Interviewsand Articles

 

Four by Four, Newsletter #51

by Richard Whittaker, Sep 5, 2020


 

 








Issue #51 of our newsletter could be titled, “Miscellaneous,” but as words go, it would be like putting them on mute. It wouldn’t do for any of these four pieces. So I’ll take them one at a time. Rosalyn White went to a top art school in Oakland, CA. As she says, “In Western art you have almost unlimited freedom in what you’re allowed to portray.” And so out of hundreds of thousands of art school grads, there couldn’t be more than a handful of art who have followed the path White took with her art degree.
     Having met Tarthang Tulku while still an art student, she began attending talks and meditations and then becoming a student of Tibetan Buddhism under his guidance. As she says, her work as a painter is essentially devotional. Its latitude is constrained by tradition, and the intrinsic goal is to get beyond the ego. For Western artists, it’s the path (much, much) less traveled.
     Our second feature was tucked away somewhere in a corner of digital space on my computer for seven years. Its rediscovery came as something of a shock. How could I have let this sweet conversation (there were three of us) sit there all that time?
     The work of Michael Cooper is often a bit mind blowing. The level of his craft is a marvel. It all came about when former head of UC Berkeley’s Art Department, Jim Melchert, invited me to tag along for a visit with his former student Michael. For me, it's doubly a surprise.
     In our third feature, “Waters of Life,” we meet Patrick Watters. In this time of Covid 19, it took awhile for what was, at first, just a thread in cyberspace to take on enough substance to spark car travel from one city to another. We wanted to sit down together and talk. I was surprised when Watters took out a little bag of sage and sweet grass to burn before I turned on the recorder. It speaks to a certain amount of good fortune, that this was the second time a person I interviewed burned sage before we began [John Malloy].
     It turned out, this Irishman is part Lakota. We talked about a lot of things, but water was really the topic. Water. And why we need to take better care of it. 
         Finally, and adding another element to this collection, Korean-born, bay area art collector Russ McClure is the inspiration for a meditation on that elusive space of inner freedom that is, it seems to me, what calls most deeply to the artist. Whatever we call it, it’s that thing the poet William Carlos Williams spoke of when he wrote:  “It’s hard to get the news from poetry, but men die miserably every day from lack of what is found there.” 
     Enjoy...  
  
       
 

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founder of works & conversations magazine.

 

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