Two years ago when I first saw the work of English photographer David Parker at the Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco, I was amazed and wanted to meet him. Negotiations with the gallery for his address or phone number didn’t get far. Would they send a copy of the magazine to him? Sure. Would they let him know I wanted to interview him? Sure.
No word came, but a year later Koch had put up an exhibit of Paker's work. I crossed the Bay Bridge to 49 Geary, took the elevator to the fifth floor and, indeed, the photographer was there. He hadn't heard of me, but was willing to talk. Our improvisational conversation took place in a small room off the main gallery in the midst of comings and goings.
Thinking about Parker's story, and considering other material in issue #10, the theme of "odyssey" came naturally to mind. In the telling we learn something of Parker's
journey from diesel engineer to photographer, and his far ranging search for landscapes that stand like doorways into other worlds. It's a journey that evokes the realm of mythology.
The journeys here are passionate ones. What is it the artist listens to? Is it something like the Siren's song? Parker even states it as such.
Readers can thank contributing editor and Oakland sculptor Mark Bulwinkle for an introduction to John Abduljaami
and his work. Wandering among this artist's carved wooden sculptures was a sojourn in a land of imagination come to life.
Several months ago Robbin Henderson, director of The Berkeley Art Center, agreed to host a series of evening programs as a joint project with us. My conversation with Rue Harrison took place there in January. Readers will be familiar with Indigo Animal, but here is the story of how Indigo Animal came to be. Rue and I spoke about “Art and the Unconscious
” and touched on some of the profound questions connected with art making as an interior journey.
On a more concrete level, we have an account of contributing editor Katina Huston’s trip to this year’s College Art Association’s annual meeting in Atlanta. It's a peek into the academic art world. As Huston puts it, “Once there, it's a joy to see the species (art academics) running with the pack and speaking the mother tongue.” With so many different groups, topics, panels, parties, etc., Huston’s experience had its ups and downs. Asked to identify herself as she joined a group connected with the magazine Leonardo
, Huston replied, “I’m an artist/writer researching and documenting subcultures in academic art.” They laughed and, as she puts it, “for a moment I belonged.” And here is her report
I first met San Francisco artist Hadi Tabatabai five years ago. His work called Agnes Martin to mind and intrigued me. At his recent exhibit at Soker Fine Arts, I had a chance to talk with him. Not long after our conversation, I got an email from Hadi telling me that Agnes Martin had just died. It turned out he had a connection with her, and he shares his reminiscence
If life is an odyssey, then reaching old age should be a form of homecoming. Can we look at it that way? When Brent Nettle first contacted me to tell me about his program Eldergivers
, I had mixed feelings. Who would want to hear about art with elders living in nursing homes? My reservations are a sad commentary, but not unusual, I’m afraid. Fortunately, Brent was persistent. Here is another story of journey, of how a man with social conscience found a form for embodying it in action. Not an artist himself, Nettle, in a moment of insight, saw that art could become a means for crossing the divide of isolation separating elders from the rest of us. I’ve had a chance to meet others working with Nettle, and it’s an inspiring group. We will be running a series of articles in future issues about this work beginning here with an overview of the program and how it came to be. In subsequent issues, we’ll feature more specific stories from a variety of the people involved in this innovative program.
And there is a little portfolio of the work of Tucker Nichols. It’s difficult to claim the work fits into our theme, although the photo on the inside front cover, “Return To Pangea” strikes a note of poetic affinity. The abbreviated selection of Nichols’ work fits, in a way, what might be called his Zen/Woody Allen sensibility. Featuring at least a little of Nichols’ work
also satisfies a certain je ne sais qua
Welcome to issue #10. —RW