This Larger Thing in the World: Conversation with Mildred Howard I met Mildred Howard at her Berkeley home and studio on a Friday morning, the day she takes off from a very busy schedule divided between her on-going work as an artist and her duties as the director of the Alice Waters "Edible Schoolyard" at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley. I interviewed her for issue #3 of works & conversations. We began talking about gardens in general…Richard Whittaker ​Mildred Howard: I especially love vernacular gardens. There’s something about them. works:  Yes. The gardens of regular folks. ... Jan 28, 2000, 123745 reads


A Miracle Cure: Interview with Richard Lueker, M.D. I met cardiologist Richard Lueker at Karma Kitchen one Sunday afternoon in Berkeley where he was doing service as a volunteer waiter. The moment I'd stepped into the restaurant, that day's volunteer maitre d', Viral Mehta, said, "It's great that you showed up today. We were going to call you because there's someone here we want you to meet. Be sure to ask him about his story."       I looked around the restaurant—always lively on the Sunday afternoons it's taken over by Karma Kitchen volunteers—and spotted a tall, distinguished-looking, ... Dec 25, 2009, 122871 reads


The Power of Giving: Conversation with Ehren Tool, Fariba Safai, and Ashley Smith      Fariba Safai and Ashley Smith were still students at CCA when they decided to do something radical. They decided to prepare a large batch of home made soup (from a favorite recipe of Fariba’s mother), to construct a cart able to wheel a very large stainless steel pot along a sidewalk, and to make their way to Union Square in San Francisco on Black Friday[the day after Thanksgiving and largest shopping day of the year] where they would offer free bowls of soup to any and all.       Ehren Tool, a marine who served in Iraq, upon finishing his ... Oct 21, 2004, 117452 reads


A Conversation with Taya Doro Mitchell: Keeping Your Hands Moving Taya Doro Mitchell July 3, 2007 Oakland CA I heard about Taya Doro Mitchell from Phil Linhares and Michael McMillen. “You’ve got to go see her place!” they told me. The artist, I learned, had been working for many years in isolation. She’d just come to Linhares’ attention. It happened in an unusual way. On a piece of mail soliciting donations to the Oakland Museum, she’d checked the box to donate real estate. In short order, perhaps even in record time, two women from the museum were at her door. What they saw sent them back to the chief curator in a ... May 18, 2008, 112953 reads


Camille Seaman: We All Belong to the Earth The first thing that captured my attention upon stepping into Camille Seaman’s home was one of her stunning photos, a large framed print centered on one wall.  And then I noticed two large, wolf-like dogs in kennels. They regarded me silently. About forty-five minutes later, having looked at scores of Seaman’s sublime Arctic and Antarctic photos, she let one of the dogs out. It came over quietly to check me out. As I looked down at the animal’s long face and erect ears, it wasn’t apprehension I was feeling—let’s call it mobilized attention. The dog ... Apr 30, 2013, 108356 reads


Interview: John Toki: Many Dimensions  ​One day I was visiting Leslie Ceramics and talking with owner John Toki when he told me he was making a gift to the Oakland Museum--The Toki Collection--170 of the best pieces of ceramic art from the 450 pieces his parents and, later on, John himself had acquired in over fifty years of close relationships with seemingly every clay artist in the Bay Area and well beyond.      The project had taken over three years just in planning and was finally heading toward completion.       When I first met Toki a few years ago, he was occupied ... Dec 23, 2008, 103581 reads


Interview: Wavy Gravy : Saint Misbehavin’ One day I got a note from ServiceSpace founder, Nipun Mehta offering me tickets to a new documentary movie about Wavy Gravy. Would you like to go?      I went. Although I was aware of Wavy Gravy as a cultural icon, I really knew very little about him. The film is a eye-opener. Michelle Esrick’s loving documentary, Saint Misbehavin’ - 10 years in the making - is a real introduction to this remarkable man. I'd never heard about Hugh Romney, the man who later became famous as Wavy Gravy. And what a story. I'll mention just one of its surprises: ... Dec 21, 2010, 101875 reads


A Conversation with Joan Di Stefano: The Action of Light It was a Saturday open house at John Toki’s Leslie Ceramics, a mecca for Bay Area clay artists of all kinds—an all-day affair with demonstrations, exhibitors, raffle prizes, hot dogs, socializing and the good cheer that seems to accompany all those who work with clay. John had given me my own table to display copies of works & conversations. There must have been ten or fifteen such tables and people had been circulating, cross-pollinating and having a good time. And now the party was starting to wind down.          I’d left ... May 11, 2012, 100663 reads


Remember to Remember - Nicholas Hlobeczy: I had the pleasure of getting to know the late Nicholas Hlobeczy over a period of several years. He had the gift of seeing things with fresh eyes, almost like a child. And yet he was a thoroughly trained photographer having studied with the legendary Minor White. They were close friends right to the end of Minor’s life. The interview that follows is a testament to a wisdom born of experience and a long quest. We met at Nick's home in Corvallis, Oregon.   Richard Whittaker:  In one of my notes I have a quote you gave from Robert Henri. "The object ... Oct 22, 2003, 96279 reads


What Is God?: A Conversation with Jacob Needleman I met with Jacob Needleman at his home in Oakland, California. The day before, one of the Bay Area's infrequent thunderstorms had passed through. In its wake, the day was sunny and warm. On the back deck of Needleman's home where we talked, among the many planters of flowers, herbs and vegetables, hummingbirds and squirrels were a constant presence, along with the frequent sound of the leaf blowers of neighborhood gardeners at work.  I wanted to ask him about his latest book What Is God?   Richard Whittaker:  I wonder how you see this book in the context of the ... Dec 19, 2009, 90588 reads


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 734545 views

The Dumpster      “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 149256 views

Say Grace I am deeply delighted to live on a planet that is so big and varied that I can ... Read More 8351 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 10328 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty I met Silas, a young man in his twenties from New England, at a ... Read More 70129 views


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 734545 views

Interview with Bill Douglass—Jimbo's Bop City and Other Tales At the time I'd first gotten to know the widely respected jazz musician Bill ... Read More 366025 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with ... Read More 300679 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. ... Read More 191015 views

Interview: Stephen De Staebler John Toki encouraged me to interview his old friend and mentor, sculptor Stephen ... Read More 152910 views