Friday, June 29, 2007

Thinking about Art

The Legion of Honor in San Francisco always makes me feel like I have been transported to Europe. My father and I traveled there together this week to see “Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper.” It was a treat to wander the marble halls with my father because his knowledge of printmaking combined with mine of photography allowed each of us a more complete understanding and insight into the works on display. In the first room, I fell in love with an intimate etching by Rembrandt of a puppy (I am always a sucker for dogs), and my father gave me a crash course in print media, such as the distinction between a mezzotint and an aquatint. In the next room, I was struck by the illusionistic beauty of a drawing by Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype – it was certainly not a lack of drawing skill that inspired him to become one of the inventors of photography. If I could take one thing home with me, it would be the Tina Modotti photograph of an interior mural in Mexico – the way she photographed it turns it into a sweeping dreamlike experience.

Walking back to the car, I snapped this photograph of Rodin’s The Thinker. The next day, while listening to Anna Halprin on the podcast I was touched to hear her say that it was a visit to the Musée Rodin sculpture gardens in Paris that provided an antidote for the deep horror she had experienced just prior in visiting a concentration camp – that it was art and beauty that truly have the power to heal the soul. I had a moment of inter-rushing connections – Rodin’s sculpture in San Francisco that I just saw and the ones that populate the Musée Rodin that inspired Anna who then inspired me…and it made me all the more grateful that I took the time this week to let art speak to me.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Practice: Art + Text

Last week, I received a delightful package in the mail. A simple brown cardboard box yielded these treats – loose leaf tea, a tea strainer, and five copies of the journal, Practice: Art + Text, which includes reproductions of my series, Bottle Dreams. As a participant in the journal, I receive these gifts plus a small stipend. I have enjoyed sitting down with my hot tea feasting on the literature and images published here.

In particular, I love the interview with Alec Finley and his discussion of “letterboxing.” Alec has planted wooden boxes in the landscape, each containing a “circle poem.” Directions are made available to those who would like to find them and they become a hiking destination. Each box has a “keeper” – a local friend who plants the box and caretakes it. Alec is currently half way to his goal of creating 100 of these around the world. I love this idea of planting art in the earth to be discovered as a hidden treasure.

I am also honored to be in such good visual company in this journal. Paddy Sutton’s absorbing photographs of the ocean are made more haunting by his statement in which he reveals that each of these locations marks the death of a ship and its crew during World War II. Colette Calascione’s paintings (one is featured on the cover of Practice) are wonderful surreal explorations that blend human figures with the animal, and composite references to art history and natural sciences. Aaron Cruse’s pinhole photographs are marvelous in the way they inscribe a circular photograph in the center of a black field that leaves the impression of looking through a peephole or tunnel at the outside world.

You can enjoy these images and texts yourself by ordering a copy of Practice at

Saturday, June 23, 2007

“Divine Dissatisfaction”

I just refreshed my bulletin board – removing what no longer hums and leaving lots of blank space for new quotes and images to inspire me. Keeping a bulletin board in my creative space has been a practice of mine for many, many years. There is one quote that has made the cut every time – this one here by Martha Graham (click on it to view it larger, or click here for a more legible version).

This very copy of this quote was gifted to me upon graduating from college by two good family friends. At the time, I did not understand it yet. It took a couple years in which I grew into myself as an artist before I really experienced that sense of “divine dissatisfaction.” But when I received it at the age of 22, I kept it because I could tell it was profound, and because the friends who had gifted it to me are extraordinary people. I am grateful to them for having known that this quote would serve me so well as I grew more deeply into my creative life. It’s like how a coach can see what you can become before you can even see it yourself.

Today, this quote speaks volumes to me about trusting my creative process. As Martha Graham articulates, my job as an artist is simply to stay receptive and clear -- “to keep the channel open.” I often experience working in the studio as a process of lifting a lid on the top of my head and allowing ideas to pour through me into form. I also love that she spells out “it is not your business to determine how good it is…” This phrase sends sweet relief into my shoulders. Also, this quote and the many others I collect and hang on my bulletin board make me feel connected to a larger continuum of creative individuals. It reminds me that though I work in solitude, I am not alone.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Spring Cleaning before Summer Solstice

I have spent the days leading up to yesterday’s summer solstice in a flurry of studio spring cleaning. I have dusted all the corners and reorganized my shelves. I have thrown away what I no longer need, which honestly was not much. I am a consummate collector and the objects I surround myself with hold ideas that can go dormant. I have been re-activating them through the act of touching, sorting, dusting, and looking deeply at them again. The ideas hum in the air now – full of possibility in this fresh open space.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sausalito Art Walk

Last night I participated in Sausalito Art Walk – a monthly event celebrating the arts with live music in the streets, and galleries and businesses staying open late. Prints from Evocations and Sanctuary were on display at Sausalito Picture Framing at 310 Caledonia Street, and they will be up all month until July 9. Bob Woodrum just opened Sausalito Picture Framing a few months ago, and he did a great job on all my framing for the Bolinas Museum show. It is a pleasure to have my work displayed in his very professional shop with crisp white walls and great lighting. I also love that my work is in the company of all of his molding samples since I am such a frame junkee (as witnessed in my series Mapping the Body).

I took this photo above through the front window. It seemed fitting somehow to photograph a piece from Evocations through the distortion of the glass storefront window as it mimics the distortion already happening in the photograph, which was shot through a glass bottle. In the background you can see additional pieces from the series that are more clearly displayed in the photo below.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A Good Review

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, artist Julian Schnable answered the question, “What is the worst thing you can do as an artist?” with the response, “Try to get people to like you.” I agree. Yet, nevertheless (for better or for worse), it is quite thrilling when they do.

So I was delighted to read the positive review of my show at the Bolinas Museum in the June issue of Artweek. Thank you to contributing editor Frank Cebulski for articulating such a full picture of my art practice and honoring its surrealist roots. For anyone who would like a pdf copy of the article emailed to you, please send me a note. Or you can pick up a copy of the magazine at these locations.