Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

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Stonie Rivera and a Samhain Supper

For this Halloween blog entry of mine, I would like to give our kind attention to a truly fascinating interview subject, Stonie Rivera. Rivera has been a a local legend on the Milwaukee music scene for some time. Her punk bands Dummy Club and the Psycho Bunnies were well-loved and the former performed memorably at last year's, "Lest We Forget" concert at Turner Hall Ballroom, which also highlighted the talents of Die Kreuzen. The following are some of Rivera's thoughts on music, the arts, and running an underground art gallery which also houses a pleasant collection of occult supplies. And oh yes, she is a practicing witch.

 

On her musical influences Rivera had this to share: "My musical background came as a child, my dad was a musician and we always had music on in the house– everything from classical to jazz, Motown, opera, R&B, Soul. Mom was a huge fan of Little Richard & Fats Domino. Growing up in the sixties was an excellent time to really appreciate music. Music became a part of the civil rights and anti-war movements and we grew up in a really intense time of change. My biggest influences were groups like the Ronettes, the Marvelettes, Tina Turner, Ketty Lester, Billie Holiday, and The Rolling Stones."

 

Regarding art: "I love art as deeply as I love music and performing. I wanted to do something creative other than music. I threw my hat into the ring and opened Dominion. I wanted to create a space where artists could feel welcome and relaxed; a place where business and pleasure have to mix. I don't ask for résumés or if an artist has had any formal training. Every artist is different and it is essential to go with that individualism. I am lucky to be surrounded by art constantly."

 

Witchy things: "I have been doing tarot readings for 35+ years, and here is where I really 'out' myself publicly. Yes its true– I am a Witch. I started practicing at 12; lets just say it runs in the family. I am very eclectic and solitary. There is still so much misunderstanding about Witches, so much of it is fear and intolerance of anything they don't understand along with media and societal perception. I live my life on my terms, on my path…."

 

About her gallery: "Dominion is a 'peoples' gallery; everyone is welcome, we have art and obscura for every budget, we have tarot readings, angel readings, we do custom magical requests and sell basic supplies. I offer classes in magic for people on a tight budget, but want to learn or move forward and explore different practices. All you have to do is call the gallery to schedule and bring a pen and notebook. The cost of the class covers supplies which they can take home. The classes cover many topics. I also do private classes. People sometimes come in just to wander and absorb the art. It's something beautiful, enjoyable in a hectic world. Our resident artist Carol Curley always has a few of her unique pastels/mixed medias gracing the walls. Dominion has been a gallery where a lot of women feel they have found their voice as artists. That makes it even more special to me."

 

"Some people have called us an 'outsider" gallery.' I take that as a compliment. Most of us in art, music, theater, writing, poetry, dance– were always outsiders. It's  what makes people have such creative vision."

 

Rivera will be hosting a demonstration of a Dumb Supper, along with tarot readings and inviting visitors to share stories of ancestors all this week at her shop. For more information, check out her website at dominion-gallery.com

 

If you are not close to Milwaukee, why not host your own Dumb Supper for your family? Be sure to pull out chairs for your dearest departed and set places for them with their favorite treats. Afterwards, toss a little tarot or your other favorite divining method, and see if you can't initiate some stimulating conversation. And with that I bid you, the Happiest of  Halloweens!

 

Photo "Sweets for Halloween" by Apolonia from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

 
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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work was featured in Crone Magazine and the Marquette Journal online. She resides with a black cat named Bootsie, who always wants to keep her company at her computer.

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