You Bloom, We Bloom: Interview with John Chambers John Chambers, founder of BloomBars grew up in a small town in New England. The son of an interracial marriage and parents deeply passionate about social activism, he later attended Howard University in Washington, DC, where his interest in media led him into a career in public relations and social marketing. Successful at an early age, and as a Senior Vice President at the global communications and advocacy firm, GMMB, he never imagined slowly giving it all up and investing his life in a nonprofit community arts organization. As we sat down to interview John, we were initially struck by ... Nov 28, 2011, 88775 reads


A Conversation wih David Molesky: Infinite Water My introduction to David Molesky’s paintings happened at a little gallery being run by artist Rae Douglass. I was stopped in my tracks. Facing a painting of ocean surf invoked all the forgettable seaside paintings of beach town tourist galleries. But Molesky’s painting—utterly free from irony—was simply magnificent. I stood there scrutinizing the canvas and I soon had to admit that it was one of the most striking paintings I’d seen in a long time. And the fact that this subject matter had been worked over to death only made it more so. Wow! Leaving the ... Feb 22, 2013, 82909 reads


A Conversation with Tree (Dennis Rubenstein): San Francisco's Free Farm  It was on a bright Sunday afternoon when I paid my first visit to the Free Farm stand in San Francisco's Mission District where my friend Pancho introduced me to Tree, the Free Farm's founder. As I walked toward Parque Ninos Unidos looking for the stand, I spotted a queue of people along the sidewalk and leading into the park. I knew I'd found the place.      I'd been hearing about Tree from Pancho for over a year. "One of my favorite love warriors," Pancho called him. And Pancho [Francisco Ramos Stierle] knows something about love warriors, ... Apr 16, 2012, 78940 reads


Susan Schaller and the Story of a Contemporary Miracle: Are there adults living today who have not learned any language, who cannot even conceive of language? They do exist, although, according to Susan Schaller, there's almost nothing written about them. Perhaps that's because, according to the prevailing views of experts, adults who have not acquired language will never be able to do so. This was not an area to which I'd given a single thought until my unexpected meeting with a stranger one day in a Berkeley restaurant. It's a nice coincidence that the unlikely meeting took place in an unlikely setting, on the one ... Apr 23, 2009, 71196 reads


Bicycling to Mongolia: Fredric Fierstein and Guardian   In which:  ...we learn the origins of a mysterious and powerful public sculpture, reminiscent of an ancient Mongolian shaman archer/warrior  ...take a brief detour for commentary on puff-piece journalism a clear-eyed artist too self-possessed to waste his time struggling for an art career ...spend a little time with primitive Buddhist temple kung-fu in the far reaches of Malaysia ...contemplate a moment of revelation at the unlikely juncture of West Coast sophistication and the ancient life of a hill tribe poppy farmer ...consider some reflections on the ... Feb 23, 2011, 70628 reads


Nipun Mehta: A Journey to Service: [An edited version of this interview first appeared in Parabola Magazine -- in volume 34 number 4, Winter 2009, "The Way Ahead"]   Nipun Mehta was born in Ahmedabad, India in 1975. When he was twelve, his family moved to Santa Clara, California in the heart of Silicon Valley.      I met Mehta in 2007.  Having heard several amazing stories about him from Paul Van Slambrouck, retired editor of the Christian Science Monitor, I asked for an introduction. The three of us met one afternoon at a taqueria in Berkeley. In no time I felt a close connection with ... Jun 9, 2009, 69482 reads


Smart Arts: Observations on Art in Academia: Katina Huston Wedesday. It begins with leaving home in the dark. Long lines for security. Dirty carpet, fluorescent light. A thousand docile people offer their shoes. On the plane there is more dirty carpet and fluorescent light. A woman recognizes me. I blink at her. It is Suzanne. We work at the same small liberal arts college but have never seen each other there. I know her husband who works at California College of Art in graduate studies. We chat. On the subway into town, my colleagues are plain to see mixed in among the commuters. In front are three painters from McAllister, Texas. Behind me is ... Apr 2, 2005, 68039 reads


A Conversation with Carl Cheng: The John Doe Company I can thank the late James Doolin for introducing me to Carl Cheng. Along with Carl, he also introduced me to Michael McMillen. The three artists were best friends. Jim spoke glowlingly about both Michael and Carl. He marvelled at each artist's capacity to build things, nearly anything. And each one's originality.      "Carl," he said - and searched for the right words... "he has a way of thinking that's really unusual." After Doolin's unabashed enthusiasm, I wanted to meet both artists. It wasn't difficult to arrange, and ... May 2, 2002, 66655 reads


A Conversation with Sam Bower: Green Museum I met Sam Bower one afternoon by accident. I'd gone to join a couple of friends at an ongoing experiment in the gift economy [Karma Kitchen] at a restaurant in Berkeley (on Sundays at lunchtime, the restaurant is given over to a volunteer group.) I'd heard about Sam, the founding director of, just a few days earlier. A couple of men were chatting, standing outside the restaurant and one of them turned out to be Sam. I'd just heard about him a couple of days earlier, so this felt like a moment of synchronicity. We ended up sitting at the same table ... Apr 27, 2009, 64398 reads


The Meaning of Proportion: Terrance Galvin I met Terrance Galvin at Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown’s symposium, The Oakland Table, in September 2000. The topic of the first symposium was "space versus place" and addressed questions about the distinction between a sense of place and the merely abstract idea of space. Specifically, how did this distinction play out in urban planning? The two result in very different urbanscapes.      During 1988, Galvin lived and worked in Villa El Salvador, a low-income residential district on the southern outskirts of Lima, a shantytown populated by immigrant ... Sep 18, 2000, 62910 reads


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 721586 views

The Dumpster      “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 141284 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 8396 views

Say Grace I am deeply delighted to live on a planet that is so big and varied that I can ... Read More 5602 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty I met Silas, a young man in his twenties from New England, at a ... Read More 61485 views


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 721586 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 363688 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with ... Read More 294054 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. ... Read More 189034 views

Interview: Stephen De Staebler John Toki encouraged me to interview his old friend and mentor, sculptor Stephen ... Read More 150448 views