Friday, April 19, 2024

Exploring the Importance of Roots in Our Lives at PHES Gallery

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt. Photos by Maurice Hewitt.

A collaborative piece by PHES owners Paul Henry & Ellen Speert.

It’s always a good time to visit PHES Gallery in Carlsbad and their current show is well worth seeing. The theme is Roots, and 16 artists were invited to show what the word means to them.

Root Rising by Lucy Boyd Wilson 

A video installation greets you as you enter the gallery.

Here’s the artist's description: 

“It’s a meditation of flowing energy, tangles of roots, descending, deepening, evolving… breaking free into the inevitable upwelling bloom of color and creative joy.”   (Music from the Spotted Peccary album Convergence)

There were certainly varied responses to the Roots theme.  Here are two by Cheryl Tall.

Saraswati: Leaf Goddess, a hand-built ceramic piece.

 Roots Suite, a quartet of colorful faces on the wall behind the goddess  .

Three pieces by Ann Mudge had a room to themselves.

Consequences 1 (wood, paper, and steel) by Mary Donovan

Passport, mixed media on handmade paper by Juanita Perez Adelman

Let’s end by going back to the beginning, with Paul and Ellen’s collaborative piece. Paul wanted to make a cabinet out of some cherrywood and poplar that had been lying around in his workshop for decades. Then his sister visited some long-lost relatives in Florida and sent him copies of old family photos they had. So, the piece became his Polish Family Cabinet—his roots are in fact Polish, as is the cabinet style—and the photos went inside. 

There was a space at the bottom which he was going to fill with a little carving, but he asked Ellen what she might do; she came up with the trees, which he loved. Here’s a closer look at Ellen’s painting, with one of Paul’s family photos above it. 


Paul called the cabinet their first real collaboration. “No,” Ellen said. “Our first real collaboration was our daughter!”

There’s much more to see in the gallery—33 pieces in all—and Roots will be on view through June 15, so you have time to contemplate your own roots before you see these. There will also be an artists’ talk by Lucy Boyd Wilson and others on May 26 at 5 p.m. 

PHES Gallery
Until June 15
Gallery hours are Thursday-Saturday, 2-7 p.m., though PHES will be closed April 25-27.

P.S. from Paul Henry: His long-lost Florida relative just bought the Polish Family Cabinet!


Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has been writing about arts and lifestyles in San Diego County for over a dozen years. You can reach her at

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