Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am so grateful for the abundance found in small daughter's bright smile...this pile of apples gathered from our tree...enough for pie to complete tonight's dinner with friends. It is Thanksgiving Day and gratitude is in the air and definitely on my mind. And so I thought I would share a few resources on that topic here.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I just completed my piece for the Bolinas Museum's 21st Annual Miniatures Exhibition. I love the scale of this show - everything is 6 x 6 x 6" or smaller. It's for a good cause - 50% of all sales go to support the museum which is a charming space in West Marin for gathering art and creative people.

The piece here is titled Wishing and is 6 x 6" framed. Lately I am really interested in how art can be used to capture one's wishes, hopes, and aspirations and anchor them in a concrete, visual way that makes the wishes more likely to come true. It is a theme that resonates throughout my series Milagros and is likely to continue in future work of mine.

You could see my piece in person at the Bolinas Musuem from November 21-January 3, 2009 at 48 Wharf Road, Bolinas, CA. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Above My Desk

I spent some time this week re-doing my bulletin boards – making sure that all the images and quotes above my workspace best match what I need for inspiration at this time. In the center is lots of bright white space for new items as I find them. Now I can look up while I am working and see…
  • My daughter’s inked footprints at around 3 months old
  • A photo of the ocean I took just north of Muir Beach
  • A CREATE necklace by Kelly Rae Roberts
  • An image of butterflies nailed to a wall by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison
  • A photograph of me around age 5 making art in my dad’s studio
  • An old rusted door hinge that feels like a portal to me
  • The sign language alphabet spelled out in hands
  • A Joseph Cornell puzzle and a Frida Kahlo puzzle produced by SFMOMA
  • Key words like GENEROSITY printed in red ink by the Paper Source
  • Several poems including the following one by Rumi
You’re a song, a wished for song.
Go through the ear to the center
Where sky is, where wine, where silent knowing

Put seeds and cover them.

Blades will sprout where you do your work.

  • And this quote by Agnes de Mille
“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never really knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

October Open Studio

Anna helped me deliver my piece, Sanctuary #2 (in the center of this photo), to the annual San Francisco Open Studios exhibition at SOMArts Main Gallery. This show features work by all the artists participating the in the city-wide annual open studios event sponsored by Artspan. Each weekend is dedicated to different neighborhoods where artists open their doors to the public and share their art and process.

I am getting my studio ready for the weekend of October 16-18. This time in addition to a wide assortment of my work from the past ten years, there will also be trade edition books by my father, Charles Hobson, and a chance to view recent publications that include my work, like
The Map As Art and Mapping the Journey. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area it would be great to have you stop by.

Reception: Friday, October 16, 5-7pm
Saturday & Sunday, October 17-18, open 11am-6pm
3069 Washington Street (at Baker), San Francisco, CA

Sunday, September 27, 2009

For Marcel Duchamp

Last week I packed up my pieces for the "Seduction of Duchamp" exhibition and sent them north to the Slaughterhouse Space in Healdsburg, CA. I thought I would share the pieces here, so that if you can't make it to the show, you could still experience the work.

The first piece is a mixed media collage called Invocation and is a new addition to my Milagros series. In it, reproductions of Duchamp’s art surround the photograph of my arm, literally inspiring my hand in the creation of new work. This piece contains a handwritten wish for myself and the other artists in this show – that the spirit of Duchamp generate “new works that delight, humor, and provoke.”

The second piece is called Rose-Sea-La-V. Inspired by Duchamp’s use of glass in works like the Large Glass and Ampoule, I have used old bottles to hold symbolic elements that when pieced together reference Duchamp’s pseudonym, Rrose S√©lavy.

The show will open this weekend - I will be at the reception on Saturday, October 3, 5-8pm. For directions, click here. It would be great to see you there.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Invoking Duchamp

"With Duchamp, there's no choice but to penetrate about two inches behind the eyeballs into the brain." -Francis Nauman quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article on Duchamp

This week I have been working on art inspired by Marcel Duchamp for a show this October at the Slaughterhouse Space in Healdsburg, CA. The curator, Hanna Regev, drew her exhibition concept from the location of the Slaughterhouse Space which is surrounded by the vineyards of the Duchamp Winery. Owned by artist Pat Lenz and her husband, the winery includes several of Pat's outdoor fiberglass sculptures - including this one pictured here of Marcel Duchamp with a trellis of roses growing from his enormous head - alluding to his pseudonym Rrose Selavy.

It is fitting that Pat chose to depict his head so large - over nine feet tall. Marcel Duchamp has always struck me as being very dry, witty, and conceptual. Like the quote above describes, his best art makes you think. And so I have been thinking a lot about how to fuse his sensibility with my own and create something new. Below is a photo of some things in process - I will share more as the work evolves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Creating in Chaos

Today I sit in my studio and think about my garden. This year’s vegetables are beset by weeds and critters. Gophers have eaten whole heads of lettuce and bunnies have gnawed down kale and broccoli. As the parent of toddler, I just don’t have the kind of time I used to have to devote to weeding and tending. Yet, things still grow, and this weekend, I harvested fresh lettuce, some broccoli shoots, a couple zucchini, fresh herbs for tea, and three artichokes.

Similarly, my studio is beset by clutter. I have to fight the urge to clean and order and get rid of anything that does not feel current. I simply don’t have time to be organized. I have time only to create. So I am learning a new way of working - quick and fast and focused. Once I get moving, the clutter becomes peripheral. It is just me and the project at hand. And things are growing. I seeded a new series last week that I will share more about soon. I also laid the foundation for my next open studio on October 17-18. In the end parenthood is teaching me a good lesson – being comfortable and creative in the midst of chaos.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ersatz Exhibit: Installed

The Ersatz Mail Art Exhibition at SF Camerawork opened recently. The curators (one of whom is a UPS driver) hung the work salon style as pictured here, which is a nice way to emphasize the sense of community in the show – every entry represents a different SF Camerawork member. You can see my work in the upper right hand corner, or click here to see a close up picture of my piece on my earlier blog post about this show. A nice example of how artists used the theme of mail art is the large piece in the center by Chris McCaw, who folded his large photograph and sent it through the mail un-enveloped, so that the wear and tear of being mailed became part of the piece itself.

I was invited to talk about my process and my piece in an interview about the Ersatz Exhibit with Inside City Limits: San Francisco, a Comcast cable program about arts and entertainment. If you use Comcast cable, you can download that program and check it out. The exhibit is up at SF Camerawork until August 22, and I believe they are still accepting entries of mail art for the show, so if you are inspired, join SF Camerawork and mail in a photo-based piece.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Map As Art

I just got a delightful surprise in the mail - a preview copy of The Map As Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katharine Harmon. I am a big fan of her earlier book, You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (which informed my thinking about maps in my series Milagros), so I was quite honored when she asked me to submit work for her latest book. My piece, Territory, from the series Mapping the Body is reproduced on page 144 as an example of "Personal Terrain: Maps of Intimate Spaces." I am in some very good company - the pages of this book include works by 350 artists including Maya Lin, Olafur Eliasson, William Kentridge, and more. Katharine Harmon writes in the introduction:
"Spend time immersed in the world of artists' maps in this book, letting it steer you through familiar landscapes revealed in new ways and over strange topography resonating with hidden meaning. Contemplate each artist's use of cartography and consider maps of your own journey. Discover how mysterious, jarring, thought provoking, and gorgeous artists' maps can be. Wayfinding documents as artworks have never been as diverse, or as stimulating. Mapmaking as a whole is enhanced as each artist makes a mark on a bigger map, calling out I AM HERE."
My foray into maps began with my series Mapping the Body, in which I often layered maps under kodalith images of the body to convey a sense of a pschychological inner world. I am most often drawn to older maps for both their beauty and their errors. Just as early navigators set sail on uncharted seas, so does the explorer of the self. Some contours of one's world are known, but many others shift and change and surprise.

The Map as Art will be released this fall by Princeton Architectural Press. You could pre-order copies at Amazon by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Creative Entrepreneur

I am so inspired by Lisa Sonora Beam's book, The Creative Entrepreneur. It feels so good in your hands and the lush color illustrations make you want to dive right into it. Lisa's book offers a terrific synthesis of right-brain creative processes and left-brain business planning, making things like marketing and sustainability so much more accessible and fun for artists. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa recently for the current issue of AHN News. Below is an excerpt - to read the whole interview, please click here.

"It took many years before I felt like I was living my creative dream and had the resources to support it. And I did it all by intuition, without having any specific tools or teachers. It was all trial and error, and believe me, plenty of error! By the time I went to business school, I had already run several successful creative businesses and worked internationally as a creativity teacher for individuals and in corporations. I went to business school because I thought it would honestly help me understand the world of money better -- making money, that is. I'm quite skilled at spending money. I wanted to launch a new business and was worried that all I had was my intuition, and that it wasn't enough (which is true in some ways). Business school (the useful parts) helped me develop a solid set of tools to test and back up my intuition. It was like learning a new language. I learned the language of business, and that helped me greatly speed up the trial phase of an idea and eliminate a good deal of the errors. Eventually, my creativity classes that I had been teaching since I was a therapist in the late 80’s, morphed into teaching business strategy to creatives, which is how the book material was tested and documented.

The Creative Entrepreneur, I wrote the book I wished I had when I was struggling and trying to figure out how to make a living doing what I love (without selling my soul). I include the essential business tools you need to know, but it is all based on and taught via the creative process. So your new, healthy relationship to your creative process informs and guides the business essentials. Plus, learning about business this way is just so much more fun and engaging. When we learn something new with a sense of play, and using our creativity, that knowledge becomes deeply absorbed in a very practical way that can be used immediately."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ersatz: Mail Art Exhibition

I just completed a piece today for SF Camerawork’s Ersatz Mail Art Exhibition – the front side of that piece is pictured here. There are a couple things that really appealed to me about this show. The first is that it is open to all SF Camerawork members who want to mail in a photo-based contribution – it’s egalitarian – no judging. The deadline is May 1, so there is still time if you would like to participate. The second is that at the end of the show, each work gets mailed back to a different person. So my piece becomes a gift to an as-of-yet unknown stranger, and I will receive a surprise in my mailbox. I love the sense of chance and possibility here.

In making this piece, I dug through piles of prints and ephemera in my studio and finally settled on working with the print pictured here – an early test from my series Milagros. I have stitched this print together to a piece of BFK Reeves paper and
sandwiched between the sheets is a secret message – a blessing of sorts – which I hope might bring the recipient luck. On the back side, I have handwritten the required address info as well as a little inspiratioin in the form of this poem by Rumi.

Every part of you has as a secret language

Your hands and your feet say what you’ve done

And every need brings what’s needed

Pain bears its cure like a child

Having nothing produces provisions

Ask a difficult question

And the marvelous appears.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Packing Up & Shipping Out

The studio is now a mess of bits and pieces of cardboard, tape, and bubble wrap. I just packed and wrapped artwork for transit. Sanctuary #4 is headed to a collector in New York. And five Bottle Dreams pieces are on their way to the Houston Center for Photography for their upcoming show called Human Nature. Curated by HCP director Madeline Yale, the show “raises questions about the current state of our relationship to the natural environment.” It includes the work of 9 artists and I was delighted to see Paula McCartney’s name on the list, as I really love the cleverness and subtle beauty of her series, Bird Watching. I recently purchased a print of hers on the affordable art site, 20x200. The show at HCP will open with a reception on April 3 and will be up until May 11 with lots of great public programs in between emphasizing environmental concerns like the slow food movement and tree planting.

The photo here shows an installation of five Bottle Dreams pieces at the Bolinas Museum in 2007. A similar installation will happen at HCP, but the five bottles there will have no trace of mankind – no buoys, no ships, etc – so as to emphasize the tension between pristine nature and man’s desire to control and preserve it. If you are in the Houston area, I hope you will get a chance to see the show.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Recently I received a wonderful box in the mail from Healing Environments full of postcards featuring a detail of my collage, Flight (pictured here). This card was part of a postcard gift packet distributed to their audience. In addition, work from my series Mapping the Body is going to be in their next publication. I am truly honored to have my work included. Healing Environments is an extraordinary organization whose tag line is “together we will comfort the suffering,” and you could learn more about them by clicking here to read an interview with co-directors Traci and Kate on They create both healing spaces with interior design and elegant books and publications, which they give away free of charge to their audience as tools for healing and inspiration. It is such a beautiful model of generosity. In response, I want to offer something back as well. I invite you to leave a comment here on this blog post before March 26. Then I will randomly select three people to receive a set of 5 of these postcards.

PS - I have gotten some feedback that people are unsure how to leave a comment. Be sure you are reading the post on my blog page and then click on the text below (1st line, right side) that says Comments. Then you can fill out the form and submit your comment online. Thanks!

Friday, February 27, 2009


I am so grateful for this view from my studio. This time of year, it might not look like much – overgrown, dormant, chaotic. There are weeds and gopher mounds and plants that have gone wild. Yet amidst this disorder are fruit trees about to blossom, butterfly bushes that will burst into flower in a few months, dahlia bulbs hidden in the soil that will send up bright spots of red and yellow, strawberries waiting for summer to bear fruit, and artichokes thick with leaves promising edible flowers. This view sustains me – it mirrors my own creative life – overgrown, chipped away at by details, projects gone dormant. But spring is coming and there are roots, seeds, and bulbs – ideas - just waiting for a little care and the right timing to flower. There is a season for everything.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Art in a Stormy World

It's a stormy Sunday here in the Bay Area. I count my blessings with every rain drop that is falling - placating fears of drought. A nice reminder that when dark clouds gather, it is not all gloom and doom. Each rain burst yields the vital resource of water - cleansing and nourishing the world around me.

Today's New York Times offered an unexpected reminder of the upside of a stormy economy for the artworld. Holland Cotter in his article, "The Boom Is Over. Long Live the Art!," offers the optimistic view that in these down economic times, the commercial art world may suffer, yet the art itself may flourish. He looks backward at the innovation that came from artists in earlier financially challenged times, and also looks forward, offering prescient questions about what art making and art education could become. His article left me with a feeling of deep curiousity about the future of art in America, and many good questions about what role I as an artist can play in today's changing world.
Below is an excerpt - you could read the whole article on the New York Times web site.

"At the same time, if the example of past crises holds true, artists can also take over the factory, make the art industry their own. Collectively and individually they can customize the machinery, alter the modes of distribution, adjust the rate of production to allow for organic growth, for shifts in purpose and direction. They can daydream and concentrate. They can make nothing for a while, or make something and make it wrong, and fail in peace, and start again.

Art schools can change too. The present goal of studio programs (and of ever more specialized art history programs) seems to be to narrow talent to a sharp point that can push its way aggressively into the competitive arena. But with markets uncertain, possibly nonexistent, why not relax this mode, open up education?
Why not make studio training an interdisciplinary experience, crossing over into sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, poetry and theology? Why not build into your graduate program a work-study semester that takes students out of the art world entirely and places them in hospitals, schools and prisons, sometimes in-extremis environments, i.e. real life? My guess is that if you did, American art would look very different than it does today...."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bay Area Portfolio Reviews

Two important parts of the creative process are feedback and community. Portfolio reviews can be a great way to get both. I blogged a while back about my experience at Photo Lucida and why I find such reviews so helpful. Here in the Bay Area two of my favorite arts organizations are hosting portfolio reviews, each with its own distinct flavor.

The first is PhotoAlliance's Our World: National Juried Portfolio Review for Photographers in San Francisco March 13-15. This three-day event will bring together top photography editors, publishers, curators, gallerists, and educators from around the U.S. to meet with engaged photographers to review their portfolios and encourage their careers. This event is juried, which means photographers who want to be part of this event must submit an application by February 13 (this Friday). Each photographer accepted will have 10 twenty minute one-on-one consultations with a photography professional who can help you get your work out in the world and also give you feedback and encouragement in the creative process. For more information, visit

The second event is at JFK University's Arts and Consciousness Department in Berkeley, CA. They will be having an Open House on the afternoon of Saturday, March 7. This event begins with two hours of free portfolio reviews with arts faculty at JFK. The emphasis in these reviews is to learn about the arts program at JFK and to see if your work and this program are a fit. In addition, you receive the undivided attention of some of the talented artists who teach there and who can offer you insight about your work, the creative process, and your next step in your artistic journey. JFK's program has a unique emphasis on art as an vehicle for transformation, healing and social change - an approach that more than ever is needed during these troubled times. The Open House also includes presentations about the school, an alumni panel, and gallery talk by faculty, and concludes with a reception. For more information, please email, call 510-649-0499, or click here (see the right hand column).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Creative Generosity

I just posted a new issue of AHN NEWS on the Arts and Healing Network. I am particularly inspired by the topic this time – CREATIVE GENEROSITY. These times we find ourselves in our full of change and challenge, especially economically. It’s easy to give way to fear and feelings of scarcity. One of the best antidotes I know is generosity. The act of giving takes me outside myself - beyond the place of preserving and tightening around what I have – to opening up and connecting with others and being of service. I really do believe it is this kind of generosity of spirit that will make all the difference right now as we go through so much intense transformation in our country.

I was really delighted to feature a Britt Bravo's interview with Cami Walker, founder of the 29-Day Giving Challenge. Last year, Cami gave away 29 gifts in 29 days. She found this experience so healing and transformative, that she invited everyone to join her in this process and created an online community around the practice of giving. Today, the 29-Day Giving Challenge is a global giving movement with an active online community where people have shared over 3500 stories of giving along with artwork and videos. As Cami says. “What I notice is that the people who are taking part in this, what is common amongst us all, is that we all count our blessings. We practice gratitude. We feel like our lives are full no matter what we have.”

Also in this issue of AHN News is a write-up on the Federation of Students and Nominally or Unemployed Artists - a group of 10 artists who took giving into their own hands by raising $100 each, pooling their money ($1000 total), and giving it away as instant art grants of $10-$60 in a public park. All an applicant had to do was tell the story of his/her creative need and then he/she received a grant on the spot, along with an official handshake (see photo here). I love how artists took it into their own hands to support and give back to other artists in a fun, creative way - what a nice model of collaboration and spontaneity.

I hope you will get a chance to read this issue of AHN NEWS by clicking here. May it fill you with a sense of abundance and possibility.

(photo above from

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Photography Gathering

Last night, I left cozy Muir Beach to head toward downtown San Francisco for a gathering of photographers at Gallery 291. One of the hardest parts about living in Muir Beach for me is leaving. It is such a beautiful, soothing place to be, and it takes a fifteen minute drive on a windy road to get over Mount Tam to Mill Valley and then onto the city. Most often, once I overcome the inertia, I am truly glad I ventured out. Last night was no exception.

This group gathered for many years at the studio of RJ Muna and has recently shifted to Gallery 291 – a very elegant space on Union Square. I was last there a year ago for a wonderful exhibit of Beth Moon’s work (pictured here) – at the time my belly was like a big moon, swelling with my growing daughter. Now, she sleeps outside me, in her own crib and for many hours in a row at night – which makes it so much easier to break away from home-tending and reengage my creative life.

I have been thinking lately, how the path back to my creative life after giving birth may not be as simple as the flagstone path connecting my home to my studio. Instead, it may look more like driving to San Francisco on a winter’s night to gather with other artists who remind me about why we make work, and how much we all appreciate a fine print, a well-executed image, and the power of beauty. I left the evening full of excitement about the craft of photography – the making of art objects.

(photo above from

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Los Angeles Art Fairs

A quick post to share this photograph from last weekend's Photo LA art fair. Work from my series Mapping the Body was on display at the booth for Modern Book gallery. Artist Joanne Koltnow was kind enough to take this photograph for me so that I could get a glimpse of the event from afar. The work on the wall next to mine is hand colored photographs by Brigitte Carnochan, and the matted work on the table is Joanne's.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and missed this fair, you have another chance to see my work at
Modern Book's booth at FADA: LA Art Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center from January 21-25. These fairs are a great opportunity to see tons of great art all in one concentrated space - a real treat for art lovers' eyes.