In Memory of Agnes Martin: Hadi Tabatabai After two weeks in Prague where I was spending a semester as an exchange student, I took a train ride to Vienna with the purpose of exploring the art work by some of my heroes: Klimt, Schiele, Hundertwasser, and the German Expressionist painters. On one of my museum visits I came across a group of ink drawings on paper by Agnes Martin. They were simple grids drawn using a straight edge. At the time I had no interest in this type of work. I spent a few minutes with her pieces before I went off to explore the emotionally charged figurative work that I had come to see. I forgot about this ... Oct 2, 2004, 10070 reads


The Gift of Danger: A Book Excerpt -- Mary Stein About thirty years ago, still a few years from my fiftieth birthday, I read of a martial art that was described as non-violent, resolving conflict through skillful relationship. It came from Japan, where a man named Morihei Ueshiba had questioned the destructive purpose of the martial arts he had mastered. He had gone on to transform old techniques in order to create a new art that provided effective self-defense while protecting both the attacker and the defender. He came to call his art aikido, which can be translated as “the way of harmonizing energy.” ... Oct 22, 2007, 10752 reads


Interview: Michael Levenston, Bob Woodsworth: Farming The Front Yard! April 18, 2008 Vancouver BC Before taping the interview with Bob Woodsworth and Michael Levenston, we all met for dinner at “Vancouver’s oldest vegetarian and natural food restaurant,” The Naam.  Woodsworth, along with friend Peter Keith, have owned and run the place since long before I met Bob. It was my first visit to the restaurant and the place’s warm and lively atmosphere made an immediate impression. The food was excellent, too. But the claim the The Naam is “Vancouver’s last remaining link to the ultra-hippie West 4th Avenue neighborhood ... Jul 10, 2008, 17039 reads


Interview: Milford Zornes: An Artist's Life Claremont CA Sept. 16 2005 I was in Claremont, California—a town I knew well from my college days. But now my visits were to see my mother living there in a retirement community. Having gone into town to pick up something for her, I was strolling along Yale Avenue when I noticed a sign: Claremont Fine Arts. Peeking through the window, I saw a room full of conventional landscapes and still lives. Stepping through the door, all was quiet. I found myself alone among the paintings. No one seemed to know, or care, that a customer had come in.       Below the ... Jul 11, 2008, 37350 reads


Bridges To Cross: A Conversation with Michael Grbich, Oakland, CA Sept. 10 09     I first met Mike over thirty years ago and found him personable, upbeat and engaging in a way that was not intrusive. And since he was a neighbor, this was especially nice. One day I was walking out of the house with a tennis racket and ran into Michael. "You play tennis?" he asked me with obvious relish. Then and there I learned about his love for the game. He had been a serious player, but a severe injury put an end to any hopes of a professional career. He showed me his disfigured right hand explaining what had happened. "Even though I had to give up my ... Oct 5, 2009, 8470 reads


Following Taya: As many readers of this magazine will know, Taya Doro Mitchell is unusual. [see issue #16] What readers won't know is that, at the age of 74, Taya left East Oakland and moved to a small agricultural community on the Rio Grande in New Mexico. It wasn't that Taya was tired of her practice of decorating the new bullet holes in her windows from nighttime activities in her neighborhood. She had lived there a long time and wasn't afraid, she told me, even coming home late at night-which was typical. And she was content with solitude, she assured me.       Taya ... Sep 22, 2011, 35086 reads


The Brotherhood of Fools and Other Stories: The Brotherhood of Fools There was a time in my life, for about six months, when I lived in a Catholic monastic community. I had occasionally taken retreat among the Franciscan Order and sometimes with the Dominicans. I am not a Catholic and dare not even call myself Christian, in view of the Mosaic Tablets, which prohibit the taking of the Lord’s name in vain.      The occasions of retreat were satisfying experiences set in splendid environments. I came to some affection for the kind-heartedness of the Franciscans, and to some appreciation for thought among ... Jan 29, 2014, 3309 reads


Roberto Fierro : A Born Artist      San Jose artist, Tony May called just at the right time. “There’s an artist down here I think you’d find interesting. His name is Roberto Fierro. I bought a small painting from him. ” Tony is professor emeritus at San Jose State, where he taught for decades, and I pay attention to his recommendations. I asked him to tell me a little about the artist.      “He lives in a building called the Art Ark. It’s only a couple of blocks from where I live. It’s some kind of subsidized housing that’s meant for ... Jan 5, 2015, 3000 reads


Koan: A Conversation with Vaea Marx: I first heard of Vaea Marx from John Toki. Vaea is an old family friend of the Toki family. John’s parents founded Leslie Ceramics Supply in Berkeley in 1946. Their business was built on integrity and a deep spirit of support for both aspiring and established artists who came into their shop, first as customers and then, quite often, as friends.        John told me stories of Vaea and Peter Voulkos, both friends of the Tokis, who worked closely together for decades. Then one day artist Ann Weber handed me a catalog saying, “Here’s an artist you ... Apr 9, 2015, 10318 reads


Peter Kalmus: The Question of Progress: I met Peter Kalmus at a ServiceSpace gathering in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley. All of us had introduced ourselves in a circle and something about the way Peter described his work as a scientist in environmental studies stood out. Immediately I wanted to know more about him and his work and fortunately, he was able to make some time for an interview. We started at the beginning. Richard Whittaker:  So you grew up in Illinois? Peter Kalmus:  Yes, outside of Chicago. I remember in high school, I went for a walk. I was going to a friend's house and I was ... Sep 17, 2015, 2858 reads


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 716126 views

The Dumpster      “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 138938 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 7028 views

Remember to Remember - Nicholas Hlobeczy I had the pleasure of getting to know the late Nicholas Hlobeczy over a ... Read More 88678 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty I met Silas, a young man in his twenties from New England, at a ... Read More 57526 views


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 716126 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 360563 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with ... Read More 291649 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. ... Read More 184859 views

Interview: Stephen De Staebler John Toki encouraged me to interview his old friend and mentor, sculptor Stephen ... Read More 149448 views