Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Looking Back Through Numbers

I spent two grey and rainy days this week holed up in my office, doing accounting for my taxes. I had been dreading this task, and put it off until this Monday. Surprisingly, when I sat down at my desk, pushed all the other papers away, and turned off my email, an almost zen-like space opened up. It was just me and the numbers from the year before – inputting them methodically into Quicken. I was struck by how each receipt brought back memories of things I forgot I had even done. A receipt from a framer reminded me that I had editioned more pieces than I thought I had from Mapping the Body. A postage receipt reminded me that I did a mailing to my collectors last summer. Travel receipts from a trip to New Mexico reminded me that my trip to Review Santa Fe last May was less than a year ago. I learned from this that in my work as an artist, I am most often in the present or the future – my head full of all I want to do. One good thing that came from tax accounting this week was a recognition of all the small stuff - the little details, the errands run, the mail sent, the connections made - that altogether reveal how much hard work I have already done.

This then feels like a great point to be taking a vacation. In two days, my husband and I are headed to Mexico to a small beach town near Zihuatanejo where we will relax and bring the tempo of our bodies back to a resting pace.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Earlier this week I attended a party in honor of my father’s archive being acquired by Stanford University. It is a true cause for celebration – the knowledge that one’s work has a long-term home where it will be catalogued and cared for into posterity. For over twenty years, Charles Hobson has dedicated himself to making extraordinary handmade artist’s books like the one pictured here called Dancing with Amelia about the relationship between Amelia Earhart and her husband George Palmer Putnam. I am so glad to see my father get this recognition, and although it is usually the parent who says this about the child, I, the child, am proud of him. He carries such talent, such passion and drive, and has been such a generous source of support and creative inspiration.

What also captivated my mind that night was the notion of the long view as an artist. Usually, I see about one year out in terms of planning for shows and new work. But in telescoping out to the largesse of my life, I begin to question what are the long term goals and dreams for my art? Will I ever be lucky enough to have an institution collect my archive? Only time will tell. But for now I can dream…

On the note of archiving, the current issue of Art on Paper has some nice articles on photography, including one on the Getty’s growing archive of photographic materials. As digital technology takes over, the need for examples of older photographic media grows - especially for dating and authenticating earlier photographic work. The historian in me is so appreciative of the human need to collect and remember the past, and I am grateful for the institutions that do so.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cadence: A Collector Print for PhotoAlliance

Earlier this week, I spent an afternoon at the home/studio of Michael Creedon. Tucked within the redwood trees of Marin County, his studio boasts an Epson 9800 printer and an affectionate cat named Checkers. Together he and I proofed an edition of archival pigment prints based on a unique collage from my series Mapping the Body. The resulting print (pictured here) is part of the PhotoAlliance collector print program – an endeavor in which artists donate images, which are printed in special editions and sold to raise money for the organization.

I am fond of PhotoAlliance, and so this act of generosity came naturally. A former board member, I value all they do to build community around contemporary photography. Their workshops and lectures feature top-notch artists such as Hiroshi Sugimoto, William Christenberry, and, coming soon, Terri Weifenbach in April and Bruce Davidson in May. I value these talks as a means to gain a new perspective on the photographic medium, and for the chance to gather with others devoted to image making.

I was delighted that PhotoAlliance selected Cadence to be one of their collector prints. With this work, I pay homage to Man Ray, whose Surrealist photographs of the closely cropped female figure inform so many of my photographs in Mapping the Body. Cadence is a direct reference to his famous photograph, Le Violin d’Ingres, which itself references another artist, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. And so Cadence speaks to the ongoing cycle of one artist impacting another. I like to think that in making Cadence into a PhotoAlliance collector print that I am supporting this kind of transmission of influence. The money earned from the sale of this print will fund public events where artists speak to other artists. May the cycle of inspiration continue…

Monday, March 5, 2007


My show opened on Saturday at the Bolinas Museum in a whirlwind of an afternoon. There are three galleries at the museum. Accompanying my show were two wonderful solo shows by Mike O’Shea and Richard Shaw – each good family friends – the latter has known me longer than I have been taking photographs (before age 14). The crowd was impressive. I don’t know if it was the beautiful weather, the fact that it was Mardi Gras in Bolinas, the live music by Richard’s band in the museum courtyard, or the combined draw of all three artists, but it was packed. Friends and colleagues came out in abundance. I was so touched by everyone’s interest and encouragement. I joked later with my husband afterward that I have never hugged so many people in such a short time except at our wedding. The afternoon felt like a big art party.

I drove home thinking that whoever established the tradition of a reception to open an artist’s exhibit did a good thing. At my first solo show in 1996 in a small gallery in Albuquerque, NM, I might not have agreed with that last statement. Then I did not have the ease with my art I have today, and it was completely excruciating to stand in the same room while people examined the work. But this past Saturday, I enjoyed myself and welcomed the opportunity to talk about process and meaning with friends and strangers alike. Most of all what I valued as I drove home was the sense of celebration that a reception can have. As an artist, I work alone in the studio so much and there is always more work to do – it was nice to take a break, get dressed up on a Saturday afternoon, mingle with friends and art lovers, and drink a glass of wine to the creation of new work.