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).