Special Renovations Project

Help Rebuild Our Home!

Over the past 31 years, CGAC has grown from the first independent art center for people with disabilities to an internationally recognized center whose artists are exhibited and collected in contemporary art and outsider art contexts around the world. Today CGAC engages over 150 adults from the San Francisco Bay Area in 69 ongoing workshops. Classes are led by professional artists in a range of media, including painting, drawing, ceramics, woodworking, printmaking, rugs, and sculpture.

In addition to our arts programming, Creative Growth Arts Center provides our artists with a daily Independent Living Skills class for 12 artists/class. Participants sign up for the classes quarterly. Currently the schedule includes: Monday – Current Events Reading; Tuesday – Nutrition and Cooking; Wednesday – Yoga; Thursday – Group Therapy; and Friday – Dance Movement.

Creative Growth is a vital model of artistic and economic empowerment. The population we work with is one of the most underserved and poorest communities in the country and close to 90% of the individuals we serve survive on less than $10,000 a year. Moreover, while Oakland, CA, has the largest population of people with disabilities in the country, it also suffers from a critical lack of resources typical of economically distressed urban centers.

Over the past four years, Creative Growth has paid over $291,574 in commissions to our 150 artists with disabilities. We believe in using a professional model for paying our artists for works they have sold; 50% of sales are paid to the artist and 50% are paid to the gallery. This standard of payment is part Creative Growth’s philosophy that recognizes our artists as working professionals. Additionally, each of our artists receives a quarterly check regardless of whether they have sold individual works. Payment is based on the sales of cooperative merchandise from our gallery store, such as T-shirts, cards, coffee cups. The stipend is sometimes as low as $30; however the gesture of receiving an income from working as an artist is significant to our clients. Creative Growth is one of the only resources in the country for artists with disabilities to sustain a career in the arts. CGAC’s free exhibitions provide an important and sometimes sole source of income for our artists, and act as a powerful means of demystifying an often, invisible community. CGAC has ten annual in-house exhibitions and an extensive schedule of outside exhibitions. CGAC’s instructors are themselves distinguished artists in their field, with a long list of public commissions and artistic recognitions.

In 1982 Creative Growth purchased our home, a former auto-body repair shop, in downtown Oakland. In 1994 we completed necessary seismic renovations, prompted by the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. The project was funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For the past 23 years, our 13,000 sq. ft. facility has provided Creative Growth with a secure and valuable space for our artists to develop and showcase their work in a thriving, supportive environment. Several years ago it became increasingly apparent that CGAC would have to make renovations to our physical space to meet our growing needs, including an expanding community of working artists, new class offerings, an increased gallery audience, a growing permanent and exhibition collection, accessibility upgrades, and safety upgrades. Staff conducted an assessment and identified specific capital improvements based on their observations and consultation with several contractors. Consequently, CGAC received cost estimates from Davis Langdon Adamson Associates. Based on these projections, we developed a Business Plan to move forward and guide our renovation. In spring 2005 CGAC secured Fougeron Architecture as our architects, and Higuera Associates as our general contractors. Higuera Associates has agreed to complete work at cost as a donation by the contractor. Renovations to our center are critical to Creative Growth’s continuation as a sustainable international leader in the field; for our artists with disabilities to continue in their tenure as successful working artists in a thriving and accessible physical environment; and to the continuation of exciting public-private partnerships with leading contemporary artists through our Visiting Artist program.

Specific renovations include:
a. Safety Upgrades: Improved and streamlined electrical system and improved kiln area
b. Increased Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible power doors to the building and bathrooms, new toilets, a power lift, a shower, an elevator to the second floor, upgraded wheelchair ramps between studio, gallery, and kitchen spaces
c. Improved Overall Habitability: Improved air ventilation, heating, and lighting
d. More Efficient Use of Existing Space
e. Redesigned Gallery and Gallery Store

You Can Make it Happen!
The scope of our project is ambitious – it will cost more than one half million dollars. But pledges from our Board and closest supporters have already raised over $350,000 in pledges. Please help us finish the campaign and rebuild our home. With your help we can do it – and our artists will be deeply thankful for their new facility.Please join us in our efforts to the needed capital improvements to our renowned studio space and gallery for visionary artists with disabilities. Gifts may be pledged over a 3-year period, payable in monthly, quarterly or annual gifts. Additionally, Higuera and Associates will manage construction at cost, so your gift will have maximum impact.

To make a donation, you can send a check to:
Creative Growth Art Center
355 24th Street
Oakland, CA 94612

To find out more information you can contact Creative Growth at:

Romping Corn-Fed Redhead

It’s me if I’d never left Montana! To see more of the vintage “Hilda” click here.

Daily Kitten

We really tried to be the Daily Kitten


But, little Berkeley really is the Daily Kitten!

“Berkeley is a British Shorthair, who loves to stick her paw in everyone’s glasses of water (if this happens to you, you’ve been “Berklarized”!) “

Willie is pretty good competition though! We (Aaron Noble and I) found Willie and his sister Minnie underneath a paper bag laying on the train tracks in Jogjakarta Indonesia a year and a half ago. What else could we do — we picked them up and took them back to our hotel room and raised them for a month and them turned them over to our friends Nano and Dani. I’ll be visiting them in a few weeks!!!!

Southern Komfort

As I waited to get blood drawn yesterday, I picked up the last issue of Time Magazine and noticed an article titled “Can This Man Save The Movies? (Again?)” with a picture of George Lucas. Admittedly, I didn’t read the article; but what struck me was the idea of George Lucas “saving the movies … again.” The thought depressed me, considering that I attribute the decline of sophisticated filmmaking to George Lucas (and Steven Spielberg). However, the article might have been solely about making money – for which Lucas is the Golden Boy.

I was reminded of this cultural demise as I watched Southern Comfort this weekend for the umpteenth time (I bought a bootleg copy in Indonesia in 2004) because it’s such a great all-round film – excellent storyline, acting, cinematography, amazing sound track etc. It was released in 1981, which was around the beginning of the end. Directed by Walter Hill, who also directed The Warriors (I think this has currently been turned into a play — scary) and the TV series Deadwood, the film stars Powers Boothe, Keith Carradine, and Peter Coyote as part of a National Guard squad conducting a weekend survivalist training in Louisiana swampland. The exercise takes a very terrifying and creepy turn when the troop, full of hubris, testosterone, and a hunger for the prostitutes waiting for them at the end of their game, steals the canoes of a local Cajun community.

The film has many parallels to Deliverance (also a great film), though the layers are deeper and more interesting. Ry Cooder’s musical brilliance really tops it off, as does the whole Cajun dancing/pig roast scene!! Oh yeah, and the trucks!!!

Funny, as I was writing this, the knife guy pulled up across the street and he could easily have been in the film. He comes every couple of weeks to sharpen the knives for the Le Beau Nob Hill Deli. He has a beautiful old truck with an A-line, wood paneled roof over the back that houses his sharpening wheel. I just ran out and had all of our knives and my scissors sharpened.

Along another stream of thought that came up while I was watching this film was remembering when I saw it in Indonesia. I watched it in my hotel room on my laptop, with a 103-degree fever, moaning, and drifting in and out of consciousness and I found it to be the perfect atmosphere for experiencing the film. Similar was when I watched Sergei Parajanov’s Sayat Nova (Color of Pomegranates) as I laid on my couch bleeding and aching with excruciating menstrual cramps, and again drifting in and out of consciousness. It was the most perfect experience of the film.

It could be yet another next trend for Relational Aesthetics – arranging screenings of films around the perfect experience for the viewing the film. (yes, I’m being facetious.)

Bollywood Mood!

I’ve been watching my Bollywoood films again! I’m a recent huge fan – I traveled to India for a month in December 2004.

India made a very strong impression on me, and my experience was very mixed – in some ways I loved it and embraced it; and in others I found it foreign and difficult and was/am very critical of it. I loved the cultural aspects of India (fashion, architecture, hyper-decoration, movies, vehicles (so many cool transports), all the animals everywhere — cows, camels, donkeys, elephants, horses, and dogs all over the road), sound (music, language), and taste (the food is amazing and the chai seems to run out of the faucets). I was constantly inspired by everything around me.

One of the most enjoyable experiences of my entire trip was seeing the newly re-released colorized version of the movie Mughal-E-Azam at the Raj Mandhir theatre in Jaipur (the Paramount Theater of Rajasthan). The movie was gorgeous (possibly the most beautiful I’ve seen), as was the theater and since it was a Sunday afternoon, it was filled with Indian families (young and old), men and women and nobody was trying to sell me anything, we all had our assigned seats and since it was dark, I wasn’t being stared at. I ended up getting a bootleg dvd of Mughal-E-Azam (I also got the soundtrack) and when I first returned I was watching parts of it every day for about a month (I also went to LA for the US premiere).

Mughal-E-Azam was released in 1960 (more about the film below); while this is my favorite Hindi film, the era that I especially love from Bollywood is the late ’60′s and ’70′s. Most Indians would think I were crazy for this; however, as a foreigner to the culture – these are the films I love the most – they’re pre-bellybutton (I really hate the new films that bare almost all and just look like some sleezy MTV music video), and I love their interpretation of Hollywood films – very cool hybridization – especially the James Bondesque films, like Don. Other favorites include: Hamraaz, Sharaabi, Purab Aur Pachhim, and Shakti.

Oh yeah, you must check out this site for a great compilation of soundtrack cover jackets!!!!

More on Mughal-E-Azam:
Starring: Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Nigar Sultana, Ajit and Durga Khote. Screenplay: K. Asif, Aman
Dialogues: Aman, Kamal Amrohi, Ehsan Rizvi, Wajahat Mirza
Cinematography: R.D. Mathur
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Music: Naushad
Produced and Directed by: K. Asif

Synopsis: Mughal-e-Azam is the love story between a commoner Anarkali (Madhubala) and Prince Salim (Dilip Kumar) the heir apparent. When his father Emperor Akbar (Prithviraj Kapoor) finds out, he is furious and does his best to thwart the romance saying a commoner could never be the empress of India. Salim however is adamant and rebelliously leads an army against his father. He is defeated in battle and brought before Akbar who sentences him to death. Anarkali agrees to sacrifice her life for Salim to be spared and after spending the night with him is taken to be entombed alive in a brick wall.

The Film: The Anarkali-Salim legend is unsupported by historic evidence but the story of thwarted youthful love in conflict with convention and authority provides rich dramatic material with immense popular appeal. It is no surprise therefore that this popular legend has been filmed many times on the silver screen but Mughal-e-Azam is perhaps the definitive version of the doomed love story.

Mughal-e-Azam hit the screens in 1960 after almost fifteen years in the making, its initial cast being Chandramohan, Nargis and Sapru in the roles finally played by Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. Produced at a cost of Rs 1.5 crores in those days filming took over 500 working days! It was easily the costliest Indian film till date. Tailors were brought from Delhi to stitch the costumes, Hyderabad goldsmiths made the jewellery, Kolhapur craftsmen the crowns, Rajasthani ironsmiths fabricated the shields, swords, spears, dagger and armour, specialists from Surat-Khambayat were employed for the exquisite zardosi embroidery on the costumes while the elaborate footwear was ordered from Agra! For one of the songs, Ae Mohabbat Zindabad there was a chorus of 100 singers used!

Premiered simultaneously in 150 theatres all over the country the film became the biggest money grosser in those times. In a rave review, Filmfare wrote”Mughal-e-Azam is a tribute to the imagination, hard work and lavishness of its maker…For its grandeur, its beauty and the performances of the artistes it should be a landmark in Indian films.

The breathtaking battle scenes, the sumptuous splendour of the Mughal Court, some of the most seductive song and dance ensembles ever filmed, the confrontation scenes between Akbar and Salim – the best of Mughal-e-Azam has never been surpassed and is the finest testament to K. Asif’s cinematic talents.

That is not to say the film is without its flaws. In his anxiety to show Akbar as a compassionate king and to provide his film with a so-called happy ending Asif changed the popular legend by letting Anarkali escape through the false bottom of the wall that opens out into a tunnel unknown to Salim. This however defies the internal logic of the tragic love story.

The performances too are a mixed bag. Dilip Kumar looks strangely uncomfortable in the role of Salim and Prithviraj Kapoor goes way over the top as Akbar. However his robust voice and regal bearing still carry him through. At the other end of the coin Durga Khote is splendid as Rani Jodabai caught between her husband and son and Madhubala is the life of the film as Anarkali. An immensely underrated actress, Mughal-e-Azam showed off the finely modulated depth she could bring to her performances if given the opportunity. It is without doubt the greatest performance of her career.

Of course the highs far outweigh the lows. Naushad’s superb musical score stands out particularly the two songs by noted classical singer Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (Shubh Din Aayo and Prem Jogan ke Sundari Pio Chali). It was indeed shocking that he lost the Filmfare award that year to Shankar-Jaikishen for their populist score in Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960). R.D. Mathur’s expansive camerawork lifts the film even higher particularly the song Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya shot in colour in the famous Sheesh Mahal or Palace of Mirrors. The film deservedly won Mathur the Filmfare Award for Best Cinematography. And last but not least, Mughal-e-Azam has perhaps the most sensitively portrayed erotic scene ever on the Indian screen as Dilip Kumar tickles the impassioned face of Madhubala with a white feather shot mainly in extreme close-ups of the two. Magical! (


Word on my health — the cold has passed, but the mild MS relapse continues … my feet now feel like paws – hard, lined, and crinkly – like big bear paws that have been walking on pine needles and rocks. I know, sounds bizarre, but ’tis true. I’m fascinated by the fact that the brain has such sensations somewhere in its memory – whether ever experienced or not. My left leg still feels weak and numb, yet it’s not – it feels like the opposite of a ghost leg (a ghost leg feels like it’s there, yet it’s not and can’t function) – it feels as though I don’t have a leg there, yet it’s fully functional. While this is all disturbing on a basic level, it’s also fascinating to observe.


A few new changes to my site:

1. I’ve posted images of three new drawings from the Spring Series.

2. I’ve posted a couple of images of one new drawings on the Drawings page.

3. I now have a Travel Section on the site that’s under Related Activities.
The first page in that section that you’ll come to is Mexico; to view other travels, just click on the name of the area (Central America, Central Europe, Indonesia, Japan, India).

It’s amazing how much digital photography has changed documenting our experiences. I was stunned when I started working on this that I only had 40 images from Three months of travel in Mexico and 31 images from Three months of travel in Central America. However I have 612 images of Indonesia from a cumulative of 8 months there, and 271 images from one month in India! I’ve been a little slow on getting the captions and narratives of the trips up — it’ll be a project that I do when I return from Indonesia this next trip and have jet lag for a week so that I’m up at 4:00 a.m.

Oscar Disappointments and Highlights

I’ll start with the L-A-M-E:

1. That Crash was nominated at all, and then took the top award. This film was a slickly produced, well-cast after-school special or way-too-long PSA made to make liberal white people feel good that: yeah, they get it and isn’t it appalling?

2. That Munich was nominated for Best Film. It was a typical overdone Spielberg film that didn’t leave that much of an impression because the characters felt rather hollow – or that you really didn’t care about them. The Constant Gardner falls into this category as well – too much on the message, not enough of the characters.

3. That Junebug wasn’t nominated for Best Film. Now this was a film that dealt with all of the discomfort associated with class and power and did it so successfully, leaving a strong, lingering impression of these issues without beating it over your head and turning it into a didactic message. And one was left caring about the characters and feeling their depth, or lack there of. So, so, so much better than Crash or Munich.

4. That Rachel Weisz took Best Actress In A Supporting Role – she was fine, did her job, but by no means was it a memorable performance. Again the deserving winner was Amy Adams from Junebug for her phenomenal performance of Ashley. The fact that she didn’t get it makes it oh so obvious that the behind the scenes politics much more often trump the reality – or perhaps it’s possible that the folks making those decisions really are just that vapid.

Okay, now for the highlights:
1. Definitely Jennifer Lopez’s dress – wow!
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Best Actor – Every film I’ve seen him in, he’s AMAZING!
3. That the mainstream news was in such a tizzy that the majority of the films nominated were not big blockbusters at the box office – love, love, love this! As if the headliner(s) at the Whitney Biennial should be Thomas Kincaid (or the like).
4. That Wallace & Gromit took the Best Animated Feature! Sadly Howl’s Moving Castle was disappointing – the most Disneyesque of Miyazaki’s works.

Life of Magical Thinking

Still sick with the cold; it’s moved to my chest, which I think is a sign that it’s getting better. However I feel miserable, though I continue to work – proposals and plans for my non-profit clients, new pieces for an exhibition this summer, preparations for leaving for Indonesia soon. In addition to the cold, I’ve been experiencing a somewhat mild MS (multiple sclerosis) relapse. My feet have had the sensation of being numb and sometimes cold for the past month. Recently it’s been worse on my left side – the heel and ball of my foot feel like I’m standing on two wooden pegs and the sensation of numbness is crawling up my leg, first my calf, then knee and now thigh. There’s also the general feeling of just being off, fatigued, and not quite right, which as I’ve learned over the past 7 years (since the first attack) is impossible to truly or accurately describe to someone without the ailment – because I’d never experienced anything like it previously. I’ve been quite lucky in that my experience with the disease so far has been generally mild – odd unpredictable sensations periodically, sometimes my eyes hurt with sharp pains, but most and worst of all are the times that I feel so overtaken with fatigue (again, this is fatigue like I’d never experienced previously so I often find it irksome when I get the response from someone of “yeah, I’m really tired too” – they honestly have no idea, though I know they don’t realize this) and my head feels “off,” which I then remind myself that it is brain damage, so I suppose that makes sense. But I’m also quick to remind myself that the brain is phenomenal at healing itself. There have also been lapses of time when I’ve almost forgotten that I even have this disease because I feel great and have no symptoms.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking more about this episode (that’s how they’re referred to in the medical establishment) because again as I’ve been lying in bed and staring at the books on my table, I remembered that Joan Didion also has MS. She wrote about it in The White Album, but she also wrote a very good essay, After the Diagnosis on her experience with the disease. I’m not sure when she wrote this – it seems like it must have been many years ago, perhaps 5 – 10 years after diagnosis, which is where I’m at with it. The essay is the best I’ve read on the experience of living with MS – it sums up the fear, frustrations, responses from others, and readjustment to the way one with the disease must view life-which I would liken to a life of magical thinking.

Marking Time Through Books

I’ve been sick with a nasty cold for the past day, lying in bed hacking and blowing my nose. So lots of time to stare into space while feeling miserable. As I’ve been doing this it was hard not to notice the pile of books next to my bed and think about them as markings of time and interest … reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s Namesake last spring not long after returning from India; Kracauer’s The Mass Ornament, a number of essays from Art In Theory 1900 – 1990, and Huysman’s Against Nature while I was working on Sunset; Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart while I had terrible insomnia for several months; A Child’s Bible while I was working on Logos (still not complete); Dylan’s Chronicles also while I had insomnia and found myself drifting back in time, thinking about my life in Oregon; Mikal Gilmore’s Shot In the Heart which was recommended to me by my sweetie Corey not long after we’d been seeing each other. He thought I’d find it interesting because of the Mormon connection and other related content (he was right); Iceberg Slim’s Pimp, also given to me by Corey, which was given to him by Chris Rock (Corey works on the show Everyone Hates Chris) who said “Everything you need to know about life is in this book” – how could I not be intrigued. And Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which I think felt the closest to my heart. I’ve been reading Didion for many years – actually only her essays, I haven’t read any of her novels. So it’s been a lot like reading her journal over the course of her life. Anyway, very touching – and part of what struck me as the marking of time while staring into space at the books next to my bed.