John Toki and Some Reflections on Cultural Service: Richard Whittaker “Why don’t you come to our symposium?” John Toki asked one day when I had dropped in at Leslie Ceramics, a business he owns and manages in West Berkeley. “You can have a table for the magazine.” He was talking about an event at the California College of Art where Toki teaches in the Ceramics Department. The invitation was typical of John’s generosity. Toki and others had arranged a day of slide presentations and hands-on demonstrations by Robert Brady, Lauren Ari, Doug Casebeer and Tony Natsoulas. Leslie Ceramics, it happens, celebrates its sixtieth ... Apr 2, 2006, 22854 reads


Interview: James Doolin: Journey I arrived to meet Los Angeles painter James Doolin on one of those mythic, mid-winter days southern California is famous for, sunny and warm. Doolin was in good spirits, as was I, having been looking forward to our conversation. I’d first seen his work at the San Jose Museum of Art, large paintings of Los Angeles freeways. They were displayed along with paintings by Chester Arnold. Their two-man show was one of the best I’d seen. I’d written a note to Doolin afterwards and he phoned in response. We'd hit it off in a rare good way. By the time of this interview, ... Feb 2, 2002, 22716 reads


Interview with Photographer Elaine Ling: Remote Wonders Elaine Ling was born in Hong Kong in 1946. At the age of nine, her family moved to Canada. She came to my attention when I got a note inviting me to a lecture she giving in San Francisco. Two of her  photos were attached and caught my attention immediately. A quick google search led me to her website where I was able to look at many more of her photos. No question, a portfolio would be perfect for the upcoming issue of the magazine I put together, works & conversations. Often, the pieces fall together more from serendipity, than design. Discovering Elaine Ling's photography ... Jun 27, 2011, 22157 reads


Magic Flute: A Conversation with Marvin Sanders I met Marvin Sanders during a film festival at Berkeley Art Center. At the time, Sanders ran the Sunday evening music series there. On the first evening of film screening, Sanders was there to help at the front desk. Chatting with him, I discovered he plays the flute.      "Jazz?" I asked.      "You say that because I’m black, don’t you?" he replied.         I was taken aback, but realized I’d been offered an opening to a deeper level of conversation. I admitted he was right and ... Apr 2, 2007, 22081 reads


Three Short Pieces: The Post Office; Time-Sensitive; Reckless Abandon The Post Office I have an incurable love for lines at the post office. This is a luxurious indulgence, I know. The kind important people can ill-afford. But I am comfortably insignificant. Nothing catastrophic happens to the world when I am made to wait for indefinite periods of time, so I am at liberty to love these lines and the speed of molasses at which they move. They give me opportunity to admire the cheerful competence of our postal workers. How brisk and good-natured they are. Even the curmudgeons among them, the ones who speak sharply, criticizing sloppy packaging, pointing ... Jan 23, 2014, 22028 reads


Interview: Enrique Martinez Celaya: Self & Beyond Self It was several years ago when I first heard of the artist Enrique Martínez Celaya. John Evans, founder of Diesel Books and a poet as well, suggested I’d find him worth looking up. Two years were to pass before we met. I’d learned that Martínez Celaya was teaching at Pomona College and, one afternoon, on a visit to Claremont, I decided to look for him. I got lucky and arrived at his classroom just as his students were leaving; the timing was perfect.      To my surprise, Martínez Celaya was already familiar with works & conversations. We ... May 2, 2003, 21908 reads


A Conversation with Archana Horsting: An Artist's Journey If you’re an artist living in San Fracisco’s East Bay, you’ve heard of KALA. (For me, it’s always in capital letters.) KALA is an integral part of the Bay Area art scene and has been for a long time. Over the years, several friends have taken workshops there or have gotten into their artist’s residency program. And the idea of interviewing co-founder and director, Archana Horsting, occurred to me a long time ago. But with so many fascinating choices, I’ve come to rely on forces lining up according their own designs. And that’s what happened. ... Feb 11, 2014, 21424 reads


Toward Inaccessible Places: A Conversation with Andre Enard The three of us sat at Jane Rosen’s dining room table in her home perched atop a ridge near the beach at San Gregorio in Northern California. Through a wide expanse of glass, the sweep of the coastal hills with their native redwood, oak, bay and madrone lay before us.      We had just finished dinner. The fresh salad, with locally grown tomatoes and greens, included slices of mozzarella “not as good as in New York,” Jane said, a claim I’d have to take on faith. We all agreed the interview could wait until after our meal, but now the time had ... May 18, 2008, 21208 reads


A Conversation with Reverend Heng Sure: Cultivation and Practice Beginning in the summer of 1977, two American monks in the Chinese Mahayana Buddhist tradition committed to taking three steps and one bow for 800 miles along California’s Highway 1. A pilgrimage to bring peace within and without, their journey took them through some of the most beautiful and also some of the most dangerous parts of California. Two and a half years later, they completed their pilgrimage at the steps of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, in Ukiah, Californi One of these monks was bestowed the name Rev. Heng Sure, or “Constantly Real.” Born into a ... Sep 16, 2014, 20989 reads


Interview: Nathan Oliveira: Fundamentals As I drove down 280 toward Palo Alto to meet Oliveira the anticipation I felt was familiar; it was mixed with a little anxiety as always happens when I'm about to meet an important artist for an interview. My only contact with the artist had been brief and by phone. And although I was aware of the widespread respect and admiration for this artist I’d hadn't spent much time looking at his work. Being nervous made sense.      The stretch of 280 south from San Francisco is beautiful, running through the coast hills just west of 101. Before long Page ... Sep 2, 2005, 20925 reads


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 718812 views

The Dumpster      “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 139512 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 7416 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty I met Silas, a young man in his twenties from New England, at a ... Read More 58736 views

Remember to Remember - Nicholas Hlobeczy I had the pleasure of getting to know the late Nicholas Hlobeczy over a ... Read More 89046 views


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 718812 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 361473 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with ... Read More 292400 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. ... Read More 188456 views

Interview: Stephen De Staebler John Toki encouraged me to interview his old friend and mentor, sculptor Stephen ... Read More 149817 views