Interviewsand Articles


From the Editor w&c #14: Hidden Dimensions

by Richard Whittaker, Jun 30, 2007



#14 brings with it some wonderful new developments. We welcome two new contributing editors, Paul Van Slambrouck and Enrique Martinez Celaya, each of whom I expect to appear frequently in future issues. Slambrouck, former chief editor of the Christian Science Monitor and a passionate photographer, embarks on a new journey. Having returned from Boston to live in the Bay Area, one of his first steps was to find a studio. His story is a little unusual.

Many subscribers will recall my interview with Enrique in issue #9 and the remarkable meditation on his work by Mary Rakow in that same issue. They’re both singular documents. A few years ago Martinez Celaya left Los Angeles, uneasy with its culture of glitz and celebrityhood. He moved to Florida where he continues to paint, maintain a family life and protect the space in which a necessary unfolding can appear. His contribution for this issue, “A Personal Note on Art and Compassion,” is a meditation of such breadth and depth in so few words as simply to astonish.     

It’s been over two years since painter Irene Pijoan’s death. My interview with her was one of the most memorable I’ve ever done. Why it’s taken until now to publish it isn’t clear, but putting it in print earlier simply didn’t feel right. The depth of the encounter, I now realize, evoked a deep sense of respect that, without any prompting, required a period of silence.

Struggling to discern what best might characterize a theme for this issue, the phrase “hidden dimensions” finally came to mind, and it seemed particularly apt for my conversation with Irene, the only interview in this issue. Her story is a testament that still amazes me, opening, as it does, a window into an unusual life, a remarkable search and an exemplary journey.

But this phrase fits in many other ways with the material gathered here—not the least of which is a small portfolio of the paintings of Craig Nagasawa, Irene Pijoan’s husband. It’s unfortunate that, except for the painting reproduced in color on the inside front cover, the others have the color dropped out; nevertheless, something of the power of his paintings remains. They come from a larger body of work Nagasawa produced after his wife’s death. His paintings made a deep impression when I saw them exhibited at Braunstein/Quay Gallery in San Francisco  [January of 2006].

We also have some reflections on the work of artist Tony May, “Small Matters.” May recently retired from the San Jose State University Art Department after 38 years of teaching—retired from teaching, but not from making art. The title could seem dismissive, but that would be a mistake. Many things regarded as small, matter. Without attentiveness perhaps Alice wouldn’t have noticed that the white rabbit, as it hurried by, was muttering, ”Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late.” She certainly wouldn’t have found the rabbit hole, and so she would never have found Wonderland. 

There are two small portfolios as well. One is of Oakland photographer Eric Klatt’s work. Klatt found himself wondering what might be learned by a study of backyards. What might be revealed about the householders themselves? It was interesting to hear some of his thoughts, but we’re leaving it up to our readers to draw their own conclusions.

The second is of Michael Eli’s work, who I discovered at a show at Boontling Gallery in Oakland, one of the Bay Area’s most interesting galleries. Eli’s work has some magic, I think. It certainly speaks for itself.

Ronald Hobbs has contributed “Three Bird Stories.” Long-time readers may recall “Grandmother Gypsy” in issue #8, and there’s a wonderful interview with Ron on our web site. Hobbs is better known as a poet, but I’ve always loved his prose, too.

In addition, Paul Van Slambrouck agreed to visit Meridian Gallery owners/directors Anne Brodsky and Tony Williams in order to find out more about one of San Francisco’s hidden cultural treasures. Meridian Gallery is in the midst of moving into its new home on Powell Street, just around the corner from its home of 17 years at 545 Sutter Street. It seemed a good time to remind readers about this special place that has been quietly carrying on its multi-dimensional program of service in many of the names of art for a long time now. Shortly, works & conversations will have a small office in the same building with Meridian.

Of course, as always, we have an episode of Rue Harrison’s Indigo Animal. This one begins Book Three of her Indigo Animal trilogy. If you’d like to catch up, you can order back issues of the magazine, and Book Two is still available.

But I’ve left until last what, in a way, is the biggest new development: beginning with this issue, we leave our old subscription structure behind. Now we will follow a “pay it forward” model. Beginning now, meeting our costs will depend entirely on the unsolicited donations of like-hearted friends and readers as gestures of gratitude and support. 

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works & conversations and West Coast editor of  Parabola magazine.


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