Interview with Ronald Hobbs: I first met Ronald Hobbs over thirty years ago. In those days, in the late sixties, should the conversation have taken a certain turn, I might have laid a claim to poetry. I'd read at the “I and Thou” on Haight Street, run an open-mike poetry program in the basement of a Presbyterian church, and even had won a prize in San Francisco’s Ina Coolbrith Circle’s poetry competition.  Ron was in another league, however. In the mid 1960s he had established himself in the New York poetry scene. He had done actual campus tours to read his own published work. He ... Jul 23, 2004, 8832 reads


Mark Bulwinkle—What Drives Us?: by Richard Whittaker Mark Bulwinkle at his studio in West Oakland, CA 1997 While Mark Bulwinkle was a student at the University of Pittsburgh his eyes were opened to the world of art. In 1972, four years after his BA and after a year spent in New York, he moved to the Bay Area where he continued his art education at the San Francisco Art Institute. At SFAI, he managed to complete  his MFA in only eight months. It was a pretty quick trip to the degree, I suggested. "Well, I’d been doing a lot of work," he said. A substantial understatement, no doubt. A friend of mine happened to have ... Mar 2, 1998, 6375 reads


The Sound of One Hand Clapping: An Interview with Terrance Meyer  One morning I looked up from my cup of tea in a local coffee shop and was surprised to see a man at work on a little painting sitting at a table nearby. Such a sight was a first for me in this particular neighborhood. I walked over, took a peek, and was surprised again. It was really good. I complimented him on his work and we struck up a conversation.        He was just passing through, he told me. He’d been in Seattle and had come down to the Bay Area where he was staying for a few days with a friend. It didn’t sound like his accomodations were any ... Oct 2, 1999, 26912 reads


A Conversation with Doug Burgess: Weeds On the walls of the photo lab in west Berkeley where I take my black and white film for processing, there’s always a photo exhibit on display. This one came with a xeroxed eleven page catalog: "Weeds" by Doug Burgess, in which he describes weeds as our constant companions. He adds, "The relationship between weeds and people may be one of our most enduring relationships with the natural world.”  As a kid, like Burgess, I too was given the task of removing weeds from the front lawn, but Burgess’ career of weed-pulling extended through his teen-age ... Dec 4, 2002, 7311 reads


Pottery and the Ancient Life: A Conversation with Michael Miller I met Michael Miller through John Toki. He called me one day around noon and said, "Richard, there’s a guy giving a presentation to my class who I think you’d like. I know this is late notice. He’ll be here in an hour. Any chance you can make it?" I did make it.      Here’s a brief note Toki wrote about this potter from Louisiana: Michael Miller’s first slide at his lecture on the wood kiln firing process at the California College of the Arts Ceramics Department was of a tent. I thought it was a unique first image for a slide ... Apr 2, 2007, 9840 reads


A Conversation with Irene Sullivan: Understanding of the Heart It began with an email. Someone had discovered the magazine and had been touched, Irene Sullivan. It opened an exchange. I learned that Sullivan had lived in remote regions of Alaska providing health care as a nurse practitioner to the Inupiat speaking peoples there, that she was an avid photographer, that her experiences with indigenous people awakened an interest in the role of women in shamanic practices among arctic peoples, and that later she found herself doing independent research as a Fulbright Scholar in Denmark at the Institute of Eskimologi.      When ... May 18, 2008, 8915 reads


For the Love of Bees—A Conversation with Meredith May: I heard about Meredith May from the founders of UC Davis’ Art and Science Fusion program, artist Donna Billick and entomologist Diane Ullman. As part of their program they've created a honeybee haven and forage garden.      “A reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle was up here," Donna told me, "Meredith May. She has two beehives on top of the SF Chronicle building.”      A few days later, I was at UC Davis interviewing Billick and Ullman. What they're doing at UC Davis is inspiring on several levels. And what ... Aug 24, 2013, 23318 reads


Gabriel Meyer: Stretching Identity “There’s a concert this evening,” the message read. I had an hour to get to Canticle Farm. Comprised of five houses on three adjoining lots in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, Canticle Farm is grounded in the vision of Joanna Macy and the spirit of St. Fancis of Assisi.      Having no idea what to expect, I got in my car. At least I’d get to visit my friends at Casa de Paz, which is part of Canticle Farm. Besides, Samir Doshi, from the Obama administration and who I’d met earlier, had just gotten into town and would be there. In fact, ... Mar 21, 2015, 10269 reads


The Whole Child and Urban Education - A Waldorf Perspective: A Conversation with Ida Oberman An unexpected invitation to Betty Peck and her daughter Anna Rainville’s home for an intimate conference on education, specifically on Waldorf education, is what led me to Ida Oberman. There were a few of us at the gathering who were not especially knowledgeable about Waldorf education, but Betty and Anna have always liked expanding the circle. For decades, Betty Peck’s weekly salon has been a meeting place for a wide range of creative individuals from a variety of perspectives in the thick of Silicon Valley culture.      This particular gathering was more ... Mar 31, 2015, 6255 reads


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, 116714 reads


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 712801 views

The Dumpster      “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 130529 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 6311 views

Remember to Remember - Nicholas Hlobeczy I had the pleasure of getting to know the late Nicholas Hlobeczy over a ... Read More 88203 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty I met Silas, a young man in his twenties from New England, at a ... Read More 56869 views


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 712801 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 359605 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with ... Read More 290661 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. ... Read More 179272 views

Interview: Stephen De Staebler John Toki encouraged me to interview his old friend and mentor, sculptor Stephen ... Read More 149062 views