Posts About Art Education

March 17, 2009

Art and Justice

“Give what you have to give and receive what has been given honestly and generously.” – Justice Albie Sachs, Constitutional Court of South Africa

So rare is real humility that until a few weeks ago, I’d almost forgotten what it looks like. It looks like Justice Albie Sachs, who sees more of the world from his one good eye than most of us do with two. Exiled from South Africa in 1966, targeted as a “race traitor” by the former apartheid regime, and nearly assassinated by a car bomb planted by South African agents, the Johannesburg-born Sachs sacrificed an eye, an arm and so much more to the fight against apartheid and for justice in his home land.

Long a behind-the-scenes orchestrator for change, Sachs has stepped forth quietly and surely when needed.. When Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994, Sachs played an integral role in negotiations for the new constitution and the language of its revolutionary Bill of Rights. And, in many ways, he has become the gentle but firm “face” of the new South African government.

Now one of the most powerful voices on human rights, equality, dignity and freedom, Justice Albie Sachs is the original architect of the new constitution of South Africa. Two weeks ago, I was among a few hundred privileged guests of Chief Justice Ronald George, and Barbara George when  Justice Sachs spoke in the, “Purpose of Justice,” series underwritten by Ralph and Shirley Shapiro of Los Angeles.  That night Sachs spoke openly about apartheid, redefining systems of justice, and the inspiring role art and architecture have played in creating South Africa’s new Constitutional Court building.

Justice Sachs also gave us a preview of his new film, Light on a Hill, which has been submitted to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In it, Sachs takes viewers on an intimate and moving tour of the new Constitutional Court building, the most important physical structure in post-Apartheid South Africa. Built on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg (once the “cage” for Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela), the new Constitutional Court now houses a diverse, light-filled art collection that simultaneously memorializes South Africa’s history and offers a rainbow colored vision for the country’s future.

To view this film is to walk alongside Justice Sachs through a building that is literally and symbolically filled with light – and with hope.  Certainly everyone left the lecture hall that night with a buoyed spirit. And I was reminded…that the power of positive energy burns like a laser through grim surroundings.  It’s a great message for all Americans, and for the world, at this present time and in this seemingly light-less economy. We should all be so fortunate as to have something to burn for so brightly. And so selflessly.

Although Light on a Hill has not yet been released to the public, you can find equally vibrant inspiration in Sachs’ books. I have already decided to pick up one of his autobriographies, The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter, re-issued by the University of California Press. His most recent book, Art and Justice: The Art of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, is a full-color showcase of the complexly beautiful artworks and interior design that make up “the most important building in post-Apartheid South Africa.”

** Justice Sachs was unofficially traveling with Facing History and Ourselves, an international educational and development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, genocide and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. If you’d like to learn more about this dynamic organization, please go to  More than 1,400 educators and an estimated 150,000 students in the Bay Area have benefited from Facing History’s programs, and their reach is expanding.  In partnership with the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Western Cape Department of Education, Facing History has created a project called Facing the Past, a 9th grade curriculum focusing on the Holocaust and apartheid, which is taught in 25 schools in the Cape Town province.

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December 15, 2008

SF Urban Holiday 2008

by guest writer, Brooke Cheshier

Book Review; Seeing Through The Fog: A Gateway to San Francisco
What to do When the Fog Clears

Forget Citywalks. If you want a real San Francisco experience this holiday season, let the 72 voices of this inspirational anthology guide you through the beloved Bay Area metropolis known as Fog City.

Pulitzer Prize finalist, ace raconteur, accidental parent, and the man behind McSweeney’s. Over the last decade the many, slightly manic, personae of Dave Eggers have manifested themselves for readers through personal works like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and magazines like The Believer. 

Now meet Dave Eggers, the tutor and mentor to high school kids in San Francisco and across the nation. The founder of a nonprofit writing and teaching organization called 826 Valencia, he is the man behind this combination city guide, historic chronicle and inspirational memoir. Well, he and three high school teachers, 82 tutors and 72 high school students.

>A collection of essays written by seniors from Gateway High School, Seeing Through the Fog is one of several books created by 826’s Young Author’s Book Series, an annual project that allows students to serve as both editors and authors as they learn the ropes of the publishing industry. The results of the series are timely anthologies like Seeing Through the Fog, one of the most original and moving San Francisco “travel guides” in the market to date.
Comprised of 72 surprisingly astute perspectives on life, travel and passion in the Bay Area, these essays will lure you off the beaten path and introduce you to some of the city’s most delicious pleasures. We’re not just talking about the pink popcorn at Stow Lake. Although it is a treat.

This holiday season, why don’t you let the kids of Gateway High be your guide through the neighborhoods, bridges and back alleys of San Francisco. Set off  on madcap adventures through Chinatown’s Pacific Fish Market, take archery lessons in Golden Gate Park and learn to survive in the Mission on just $22 a day. You won’t want to miss Conor Murphy-Hoffman’s poignant take on the neighborhood's gentrification. muralart2.jpg Of course, seeing the city from these young, animated perspectives may just inspire you to look at San Francisco with fresh eyes.  Once you feel steady, you can take off the training wheels and do some creative merry-making of your own.

Christmas Bonus: You can find copies of Seeing Through the Fog on and on , but don’t buy it used! Proceeds from the sale of new books go toward free student programming at 826 Valencia, an educational nonprofit serving the Bay Area and with satellites across the U.S. For more information go to  Remember, giving to others is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

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From top left to bottom right: Bryant Terry, award-winning eco chef, food justice activist, and author hosts the 'Seeds' group; Barry Schuler, serial entrepreneur and Meteor Vineyards owner; Taste3 host Margrit Mondavi with Gordon Heuther on her insider tour; Chef Chris Cosentino prepares beef heart carpaccio for the audience to taste. (Photos by Elise Bauer and Ashley Teplin)

July 24, 2008

Report from Taste3

Last week Robert Mondavi Winery hosted the third annual TED-inspired TASTE3 at COPIA in Napa’s Oxbow District.  For us, this super-charged brain spa is an annual ritual around which we will juggle work, vacations and pretty much anything else.  In other words, it’s a must. In fact, we suggest you register now for next year’s TASTE3 , scheduled to run for three days beginning May 31, 2009.

To give you a taste of what to expect, here are a few things I learned at TASTE3 2008:

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May 14, 2008

Hear Eleanor Coppola Read
From Her, "Notes On A Life"

"Eleanor Coppola shares her extraordinary life as an artist, filmmaker, wife, and mother in a book that captures the glamour and grit of Hollywood and reveals the private tragedies and joys that tested and strengthened her over the past twenty years.

Her first book, Notes on the Making of Apocalypse Now, was hailed as “one of the most revealing of all first hand looks at the movies” (Los Angeles Herald Examiner). And now the author brings the same honesty, insight, and wit to this absorbing account of the next chapters in her life.

In this new work we travel back and forth with her from the swirling center of the film world to the intimate heart of her family. She offers a fascinating look at the vision that drives her husband, Francis Ford Coppola, and describes her daughter Sofia’s rise to fame with the film Lost in Translation. Even as she visits faraway movie sets and attends parties, she is pulled back to pursue her own art, but is always focused on keeping her family safe. The death of their son Gio in a boating accident in 1986 and her struggle to cope with her grief and anger leads to a moving exploration of her deepest feelings as a woman and a mother.

Written with a quiet strength, Eleanor Coppola’s powerful portrait of the conflicting demands of family, love and art is at once very personal and universally resonant."(Random House, 2008)

Click here to purchase, "Notes on a Life."

Upcoming Book Signing Events:

5/19/2008 - 7:30 pm
Kepler's Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025

5/20/2008 - 6 p.m.
Tosca Cafe
242 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133

5/22/2008 - 7 pm
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

5/28/2008 - 7:30 pm
Capitola Book Cafe
1475 41st Avenue
Capitola, CA 95010

6/3/2008 - 7 pm
Rubicon Estate (Click here for information on the 'Music in the Vineyards' event)
1991 St Helena Highway
Rutherford, CA 94573
To purchase tickets for this event: 707-258-5559

Continue reading "Hear Eleanor Coppola Read
From Her, "Notes On A Life""

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Madrone (foundry #3299.1) 2007,bronze, 35 x 44.5 x 10.5 inches.

May 7, 2008

Absentee Bids Open For New Butterfield Bronze

“In developing an intimate understanding of horses, sculptor Deborah Butterfield evokes an interior life with which the viewer connects. Each sculpture depicts a solitary horse, introspective, unridden, at rest, which, despite their mass and materiality, appear animated. Butterfield constructs these works first with found wood branches and sticks that she twists into the horse forms. The bronze is cast from this wood, which is burned out in the casting process, to produce a unique work. Butterfield then applies patina, which conveys with astonishing accuracy the texture and nuances of the original wood.”(LA Louver, 2003)

Sculptor Deborah Butterfield created her newest work, “Madrone,” in the studios of Napa’s Oxbow School during the winter of 2007 while she worked as an artist-in residence, teaching high school-aged students. 

Born and raised in San Diego, Deborah Butterfield studied at the University of California, Davis and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s Butterfield taught sculpture at the University of Madison, Wisconsin and Montana State University, Bozeman. Both of Deborah’s sons attended Oxbow.

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On the left, Writing on the Body, ©1999 Charles Hobson.
On the right, #001, from the series, Evocations ©2007 Mary Daniel Hobson

May 1, 2008

Father-Daughter Artists Provide
Two Reasons for Palo Alto Field Trip

Experiments in Navigation: The Art of Charles Hobson

Exhibition Explores Making of Artist's Books at Two Venues on Stanford University Campus

April 30 - July 6, 2008 at Cantor Arts Center
April 30 - August 17, 2008 at Peterson Gallery, Green Library, Stanford, California 

The Stanford University Libraries and the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University present the exhibition "Experiments in Navigation: The Art of Charles Hobson,” which opens at two locations on campus April 30. Hobson's work explores themes of classical mythology, astronomy, surrealism, shipwrecks, and love affairs of famous historical figures, among other topics, through the medium of the artist's book.

Continue reading "Father-Daughter Artists Provide
Two Reasons for Palo Alto Field Trip"

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Douwoud Bey talks about how he approaches his photo subject. (Photo by Ashley Teplin)

April 9, 2008

Photographer Dawoud Bey
Making Contact at Oxbow School

One day in 1969, a curious New York teenager bought a ticket—and discovered his future as an artist.

Dawoud Bey wasn’t looking for anything more than a little excitement when he took the train from Queens to Manhattan to see an exhibition called “Harlem on My Mind,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“I wanted to see what all this controversy was about,” recalled Bey, who was less interested in the photographs on display than in the protests the show had sparked in both the black and white communities.

But that day was a quiet one, with no protesters or police on hand.

“So I had no choice,” Bey said, but to tour the gallery—“and that turned out to be a very transformative moment,” he told the audience during his Oxbow Public Lecture at Copia March 30.

Continue reading "Photographer Dawoud Bey
Making Contact at Oxbow School"

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Alison Sarr pays tribute to cooks with her imagery on the back of found skillets. (Photo by Ashley Teplin)

March 26, 2008

Shovels and skillets: Sculptor Alison Sarr at Copia

Aspiring apprentices, take note: “You have to have a tetanus shot to work in the Alison Sarr studio,” the award-winning sculptor told her audience during the latest Oxbow School Visiting Artist Lectures, at Copia on Monday, March 17.

Sarr works with barbed wire, rusty tin, and old metal skillets to create her often life-sized figures. One of her most prized tools is a chainsaw. Injuries are always a possibility.

“I’d like it to be a collaboration, but it ends up being a contest between me and my materials,” said Sarr, who also incorporates dirt and plant roots into many of her works.  So why, asked one young Oxbow School art student, was Sarr drawn to sculpture?  “I’m a very tactile person,” Sarr answered. “I understand my world through my hands.”

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Ari Marcopoulos amuses the audience with his anecdotes and commentary on life, art, and fashion.  In this image he points out his sons’ amazing fashion and sneaker sense while playing baseball with a stuffed animal.  (Photo by Ashley Teplin)

March 17, 2008

Endless winter: Sonoma photographer Ari Marcopoulos follows snowboard "nomads"

Tonight's Art Lecture Continues Oxbow Series

Tonight, the Oxbow School's Visiting Artist lecturer is Los Angeles sculptor Alison Sarr, whose work often evokes themes of race and culture. She will speak and show slides from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Copia auditorium, 500 First Street, Napa.

Fresh from his latest gallery-opening in Milan, photographer Ari Marcopoulos touched down in Napa last week for the latest installment of the Oxbow School's Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

The third speaker in this year’s spring lecture series, Marcopoulos confessed to the audience assembled at Copia that he’d rather just put on some techno music and dance, “and invite everyone to join me.” He then launched into a 90-minute presentation that mingled music – Bjork and Dylan – with the arresting images that have become his trademark. Snowboarders, skateboarders, and kids’ skinned knees: Whether in color or black and white, Marcopoulos’s photographs and videos have a powerful, almost physical immediacy.

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Misako Mitsui stands before one of the images digitally reproduced from her collection of zuancho or design idea books, published over a 50-year period for a sophisticated clientele of kimono dealers and wealthy consumers in Kyoto. (Right) a woodblock print of peony from Shokei Kakicho. (Photos by Pamela Hunter)

March 5, 2008

Misako Mitsui’s Zuancho in Kyoto

In Stanford University’s Peterson Gallery Misako Mitsui led me on a stroll through Japanese history intended to provide some understanding of a phenomenon in textiles that may have occurred in no time or place other than mid-Meiji period (1868-1912) Kyoto.  We were surrounded by an exhibition you may see for yourself between now and April 16.   Zuancho In Kyoto:  Textile Design Books for the Kimono Trade  lifts the curtain for the sparest glimpse of the proud three-century legacy of Misako’s merchant class family.

Misako grew up with these design idea books, tools of her family’s trade, which she quite naturally took for granted.  It wasn’t until years later when she looked at them with fresh eyes that she found herself captivated by the work of kimono textile designers who created an original woodblock print for every single page.  And, was struck that each book of designs opened with a woodblock print of calligraphy by one of the country’s most famous artists, then was custom bound and stitched. 

Today, what we find most remarkable is that the designs so exquisitely presented in these books were not necessarily chosen for replication in kimono textiles, rather they were tools for dialogue between textile artist and client.  Something like, “Is this what you’re looking for?” 

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Artist Katy Stone, lectures at Copia on Monday, February 21. (Photo by Ashley Teplin)

February 27, 2008

From gesture to monument: Artist Katy Stone at The Oxbow School For Ten-Day Residency

Katy Stone’s waterfall installations – some three stories tall – glisten with cascading light and color. She has created permanent, site-specific works in both her native United States and in Taiwan.

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Perceptions of teenagers are challenged by the photography of Chicago artist Dawoud Bey who speaks in Napa Monday, March 31 at 7 p.m. ("Mgbechi," 2005 by Dawoud Bey)

February 6, 2008

Leonardo's Brain Discussed By Leonard Shlain M.D.

Oxbow School Spring 2008 Visiting Artist Lecture Series
Mondays, 7 p.m.
February 18, Leonard Shlain; February 25, Katy Stone; March 10, Ari Marcopoulos; March 17, Alison Sarr; March 31, Dawoud Bey; April 14, Larry Rinder
Copia Auditorium, 500 First Street, Napa Ca 94558
Free admission
(707) 255-6000

Photographers, sculptors and even a surgeon will speak in Napa during the Oxbow School Spring 2008 Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

The six 90-minute lecture-presentations at Copia are open to the public as well as to Oxbow students and faculty.

On Monday, February 18, Marin County surgeon and author Leonard Shlain will deliver a slide show describing his current work-in-progress, “Leonardo’s Brain: The Left-Right Roots of Creativity.”

Shlain’s previous books, all best-sellers, include “Art and Physics,” “The Alphabet vs. the Goddess” and “Sex, Time and Power.”

His new work has two stories to tell: the life and accomplishments of Leonardo da Vinci and the evolution of the human brain.

In a presentation packed with art images, the author will draw on both history and current neurocognitive research to reconstruct Leonardo’s brain.

Seattle sculptor Katy Stone will speak Monday, February 25. Stone’s work combines drawing, painting and sculpture. She paints, cuts and layers transparent sheets of acetate to explore natural forms with man-made materials, as in her assemblage “Spiders and Lace” (2007).

Stone will remain in Napa for a ten-day residency at Oxbow School, working with the young students from around the country who attend the semester-long, residential fine-arts program.

On Monday, March 10, photographer and filmmaker Ari Marcopoulos will speak and show his work. Born in the Netherlands, Marcopoulos now lives in Northern California. His work has been exhibited internationally, from the Whitney Biennial to Kunsthaus Zurich, and published in six monographs.

Marcopoulos’s film “Larry Wright” was broadcast as part of public television’s “P.O.V.” documentary series, while his “Key to the Riddle” was screened in New York during MOMA’s New Documentaries series. His current works-in-progress are a documentary on his friend Craig Kelly and a solo exhibition at MC Gallery in Los Angeles; he also has a new book called “The Chance Is Higher.”

Sculptor Alison Sarr is known for her use of folk objects and traditional images to address racial identity, homelessness and other aspects of contemporary society. Her work includes life-size sculptures and a series of portraits, on skillets and shovel blades, of African-American workers.

On Monday, March 17, the Los Angeles native will present a slide show and lecture that includes both early pieces and a preview of her commissioned sculpture of Harriet Tubman for the city of New York.

Photographer Dawoud Bey presents his Oxbow lecture Monday, March 31 and, like Stone, will remain in Napa for a ten-day teaching residency at the school.

A professor of photography at Columbia College in Chicago, Bey focuses his lens on teenagers: His large-scale color portraits aim to challenge our assumptions about young people. Bey himself was only 15 when he discovered the work of Harlem photographers such as James VanDerZee, who inspired him to begin making pictures.

Recently, Bey has begun to accompany his portraits with word from his young subjects. His works are in permanent collections in the U.S. and overseas.

The Oxbow lecture series wraps up Monday, April 14 with a talk by curator and art historian Larry Rinder, Dean of the College at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

While at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Rinder organized exhibitions including “The American Effect” and the 2002 Biennial.

Rinder has also served as assistant director and curator for 20th-century art at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. In 2005, he was appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

All of the Oxbow lectures take place on Monday nights at 7:00 p.m., presented in partnership with Copia: The American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts and supported by a grant from the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.
For more information, call (707) 255-6000.

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Photo by Ashley Teplin Studio-707

December 13, 2007

The organic designer

Designer Christina Kim will be at Oxbow this weekend!

Sunday December 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dosa fashions and accessories will be on sale in the school dining hall with 40 percent of the proceeds from the sale benefiting the Oxbow School.

Oxbow School chef Tracy Bates and her team will be on hand to provide sustenance.  The OS 17 Final Show and Open House will still be up.  After shopping you can meet students and discuss their work from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

For directions visit or call 707-255-6000.

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October 4, 2007

Vehicle for expression: "Art car" takes shape in Napa

The collaborative work of Oxbow art students and car artist David Best in its finished state.
Photo by Jorgen Gulliksen/Register Photo

Vehicle for expression : Burning Man sculptor helps Oxbow students' "art car" take shape

Register Correspondent
Wednesday, October 03, 2007

On the normally serene south bank of the Napa River Oxbow, a startling transformation has taken place.

What was once an autobahn-worthy Audi A4, the object of envious glances from fans of German engineering, has been reborn as an eye-popping “art car,” with its next destination likely to be a museum, gallery or private collection.

Over the past 10 days, the Audi’s original form has gradually disappeared under a thick covering of thousands of found and recycled objects, from tiny beads to seashells, rocks to parts from other cars, all painstakingly applied by teenaged Oxbow School students under the direction of artist-in-residence David Best.

“Do you like it?” Best asks a visitor.

It’s a disarmingly simple question, given the jaw-dropping spectacle parked at the west end of the Oxbow campus:

The Audi’s side mirrors now sport plated butter-dishes and glass fruit. Dashboard and steering wheel are lined with fur. The trunk has become a luridly-lit Inferno, complete with tiny sufferers; swirls of colorful Mardi Gras beads enliven the rear end where, grinning, a Buddha raises his arms in jubilation.

The car’s evolution from assembly-line product to elaborately detailed artwork recalls Ariel’s song from “The Tempest:” “Of his bones are Corrall made: Those are pearles that were his eies, Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a Sea-change Into something rich & strange.”

Like Shakespeare’s drowned mariner, the motorcar has gradually become a glittering sculpture: rich in materials, strange to see.

“We’re trying to make it unrecognizable, so you can’t tell it’s an Audi,” said 16-year-old Casey Gollan, an Oxbow student from Rye, N.Y., as he worked on the car last Wednesday.

Even then, with a week to go, it would have taken a shrewd eye to detect the auto’s original make; today, the sea change is complete.

Burning Man to Oxbow
A Petaluma-based artist, born in 1945 and widely known for his filigreed plywood “temples” set aflame at the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada, Best has created dozens of sculptures from cars and buses, using a profusion of recycled and found materials.

Two of his reinvented automobiles are in the collection at Napa’s di Rosa Preserve, most prominently the imposing “Rhinocar,” in the Gatehouse Gallery.

In the process — necessarily collaborative, with the sheer volume of work required — of transforming each vehicle inside and out, he’s engaged the help of more than 10,000 people.

Best’s latest act of group alchemy involves the 40 high-school students currently attending Oxbow’s semester-long residential program in fine arts.

The deeply-tanned, white-bearded sculptor kicked off his 10-day stay on campus with a public lecture at Copia Sept. 24, delighting the audience with his anything-but-stuffy presentation.

“The slides were the best part, because there was food and hair and dust all over them,” said Oxbow student Audrey Snyder, 16, of Tiburon.

It’s “part of his philosophy,” added classmate Gollan. “I guess he likes the spontaneity … of not having it be a perfect Powerpoint.”

The slides and narrative gave Oxbow students — many of whom had never heard of Best before enrolling, or only knew his recycled-plywood temples — an appreciation for the veteran sculptor they’d be working with over the next 10 days.

“I’ve never (before) met an actual, practicing artist,” Snyder said. “It was really cool to see what he was doing and to see the enormous body of work that he has, because it’s really impressive and really big.”

Bottles to sculptures
Before tackling the Audi last week, Best had his students start small, applying found objects and natural materials to wine bottles with adhesives and techniques they’d be using on the car.

Outside the Oxbow studios, the parked A4 was surrounded by tables, bins and boxes containing the stuff of its transfiguration:

Buckets filled with Mardi Gras beads, with chipped-glass finials, with cabinet handles and drawer pulls, with seashells. Bins of chopsticks, game pieces, marbles, plastic icicles, real starfish.

A box of colored balls; a litter of fiberglass auto-body parts; a heap of tiny plastic swans: These hardly begin the list of items that made their way onto the Audi as the bins and buckets gradually emptied and beads increasingly littered the ground.

Best is a devoted recycler, a frequent visitor to his local dump who believes that the fundamental impulse to create can make use of any material at hand — including pebbles from the Oxbow grounds.

He’s also apt to share his philosophy through parables:

“If we were all stripped of all our possessions … if this was our whole society, someone here would make shelter,” he said to the Wednesday afternoon Oxbow class as they worked on the car.

“Someone would be the historian, the chronicler, and write our stuff. Someone would create the mythology, or our religion, or develop us into a church,” he went on.

“Somebody would do food, someone would make art.

“Just like we need food and shelter and religion and literature, we need art,” Best continued. “If we didn’t have any materials we’d … go dig up the mud.

“It’s not about limitations, it’s about ‘I want to make stuff.’”

Funding more visits
This won’t be the students’ only opportunity this term to work with renowned sculptors: Artists-in-residence Deborah Butterfield and John Buck arrive Oct. 29 for a 10-day stay, and Oxbow director Stephen Thomas said Butterfield has already requested materials for a group project.

For now, the art-car endeavor has captured the imagination of Oxbow students like 16-year-old Julia Glennon of San Francisco:

“I’ve pretty much been glued to the car since we started it,” Glennon said Sunday afternoon, as she labored to attach tiny green beads to a passenger door with sticky black adhesive.

“The car takes on its own personality,” Glennon continued. “You can put into it what you want to put into it, but it still becomes what it’s going to be.”

Best’s Oxbow stay is part of the school’s visiting-artist series, which includes residencies and a series of free public lectures at Copia (the next, by Napa artist Lewis deSoto, is Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.).

When Best leaves Napa this week, the car will remain for up to a year, during which Oxbow School has leave to sell it to a museum, gallery or private collection at market price. The proceeds will fund future lectures from visiting artists, Best said.

If no legitimate purchaser is found within 12 months, the auto will go to its sculptor so that he can make sure it’s properly stored.

Best usually gives his art cars simple, serial names — this one he’s calling “D.C. 38,” or “Decorated Car 38.”

But it’s likely to be known best as Oxbow Car (Oxcar for short, suggested Glennon), in honor of its birthplace – and of the 40 fledgling artists who took such an active part in its creation on the Oxbow riverbank.

Oxbow School is taking applications from high-school students through the end of this year for its spring semester, which begins Jan. 23. For more information, contact the school at 255-6000 or visit

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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September 26, 2007

Oxbow School draws talented teens

Talented Teens Drawn To Napa Valley’s Oxbow School
Semester-Long Program Produces Skilled Thinkers & Artists

By any measure, a school that sends teenaged graduates to colleges like Harvard, Yale and M.I.T. is doing a good job educating the young.

But when the same program also sees alumni accepted to New York’s highly selective Cooper Union, while others pursue careers in science – then, you know something unusual is going on at Napa’s Oxbow School.

The Oxbow School is founded on the premise that - through rigorous studio art practice grounded in creative and intellectual inquiry - an individual's critical thinking abilities are profoundly enhanced.

“I don’t think you measure Oxbow’s success in terms of SAT scores or degrees,” said Oxbow head and founding director Stephen Thomas, a printmaker who has worked with artists as diverse as Wayne Thiebaud and John Cage.           
“I think you measure it by whether or not the students feel empowered to pursue their interests, whatever their career interests are in life.”

Since 1999, some 500 teenagers have experienced Oxbow’s one-of-a-kind semester program in the fine arts. A 16-week version of the traditional “junior year abroad,” Oxbow immerses high-school juniors and seniors in the practice of art and critical inquiry .

Students from California make up the largest group at Oxbow, but the school also draws young artists from as far away as Florida and Maine.

Living in campus suites along a bend in the Napa River, the students spend their days in the school’s well-appointed waterfront studios, working with accomplished artist-instructors. During the first twelve weeks of the semester they build their skills; the last month is devoted to a final project. Instead of graduation exercises, they personally present their completed works in a public exhibition.

Three meals a day, prepared from fresh, local ingredients by chefs who came to Oxbow from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse restaurant, introduce the young artists to the pleasures of a deliciously nutritious diet:

“Part of our philosophy is to introduce students to a healthy lifestyle on all levels,” Thomas explained.

That philosophy includes the life of the mind: Oxbow’s educational design is informed by the theory on multiple intelligences developed by Harvard professor Howard Gardner. Like Gardner, Thomas believes that the future will belong to those who have not one type of intelligence, but five:

“‘The disciplined mind has mastered at least one way of thinking,’” Thomas said, quoting Gardner. “‘The synthesizing mind takes information from different sources.
Oxbow students develop a new sense of identity, self-worth and confidence that enables
them to take more active responsibility for their learning and lives.

The creating mind breaks new ground and raises new ideas. The respectful mind welcomes differences between people. The ethical mind ponders the nature and purpose of work.’

“This is exactly what this pedagogy and this community should be about,” Thomas concluded.

The Oxbow experience has been an enduring one for alumni like Rachel Mikulsky, who attended in the fall of 2004. Mikulsky returned to the school in June to speak at last year’s annual “Celebration of an Artful Life” gala.

“At Oxbow, they taught us to explore, to challenge what we know, and
to seek understanding of what we do not,” Mikulsky told guests at the dinner.

“The way Newton explored, theorized and experimented is no different from the way students are asked to explore, theorize and experiment while at Oxbow. Now, to me a true artist is an inventor and a true inventor is an artist,” continued Mikulsky, who attends the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland.

“So now, at twenty, I find myself … not in art school like I might have planned, but instead pursuing a degree in sustainable development and economics. I find that I feel more like an artist than I ever did.”

Oxbow School is taking applications through the end of this year for its spring semester, which begins Jan. 23. For more information, contact the school at 707-255-6000 or

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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August 3, 2007

Exploding cake, student filmmakers help ILM spinoff celebrate

By Paul Liberatore
Friday, August 3, 2007

It isn't every company that celebrates its first year in business by blowing up a birthday cake.

But then Kerner Optical, despite its deliberately innocuous name, is literally quite special, creating the special effects for movies like the current summer blockbuster "Transformers."

"We love to blow things up," said company spokeswoman Rose Duignan.

The exploding cake - inflatable and covered with whipped cream - was the climax of a movie the company shot Thursday with 50 teenagers dressed in clown suits from the Oxbow School summer art camp in Napa.

Twenty-five of the company's employees volunteered their time for the student film as part of Kerner Optical's new community outreach program.

"Today was special because we learned what it's like to work with professionals on a movie, to see how it's really done," said 17-year-old James Kieckhefer of Mill Valley, who has been making home movies since he was 11.

"They're teaching kids what it's really like to be a filmmaker," said Oxbow instructor Todd Pickering of Forest Knolls. "It was really generous of them."

For 30 years, Kerner Optical was the name on the front door of the Industrial Light and Magic visual effects studio in San Rafael's Canal neighborhood. It allowed the famous company to remain anonymous so it wouldn't be overrun by "Star Wars" fans.

When ILM moved to the new Lucasfilm campus in San Francisco's Presidio, it left its shops, stages, camera, models, pyrotechnical equipment, creatures, sets and giant sound stages behind for a spinoff company that kept the code name Kerner Optical in homage to its ILM legacy.

"When ILM was here, it was all hush-hush," said Kerner Optical CEO Mark Anderson of Fairfax, who had worked for ILM for 18 years before forming the new company with other ILM veterans. "We have a different approach. We want everyone to know we're here so we can get more involved with the youth of the community. The secret is no more."

The primary focus of the new company is on 3-D entertainment and technology - 3-D feature films, video games, mobile theaters, cameras, TV sets.

"3-D is like when black and white went to color," Anderson said. "It's a whole new way to see the world."

Kerner Optical still does many of the things that ILM was famous for, including the special effects for all three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

"We built a lake that held 250,000 gallons of water, put six scale-model pirate ships on it and blew them up," Anderson said with some delight.

If you ever wondered where the Energizer Bunny lives, it's at Kerner. Several pink remote-control bunnies sit silently in a shop at the huge facility, waiting for their next commercial.

"You name it and we can build it," Anderson said, standing beside a larger-than-life anatomic wild boar that stars in an upcoming horror movie.

"It's an exciting time."

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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July 9, 2007

Adult summer camp in Napa's Oxbow Studios

 “You can see why people who do really great things
usually have somebody taking care of them.”

Kathleen Stewart, Healdsburg bakery owner and Oxbow printmaking student


Installation view of the final show


Adult summer camp in Napa's Oxbow studios

To View all Photos Online Click Here

It’s no secret that the staff of artists at Napa’s Oxbow School has trained hundreds of teenagers in painting, printmaking, sculpture and other fine arts. The school’s intensive, residential semester is the only studio arts program of its kind in the U.S., attracting talented students from high schools across the country.

A less well-known Oxbow program has just ended at the riverside campus, possibly for the last time. School officials are pondering whether to continue offering the Oxbow Summer Studios, a ten-day course for adult artists complete with dormitory lodging and most meals. The $2,000 program is limited to 24 participants, but this year enrolled just over half that number.

“It was heaven”Taking a relaxing break after hanging their artwork for the final show

Although some of this year’s Summer Studios attendees were sponsored by the schools where they teach art for a living, others were professional artists savoring the freedom to paint, draw and photograph for eight to 10 hours a day without having to think about work or family concerns.

“It’s pure pleasure,” said Kathleen Stewart, who has studied printmaking at Oxbow for three summer sessions. Business at her Healdsburg bakery kept Stewart from attending more than three days this year, but that didn’t dampen her enthusiasm.

“It was heaven,” Stewart said, a sentiment shared by a dozen classmates who gathered for an informal show and final Oxbow dinner June 26. Like Stewart, several had returned after at least one previous session; others followed their children into the Oxbow fold.

“I was so jealous because they were having such a fabulous experience and I wanted to do what they did,” said Suzanne Frazier of Mill Valley, whose two children attended Oxbow’s semester program. A painter herself, Frazier took advantage of Oxbow’s well-appointed printmaking studio to broaden her skills.

Christopher Hirsheimer talking about her photographs- Margo Felling next to her Collages

Design partners Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, both former editors at Saveur magazine, also joined this summer’s session. Hamilton’s drawings explored images of her family, while Hirsheimer – a sought-after food photographer whose work has illustrated numerous cookbooks – produced a series of informal black-and-white photo portraits of her classmates and a handful of agricultural scenes.

Hirsheimer and Jerilyn Hanson, a retired executive, were the only photographers in this summer’s session, working with Oxbow photography teacher Pattiann Koury to shoot images and develop them in the darkroom. Both said they were heading home with heightened skills and a new appreciation for their own abilities.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Hanson said.

“Food Camp”
One of the "kitchen ladies" sous chef Cinde Cromwell - Oxbow Director Stephen Thomas at dinner

Along with the chance to spend unfettered hours in Oxbow’s riverside studios, the adult artists also savored the school’s celebrated cuisine – and unlike the teens who fill the campus during the regular school year, these students also enjoyed wine with their meals.

“It’s extraordinary,” said Hanson, praising not only the food and Oxbow’s chefs – “they are so dedicated to what they’re doing” – but the pleasure of gathering with fellow artists three times a day in the dining hall or on the deck overlooking the Napa River.

Oxbow chef (and Chez Panisse alum) Tracy Bates and her culinary team of “kitchen ladies” turn out seasonal dishes with a focus on sustainability. Bates sources her food locally – often as locally as the campus garden and the farmer’s market just across the river.

On the last day of Summer Studios, the artists enjoyed seared chicken breast with Romesco sauce, Spanish style chickpeas and chorizo, roasted potatoes and artichokes and grilled asparagus, with a galette of farmer’s market nectarines and raspberries.

 “I’ve always dubbed this Food Camp,” Stewart said, as the music of John Coltrane played on a studio boombox and Oxbow director Stephen Thomas poured sparkling Schramsberg for his departing students.

“You don’t have to think about the day to day necessities that you usually think about, so all of your brain waves can go into the studio,” Stewart continued.
“You can see why people who do really great things usually have somebody taking care of them.”

“A lot of growth,” but low enrollment
Though every one of this year ’s Summer Studios artists said she would like to return for another session in 2008, that may not be possible. This year’s class only topped 12 people because Thomas and his wife Patty Curtan encouraged friends and former students to sign up. If Oxbow can’t attract a larger group by next spring, it may have to end the program after three years; and that would be a loss to artists like Barbara Nelson, head of the art department at a Laguna Beach school that sponsored her attendance this year.

“It was a lot of work, and a lot of growth,” Nelson said.

For more information about the Oxbow School:

--Louisa Hufstader
Photographs taken by Ashley Nicole Teplin

Adult Students

Barbara Nelson Laguna Beach, CA Art Teacher
Brigid Corboy Half Moon Bay, CA Art Teacher
Cathy Baken Mill Valley, CA Artist
Christopher Hirsheimer Enwinna, PA Designer / Food Photographer
Jerilyn Hanson Minneapolis, MN Retired Executive
Joni Missell Mill Valley, CA Executive at Summer Search -program for disadvantaged teens-
Kathleen Stewart Healdsberg, CA Bakery Owner
Lynn Kozikowski Albuquerque, NM Art Teacher
Margo Felling Chicago, IL Retired Executive
Melissa Hamilton Stockton, NY Designer / Food Writer
Sally Baker Danville, CA Private Highschool Art Teacher
Susan Sanders Dallas, TX Painter / Mother
Suzanne Frazier Mill Valley, CA Painter

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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June 18, 2007

River runs near it


River runs near it

by: Catherine Bigelow - June 17, 2007

"This is such an amazing school," declared artist Chris Brown, the honoree at the Oxbow School's Artful Life Gala. "I wish I could have gone here when I was 17 -- I could have been a good artist!"

We thinks the talented artist is painting it on a bit thick. But he's right about the Oxbow School. Set upon a verdant hill just above an oxbow bend in the Napa River, the interdisciplinary, semeste rlong arts program for high school students could certainly inspire budding artists to achieve greater heights.

"The main thing for our students is they receive an important preview of college," said Oxbow Director Stephen Thomas. "Many are away from home for the first time and in completing our rigorous program, without their parents' help, are empowered."

Founded in 1997 by Robert and Margrit Mondavi and Ann Hatch, the one-of-a-kind institution (designed by architect Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects Inc.) serves about 45 students a semester from around the country. And, as almost half the student body attends on full scholarship, school supporters started this art auction and spring gala five years ago.

"I grew up around art and always felt inspired by art," said Margrit Mondavi. "To see what it does for children -- how it can change their life -- what more is there than that?"

The graceful gathering of about 100 guests agreed -- as they raised $245K during the live art auction, which was led by the enthusiastic and cajoling auctioneer Fritz Hatton.

A sumptuous supper created by chef Jennifer Sherman and Chez Panisse (a family-style feast of early summer vegetable soup au pistou, grilled Liberty duck breast, new potatoes, white wine braised leeks and artichokes) was served under the trees.
Hatch found the site, which comprises about 3 acres in an area once known as Dogpatch. The property also includes historic Victorian buildings that once housed the valley's early Italian residents.

"Oxbow describes a natural phenomenon where a river comes in and turns back upon itself," said Hatch. "I think that image also perfectly reflects our school. You have 16- and 17-year-olds who receive a jolt of being taken seriously at Oxbow -- allowing them to turn back into themselves and open themselves up to their potential."

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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June 5, 2007

Art lovers raise glasses- and scholarship funds-in Napa

Photos by, John McJunkin

To View all Photos Online Click Here

Friends of Napa’s Oxbow School, including founders Ann Hatch and Robert
and Margrit Mondavi, raised $245,000 for scholarships at a gala dinner
June 2.

The eight-year-old school’s annual “Celebration of an Artful Life” honored
Oxbow trustee Christopher Brown, an acclaimed painter and printmaker
living in the Bay Area.

Brown’s “Little Blue Run” was the top money-maker at the dinner’s live
auction, gaveled by celebrity auctioneer Fritz Hatton. Howard and Mary
Lester of San Francisco bid $38,000 for Brown’s 30-inch-square pastel on

The money raised at Saturday’s dinner will help high school juniors and
seniors with a passion for fine arts to afford the $18,500 tuition for the
school’s intensive, 16-week residential program. Out of the 484 young
artists who have attended Oxbow’s 16 semesters to date, fewer than 200
have paid the full fare.

“There is no greater joy than saying yes to a student who’s the perfect
fit for Oxbow,” event chair Christy Palmisano told a crowd that included
both Wine Country notables and prominent San Franciscans.
The light-yet-lavish meal, served al fresco on Oxbow’s riverside campus,
was catered by Jennifer Sherman and Chez Panisse with wines from
Saintsbury, and preceded by a cocktail hour with Schramsberg sparkling,
Robert Sinskey Abraxas, Hog Island oysters and other delights.

--Louisa Hufstader

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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June 1, 2007

Tsurukichi: Ancient indigo is the new black

Tsurukichi: Ancient indigo is the new black

To View all Photos Online Click Here

The rich, vibrant hues of indigo blue are replacing black in the wardrobes of this summer’s best-dressed women – many of whom are choosing the Tsurukichi Indigo creations of Matt Dick. This San Francisco fashion designer works with fabrics dyed at a centuries-old factory in Japan, where the ancient art of indigo brings out intricate patterns in luscious shades from robin’s-egg to deepest black-navy.

Indigo flags, waving in the spring breeze, guided guests to last Friday’s Tsurukichi Indigo trunk show at the Stags’ Leap District home of Pam Hunter and Carl Doumani. A nearby pavilion offered sushi and beer, but shoppers made a beeline for Dick’s designs, choosing delicately woven scarves, gossamer vests and boldly-printed bags and shirts.

Bolts of cloth in dozens of patterns, casually displayed at the edge of the lake, provided an elegant background as Dick demonstrated techniques for wrapping bottles in furoshiki, squares of cloth used in Japan since ancient times to package gifts and goods.  As an extra thank-you, every purchase was wrapped in an indigo bag.

--Louisa Hufstader

To purchase any of these items, please visit Matt Dick at his new San Francisco Location: Tsurukichi- 864 Post Street - 415-292-5550 -

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or
[Posted: 5/31/2007]

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May 23, 2007

Hank Matheson, 22-Year-Old San Francisco Bike Builder


Hank Matheson, 22-Year-Old San Francisco Bike Builder
Makes Donation to his Alma Mater—The Oxbow School

San Francisco Bike Builder Hank Matheson Surrounded by His Artful Creations
Photos by Andrew McClintock

View a printable version Press Release with Absentee Bid Form

          May 23, 2007, Napa, Ca.—Hank Matheson, 22-year-old San Francisco bike builder and Oxbow School alumnus designed and built a race-ready Olympic-quality bicycle for his alma mater’s forthcoming benefit and art auction.  The bike will be auctioned  Saturday, June 2 at the annual Celebration of An Artful Life on the school’s Napa Valley riverfront campus.

            Unspoiled by brake lines or cables, the bike is, in Hank’s estimation, “the most artistic, hippest thing going on,” with:  Phil Wood hubs; Velocity rims; Sugino cranks; Sylvan pedals; Chris Kind head set and a Thompson seat post.

            Hank’s passion for bikes first took hold in the fifth grade.  Later, he completed the program offered by The United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon.  These days he’s either designing and fabricating bicycles or participating in rigorous downhill racing competition on the national circuit.

            What did a single semester visual arts school contribute to his present métier?  “Oxbow taught me to edit,” says Hank.  “I learned to leave nothing to distract the eye.”

On June 2, Hank’s bike will be auctioned alongside original artwork by:  Christopher Brown, Linda Connor, Nina Katchadourian and Jock McDonald, among others. 

            Hank believes the buyer is as likely to hang it on the wall as art as he is to ride it.

          Absentee bids will be accepted by Phoebe Brookbank, 707-255-6000 or

Editor’s Note: Images may be downloaded from:  For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

[Posted: 5/23/2007]

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May 17, 2007

Deborah Nadoolman Landis Named Jury Member at 60th Festival de Cannes

Costume designer Anthony Powell with Deborah Nadoolman Landis as her professorship
is confirmed at the University of the Arts in London.

Oscar™-nominated costume designer of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Coming To America joins international roster of filmmakers

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Renowned costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, who designed the costumes for such classic motion pictures as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Blues Brothers, and National Lampoon’s Animal House, has been named a juror for the 60th Festival de Cannes, which takes place from May 16th through May 27th in Cannes, France. Landis, who is currently serving her second term as president of the Costume Designer’s Guild (CDG), will be judging entries in the Cinefondation and Short Films competitions.

“I am just amazed and astounded by the honor,” said Landis. “At the Cannes Film Festival, everyone comes from all over the world speaking the global language of film. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help celebrate the achievements of the world’s best filmmakers.”

The last costume designer to serve on any Cannes jury was Eiko Ishioka (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mishima) in 1996. Landis will be serving on the five person jury, with the other members hailing from China (Zhang ke Jia), Iran (Niki Karimi), and France (J.M.G. Le Clezio and Dominik Moll). Landis will be one of only two Americans serving on this year’s Festival jury. The other is Kent Jones, a writer on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” serving on the “Un Certain Regard” jury.

Deborah Nadoolman Landis’ distinguished career in motion picture costume design reaches back over three decades, starting with Kentucky Fried Movie (1977). Working in collaboration with director and husband John Landis, she served as costume designer on such comedy classics as National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), Trading Places (1983), Coming To America (1988), which brought her an Academy Award nomination, and the groundbreaking music video Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983), winner of MTV’s first music video award. Her costume design expertise has also been sought after by such legendary directors as Costa Gavras (Mad City, 1997), Louis Malle (Crackers, 1984) and Steven Spielberg for 1941 (1979) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

In addition to her duties as President of the CDG, Dr. Landis holds a PhD in History of Design from the Royal College of Art in London and teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the American Film Institute and the University of Arts London. In November, Harper Collins will publish her book “Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design,” showcasing 100 years of Hollywood’s most tantalizing characters from the dawn of film to the present, told through first person anecdotes and film stills.

# # #

Ed Peters
Sue Procko Public Relations

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or
[Posted: 5/17/2007]

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May 16, 2007

Saturday, June 2 event honors Chris Brown

Bay Area Artist Christopher Brown (right) will be honored Saturday, June 2nd

at The Oxbow School's annual fundraiser,Celebrating an Artful Life,

chaired by Christy Palmisano (left) of St. Helena.

Photo by: John McJunkin

Oxbow School Celebrates Artist Christopher Brown

at June Scholarship Event
Chez Panisse chefs, art auction including works of Christopher Brown, Nina Katchadourian, Randy Twaddle, Jock McDonald and art travel lots bring Bay Area arts lovers together to support school scholarships

Napa, Calif. The Oxbow School,the nation’s first semester-only secondary school for the visual arts, gathers Bay Area art and food lovers to honor painter Christopher Brown in its annual Celebration of an Artful Life Saturday, June 2 at 6 p.m. on the school’s Napa River campus, 530 Third Street in Napa.

Chef Jennifer Sherman and her Chez Panisse team will prepare a Napa Valley Riverside Feast as guests stroll through the campus studios and bid on silent auction lots donated by some of the Bay Area’s finest artists, as well as unique experiences tailored specifically for the art lover.  

Auctioneer and vintner Fritz Hatton will conduct an exciting live auction with lots including dinner at Margrit and Robert Mondavi’s home with Manuel Neri; two round-trip tickets aboard EOS Airlines; a seven-day Paris Art Tour complete with a luxury suite on the Left Bank, a studio visit with artist Tatiana Trouvé and extensive gallery guide; and a week for four in Vail, Colorado, including a tour of the Logan Collection led by Kent Logan. Last year, Vicki and Kent Logan made headlines when they announced a $60 million-plus bequest to the Denver Art Museum – the largest planned gift in the museum’s 113-year history. Guests can also bid on dinner at Chez Panisse; an evening with Deborah Butterfield and John Buck at the Napa Valley Reserve; original artwork by Christopher Brown, The Art Guys, Linda Connor, Michael Gregory, Nina Katchadourian, Jock McDonald, Bill Owens, J. John Priola, Naomi Kremer, and Randy Twaddle; dinner with Christopher Brown at Gretchen and John Berggruen’s Napa residence; and a handmade bicycle by Oxbow alumnus Hank Matheson, just to name a few of the many one-of-a-kind auction lots.

Honorary Chairs for the 2007 event include Margrit Biever Mondavi, Ann Hatch and Alice Waters.

Last year’s celebration honored artists Deborah Butterfield and John Buck, parents of two Oxbow School alumni, and raised a quarter of a million dollars to support Oxbow scholarships for students from the Bay Area and beyond. “One of the best parts of being a part of the Oxbow community is getting to know the artists on a more personal level. I have been a tremendous fan of Christopher Brown’s work for years. I am thrilled he is our honoree for this year’s benefit,” says benefit chair Christy Palmisano.

Tickets to the dinner and auction are $350, or $500 for a patron-level ticket. Patron tickets include a chance to win the 2007 Artful Life door prize: A Day of Art with Oxbow Head of School, printmaker Stephen Thomas. The winner will have the opportunity to be an Oxbow student for a day. For a complete list of auction lots visit Purchase tickets online or call Phoebe Brookbank at 707-252-5427.

Editor’s Note: Photography is available for download here:

Contact: Phoebe Brookbank
Gwen McGill

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or
[Posted: 5/16/2007]

About The Oxbow School:

Board of Trustees
David Graves, Chair
Bonnie Levinson, Vice-chair
Charlotte Vaughan Winton, Vice-chair
William O. Barrett, Treasurer
Lauren Doliva, Secretary
Beth Barker
Christopher Brown
David R. Brown
Sabrina Mondavi Buell
Julie B. Harkins
Ann Hatch
Pamela Hunter
Anne Milne
Margrit Biever Mondavi
Robert Mondavi
Christy Palmisano
Laurie Mahan Sawyer
Stephen Thomas
Suzie Buchholz Tome

The Oxbow School - an innovative, interdisciplinary semester program combining visual arts with academics - gives high school students the skills necessary to negotiate and succeed in a complex and interdependent world.  Through rigorous studio art practice grounded in creative and intellectual inquiry, the program stimulates each student’s critical thinking abilities.  Oxbow students develop a new sense of identity, self-worth, and confidence that enables them to take responsibility for their learning and lives.

Oxbow is one of a growing movement of semester programs, offering in an intensive semester of study in the visual arts program for high school juniors and seniors, while keeping academic schoolwork at the forefront of an interdisciplinary setting. Oxbow students are exposed to painting, drawing, photography, digital media, printmaking and sculpture.  They engage with all of these media as they progress through an imaginative and challenging series of project-based assignments.  The program is small (no more than 48 students per semester), intense and rewarding. Student-to-faculty ratio of 5-to-1 is complemented with two artist residencies each semester and a rich program of lectures, visits, and professional exposure in the Bay Area. 

From its inception, Oxbow has been a school of access, attracting students from diverse backgrounds. Half of Oxbow’s students come from public schools, 30% of tuition income comes from donations to the financial aid program—more than any other semester program; two out of three students receive financial aid.

Students come from all over the country to study at The Oxbow School. States represented by Oxbow School’s current class: Arizona, California, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

About Christopher Brown :

Christopher Brown is an acclaimed painter and printmaker who currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. When he first began showing his large scale figurative paintings in San Francisco in the late 1970s, his work was often linked with that of the Bay Area figurative painters who preceded him, including Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, and Joan Brown.   Yet Mr. Brown's work achieved its own distinctive painterly style, and his work based on his study of historical photographs and films - including civil war photography and the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination, respectively gained national and international recognition.  Much of this work, as well as later paintings that focused on images of water, or scenes derived from the neighborhood where he lives, deal with depictions of dramatic movement, light, and space.  He is currently at work on a number of projects, including drawings and prints as well as paintings based on further neighborhood studies and short film made from his rooftop in Berkeley, CA. 

Mr. Brown received a BFA from the University of Illinois and an MFA from the University of California, Davis, and he served as a professor at the University of California at Berkeley from 1981-1994, where he was the chair of the art department from 1990-1994.  He is currently an Eminent Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts in Oakland. He has received NEA grants in both painting and art criticism as well as awards from the American Academy and Institute of Art and Letters, and the Equitable and Rockefeller Foundations.  His works are in major collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the De Young Museums in San Francisco, the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas and many private collections. He is represented locally by the prestigious John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco and in New York by Edward Thorp Gallery.

In spring 2000 he joined the Oxbow community for ten days as a Visiting Artist. During his residency students focused on one-hour, site-specific painting exercises.  Regular daily critiques were designed to give students critical as well as technical guidance.


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May 10, 2007

The Artful Life - by Louisa Hufstader

The Artful Life
Oxbow students show end of semester creations

Oxbow art student Kalea Santos-Heiman, 17, of Cincinnati, Ohio displays her final art project, a self-portrait of her relationship with her dad and “being able to pull myself together to get over the fear of trust,” at Oxbow School’s open house exhibit of student projects. Santos-Haeiman is in the blue flip-flops. Lianne Milton/Register

By LOUISA HUFSTADER, Napa Valley Register Correspondent
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Last weekend’s two-day final show at the Oxbow School in Napa provided a tantalizing sample of what gifted teenagers are capable of creating at the end of their Oxbow semester.

The residential school attracts fine arts students from the Bay Area and around the country with a 16-week curriculum that blends traditional high school courses like math and history with plenty of hands-on studio art training. The final show takes the place of graduation exercises.

In their projects, the 16th Oxbow class explored a dizzying variety of media.

Kinetic sculpture, African-style mask-making and intricate cut-paper works joined videos, photography and hand-printed books in the Oxbow studios, thrown open to the public for two short afternoons.
Each piece represented weeks of work by the student artist, who also prepared a research paper on a related topic.

Several artists, including 17-year-old Laura Brentrup of Hanover, N.H., installed their works on the grassy bank of the Napa River.

“A lot of things spark your imagination, being outside,” she said.

Brentrup’s research paper explored the relationship between physical exercise and emotional well-being; her interactive “Emotion in Motion” invited passersby to enjoy the experience of pedaling a bicycle harnessed by pulleys to a series of colorful turning wheels.

Napan Bryn Owens, 18, achieved an epic tone in a massive painting inspired by the history of his maternal grandfather, an Italian who immigrated to the U.S. only to return to his native country as an American soldier in World War II.

Based formally on a German Renaissance altarpiece, Owens’ four-part oil on board has an almost cinematic effect, moving from a close-up of his grandfather as a civilian to a longer shot of a soldier in a muddy trench. No one who sees it will be surprised to learn that Owens plans to study art and cinema in college; he joins his older sister Rose at UC Santa Cruz this fall.

Other Oxbow students suspended paintings and sculptures from overhead, trained video cameras on each other and photographed themselves.

Peter Linden, a 17-year-old from Oakland, painted 50 small “portraits” of everyday objects — a pen, a book, a detergent bottle and the like — each peering back at the viewer with a small but recognizable face.

Linden said it took a week to suspend his creations overhead: “Wherever I walked, I could see fishing line,” he said.

Kevan Barsky of Nevada City faced a direr challenge as he worked on his interactive sound sculpture, “Circuit Bending.”

“My roommates were seriously considering killing me,” said Barsky, who wore a paint-stained laboratory coat and a mad professor grin as he demonstrated his work. Electronic bleats and blips from the circuits in a keyboard translated into rhythmic dots on a large TV screen, changing pattern when Barsky or a visitor moved plugs around a patch bay.

Barsky’s piece, like Brentrup’s and Linden’s, was packed up after the show closed Sunday; many of the student works were site-specific installations and won’t be shown again.

For fans of the truly new in art, it’s worth noting now that the next Oxbow Final Show will be in December. The school’s fundraiser, “Celebrating an Artful Life,” is June 2; for more information,

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or
[Posted: 5/23/2007]



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March 28, 2007

Skowheagan School of Painting and Scultpure Announces 2007 Award Recipient, Ann Hatch

New York, NY  February 22, 2007 —Founder of Napa's Oxbow School, Ann Hatch, will receive the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture Governor's award for Outstanding Service to Artists at the 36th annual Skowhegan Awards Dinner on April 24, 2007. This will be held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City and is chaired by Jodie and John Eastman.  Jane Lauder and Aerin and Eric Zinterhofer are Vice Chairs.  Awards will be presented by Joseph D. Ketner II, Chief Curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum; artists Ursula von Rydingsvard and Frank Stella; Patterson Sims, Director of the Montclair Art Museum; and Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art.

Founded by artists in 1946, Skowhegan is one of the country’s foremost artists’ residency communities, providing visual artists with a collaborative and rigorous creative environment for the development of new work. Since 1946 Skowhegan has brought together almost 4,000 artists—many of whom are among the country’s leading artists—as students and faculty for intensive nine-week summer residencies at the School’s picturesque 300-acre lakeside site in rural Maine.

As a further expression of its commitment to fostering excellence in the visual arts, Skowhegan honors artists, patrons and those who have demonstrated outstanding service to the arts/artists annually each spring. The Skowhegan Awards are one of the oldest honors of their kind in the art world.  The Awards Dinner raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the Skowhegan Scholarship Fund, which supports the School’s commitment to guaranteeing that all artists accepted to the program will be able to attend regardless of financial resources. In the last five years, over 94% of Skowhegan resident artists have received financial aid or fellowship support.

Over the last 36 years, the Skowhegan Medal has been presented to some of the greatest artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Claes Oldenburg (1972), Georgia O’Keeffe (1973), Richard Serra (1975), Willem de Kooning (1976), Isamu Noguchi (1977), Agnes Martin (1978), Louise Bourgeois (1985), Cindy Sherman (1989), Nam June Paik (1991), Matthew Barney (1999), Kiki Smith (2000) and Lee Bontecou (2004).  Recognized for their outstanding service to the arts and artists, past recipients of the Governors Award include Marcia Tucker (1988), Jonas Mekas (1997), Irving Sandler (2002) and Rick Lowe (2005).  Recognized for their exemplary patronage, past recipients of the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Award include Paul Mellon (1972), Alfred H. Barr, Jr. (1974), Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1979) Dominique de Menil (1989), and Emily Rauh Pulitzer (2006). 

Ann Hatch, Governors Award for Outstanding Service to Artists
Ann Hatch is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the California College of the Arts (CCA) and a longtime arts advocate.  In 1983 she founded Capp Street Project, the first visual artists’ residency program in the United States dedicated solely to the creation and presentation of new art installations.  Fifteen years after its founding, in 1998, Ann Hatch was instrumental in merging Capp Street Project with the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at CCA.  In 1997 Hatch co-founded the Oxbow School with Robert and Margrit Mondavi.  Oxbow is the nation’s only semester program for high-school students that combines high-level instruction in the visual arts with academic subjects, with a mission to give them the confidence and self-worth to take more active responsibility in their own learning and lives.  Ann Hatch has served on the boards of many arts organizations, including the Walker Art Center, the Berkeley Art Museum, Oakland Museum of California and the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy.  She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including honorary doctorates from CCA and the San Francisco Art Institute.

For more information, visit

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

[Posted: 3/27/2007]

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March 13, 2007

Circle of Memory

One evening in the Fall of 2003 Carl and I drove to Oakland to support artist friends Eleanor Coppola and Robilee Frederick who were opening a temporary community art installation called, “Circle of Memory.”  

Neither of us had any idea what to expect.  

We were just curious about the latest effort of two artists whose kaleidoscope of work time and again  touches us deeply.  It seems to me that most art openings bring together a familiar group of like mind.  The Circle of Memory uniquely tugged a motley group of us from the nine counties that comprise the Bay Area community. Some walked from the surrounding downtown Oakland neighborhood, others drove in from Berkeley.  Still others took BART across the bay from San Francisco.  Our group drove from Napa.

By the time we saw the opening night installation, downtown Oakland neighborhood residents had discovered the installation and contributed to the interactive sculpture so that we found it fluttering with white notepapers bearing messages and filled with a palpable energy that profoundly moved and silenced our otherwise chattering group.   That we all knew Oakland was working hard to battle an alarming children's homicide rate added to the power of the Circle of Memory.

The journey of this exhibit can be tracked on

Wherever it is goes, this art installation is remarkable in its ability to inspire a unifying and healing dialogue.

If you have ideas about for bringing it to a new location, you’ll find suggestions on the site to help make this possible.

Personally, I’d like to see it in:  Japan, Ireland, Indochina, Africa and somewhere in New York.  If I can work with you to help make this possible, let me know.

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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January 14, 2007

Oxbow School Spring 2007 Visiting Artist Lecture Series

School Spring 2007 Visiting Artist Lecture Series

Tom Holland, Nina Katchadourian , Sandra Percival, Philip Ross and Inez Storer

Copia Auditorium, 500 First Street Napa, CA, 7 – 8:30 PM

Free Admission
For information call 707-255-6000
Presented in partnership with Copia: The American Center for Food, Wine and the

Generously supported by a grant from:

The Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation

Nina Katchadourian- Monday, February 26

Nina Katchadourian was born in Stanford, California and grew up spending every
summer on a small island in the Finnish archipelago. Her work exists in a wide
variety of media including photography, sculpture, video and sound. She is represented by Sara Meltzer gallery in New York and Catharine Clark gallery in San Francisco.
Her work has been exhibited domestically and internationally at places such as
PS1/MoMA, the Serpentine Gallery, New Langton Arts, Artists Space and Sculpture
Center. In January 2006 the Turku Art Museum in Turku, Finland featured a solo
show of works made in Finland, and in June 2006 the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs opened a 10-year survey of her work with a forthcoming monograph.

Tom Holland- Monday, March 12

Tom Holland lives and works in the Bay Area and has been painting for 45 years.
After having attended UC Berkeley, Tom went to Chile on a Fulbright Grant. He
then returned to Berkeley to begin teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute.
He has also been on the faculty at UCLA and Cal. He has received both an NEA
Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He now works full time in his studio in downtown Berkeley.

Inez Storer- Monday, March 19

Inez Storer was born in 1933 in Santa Monica, California. She studied at the
Art Center in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Art Institute, the University of
California at Berkeley, and the San Francisco College for Women, ultimately receiving her B.A. from Dominican University in San Rafael, California (1970). She received her M.A. from San Francisco State University (1971). Storer's work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions consistently thorough the United States at institutions such as the Reno Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Monterey Museum of
Art, the Fresno Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Missoula Museum
of Art, Montana, and The National Museum of Jewish History, Philadelphia. Her
work has been included in numerous group exhibitions throughout the country.
Storer has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute (1981 - 1999), Sonoma State
University (1976 - 1988), San Francisco State University (1970 - 1973), and the
College of Marin (1968 - 1979). She has received numerous grants and awards,
including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 1999, and has worked twice as
a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome (1997, 1996). Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Oakland Museum of California, the Lannan Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University. Storer lives in Inverness, California and maintains a studio in Point Reyes Station, California.
Inez Storer is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.

Sandra Percival- Monday, March 26

Sandra Percival is the Executive Director at New Langton Arts in San Francisco.
Prior to her appointment in 2005, Sandra was the Director or the non-profit Public
Art Development Trust in London, England (PADT).

New Langon Arts is a 30-year-old non-profit multidisciplinary contemporary arts
producer and presenter. Founded in 1975 by a group of artists, performers and
collectors, Langton cultivates experimental and innovative works in visual media
and media arts, performace, and interdisciplinary projects while encouraging
broad public appreciation and access to the art of our times.
In her long and distinguished career as an arts director and curator, Percival
has worked across generations with emerging artists such as: Zarina Bhimji, Angela Bulloch, Tracey Emin, Anya Gallaccio, Julio Cezar Morales and Vong Phaophaint, as well as mid-career artists Jenny Holzer, Roni Horn, Julian Opie and Pae White.

Philip Ross - Monday, April 16

Philip Ross is a Bay Area artist who makes sculptural artifacts using living
organic materials, including fungus, shellfish, plants and compost. Through the
design and creation of highly controlled environments Mr. Ross manipulates, nurtures and transforms a variety of living species. The artworks that are made from this process are at once highly crafted and naturally formed, skillfully manipulated
and sloppily organic.


Editor’s Note: For
additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

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December 1, 2006

Guggenheim Study Suggests Arts Education Benefits Literacy Skills

The New York Times - July 27, 2006

In an era of widespread cuts in public-school art programs, the question has become increasingly relevant: does learning about paintings and sculpture help children become better students in other areas?

A study to be released today by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum suggests that it does, citing improvements in a range of literacy skills among students who took part in a program in which the Guggenheim sends artists into schools. The study, now in its second year, interviewed hundreds of New York City third graders, some of whom had participated in the Guggenheim program, called Learning Through Art, and others who did not.

The study found that students in the program performed better in six categories of literacy and critical thinking skills - including thorough description, hypothesizing and reasoning - than did students who were not in the program. The children were assessed as they discussed a passage in a children's book, Cynthia Kadohata's "Kira-Kira," and a painting by Arshile Gorky, "The Artist and His Mother."

The results of the study, which are to be presented today and tomorrow at a conference at the Guggenheim, are likely to stimulate debate at a time when the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind has led schools to increase class time spent on math and reading significantly, often at the expense of other subjects, including art.

Yet the study also found that the program did not help improve students' scores on the city's standardized English language arts test, a result that the study's creators said they could not fully explain. They suggested that the disparity might be related to the fact that the standardized test is written while the study's interviews were oral.

"We purposely chose to have students talk to us instead of writing because we thought they would show language skills, not purely reading and writing skills," said Johanna Jones, a senior associate with Randi Korn and Associates, a museum research company conducting the study over three years with a $640,000 grant from the federal Department of Education.

Ms. Jones said that the study, which graded students' responses as they talked about the painting and the passage from the book, found essentially the same results during the 2005-6 school year as it did during the 2004-5 school year. "We really held our breath waiting for this year's results, and they turned out to almost exactly the same - which means that last year's don't seem to have been an anomaly," she said. "That's a big deal in this world."

While it is unknown exactly how learning about art helps literacy skills, she said, "the hypothesis is that the use of both talking about art and using inquiry to help students tease apart the meaning of paintings helps them learn how to tease apart the meanings of texts, too. They apply those skills to reading."

The categories of literacy and critical thinking skills were devised by the research company with the help of a group of advisers from Columbia University, New York University and the city's Department of Education, among other institutions.

The Guggenheim program, originally called Learning to Read Through the Arts, was created by a museum trustee in 1970, when New York schools were cutting art and music programs. Since it began, it has involved more than 130,000 students in dozens of public schools. The museum dispatches artists who spend one day a week at schools over a 10- or 20-week period helping students and teachers learn about and make art. Groups of students are also taken to the Guggenheim to see exhibitions.

Officials at the Guggenheim said they hoped the study would give ammunition to educators in schools and museums around the country who are seeking more money and classroom time for arts education.

"Basically, this study is a major contribution to the field of art and museum education," said Kim Kanatani, the Guggenheim's director of education. "We think it confirms what we as museum education professionals have intuitively known but haven't ever had the resources to prove."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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July 5, 2006

George Lucas' Edutopia Magazine

At the Oxbow School, art and research magically interweave.

Under a blue sky during the cool northern California winter, Michael Lopez was conducting first-person research for his final art project at the Oxbow School, a semester-long art program in the Napa Valley. Lopez's subject was low-wage labor, and his research that afternoon consisted of raking leaves. As he worked, he ticked off the skills he had learned in fifteen weeks at the school: time management, self-control, a research-based approach to creating art, and confidence in his ability to talk about his ideas. Strange lessons learned at an art school? Perhaps. But just the sort of skills Oxbow's faculty intend to teach.

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March 11, 2006

Oxbow School 2006 Visiting Artist Lecture Series

Napa, Calif.- Five nationally recognized visiting artists are featured in the 2006 Spring Monday Night Visiting Artist Lecture Series produced annually by Napa's Oxbow School at COPIA. All lectures begin at 7 p.m. in the COPIA Theater at 500 First Street in Napa and are free to the public.

Monday, March 6-Barnaby Furnas tackles life's grand themes head on in paintings with narrative and pictorial action in a subversive world of cartoon carnage populated by rock stars and Honest Abe look-alikes.

Monday, March 20-Marin resident Bill Allan fuses the Bay Area's maverick tradition with a reverence for wilderness and nature. His paintings draw on childhood recollections, family tales, dreams and direct observations.

Monday, March 27-Pastels, monotypes and photogravure are employed by veteran artist and San Francisco Art Institute faculty member Charles Hobson to construct the images in his handmade books and works on paper. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the National Gallery and the Getty Center among others. Trade editions of his books Parisian Encounters and Leonardo Knows Baseball have been published by Chronicle Books. His most recent work is, The Mappist produced in collaboration with Barry Lopez. Additional information on Hobson's work is available at

Charles Hobson's Magritte's Bucket

Continue reading "Oxbow School 2006 Visiting Artist Lecture Series"

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