Interview: Quincy Troupe: A Poet's Journey I'd already met and interviewed artist Mildred Howard when she told me about her friend, the poet Quincy Troupe. You ought to interview him, she said. Well, maybe we could do that together, I suggested. Mildred is one of those people, full of life and engagement, and it didn't take a lot of insight to know it would be a great plus to have her involved. Mildred liked the idea and some weeks later, I got a call from her. "Quincy is in San Francisco. Let's do the interview!" The timing clicked and Mildred and I headed over to a hotel near Chinatown to meet ... Apr 2, 2002, 56467 reads


Interview: Jane Rosen: Toward the Intelligence of Life Jane Rosen has been a long time contributing editor for works & conversations and an incomparable help in the early years of the magazine.      At the time of this interview—our first recorded conversation—Rue Harrison and I met Rosen at her rented house on a horse ranch in San Gregorio, California. [She now owns a property nearby.] In those days, her dog Mayo was never far away and we were surrounded by all kinds of examples of Rosen's love of nature—rocks, feathers, shells, seeds, pine cones. On the walls were many of her drawings, paintings ... Apr 2, 1998, 31768 reads


Interview with Wendy Sussman: Real Painting Painter Wendy Sussman's untimely death in April of 2001 left a void in the San Francisco Bay Area artworld. Sussman was an artist of impeccable integrity and great depth. Following is perhaps the only interview on record with this remarkable artist. The interview took place in Sussman's studio just before the Fall Semester began at U.C. Berkely where she taught painting. We began talking about how certain painters utilized the shapes of elements in their paintings to resonate with and deepen the content of the image. Wendy Sussman:  I always have to find an image. Once I ... Sep 2, 2000, 50440 reads


Interview with Bill Douglass - Jimbo's Bop City and Other Tales: At the time I'd first gotten to know the widely respected jazz musician Bill Douglass, he lived in Albany in the East Bay. From time to time, we'd get together for lunch or dinner following one of his engagements at Yoshi's or some other Bay Area venue devoted to jazz. These get togethers were always a great pleasure. I looked forward to the lively conversation and Douglass' considerable warmth. It wasn't until over a year after Douglass and his wife, musician Nora Nusbaum, moved from the Bay Area into the Sierras near Nevada City that we finally ... Mar 22, 2002, 371657 reads


Interview: Richard Berger: A Conversation with an Elusive Genius At the time of this interview in1997, Richard Berger was a senior faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute where he had chaired the sculpture department for over twenty years. Although he was the recipient of the Adeline Kent Award in 2004, he was one of those remarkable artists who should have been far more widely known. When I asked other Bay Area artists if they knew Richard Berger, the response was usually some variation on a theme: "Oh, yes. He's a genius!"        I began our interview by asking Berger how he was currently working. ... Aug 6, 2000, 51222 reads


Advocate of the Unwatched Life: A Conversation with Squeak Carnwath photo - r. whittaker Squeak Carnwath is one of the Bay Area's best known artists. Her work has been widely exhibited and she has received numerous awards and grants. At the time of this interview, first published in 1993, Carnwath was a member of the art faculty at the University of California at Davis. In 1998, she moved to the art faculty at UC Berkeley. She is now retired from teaching. Her work can be seen at the Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco or the Dorothy Goldeen Gallery in Los Angeles.—Richard Whittaker, 2007 works:  There are so ... Apr 2, 2004, 142587 reads


Interview: Judy Pfaff: The Interior Landscape Judy Pfaff’s work has been exhibited world-wide in major museums and galleries including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Whitney Museum. A professor of art at Bard College in New York, she received her MFA from Yale.         I visited Pfaff in Pasadena where she was spending a month creating an installation for the Art Center. Our lively conversation began over a lunch break and continued during a dinner break from the intense work in progress. The interview is one of the artist's favorites. Judy Pfaff taking a ... Aug 5, 2002, 139876 reads


Jim Campbell: Frames of Reference Photo: R. Whittaker In August of 1998 Jim Campbell was given a retrospective show at the San Jose Museum of Art. His work has been shown internationally and is included in many collections including the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Campbell received undergraduate degrees from M.I.T. in mathematics and electrical engineering. He divides his time between art work and work as an electrical engineer specializing in cutting edge digital technology. We started talking about computer art. Jim Campbell:  I've always felt that even using the word ... Jan 22, 2002, 69925 reads


Greeting the Light: An Interview with James Turrell It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with James Turrell. Gabrielson was an old friend of Turrell’s from Pasadena and, like Turrell, also a pilot. The prospect of meeting this remarkable artist was exciting and arranging it took some persistence. Michael Bond, who managed Turrell’s projects around the world, was encouraging, but he suggested some homework. I should go to Los Angeles to experience one of the artist’s pieces in a private collection there, The Second Meeting. Although I was already familiar with ... Mar 22, 2001, 327091 reads


Looking for Something That's True: A Conversation with Dickson Schneider My relationship with Dickson Schneider goes back quite a ways. He was an important part of my own publishing efforts from the beginning and I've long been an admirer of his painting. Whenever we have gotten together our conversations tend to take a philosophical turn. At the time of this interview, it had been a while since I'd visited Dickson and, as usual, there were new paintings I hadn't seen. I'd already been noticing that the figure was appearing more often in his work. To begin, I asked him to tell me about that ... Richard Whittaker Dickson Schneider:  ... Jan 8, 2001, 33470 reads


Who Makes Originals, Ever?: A Conversation with Viola Frey   I first saw a piece of Viola Frey’s work at the Oakland Museum many years ago, a large ceramic figure—maybe nine feet tall, a man in a suit. The figure leaned forward stiffly, shoulders hunched up, and wore an aggressive, threatening expression. The encounter made a lasting impression which settled somewhere in a strangely equivocal inner space.         What was the meaning of the brightly colored glaze on this menacing figure? I tried to read into the oversized, cartoonish figure some knock on the bourgeoisie, but it didn't ... Aug 8, 2002, 43850 reads


A Conversation with Carl Cheng: The John Doe Company photo - r. whittaker I can thank the late James Doolin for introducing me to Carl Cheng. And along with Carl, he also introduced me to Michael McMillen. The three artists were best of friends. Jim spoke glowingly about both Michael and Carl. He marveled at each artist's capacity to build things - nearly anything - and each one's originality. "Carl," he said - and searched for the right words... "has a way of thinking that's really unusual."       I couldn't wait to meet them both. It wasn't difficult to arrange ... May 2, 2004, 71316 reads


Interview: James Doolin: Journey February 2002, Culver City, CA I arrived to meet Los Angeles painter James Doolin on one of those mythic winter days southern California is famous for, sunny and warm. Doolin was in good spirits, as was I, having been looking forward to our conversation. I’d first seen his work at the San Jose Museum of Art, large paintings of Los Angeles freeways. They were displayed along with paintings by Chester Arnold. The two-man show was one of the best I’d seen, and I’d written a note of appreciation to Doolin, whom I didn't know. He phoned in response and ... Feb 2, 2004, 38380 reads


A Conversation with Michael C. McMillen: The Alchemy of Things I met Michael C. McMillen at his home and studio in Santa Monica on a sunny afternoon. Richard Whittaker:  When you showed me the little lawnmower gears and said how you found them beautiful just in themselves-- I know that feeling so well-- and I wondered if you’ve reflected about that, how some objects one finds are perfect just the way they are. Michael C. McMillen:  Yes. You can’t think of doing anything further sometimes. When I see an object, especially a discarded object that looks interesting, I think about who made it and why was it made, ... May 27, 2002, 39085 reads


A Conversation with Ursula von Rydingsvard: Objects of Presence I first heard of Ursula von Rydingsvard from my friend Jane Rosen. "She's a great artist," she told me. "You should interview her." But Ursula lives in New York and I had my hands full in the Bay Area. It didn't seem likely to happen. Then one day I got a call from Jane— Ursula would be in San Francisco to give a talk at the Art Institute. She would be in town only briefly, but perhaps I could arrange to meet her. It turned out that she would be staying with Ann Hatch who had brought Ursula to SF years before for a residency at the Capp Street Project. ... Feb 16, 2003, 43433 reads


Interview: Enrique Martinez Celaya: Self & Beyond Self It was several years ago when I first heard of the artist Enrique Martínez Celaya. John Evans, founder of Diesel Books and a poet as well, suggested I’d find him worth looking up. Two years were to pass before we met. I’d learned that Martínez Celaya was teaching at Pomona College and, one afternoon, on a visit to Claremont, I decided to look for him. I got lucky and arrived at his classroom just as his students were leaving; the timing was perfect.      To my surprise, Martínez Celaya was already familiar with works & ... May 2, 2003, 28777 reads


Interview: Erik d'Azevedo: Culture Shock I met Erik d’Azevedo at his home studio in west Berkeley. D’Azevedo is small in stature, intense and very articulate. As usual, there is too much to say, too many connections and failed connections. Too much experience, struggle and history—over 35 years of painting. And before long, we’re going back even further, to some of the artist’s earliest memories from the age of four and five. D’Azevedo’s father was an anthropologist, a fact which has had profound effects on the artist’s life. When Erik was quite young, his father took the ... May 3, 2004, 46268 reads


Interview: David Parker: The Phenomenal World   I first saw David Parker’s astonishing photographs at the Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco. Their power, beauty and mystery were palpable, and I wondered how I might meet the photographer. I was told he lived in England, but that in a year would be in San Francisco for an exhibit of his work. My efforts to contact him in advance of his exhibit at Koch were unsuccessful, but I showed up at the opening where I was fortunate enough to succeed in arranging an interview. Parker’s schedule was tight and we talked in a back room at the Robert Koch Gallery amid various ... Nov 2, 2004, 28390 reads


Interview: Nathan Oliveira: Fundamentals As I drove down 280 toward Palo Alto to meet Oliveira the anticipation I felt was familiar; it was mixed with a little anxiety as always happens when I'm about to meet an important artist for an interview. My only contact with the artist had been brief and by phone. And although I was aware of the widespread respect and admiration for this artist I’d hadn't spent much time looking at his work. Being nervous made sense.      The stretch of 280 south from San Francisco is beautiful, running through the coast hills just west of 101. Before long Page Mill ... Sep 2, 2005, 41324 reads


Interview: Milford Zornes: An Artist's Life I was in Claremont, California—a town I knew well from my college days. But in recent years my visits were to see my mother who was living there in a retirement community. We'd spent the morning together and I'd gone into town to pick up something for her and also because I wanted to wander around and look in on some old haunts. While strolling along Yale Avenue I noticed a sign: Claremont Fine Arts. Hmm. I didn't remember the place and peeking through the window, I saw a room full of conventional landscapes and still lifes. Stepping in for a better ... Jul 11, 2008, 45301 reads


Interview with Photographer Elaine Ling: Remote Wonders Elaine Ling was born in Hong Kong in 1946. At the age of nine, her family moved to Canada. She came to my attention when I got a note inviting me to a lecture she giving in San Francisco. Two of her photos were attached and caught my attention immediately. A quick Google search led me to her website where I was able to look at many more of her photos. No question, a portfolio of her work would be perfect for the upcoming issue of works & conversations. Often, pieces of each new issue fall together more from serendipity, than design. Discovering Elaine Ling's photography ... Jun 27, 2011, 30935 reads


Interview with John Mason: No Simple Answers photo - r. whittaker Two or three years had passed since my last visit to Los Angeles, and as I neared the LA basin, I felt the stirring of memories. Many were connected with years I spent in Claremont, California. There was even a faint echo of John Mason in there. Sometime in 1964, thanks to a girlfriend at Scripps, I had my first experience of putting hands to clay. That moment had the same magic for me as for so many others. Claremont was full of potters in those days. The mystique of clay and its transformation by fire was one of the several enchantments of that ... Sep 18, 2011, 42831 reads


A Man Impossible to Classify photo: r. whittaker One of my first experiences in San Francisco ... Read More 749721 views

The Dumpster       “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 162026 views

An Interview with Betsy Damon I first heard about Betsy Damon from Sam Bower of Water ... Read More 48909 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 14706 views

Say Grace I am deeply delighted to live on a planet that is so big and varied that I can ... Read More 13436 views


A Man Impossible to Classify photo: r. whittaker One of my first experiences in San Francisco ... Read More 749721 views

Interview with Bill Douglass - Jimbo's Bop City and Other Tales At the time I'd first gotten to know the widely respected ... Read More 371657 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get ... Read More 327091 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman taught music at Holy Names University in Oakland, ... Read More 196989 views

The Dumpster       “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 162026 views