Mar. 18 OWL Global Wisdom Circle:
||Sharing wisdom, experience and support
among global citizens everywhere.
Art as a Gift of the Spirit
|Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works and conversations, an arts magazine published in Berkeley, CA that features interviews with artists from all walks of life.
It all started in the early 1990s, when Richard set out to explore artists’ experiences and reflections about their own art making. What came from that was a series of deeply thoughtful interviews with a wide range of artists. And a magazine.
||Although modest in its subscription base, the magazine has attracted a growing number of readers touched by a quality of content missing in other artworld publications. Institutional subscribers, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA and the Kandinsky Library at the Pompidou Center in Paris to Harvard, Stanford and Columbia Universities and RISD, The Art Institute of Chicago, CCA, SVA and SFAI, subscribe and have archived all of the back issues in their libraries.
In early 2007, Richard met with two friends at a local Taqueria for a conversation that resulted in a radical change, turning a 15-year-old subscription model into a gift-economy experiment. Now the magazine is offered as a gift; in turn, the subscribers are invited to pay-forward a subscription to another reader. It’s an experiment in generosity, and to this day, the magazine costs are covered entirely by unsolicited donations from grateful readers and supporters.
Richard opens doors to the inner worlds of artists, and the mystery of how the spirit becomes art, through his conversations with them. In a 2006 interview with Robin Henderson, he said,
It’s not unusual when I talk with an artist and ask probing, possibly “stupid” questions, the artist tells me “no one ever asks me things like that! My artist friends and I never talk about these things!” There’s something paradoxical about that. I think that in order to have a real exchange people actually have to cross a line, even a little bit, into sincerity.
When Richard was asked for the best bio of himself for people who want to learn more about him, he said, characteristically, “Use this interview.”
Richard Whittaker is also West Coast editor of Parabola magazine.
Part 1 — Opening check-ins
Part 2 — Initial interview: Richard Whittaker
Part 3 — Group interview: Richard Whittaker
Part 4 — Circle of reflection: Libby Traubman, Len Traubman, James Offuh, Rabbi Diane Elliot, Wendy Berk, Sophie Wu, Usman Inuwa, Julie Durkheimer
Part 5 — Closing reflections from Richard