Wendy J. Elkin, Painting Bolinas – WOMAN of ACTION™

A Celebration of Women™

is elated to Celebrate the Life of this adventurous, loving and talented woman with a curiosity for life,

that, as she would say “My insatiable curiosity often gets the best of me.”

This woman began her Journey as a special education teacher, then, working as a photographer of the public, finding herself attracted to the Civil Rights Leaders. It was during an IN-KIND DRIVE as Art Commissioner for the city of Mill Valley, that the dream of her life began.

She has always had a warm heart leading her into the lives of others, wanting to help them love themselves,

appreciate themselves so to leave a legacy for others, by


the ordinary into the extraordinary!

Artist, Director, Photographer, Teacher and Producer.

Here is her Story

celebrating a 90 year old Artist from Bolinas,California …

… she is making American History.


Wendy Elkin

Starting with her work photographing politicians, civil rights leaders, protesters, and continuing with American National heroes, she is an astute observer of American culture. Her portraits have been appearing in exhibits in the Bay Area and across the country for several years.

Collectors include Senator Hillary Clinton, Rosa Parks, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, and Tipper Gore to name a few. She has had her work accepted into permanent exhibitions at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, the Rosa Parks History Museum in Montgomery, Alabama and the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington, D.C.

She has had her work accepted into permanent exhibitions at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, the Rosa Parks History Museum in Montgomery, Alabama

and the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Painting Bolinas movie marks

the Directorial Debut of Wendy Elkin.

She has spent the last three years transitioning into documentary film. A natural transition from writing weekly feature stories for a newspaper and still photographer where she produced a substantial body of work concerned with social, political and cultural issues.

Directors Statement:

“I met Peter Lee Brownlee while serving as an Art Commissioner for the city of Mill Valley in California where I have lived for the past 23 years. I was soliciting for in-kind donations to give to participants who entered a once a year photography competition, and was touched by the generosity of one local artist who donated a box of his beautiful cards, which featured bright, colorful representations of Bay Area townships and landscapes.

This is a sample of a Peter Lee Brownlee card . . . the beautiful little
hamlet at the base of Mount Tamalpias known to all as Mill Valley . . . .

After the event, I decided to track down this artist who so generously donated boxes of his cards without knowing me. All I knew was that his name was Peter Lee Brownlee and that he lived somewhere in Bolinas. Since I didn’t have an address, I decided to stop at the flower stand in Stinson Beach, figuring he could probably give me a lead to Peter’s whereabouts. As I bought some tall sunflowers, the florist told me that Peter lived behind the Bolinas Gas Station. So, I went to Bolinas and found the only gas station in town, parked my car, and walked into a world like no other I have ever experienced.

Grandster watching the Brownlee Art Empire…”

I approached what seemed to me an impossibly dilapidated house and encountered a motley cast of characters, a pack of cats, an overgrown garden and dozens of paintings lying everywhere. I found myself at once weary and entranced.

(My insatiable curiosity often gets the best of me).

As I entered the ramshackle home, navigating my way past the piles of debris, beloved art supplies and brilliant, insane paintings, I knew there was no turning back.

Visible beyond the end of a hallway constructed out of finished masterpieces, was an elderly man sitting on the edge of his bed, dressed in purple with a flouncy black hat. I knocked on his halfway-opened door and was met with a pair of steel blue eyes, clear and wise. Despite his age and hunched posture, Peter Brownlee’s presence was formative, and bigger than life. I remember thinking this could not possibly be the same man who painted those lively, childlike scenes on the cards that were donated. Yet the walls and stacks of finished and incomplete paintings proved his identity.

Something told me this would be the beginning of a very sweet friendship. Our conversations knew no bounds. We discussed how he began his artistic career, the artists he admired, details of his remarkable life story, and the journey that led him to the tiny ocean-side town of Bolinas, California. I was moved by his zest for life, his zaniness and the bizarre counter-culture he created in his home.

Peter had a “butler,” a “driver,” a gardener, a contractor, and a host of “cooks,” who lived rent-free with him in exchange for work. He had no idea how many people really lived on his property; he guessed anywhere up to twenty. He did make it known that he was proud to give the Latinos in Bolinas a place to live, because he hated the way they were treated in town. Generous to everyone, always doing favors, lending money – it was his way and his pleasure.

Quickly, I learned that the more cantankerous he was with you the more he really liked you. A salty dog with a never-ending list of stories, Peter could have been a character stepping out of one of his colorful paintings. For the most part, he was beloved in the community, but like all people with big personalities, he was not without critics. Indeed, in all the years he lived in town, the Bolinas Museum had never offered to show his work, despite the obviously local subjects of his paintings.

This left me to wonder:

Why was he not treated as Bolinas’ own national treasure?

Peter Lee, entertaining as the King in his court, is actually the sanest in his world of jesters. That being said, this film sheds light on the lives and life styles of individuals who are mostly shunned by society for their difference, beliefs, and psychology. These people have made an imprint on Peter’s life and work. Through the process of making the film, I have found myself endeared to them.

I am deeply humbled and honored to be a part of Peter’s world and to be able to enjoy him and his paintings.

He always says, I hope you enjoy my paintings as much as I have enjoyed painting them!”

Enjoy yourself because it’s later than you think.”

Sage advice for everyone, no doubt.

At first I had much trepidation about transitioning from photography to film because of my lack of experience. But my husband encouraged me to make the film because it needed to be made; he had faith that I would learn by doing.

So I set about to capture Peter in his everyday life and focused on conveying his relentless, creative spirit. I knew filming this way would perhaps offer insight into not only the aging process, but also how to treat it with dignity.

His passion for painting motivated me to assist him in his desire to “leave something behind and to never forget the importance of the integrity of a painting”.

In an earlier time, one of his paintings was on the cover of “New York Living” and he donated paintings to help Yoko Ono raise funds for the Strawberry Fields John Lennon Memorial.

It is my hope that you are able to see not only Peter as an incredible fine artist, but as a true Americana folk hero, whose integrity, spirit, and zest for life may teach us all to live more fully.”

VIDEO ONLINE ONLY, not on Ezine.

In gratitude,
~ Wendy Elkin
Director and Producer, Painting Bolinas

Testimonial: http://www.filmproposals.com/painting-bolinas.html

Painting Bolinas – Official Trailer: http://vimeo.com/12223122

Paining Bolinas News: http://paintingbolinas.com/?page_id=12

Wendy, ‘Who is the Hero in Your Backyard?’


FIND Wendy J. Elkin:

[email protected]




Many of you are aware that I am preparing a 60 minute version of Painting Bolinas for PBS. After I meet their criteria, I am confident that it will receive final approval. They may ask for more changes which is to be expected.   Currently,  it is set to air nationwide some time in May if everything goes to plan. I will notify you of dates when I receive confirmation.

At this time, two exciting events are happening with the film in the months of January and February! 

Painting Bolinas has been accepted into the Santa Barbara International Film Festival which runs from Jan. 26th – Feb. 5th.

I am very honored to be a part of this wonderful festival as it is difficult for a new filmmaker to break into. http://sbiff.org/

On February 11th, the San Francisco (Main) Public Library will be featuring Painting Bolinas in the Koret Auditorium. This is a free event and I will be doing a Q & A afterwards. It is from 3 – 5 p.m. I am hoping all of my PB NorCal fans will attend and bring friends who have not seen it or want to see it again! This is a nice way to honor Peter as he passed away on December 1, 2011. The address is:

San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, Ca.

Thank you for your support and continued interest in the film! I will keep you posted!

Check the www.paintingbolinas.com website in the coming months for more information.

With many blessings, Wendy
Wendy Elkin
Director/Producer of Painting Bolinas

A Celebration of Women™

celebrates and thanks God for

the curious heart of this Woman.

Brava Wendy!

Wishing everyone a New Year that will symbolize the beginning of a better tomorrow and bring a celebration of new hopes and dreams. To everyone who has supported, inspired and believed in the making of Painting Bolinas, I give you my heartfelt thank you. I am deeply humbled and eternally grateful. Best Wishes, Wendy

If you Subscribe by going to http://paintingbolinas.com/?page_id=372 , you will receive Painting Bolinas updates by e-mail, and receive a free mp3 of the film’s theme song! ~ an original song written and sung by the enormously talented George Mohler.

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