Interviewsand Articles


From the Editor w&c #12: This Incredible Fact of Being Alive

by Richard Whittaker, Apr 2, 2006



Although the unforeseen is always an important element in each new issue, in #12 it plays a bigger role than usual. Our interview with Godfrey Reggio materialized in a few hours, utterly out of the blue, through the accident of turning on the radio. It’s one of those delightful little miracles that suggests that planning might be over-rated. Reggio, former Christian Brother turned filmmaker [Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi] shares with us some of his own compelling story. We also meet painter Leigh Hyams, who was in San Francisco for an exhibit of her recent paintings [Redon’s Garden], large flowers on unstretched canvas. Rather automatically, Georgia O’Keeffe’s large flowers came to mind at first, but after spending more time with these images, I see they stand in quite a different territory. Four of them are reproduced here, each distinctly different in impact. Only a hint of the breadth of Hyams’ work will be found here, but enough, I hope, to spark an interest in seeing more.

Another feature had its genesis in a chance conversation with ceramic sculptor John Toki who owns and runs Leslie Ceramic Supply here in Berkeley (which happens to be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary this year). John invited me to a symposium at CCA in Oakland [California College of Art] where he’s a faculty member in the Ceramics Department. The day was so memorable in a particular way it got me to thinking about the atmosphere that had been created. One finds something similar, I realized, sometimes in an independent bookstore. And the same kind of atmosphere is present in Toki’s Leslie Ceramics store, too; something invisible is being honored. Here are some reflections about that.

Then there was a call on my answering machine from a stranger who thought I’d want to know about a special garden that was being destroyed. I decided I did, and here is the story of what I found visiting a lost garden in Mariposa—a doorway, really, into more questions. Are there ways in which we are all connected? Surely that’s what gives certain art objects their power.  They stir some resonance in a common field. Recently a friend posed the question, “Why is it that with some pieces of art, thousands, even millions, of people take it home in their brains, while with other pieces of art, only a few do?”

Rounding it out, we have Mary Moorhead’s article about one of Eldergivers’ programs [Art with Elders] through which the organization attempts to foster a vital link with the broader culture for people who have turned sixty-five. We first met Eldergivers in issue #10. Here Moorhead gives us a closer look at one of their programs, Elder Arts Celebrations, via conversations with three of the many artists who have participated in that program.

We feature two small portfolios—one of five photographs by Blaine Ellis. I think they speak for themselves. And you’ll find four intriguing drawings by Scott Miller which also speak for themselves, although in quite a different spirit. And we call attention to a recent book, Malcolm Hall’s meticulous translation from the Dalmation of Rover Khayyam’s Rubaiyat. I hope some of you will go to the trouble of securing a copy. I don’t think you’ll regret it. And, of course there is the ongoing saga of the redoubtable Indigo Animal.
Following a whim, we also bring you a “Treasure from the Archives,” a photograph which was featured on the cover of the magazine that preceeded works & conversations (The Secret Alameda, issue #4).

About the Author

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


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