Interviewsand Articles


Editor's Introduction, Newsletter #33: Art and Hope

by Richard Whittaker, Jan 19, 2015



“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” Designer/photographer Jerry Takigawa quotes Andre Gide at the beginning of his small book Grace in Uncertainty. Takagawa’s premise: recognize that consciousness is the foundation of everything. The practice: think outside the box in order to see that there is no box. Purpose: Make hope a part of everyone’s life.
Gosh, not your average, cautious theme. And on the other hand, not the usual hyperbole, either. I found the intention and the boldness of Takigawa’s themes a breath of fresh air. And since I’d already met Takigawa, if only briefly, the idea of interviewing him came up almost immediately. And here it is that interview.
     The interview with Archana Horsting took place thanks to another trajectory altogether. The first glimmer appeared several years ago when I learned a little about the KALA Art Institute and was introduced briefly to Archana, its co-founder and director. Any Bay Area artist interested in printmaking is likely to have heard of KALA, which celebrated its 40-year anniversary this year. KALA’s mission: to help artists sustain their creative work over time through its artist-in-residence and fellowship programs, and to engage the community through exhibitions, public programs and education. The creation of KALA, or any comparable institution, on one’s own initiative is a remarkable thing. And the magnitude of this quiet accomplishment exerted an increasing pressure on me to find out more about Horsting. It’s a fascinating interview and offers an alternative to the metaphor of thinking outside of the box. How about getting out of the labyrinth? This, it turns out, was a central metaphor for Horsting early on in her journey as an artist. And, by the way, she is an artist.
     Over the years, I’ve run across several hidden treasures. Demetrio Braceros is one. In the midst of “optimization for search engines” and our culture of hype and self-promotion, such hidden treasures mostly go unseen. It was a piece of good luck that led me to Braceros who worked as a gardener for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. While carrying out his official duties, at some point, without fanfare or any clear plan, he simply began to follow his muse. He began making sculptures out of the trees that fell or died in the park and adding these pieces of art into the landscape. Somehow, it’s more remarkable than it may sound. I’m convinced that seeing these almost anonymous works of art gives one a sense of hope, even if it’s not articulated as such. It’s the hope that Jerry Takagawa writes about.
     But for most of us, this is not so easy to do. Ladislav Hanka’s reflections as a near Art Prize winner, is a meditation on the vicissitudes most artists face. He looks at both his disappointment as well as the deeper things that went right. Thousands of people responded to his work in the Art Prize exhibit. As he writes, “They responded as one does, when invited to partake of genuine, unfalsified sacraments.” In the end, isn’t that the important thing? He reflects further, “that when somebody gives you something a relationship is born. I think the answer to much of what bothers us about art, in a professional sense, lies buried off in that direction.” That is, in the direction of art as a gift.
     Finally, in this edition, I’ve included a link to an entry in photographer Rafael Shevelev’s blog. An interview with Shevelev was part of works & conversations #28. A peek into the world of Raphael is many-faceted and rich experience.

About the Author

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


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