Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Open Studio

Today I finished all of the invitations to my annual Holiday Open Studio. This is one of those tasks that always takes so much more time than I think it will. This mailing doubles as my holiday greeting, and I really like to personalize the cards with a handwritten note wishing everyone a fabulous holiday season. My list has grown over many years, and it is fun for me to see the names of people from all parts of my life and honor my connection with them by writing a little note with my thin red sharpee pen. With close to 1000 people on my list, that takes some time. This year I finally heeded the advice of a good friend who has urged me to hire some help in the studio, and so the fabulous Tristy Taylor (who works with me at came and helped me label and stamp. Working with her made the task so much more fun and efficient - such an affirmation of the importance of asking for the help you need and working in collaboration.

If you are in the area, please stop by for a glass wine and a taste of chocolate and see the latest work in my San Francisco studio.

Holiday Open Studio
Reception: Thursday, December 11 from 5-8pm
Studio Hours: Friday-Sunday, December 12-14 from noon-5pm

3069 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
, 415-939-5842

(The image on the postcard in the photo above is Evocation #016.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Minis

It is that time of year again - time for the Bolinas Museum Miniatures Exhibition. I spent the day framing some diminuitive prints made exclusively this size for this show - Sanctuary #8, Sanctuary #6, and Sanctuary #4 (pictured in this order here). It felt so good to be working with my tools in hand - rulers, cutting knife, framing tape, and more. As someone who has always loved small things, I really enjoy this exhibition. All work must be 6 x 6 x 6 inches or smaller, and 50% of all sales go to the support the Museum. The show opens next week with a reception on Saturday, November 22 from 3-5pm at 48 Wharf Road in Bolinas, CA, and it will be up through December.

While cutting and framing today, I kept myself inspired by listening to the Creative Mom Podcast. I just discovered it this week by doing a search in iTunes for "artist mom" - seeking resources on how to balance art and motherhood. You don't need to be a mom to appreciate Amy's insights about the creative process. Today I listened to the 9/14/08 episode called "Slippage" - which was a great reminder to be gentle with oneself and give oneself a break. Nice words for me to hug close as I worked today.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I have been feeling rather lost lately – my mind scattered by the unpredictable rhythms of new motherhood and the attempt to pursue (perhaps too much of) what I did before I had a baby. Today I found myself a quiet moment under our apple tree, on a blanket with my daughter who takes endless delight in staring at light filtering through tree branches. A poem I memorized years ago floated back into my mind and gave me comfort.


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows

Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

(published in David Whyte’s The House of Belonging)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Five Things that Inspired Me Today

I have been thinking a lot about what inspires me lately and making sure I fill each day with a hit of inspiration. This word is also on my mind because I am going to be on a panel on this very topic on the evening of November 14 for the SPE West Conference in San Francisco. Today, I share a short list of things that have inspired me in the last 24 hours.
  • My five month old daughter waking me by singing little coos in the morning. She makes her own form of music at this age that is spontaneous and uninhibited.
  • The linear beauty of the fields at Green Gulch during my morning walk with Trinity. The alternating shades of green vegetables and bright flowers growing side by side in rows looks like someone painted the field with plants.
  • Andrea’s interview with SARK on her Superhero Journal blog. I just love it that SARK responded with images and colorful handwriting, rather than simple black and white text. Her answer about how to move through creative blocks was so playful, it lightened my heart.
  • Listening to Britt Bravo’s podcast with Cami Walker of the 29 Day Giving Project. This made me feel hopeful in a way that I have not felt recently because of the current financial craziness. She reminded me of the power of gratitude and generosity to heal and transform our world.
  • And Keri Smith’s sweet story of generosity. Within 24 hours, she raised enough money from her blog readers around the world to finance the purchase of 120 copies of her book, Wreck This Journal, for students who couldn't afford it. Then she held a drawing and gave out six free books to those who donated money - letting her adorable son pick the prizes.

Image Info: This is a detail of a photo by Alec Soth that is on the promotionsal materials for the SPE West Conference. Alec will be the conference's keynote speaker on Saturday, November 15. For more info on the conference, please click here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Preparing for Open Studios

I had a helper in the studio yesterday - Anna kept me company as I hung and labeled artwork, cooing her enthusiasm. My next Open Studio is just a week away - see details below. This one is part of the city-wide event sponsored by Artspan. I love the idea that just as I was at work in my studio yesterday, so are countless artists throughout San Francisco - all of us polishing our work spaces for this big event. It would be wonderful to have you stop by and say hello if you are in the area.

Saturday and Sunday, October 11-12
11am-6pm (or by appointment)
3069 Washington Street (at Baker), 415-939-5842

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gardening at the Dragon's Gate

“I am a mad gardener. I mutter and rant, and at night, I shake dry seeds out of my unruly mane of hair. The garden is in my bones, in my gut, and in my hands that pearl sweat at the first hint from the overturned soil of March that it is time to sow Cherokee beans again in the open ground. And although I am a civil person, I am at my best when left completely alone at nightfall to spread that last wheelbarrow of aged horse manure around the base of the budded-out black currant plants from England.” -Wendy Johnson

I have the great good fortune to call this darling and wise woman my neighbor and friend. Wendy just recently published a new book, both poetic and practical - Gardening at the Dragon's Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World. A Buddhist meditation teacher and organic gardening mentor, Wendy weaves together stories and advice about cultivating the earth with spiritual insights gleaned from her many years at Green Gulch Zen Center. The writing is as rich as good, well-composted soil. I have been savoring it, reading pages before bedtime to inspire garden dreams.

Last month, I invited Wendy over to my studio to be interviewed for the latest Arts and Healing Podcast. We spoke about the healing power of gardening, the benefits of community gardening, creating memorial gardens, tips on gardening with children, environmentalism, and more. I invite you listen to this podcast either by downloading the podcast via iTunes, or clicking here to listen to the podcast directly on your computer (use the audio player on the right hand side).

The Arts & Healing Podcast is part of the Arts and Healing Network and is produced by my good friend and blogger/podcaster Britt Bravo - you might also enjoy her blog, Have Fun Do Good.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gifts of Art and Advice from Kay Bradner

Kay Bradner came to visit when my daughter Anna was five weeks old. She brought with her a copper plate and etching tools in order to make a portrait of Anna as a gift for us. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. The true gift she gave me that evening was the way she demonstrated living in the world as an artist. At the time, I was (and still continue) to be very sleep-deprived and all of my creative resources had been channeled into parenting. So Kay drawing Anna was an especially sweet gift – both honoring my daughter at five weeks old and reminding me of my own creativity.

Kay is a wonderful painter and printmaker who has raised an equally creative daughter. That night I asked Kay for advice about being both an artist and a mother. Kay shared how over twenty years ago when Claire was born, Kay was a single parent running a printmaking studio out of her home. Each day there were about eight people who arrived to work with her there. She would just slip Claire as a newborn into the front part of her apron and carry on her business. She even taught a workshop with Claire sitting in a bouncy chair. She says she did all this out of necessity – there was no option to stop working. As an artist mom, she gave me this advice…
  1. Find creative projects that can be done in very small intervals of time. Long, sustained periods of concentration are impossible to come by in the beginning – but anything that can be done in small snippets of time can be really rewarding.
  2. More than ever it is important to make art that fills you back up, so that you are replenished by your art endeavors and can bring that energy into parenting. Have fun.
  3. It’s really ok to step away from an art career for a long stretch time. It will always be there to return to. But your child will never be such a youngster ever again. Give yourself permission to take as long as you need to get back to your artwork.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stretching into Uncharted Territory

I have been deep in the initiation of new parenthood - a whole new terrain. Eden Steinberg describes this state so well - I share with you here her quote from the book Finding Your Inner Mama.

“A few weeks after I gave birth to my first child, in the thick of my exhaution, worrying whether I was doing everything right, whether or not my baby would live through the night, I realized something. I realized that if I was going to survive this thing. I was going to have to grow and change. First of all, I was going to have to let go of a lot of things I felt entitled to: uninterrupted sleep, things going as planned, a feeling of being in command, the master of my circumstances. I also saw that I was ultimately going to have to let go of my very self concept, my idea of motherhood, and my expectations of my child. All of it had to go.

The idea of shedding these burdens was exciting. The thought itself was a relief. And it suddenly dawned on me that my whole concept of motherhood had been wrong. I thought that as a mother I would carefully mold and shape my children. If I did my job right, they would turn out to be well–adjusted, loving, thoughtful and interesting people. As it turns out, motherhood is molding and shaping me. At the end of all this, I am the one who could end up well-adjusted, loving, thoughtful and interesting.”

(Image: Evocation #008, from the series Evocations, ©2007)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Poet and painter Kirsten Rian has a wonderful practice of emailing a poem to her friends every Monday. This is one she recently sent me - it took my breath away.


by Morton Marcus

You’ve got to love life so much that you don’t want to
miss a moment of it, and pay such close attention to
whatever you’re doing that each time you blink you can
hear your eyelashes applauding what you’ve just seen.

In each eye there are more than 80 eyelashes, forty
above and forty below, like forty pairs of arms working,
80 pairs in both eyes, a whole audience clapping so loud
you can hardly bear to listen.

160 hands batter each other every time you blink.
“Bravo!” they call. “Encore! Encore!”

Paralyzed in a hospital bed, or watching the cold rain
from under a bridge—remember this.

(Image: Vision II, ©1999 from the series Mapping the Body)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Art Santa Fe

A quick post to share the news that work from Mapping the Body will be on display at Art Santa Fe this weekend at the booth for Modern Book gallery. One of the nice things about working with Modern Book is that they take my work to several art fairs every year. In January, they traveled to Photo Los Angeles; in June, they were in New York City for the Affordable Art Fair (their NY booth is pictured here); and now this July they are in New Mexico for Art Santa Fe. For me, as an artist, fairs are a great way to get more national exposure. For art lovers, it is like visiting a warehouse-sized candy store. Galleries from around the world sign up for booth space and display a selection of their represented artists, so there is lots of great art on view all in one venue. Art Santa Fe will take place at El Museo Cultural at 1615 Paseo de Peralta. For more information, please click here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lee Miller

I took a family excursion to SFMOMA on Friday evening with my father, daughter, and husband to attend a Foto Forum walk-through of the new Lee Miller show. It was such a treat to see so many vintage prints by her. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Lee Miller and relied heavily on books for my view of her photographic oeuvre. Now at SFMOMA I could view the wonderful subtleties in her prints. I drank them in, filling my creative well.

The walk-through was led by curator Marc Haworth Booth and Lee Miller’s son, Antony Penrose. They each animated the images on the wall with background stories and information. For example, the photograph below is a wonderful surrealist image of the magic electricity found in the everyday occurrence of opening a door.
Marc Haworth Booth explained that this was a door to an exclusive shop and that the explosive illusion came from light hitting the marks left by the diamond rings of wealthy women scratching against the glass as they turned the handle. I have always viewed this image as articulating the power of the hand to ignite the creative spark that generates new art.

It is hard to consider Lee Miller’s work without connecting it to stories from her multi-faceted life. Born in Poughkeepsie in 1907, she modeled for Vogue magazine, was Man Ray’s mate/muse/assistant, ran a portrait studio in New York City, married an Egyptian and lived in Egypt for several years, then became one of the first female war correspondents during WWII, and after the war married Roland Penrose and settled down in the countryside raising her son and entertaining artistic friends like Picasso and Max Ernst. The rich variety of her life caused her son, when writing Lee’s first biography, to call it the Lives of Lee Miller. I have recently been enjoying Lee Miller: A Life and the catalogue for the exhibition.

It was a treat to see this show with my father, Charles Hobson. When he created his book, Parisian Encounters, about eight famous couples who met in Paris, he included Lee Miller and Man Ray, recounting the story of their first meeting. Lee Miller was traveling in Europe and decided to stay in Paris and study with “the best photographer in the city,” which at the time was Man Ray. So she went to his studio and rang the buzzer, but the concierge informed her he had already left for his summer holiday. Crestfallen, she went around the corner to a cafĂ©, and finding him seated there, she marched right up to him and introduced herself, saying “Hi, I am Lee Miller, your new assistant.” He countered, “I don’t take assistants, and anyway I am leaving now for my vacation.” She said, “Fine, I am coming with you.” And she did and so began a rich collaboration.

It was stories like these that inspired me, as a student at Vassar, writing my thesis on Lee Miller in Poughkeepsie (the city where she was born), to really go after what I wanted in life. If, at a time when women most often defined themselves as mothers and wives, Lee could burst through limitations and live such a full, animated life, then so perhaps, could I. She helped me dream bigger and commit myself to the path of photography. When I began my series Mapping the Body, it was her and Man Ray’s vision of the cropped female figure that informed the way I photographed my own body – mining inspiration from their vision to create my own. In the end, I think there are people who touch you through time, despite death and never having met. Lee Miller is one of those intangible mentors for me. It’s why seeing her show on Friday filled me with that magic electricity of exploding hands.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Anna Isabel

I have been swimming in the sea of new motherhood and am finally surfacing just enough to write this post and share the news that my daughter, Anna Isabel, was born on May 11 (Mother’s Day). Time has had a whole new rhythm since she has arrived – it has become so fluid it pours through my fingers most days. I look at the date of my last blog post and am stunned that it has taken two months to write again here. Those days have been filled with nursing, rocking, walking, sleepless nights, and napping days as well as a whole new understanding of my body as the source for another being’s life. I know later, when I can find sustained time in the studio, this new awareness will fertilize new artwork. For now, I surrender to this experience one moment at a time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Modern Book Exhibition

Just a quick post to share a few photographs from my exhibition at Modern Book Gallery in Palo Alto, CA. This two-woman show includes new works from my three series - Evocations, Sanctuary, and Bottle Dreams - as well as some very interesting 3-D pieces by Claudia Kunin from her series, Myth. A frame-junkee myself, I was entranced by Claudia's intricate frames and enjoyed the interactive feature of putting the 3-D glasses to my eyes that made each mythogical scene seem to pop off the wall. Mark, Bryan, and Niniane at Modern Book did the installation, and it's always fun to see my work in a new context. I particularly enjoy the way they clustered different pedestals together to showcase the Bottle Dreams work - see the first picture here. This show is up until June 3, and Modern Book keeps nice long hours - open daily from 11am into the evening at 494 University Street in Palo Alto, CA. If you are in the area, I hope you will get to see the show.

Photos below show my work, the second to last image shows some of Claudia Kunin's work, and the last photo shows the artists with the Modern Book crew - from left to right: me, Mark, Niniane, Danny, Bryan, and Claudia.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Lately, my creative energy has been channeled into a whole new kind of endeavor. I am almost eight months pregnant with my first child, due on May 14. It is quite a miracle to feel this little being kicking around inside me. One unexpected side effect of this pregnancy has been that the more my belly swells, the less verbal I feel. Rather than initiate anything new, I have been filled with the burning desire for closure and completion of anything in progress. I imagine on the other side of birth, in the midst of parenting, new ideas for art will come to me. For now, I sort and organize, getting my nest ready to welcome this new life.

The image here, Evocation #017, was created just a month before I became pregnant and I look back on it now and see it as a fertility piece. The belly nests on soft feathers, the flower is drying up and going to seed, and the bottle is a vessel containing and protecting this process while embraced by the natural world around it. It truly amazes me how the intuitive process of art can be so previsionary.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Center for Photographic Art

I just got word that my exhibition at the Center for Photographic Art (CPA) has been extended an entire month! It will now close on May 23.

Dennis High and everyone at the CPA did a beautiful job with the installation. I love the dark wall color with the spotlighting - it really lets the work glow against darkness. One of the unique things about this exhibit is the inclusion of vitrines filled with items from my studio. It was a last minute request from Dennis, and at first I was concerned it might distract from the art, but once I got down there and arranged the bits of collage material into the glass cases, I really could see what a nice dimension they add to the show. This is one of the most comprehensive exhibits of my collage work with 59 artworks on display. It is so satisfying to see so many pieces, spanning 10 years of creative work, all up together in one space - they begin to hum and talk to each other in new ways.

Friday, March 21, 2008


“On the new edge of springtime when I stand on the front porch shading my eyes from the weak morning light, sniffing out a tinge of green on the hill and the scent of yawning earthworms, oh, boy, then! I roll like a bear out of hibernation. The maple buds glow pink, the forsynthia breaks into its bright yellow aria. These are the days when we can’t keep ourselves indoors around here, any more than we believe what our eyes keep telling us about the surrounding land, i.e. that it is still a giant mud puddle, now lacking its protective covering of ice. So it comes to pass that one pair of boots after another run outdoors and come back mud-caked – more shoes than we even knew we had in the house, proliferating like wild portabellos in a composty heap by the front door. So what? Noah’s kids would have felt like this when the flood almost dried up: muddy boots be hanged. Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful, I am nuts.” -Barbara Kinsolver, from Animal Vegetable, Miracle

Spring officially arrived this week and I feel acutely its call to be outside. Yesterday, it was a challenge to stay indoors and finish my postcard mailing for the Modern Book exhibition, opening April 4 in Palo Alto. Afterwards, I gave myself two hours in the garden, excavating the strawberry and herb bed, discovering more surprise survivors of winter’s frost and dormancy – oregano and rosemary have tripled in size, the artichokes are arriving, and even the celery is ready for eating. So much bounty in the earth - it fills me with great excitement and creative energy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On the Road

My husband and I are heading south today to Carmel, CA. My exhibition of Mapping the Body and Milagros at the Center for Photographic Art opens there tomorrow evening, Friday, March 14 with a gallery talk at 5pm followed by a reception from 6-8pm.

On the way down, we will stop in Palo Alto at Modern Book Gallery to drop off over 30 pieces for my exhibit opening there on April 4. This show includes Evocations, some Bottle Dreams, and also work from Sanctuary including new prints like this one here of Sanctuary #5 which I just picked up from the framer yesterday.

It is rich, full time for exhibiting for me right now. It is exciting to think that work from five of my major series will be up and on display all at once. If you are in the area, I hope you will get a chance to see these exhibits. If not, you can always see the work online at

Friday, March 7, 2008

Benign Neglect

For the past several months, I have let my vegetable garden go wild. The result has been a jungle of weeds and plants sending up tall shoots, going to seed. The other day, I traversed wet grass to the far corner of our yard to pay the vegetable garden a visit and was shocked to discover that even in the midst of this growing chaos, there was still bounty to be collected – a bouquet of purple broccoli, a few stray, slow-growing beets, and even a head of lettuce that somehow miraculously avoided the frost. It was heartening to see that things find a way to keep growing despite neglect or absence. If this can happen in the garden, I tell myself, it can also happen in the studio. And that makes my creative heart more at ease. Life these days has pulled me in many directions away from the studio – both the physical space of making art, and even the mental space of dreaming new work. I like to think that when I do return to the studio, some creative seeds planted in the past will have germinated and perhaps even grown into fully formed ideas – surprising and delighting me with their beauty and possibility.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Fresh Stack of Invitations

Sitting here with morning coffee and a fresh stack of invitations to my upcoming exhibit at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA. My husband (good guy that he is) delivered 59 pieces from Mapping the Body and Milagros to them yesterday and picked up 200 invites for me. Labeling and stamping them will keep my hands busy while watching tomorrow night’s Academy Awards.

One of the nice things about this exhibit is that because it is at a non-profit (rather than a commercial) gallery, I am able to include some artist proofs from editions that have sold out and a few pieces borrowed from collectors. So pieces like Release, Crescendo, Territory, Union, and Nocturne will be able to be in the public eye again.

I will be driving down for the show, which opens on Friday, March 14. At 5pm that night, I will give a gallery walk-through, followed by a reception from 6-8pm. If you are in the area, it would be great to see you there.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"The Power of Whimsy"

I almost missed this. Fortunately my mom mentioned it to me, and how it had inspired her and my father. And so I rifled through the large stack of last Sunday’s NY Times to find an article on Sandra Boynton called “The Power of Whimsy” gracing the front page of the business section. Boynton (picture here) has spent the last 30+ years creating greeting cards, children’s books, music cd’s, and more that all share her fresh and quirky vision. As a 12-13 year old, I loved her cards with messages like “Things are getting worse – please send chocolate” or a birthday card with animals proclaiming “Hippo Birdy Two Ewes.” This article offers a nice overview of the life and work of a woman who had made me chuckle as a kid.

Above all, it is really refreshing to see an artist on the cover of the business section and to find her speaking about focusing on the creative process first, and money second. As she says, “To me, the commodity that we consistently overvalue is money and what we undervalue is our precious and irreplaceable time.” Or as the article’s author, Phyllis Korki, explains, “As an entrepreneur, Ms. Boynton maintains a firm grasp on market realities and her finances, but she has refused to make money her main objective. Instead she has focused on the creative process, her artistic autonomy, her relationships and how she uses her time.” The article reveals her to be a woman with a keen sense of business – even as young as her early twenties, Boynton was savy enough to ask for royalties from the company who first picked up her illustrations for their greeting cards, and good thing too as these cards had an unprecedented level of success. Simultaneously she is also a woman who won’t agree to overmerchandizing her characters, and keeps her business intimate, manageable, and ultimately more enjoyable for her. Quality of life really guides her decisions, not greed. What a great message to find on page one of the business section of a mainstream paper like the NY Times. It gives me hope that artists can be part of shapeshifting the values of our culture toward something more holistic – a world in which money is just one measure of success along with time, connection, and even whimsy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spotting Sanctuary

I spent several days this past week absorbed in the computer, prepping files for printing new images in the Sanctuary series (like this one here). There was something so absorbing and meditative about the process of spotting out dust and light reflections. And there was also the overwhelm of the infinite choices one has to make working in Photoshop - the marvels of technology open the door to so many, many options. In the end, it is the accumulation of all these myriad choices that create the artwork - which image to bottle, which bottle piece to photograph, which digital file to print, which light flecks to leave, which to spot, which degree of color shift to make.... In the end, it is really about releasing perfectionism and trusting instinct - until that magic moment when the piece coalesces and becomes Sanctuary for me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

JFKU Faculty Exhibit and Open House

Over the past two years, I have been teaching photography courses at JFK University in Berkeley, CA. This Saturday, February 9, JFKU is having an Open House and a reception for the faculty art exhibit. Here you can see my contribution to the show - works from Sanctuary and Evocations - as well as a book in the foreground by the wonderful mixed media artist Lisa Kokin. This group exhibit will be up until February 16. For more info, please click here.

On Saturday afternoon, there will be an Open House that gives an overview of the arts program at JFKU. As part of this event, I will be reviewing portfolios and giving a short artist talk. For more details or to sign up for this event, please click here or call 510-649-0499.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Shifting Rhythms

One of the benefits of the creative life is being able to shift my working rhythm in response to new opportunities and internal needs. The new year has already offered me the experience of changing pace several times. January started out fast and furious with teaching a new class at JFK University and planning for upcoming exhibitions. Then mid month, I shifted into vacation mode, traveling to Florida with my husband to visit his parents. There I shed the detail-minded thinking of my professional life in lieu of an enhanced focus on the present moment – fishing in the mangroves, piecing together a butterfly puzzle, reading one novel and then another, and napping most afternoons. I did a little shooting while there, taking photographs like this one while wading in shallow water, fishing for red fish. Maybe the memory of that cloud-covered morning will make its way into a Bottle Dreams piece someday.

Upon returning home, life looks so fresh and new. I have used the time change of three hours as an impetus to get up earlier, rising by 7am to greet the day, thereby gaining another hour or so of work time in the morning, which has always been my most effective creative time. Shifting something as simple as the time I rise creates a new spark of energy. Eventually, I expect this new rhythm to give way to another sense of timing and pace (the creative spirit loves variety), but for now I am enjoying the crispness of early morning and being awake to see the sun peak over the hills of Muir Beach.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Studio in Print

Waiting for me on the kitchen table when I got home yesterday was a nice fat package from Western Art and Architecture filled with four copies of their latest issue which includes an article on my studio in Muir Beach. Writer Leissa Jackmauh focused on two Bay Area artists' studios for this piece. I was delighted to have my studio sitting page by page with that of Lisa Neimeth, a San Francisco ceramicist who makes wonderful sculptures and tableware. It was really a thrill to see my workspace featured here in full color. If you would like to get a copy of the pdf file of this article, please contact me - I would be happy to share it with you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Navigating the Imagination

“The notion of a curious, wistful man walking the city and turning up treasure in debris, seeing the transcendent in the forgotten, the discarded, the mundane – such a notion is intrinsically hopeful.” – Leah Hager Cohen

This morning while flipping throught the Sunday NY Times, the Book Review section fell open to page eleven revealing an illustration of Joseph Cornell’s “Parrot for Juan Gris” (pictured here) and a review by Leah Hager Cohen of the new Cornell catalogue, Navigating the Imagination by Lynda Roscoe Hartigan. I was blessed to have received this book as a Christmas gift from my parents – my father having been mesmerized by the exhibit as much as I was. For those of you who read my earlier blog post on Cornell, I did indeed make it back again to see this show two more times before it closed last week, and I was richly rewarded for it.

One thing I was struck by was Cornell’s use of containers within containers, such as a box that contains little drawers that one must open to discover the treasures inside. Unfortunately the museum does not let you actually touch the pieces, but I could imagine the delighted curiosity that would accompany opening each of the drawers in a piece like Untitled (Aviary with Drawers) from 1949. I myself as an artist have been consistently fascinated by the concept of containment – often using containers as the starting point for a new piece – whether that starting point be a new bottle or an elegant frame. The idea of doubling the concept of containment by adding containers within containers sparks new creative ideas for me.

Another thing that impressed me was how richly Cornell fed his creative spirit. An incredibly well read artist (the catalogue contains a selected bibliography of 150 titles in his library), he often drew direct inspiration from figures like Emily Dickenson. He also created “folders, slipcases and small valises with loose arrangements of ‘imaginative pictorial research.’” For example, in his portfolio, “Portrait of Ondine,” Cornell spent 20 years gathering ephemera such as illustrations, photos, newspaper articles and more all in homage to the nineteenth century ballerina Fanny Cerrito in her role as Ondine. As Hartigan says, “the combination reveals how far Cornell ranged in creating a new poetic context for his subject.” I love the idea of researching an area of fascination over a long period and allowing the research to be poetic, rather than linear and multimedia, rather than purely verbal.

As the book reviewer describes with this catalogue on Joseph Cornell, Lynda Roscoe Hartigan “doesn’t navigate his imagination so much as map the explicit tributaries that fed it.” And in doing so she has created a new tributary that is feeding the river of my own imagination.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Fresh Start

“In fact, the ability to start out upon your own impulses is fundamental to the gift of keeping going upon your own terms, not to mention the further and more fulfilling gift of getting started all over again – never resting upon the oars of success or in the doldrums of disappointment…Getting started again – in art and in life, it seems to me this is the essential rhythm” – Seamus Heaney

The new year offers the gift of freshness. Now that December’s social festivities are complete, I turn inward and cultivate my inner world. Today this has looked like cleaning, sorting, organizing, integrating…laying a solid foundation for the year to come. Soon the studio will feel like a clean slate, ready for 2008 to fill it with new ideas and impulses.

Image above is #008 from the Evocations series.