past few years.   Many can remember the evening last spring at the 30th anniversary party for the salons, when Spooky Kool was playing his trumpet off to the side in the darkness while several hundred people gathered to look through two powerful telescopes into the night sky.


This summer Spooky Kool brought members of his new band together at a home near the Biltmore area, and performed their original neo-soul and nu-jazz songs from a new CD the band will soon release.  Some of the new recordings are posted on the Internet ( ) in advance of the CD release.   Songs such as the catchy melody ‘Hold Me’ with vocalist and keyboard artist Sandra Bassett, came alive in  the living room of the salon host’s home.  The band which in addition to Gabriel Bey and Sandra Bassett, also consists of guitarist Pete Mello, drummer Phil Jazer, and bassist Jeff Lokensgard,  energized the room.


Alicia Crumpton who attended this summer’s salon said “Spirit of the Senses salons afford an opportunity to engage the whole person in the world of ideas, art, music, culture, and science.   Gabriel Bey’s Spooky Kool, music defies rigid categorization.  While listening at the salon, I experienced the sensation of settling into my chair living the music, fearing it would stop and bring me back to reality.”


At the break in the middle of the salon performance, everyone had the pleasure of refreshments and there was a chance to meet and talk with the musicians.   There were smiles all around.   And after the break, Spooky Kool’s trumpet and the band’s rhythm again filled the room, and toes were tapping in the groove.


Almost every month, Spirit of the Senses includes a music performance in the diverse mix of a dozen or so salon gatherings.    The salons are an opportunity for the musicians to explore and expand their creative talents.  The attentive audience gathered adds to the excitement of their performance.   Recent and future musical salon offerings include a mix of classical, pop, jazz, and improvised soundscapes and vocals performed by solo artists, duos, quartets and bands.


Turner Davis

Turner Davis


An artist who is the son of an artist spoke about his father’s art.


One morning this summer members of Spirit of the Senses visited Riva Yares Gallery in Scottsdale to discuss an exhibition of the paintings of Arizona artist James G. Davis and to see the  Gallery’s collection on view.


Our guide was artist Turner Davis, the son of James Davis. The younger Davis gave the  group gathered an insight into art’s inspiration.  Turner spoke of how his parents had taken him on their travels and how he grew up at an art colony near Tucson.  Turner told us of how his father first started painting as a way to be engaged with life during a long healing process for an injured foot.   This was the beginning of his father James Davis’s successful career as an artist.   In his conversation, Turner expressed how he had grown up visiting Riva Yares Gallery when his father first started exhibiting at the Gallery.   Years later,  as opportunities were presented, Turner would start working at the Gallery.


Turner spoke about the early days of the Gallery that then occupied a smaller footprint of the contemporary building that now exists.   Turner said Riva Yares became a dealer of high end art starting during the 1970‘s in Phoenix and Santa Fe.  Among the paintings on view in the Gallery are works by many noted artists including Milton Avery.   And also, the group could see a painting by Turner on one of the Gallery’s walls.


Turner could identify objects and people in his father’s narrative paintings.   In this most recent exhibition his father had painted images from his personal life, including outline portraits of Turner’s mother.  There before all of us to see were images that were part of  his father James Davis’s life and part of Turner’s life.   One painting in the exhibition had taken over ten years before his father James Davis had felt the work to be complete.


James Davis is now a professor emeritus of art at the University of Arizona and his art is in many museum collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Hershhorn Museum and The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., as well as  The Phoenix Art Museum.


Turner Davis, who became inspired to create art through his parents, portrays both an autobiography and language of images in his drawings and paintings.   Turner currently is working on an illustrated book project.  Turner has also found artistic satisfaction teaching drawing to beginners and for young people.


On a weekday morning members of Spirit of the Senses traveled to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with the destination of riding the new Sky Train and seeing the art created for the dramatic public spaces that welcome travelers.  Ed Lebow, program director and Rebecca Rothman, project manager of the Phoenix Public Art Program, led the tour and ride and discussed the art.   They explained that the project was more than five years in the making from the initial ideas to the finish of construction.


Ed and Rebecca expressed that the idea behind The Sky Train was to be a functional way to move people to and from the busy airport, and also to significantly frame the initial and departing memories of Phoenix by the travelers.   The art in the public spaces helped create an aesthetic ambience for the large scale entrances, hallways, and lobbies built for The Sky Train.  The ride provided stunning views of the city.


The members of Spirit of the Senses, an arts, science and cultural salon group, expressed excitement and awe.   For most of the visiting group this was their first time experiencing The Sky Train.  Many said it was much more dramatic and exciting than they had been prepared for and were thrilled by riding The Sky Train.   It was special for everyone in the salon group to see vistas of the metropolitan area and mountains.   The group appreciated sensing  the history of Phoenix as the train crossed over the canal with Pueblo Grande pre-historic ruins nearby.


Photo of 'Trace Elements' by Daniel Mayer

Photo of ‘Trace Elements’ by Daniel Mayer


Ed Lebow and Rebecca Rothman relayed how the construction workers pieced together the individual pieces the artists had diagramed for them.   They spoke of how the construction workers fit each piece of the art by hand.   Ed and Rebecca discussed how the art pieces were sometimes constrained by building codes, such as the ceiling ‘Blue Stratus’ by the international team of Mario Madayag, Michael Parekowhai, and Paul Deeb.  The artists created a ceiling at the Washington Street station breezeway that in some places moves and through lighting has different shades of blue meant to invoke a sense of cool water.   Ed and Rebecca expressed the challenges of installing the art, with the example of the large art frames of ‘Trace Elements’ by Daniel Mayer in the Terminal 4 entrance of The Sky Train.   And Ed and Rebecca introduced the group to the construction of the colorful and intriguing terrazzo floors developed by Daniel Martin Diaz, Fausto Fernandez, Ann Coe, and Daniel Mayer.  The developers for The Sky Train developed a new kind of terrazzo floors were much more capable of handling the stress from the vibration of trains and pounding of feet than poured cement.


The Spirit of the Senses group found that the journey on The Sky Train was a celebration of the city in which they live.   For many, they would take a trip to The Sky Train even if they had no intentions of boarding an airplane!



Beethoven and the Human Imagination / Mapping Brain Connections / Quantum Beauty / Original Papers of John and Abigail Adams / Dreams, Consciousness, Self /Hidden Biases / Human Origins / Memory.    These were the subjects of a recent three day visit to Boston that mixed the future with the past, to help understand the present.


During the first week of May, when the trees of Boston were flowering and days were sunny, seventeen travelers from Spirit of the Senses visited Boston and Cambridge to learn, imagine, taste, and become inspired.  The group met with some of the leading researchers and thinkers with visits to MIT, Harvard, The Massachusetts Historical Society, and a hillside home.


The first visit was along the Charles River in Killian Hall at MIT.   The group met with pianist, composer, Boston Globe music critic, and author Matthew Guerrieri.   Matthew spoke about his book ‘The First Four Notes:  Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination’ that compiles his enormous research on what might have influenced Beethoven to create his Fifth Symphony, how diverse influences in Europe and America spread this musical idea, and how this cultural memory evolves through time and generations.


After a visit to a great Cambridge pastry and lunch spot, members visited with Amy Robinson, a crowd sourcing expert and creative director at EyeWire in the Seung Lab of MIT, who through an online game, involves 60,000 people around the world in mapping neurons in a brain.  Amy spoke about how this project propels scientific research by involving many people.   Already after only six months from the start of her project there were new discoveries of how neurons connected.


Following the visit, we walked to the hallowed halls of The Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT.   Inside among blackboards, walls filled with contemporary art, and a sign that inspired the title of this article, we met 2004 Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek, PhD,  the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, and author of ‘The Lightness of Being’.   Frank spoke about the scientific process and discoveries of theoretical physics that has cleared a path towards understanding the complexities of nature and the universe.




The next morning the group traveled across the Charles River to the historic Massachusetts Historical Society.    C. James Taylor, editor – in – chief of the Adams Papers, displayed original letters and documents of John, Abigail, and Quincy Adams. James Taylor and four of his research assistants spoke to the group from Phoenix about how the lives of John Adams, Abigail Adams, and son Quincy Adams profoundly impacted the beginnings of the country and how their letters created a record of the American revolution and infancy of the United States.


After lunch, the group traveled to the hillside home of Allan Hobson, MD, a professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School, who is one of the world’s leading sleep and dream researchers, and is author of a new autobiography ‘Dream Life’.   Dr. Hobson discussed his scientific evolution in understanding consciousness, dreams, and the self.


In the early evening, the group traveled back to Cambridge and met Mahzarin Banaji, PhD, the Richard Clark Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University.   Mahzarin discussed the subject of her new book ‘Blind Spot:  Hidden Biases of Good People’ and co-directs the website ‘Project Implicit’.


On the third day of the Spirit of the Senses visit, the group met at the historic Peabody Museum to meet Richard Wrangham, the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University, who co-directs the Kibale Chimpanzee Project.  Richard, who is one of the world’s leading researchers on the relationship of primates and human evolution, discussed his book ‘Catching Fire:  How Cooking Made Us Human’.   Afterward the group wandered the Peabody Museum and the Harvard Museum of Natural History which includes the unique collection of glass replications of  more than 830 plant species made beginning in 1886 by artisans Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka.


In the afternoon, the group concluded the three day visit on the fifteenth floor of a building at Harvard overlooking the Boston and Cambridge skyline.  There the group met to discuss memory with Daniel Schacter, PhD, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology, who just that week had be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.   Daniel spoke about the subject of his book ‘The Seven Sins of Memory’.    His book had been the inspiration for a Spirit of the Senses discussion in Phoenix in 2006 on eye witness testimony.



Carlo Jager with Sander van der Leeuw

Carlo Jager with Sander van der Leeuw


Recently at a home in a Biltmore neighborhood two leading intellectuals in science and the economy discussed the questions raised by members of Spirit of the Senses about global climate change and the potential impact on the globe.  The living room was filled for an informative and provocative salon conversation between Sander Van der Leeuw, PhD, the 2012 United Nations champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation, and Dean of the ASU School of Sustainability, and European economist Carlo Jaeger, PhD, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.   Dr. Jaeger chairs the European Climate Forum, and this winter has been the Julie Wrigley Visiting Senior Scholar at the School of Sustainability at ASU.


Questions inspired more questions and the salon discussion spanned topics including:  the greenhouse effect, temperature changes, and weather patterns;  melting glaciers and  effects on the oceans;  climate change impact on global markets;  the impact on the wealthy and the poor; differing cultural attitudes; the search for solutions and competition among scientists and nations.   Sander and Carlo both noted the importance of continued conversation about the issues on the local level, at the same time learning to act on a planetary level.


After a break for refreshments, members came back with their questions for Sander and Carlo.  Regarding climate change, one concern was have we reached the point of no return?   It was answered that we have passed several points of no return.  Some parts of the globe will experience more impact than other parts. The discussion emphasized that it will become important to strengthen community ties to weather these issues.

%d bloggers like this: