• Roberta Croteau

Getting to Know You

with Pat Halper

My name Pat Halper (Patricia Louise Halper is my full name) and my 69th birthday is on March 25. I don’t know where Patricia came from, but Louise was my mother’s middle name. My brother’s name was Robert Joseph and when we were kids our very southern family called us Patty Lou and Bobby Joe. I finally convinced them to just call me Patty, which I wasn’t particularly fond of either. When I started Junior High, I told everyone my name was Pat, and so it has been since then.


My husband Wayne and I have been married for 35 years (36 on May 1) and we have two sons, Neal and Josh. Neal is currently working on his masters in biochemistry and will be getting married to Becca Hill on June 12 here in Nashville. Our son Josh is a musician and has an album out on Dear Life Records. One of the paintings I created at Art & Soul is his album cover. If you want to hear it, let me know and I can hook you up!


I’ve been an Art & Soul member since 2004. My favorite Art & Soul memories are the “Yearlongs” and the Teacher Training with Arunima. I did two Yearlongs myself and then served as Nima’s assistant for the third one. I made such wonderful friendships during those times when we met weekly from September through April or May. There was a break (about six weeks I think) over the holidays. In the second year, during the break, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy during that time. When we met for the first time after the break and were doing our check-in, I reported what had happened. Needless to say, my Yearlong buddies were quite shocked! Fortunately, it was caught early. I was cured by the operation and didn’t have to have any further treatment. I was so grateful to have my Art & Soul tribe to come back to after all that. We were asked to do an “offering” at the end of each Yearlong. They were so healing to both do and to experience the offerings of others. I will always treasure those times for many, many reasons. Rising Moon, Carrie Wolpert, Debbie Chadwick, Traci Bruton and I were all part of the teacher-training cohort. I think I can safely say it was a year none of us will ever forget. We learned so much about what it means to create and hold space for ourselves and others and I continue to hold space for each of them in my heart.

The last TV show I binged was Ted Lasso. It’s about a man from Oklahoma who goes to England to coach a soccer team. He knows very little about soccer but knows a lot about people and how to build a team. It was LOL funny and also very endearing. I highly recommend it.


I’m currently reading two books by the same author, Isabel Wilkerson, called The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration details the migration stories of African-Americans getting out of the Jim Crow South and going to cities in the North and West. It focuses on the experiences of three people to tell the story of what African-Americans were experiencing in the south during the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s and what they found in other parts of the country. Caste explores and compares the caste systems of Nazi Germany, India and the United States. I have been very interested in issues of race since moving to the South when I was 15 and much of what I’ve been doing in the last 20 years centers around what we can do to alter the effects of systemic racism in our city.


I love movies and it’s hard to pick a favorite. Wayne and I, prior to the pandemic, spent most every Saturday night going to a movie. One of my early favorites was Dr. Zhivago. It was such a beautiful love story told in the context of some awful things going on in the world at that time. Much later, when I married Wayne, I learned that his grandmother lived in Russia during those times, and she shared a fascinating story of her family escaping from Russia during the Bolshevik revolution.

Guilty pleasure: The first thing that comes to mind these days is just having a day that I can sit and read, go for a hike with a friend, and not have to be on the computer at all!


Favorite vacation: Wayne and I got married on Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai. We have been back about eight or nine times. We renewed our vows there twice, the first time with my parents and my aunt who weren’t at our wedding because we basically eloped. The second time was with our kids who thought it was weird because we were already married, but they loved Kauai. We’ve been back a few times with them and it’s a favorite place for us all. We’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit to Ireland, Spain, Amsterdam, Slovenia (Wayne had business there), London and Paris. All wonderful trips.


Favorite holiday: Passover. It’s a special time for our family and we’ve shared it with many friends over the years. I’ll be so glad when we can share it with friends again! Favorite food: Anything that our friend Nick cooks at his restaurant, Mangia.

“My” song: I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, 50 miles from Detroit and anything Motown will get me groovin’. I was in the music business for about 20 years and had the privilege of being a music publisher for about 15 of those years. I’ll never forget the day Allen Shamblin, one of our writers and his co-writer Mike Reid, played me “I Can’t Make You Love Me” which was later recorded by Bonnie Raitt. It’s still a big favorite. “Sea of Love” was our song when we got married.

Something I’d like to learn in the next year: I’d like to learn to enjoy just “being” and not always feel that I have to be “doing” during this stage of my life.


Craziest thing I believed as a kid: That the ice cream my dad was making froze faster if I sat on top of the ice cream machine while he was cranking it. I think he told me that so I would hang out with him while he made it.


What makes me laugh: Being with our family and with friends.


I think creating every day would be a cool superpower.


My first celebrity crush was on Ricky Nelson when I was a kid, and I always watched Ozzie & Harriet. My maiden name is Nelson so I felt some kind of connection. When I was a journalist with Billboard magazine, I got to meet him when he played at the Exit/In one night, –– and I had my picture taken with him, which I still have. That was a thrill!

And a selection of questions from the PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sharing special times with my family.


What is your greatest fear?

That I won’t contribute enough to making the world a better place.


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Even after all these years at Art & Soul, judgment. And I am so very grateful for the continuing practice of non-judgment.


Which living person do you most admire?

Arunima Orr, Bryan Stevenson, Michelle Alexander, Angela Cowser – sorry can’t pick just one.


What is your greatest extravagance?

Traveling – I can’t wait to go somewhere!


What is your current state of mind?

There is not enough space to describe my current state of mind. JK


What is your most treasured possession?

The closet full of pictures and mementos from our life as a family.

*This isn’t one of the questions, but this time of COVID has taught me that it’s difficult to keep my art practice without community. I look forward to finding my way back.


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