To wake up on a gloriously bright morning, in a tent pitched beneath spruce trees, and to look out lazily and sleepily for a moment from the open side of the tent, across the dead camp-fire of the night before, to the river, where the light of morning rests and perhaps some early-rising native is gliding in his birch canoe; to go to the river and freshen one's self with the cold water, and yell exultingly to the gulls and hell-divers the very joy of living; or to wake at night, when you have rolled in your blankets in the frost-stricken dying grass without a tent, and to look up through the leaves above to the dark sky and the flashing stars, and hear far off the call of a night bird or the howl of a wolf: this is the poetry, the joy of a wild and roving existence, which cannot come too often.
The studio of Oakland-based artist Anna Valdez feels familiar even on first visit. Light spills through the transom windows of the old warehouse, illuminating stacks of stretched canvas and a shelf full of hot sauce and postcards. A large canvas stretched across the far wall reflects the table near the door, artfully draped in textiles, plants, books, and vessels. The objects appear in various stages of conclusion, a tartan sheet supernaturally suspended on a yet to be rendered chair. Valdez explains that her inclination toward oil paints, an impractical choice considering the vibrancy and clarity of her images, requires her to be patient with her work. She grabs us a couple cups of coffee and we sit together at a paint splattered table to discuss art, travel and the importance of going slow.