Interviewsand Articles


From the Editor, issue #28

by Richard Whittaker, Jul 26, 2014



photo by John Oliver

As my conversation with artist Archana Horsting unfolded, one of things that struck me was what an intriguing journey her life has been. And as I looked at the material here, it was apparent that journey, as a theme, is a good fit. The outer journeys we touch upon are fascinating. In Raphael Shevelev’s case, his European refugee parents fled to Cape Town, where he grew up in South Africa’s apartheid era. Due to his strong political views in opposition to apartheid, he found himself fleeing South Africa and coming to the United States, where he had an academic career in political science. Then he left academia in his early 50s to embark on a career in writing and photography. In each life there must be many journeys, perhaps the most compelling of them invisible. What attracted me to Raphael’s story was hearing about his year-long journey through a severe medical crisis, and how paying attention to light, as it passed through his home, became a healing practice.
     We have an unusual amount of photography in this issue. That’s just the way it turned out. I learned about Bob Sadler from a stranger at an art opening at a new gallery* in Monterey. A casual request from his Unitarian church, that he photograph a few homeless men in their charitable program, opened the door to an unexpected result. His photos seemed to have a transformative effect on the men’s lives. Hearing that, I immediately wanted to know more and, with a little help, was able to track down Bob Sadler himself.
     In our interview he talks about this, and about his own journey. Thirty years earlier, he was standing with his view camera waiting for the morning fog to lift in order to get a shot. A homeless man appeared and watched him for a while. Then the homeless man spoke: “The question for you is whether you’re an artist, or just an observer with a camera.” It was a remark that changed Sadler’s life. And it’s the story of an artist finding his vocation.
     And we have portfolios from two visual artists, Alexander Rohrig and Tom Nakashima. Rohrig is in the early stages of his journey. He’s been Jane Rosen’s assistant for five years. Working with an established artist is still a viable way for a young artist to get a start. In another era he might have been called an apprentice. We’re happy to give readers a look at this promising young artist’s work.
     Tom Nakashima, on the other hand, is a well-established artist. I think you’ll agree with me that his work is stunning, even greatly reduced in scale and with the color dropped out. As I look at his work, I see an artist grappling with the deep questions, the ones that will continue to be with us in spite of whatever technology and science create to dazzle us.
     In the case of Dr. Keith Cohn and architect John Oliver, photography is an avocation. At least, that’s how it looks from the outside. But what is it that’s taking place in a creative process? As editor, I’m always on the lookout for material that announces itself by activating a certain kind of inner “yes.” Running across the Sadler story is a perfect example of that. I suspect artists know what I’m talking about. And I’m sure that Keith Cohn and John Oliver do, as well. When they’re photographing, they’re looking for something like that inner “yes.” In a way, each such moment is like a little journey in a pathless land, so to speak. The photographs are the destinations themselves—the ones that still contain something that resonates for others.
     And Indigo Animal is in Rome. Wow! Welcome to issue #28.

*Green Chalk Contemporary

About the Author

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


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