A Robinesque AthenaMay 01, 2016 09:31PM ● By Dale Bruder
Robin Athena by Echo Starmaker
Moises Orozco’s statue of Athena, golden scissors and sewing needle in hand, stands seven feet tall in the courtyard of Athena’s Castle. This midtown Tucson property is art studio, garden, home and hearth for Robin “Athena” Hall, renaissance woman extraordinaire.
Vibrantly vital, she is entering her crone years with an electrifying verve of a woman half her age. Twelve- to 15-mile hikes, 60-mile road bike trips and mountain wilderness backpacking are normal for the loving grandmother and open-hearted lover of life. The clothing line business she started in her late 50s has customers trekking Tasmania, strolling Paris streets and celebrating themselves in her colorful designs every day.
The popular press churns out advice and profiles of women who have reinvented themselves in midlife, typically after 25 or so years of having done what was expected of them—whether as a mother, wife or professional. The quest of new validation or journey to realize a latent talent fuels female ambition to climb to new heights, taking on a mountain or a glass ceiling.
Hall’s fully expressed femaleness has been more a continuous work in progress then reinvention. From the earliest age as a toddler in rural New Hampshire, Hall has been exploring simple expressions of old world hand sewing, farming and music. Both her grandparents’ farms were close by her parents homestead. Young Hall would walk through the woods, feeling the winds blowing through the trees, to grandmothers who taught her to sew on a treadle machine and cook on a wood burning stove, to playtime in hay barn lofts and helping the men keep the farm machinery running. She would recreate these happy memories in many forms throughout the years ahead.
Her midlife wakeup happened in the ordinary way of our modern society: kids grown, husband divorced and a big case of self-doubt looming in front of her face. She took up long distance road biking, running, speed hiking and swimming; placed in races and triathlons; and filled her hours with training and nutrition. Backpacking the sky islands and canyons of the Southwest and rock climbing brought back the winds blowing through the trees, uplifting her heart and spirit. “Since childhood, feeling the wind has always been important to me,” recalls Hall.
The outdoor athleticism provided a foundation to seek additional activities to enjoy a fuller experience of life. A community of healers invited her into their circle, renewing her experience of family. Two years living in the Bio-Touch house, led by a guru-like Paul Bucky, reinstated in her a heart-oriented approach to life. “If I have a philosophy, it began there—to be kind, good and cooperative with people,” says Hall.
A growing curiosity of ancient ways led the spiritual traveler to the Temple of the Presence, where she became familiar with the alchemy of Saint Germain and the radiance of the Ascended Masters. The Tucson community embraced her participation in the kitchen, and she provided epistle covers and ceremony gowns from her sewing machine. Hall describes a dreamlike state in 2010, when she was told by the Ascended Masters to start a sewing business and call it Athena Garments. Her casual interest became an enterprise.
“I like it best when a creative thought hits me. I immediately imagine what it will look like and how it will come together, jump into looking for fabric, finishing the garment in a few hours,” muses Hall. She looks through the shelves filled with bolts of patterned and textured cloth, some decades old, waiting for its creative thought. “The ones that take one creative session are sometimes the very, very best.”
A patron of the arts, Athena is an artist in her own right. Athena’s lines of Southwestern chic, active outdoor attire and tailored clothes are designed in her sewing studio—its walls peppered with her primitive painted images of nature. Hall longed for colorful and versatile, active, outdoor clothing for women that wasn’t mauve or putty colored, so she began making her own clothes to complement her love of the outdoors. Soon after, her friends began asking for their own hiking and biking clothes.
Adventurous and theatrical in her Athena Garments YouTube channel, Hall entertains subscribers with videos including scenes such as: yeah-hawing, slipping and sliding down the smooth rocks of Wild Horse Canyon; splashing into mountain spring flow; bike riding around the Sun Circle after dusk, glowing like an electrified field in headlights; and strumming a banjouke, belting out a rewrite of Buffalo Gals, about Buffalo Palooza at Cat Mountain Station. Self-described as shy, Hall regularly costumes up in self-creations while out and about at art gallery openings. In enlightened moments of Athena’s wisdom, she recognizes that what is called self-doubt may actually be the internal art critic, hungry for the next creative thought that will top the last one.
In 2012, the fashion designer journeyed to France with Victor Navarro’s Paris-San Carlos Art Exchange. The artist exhibited her Athena Southwest clothing line in a tour through Avallon, Quarré- les-Tombes, Toutry and other French towns. Her designs came to the forefront again in the 2015 Clifton, Arizona Colors of Copper themed art competition, where Parisian artists wore vests and skirts of her design. An expanding roster of artists and connoisseurs of couture don Athena-designed garments. Gabriel Ayala wears her vests in his performance concerts. At the recent Vintage Palooza at Cat Mountain Station, Kerstin Block, founder of the Buffalo Exchange empire, bought a modernism-themed skirt and a Frida Kahlo patterned dress.
The statue of Athena holding golden scissors and needle stands in the courtyard of the temple Hall has built to her. A wide circle reaches to a 20-by-40-foot vegetable garden, a fountain by Lee Blackwell, The Nest sleeping room, Hestia (the 1920s era Home Comfort wood cook stove), an art studio, fruit trees and chickens. This rural, self-sufficient ecology, detailed with functional art objects, is home comfort for the creative expression of a woman ever in process.
Dale Bruder is a freelance writer interested in creative people, social and cultural movements and applications of esoteric knowledge. Connect at 520-331-1956 or [email protected].