Interviewsand Articles


Editor's Introduction, Newsletter #36: On Art: Five Non Linear Reflections

by R. Whittaker, Mar 3, 2016



Left: Enrique Serrato

There are many ways to think about art, about what art is, or could be. Most conventionally, a work of art is thought of as an object—at times an object that incites the powerful desire to possess it, a magic object. But in possessing such a magic object, what is it that one possesses? In our interview with a very unconventional art collector, Enrique Serrato, we don’t exactly get to the bottom of this question. On the other hand, we get closer—and hear an amazing story as well.
     Or taking our lead from painter Brenda Louie, works of art could be “flowers from the sky.” Louie’s story is quite compelling. Besides having walked out of Mao’s China as an eight-year old in a time of widespread starvation, she eventually came to the U.S. and Stanford where, in addition to her art classes, she studied the neo-Confucian philosopher, Mencius, whose thinking became a strong influence. As for the phrase "flowers from the sky", perhaps it helps being Chinese to best enter into its meaning. But in our interview with Louie, the metaphor is opened.
     Art can be singing, of course, and songs—in this case, an old American folk song, “Outshine the Sun.” What can such songs hold? What can their singing open? Gail Needleman reflects on the connections that can appear, and the mysteries that can be touched.
     Artist Jane Baker figured out how to turn her love of artmaking into something more than just a personal pleasure. Looking through past issues, I couldn’t resist bringing this interview back for readers who might have missed it, the story of a creative reconciliation that might inspire others.
     I’ve been acquainted with writer/artist Abe Burickson for years and have always found his work intriguing. When I read this essay, a deeply felt meditation he wrote upon first hearing about the Paris killings in November of last year, I knew I’d want to share it—why we need art more than ever. We publish it with his permission.
—Welcome to issue #36

About the Author

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


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