• A still from Peter Hutton's film "At Sea," currently on view at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (Photo courtesy the Peabody Essex Museum)

Flimmaker Peter Hutton : It’s Not About the Pyrotechnics, It’s About Limitations

By |04.06.12|


The first time I saw a Peter Hutton film was at a screening at The MacDowell Colony several years ago when Peter was in residence. A small group of us gathered in the Colony library to watch Study of a […]

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Jonah Lehrer on How Creativity Works : 5 Insights from Julia Child, Dylan, & Picasso

By |03.23.12|


In 1965 singer Bob Dylan was burned out after a grueling tour; he was sick of reporters’ questions and tired of performing the same old songs. Dylan told his manager that he was quitting music for good and […]

  • Ai Weiwei-Click to Read More

Ai Weiwei : Creativity Is the Power to Act

By |03.11.12|




Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009 has been good company the past few days. Between 2006 and 2009, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei used his blog as a daily notebook where he posted thousands of photos, documented his […]

  • The finished nave roof at Sagrada Família

Filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara: Gaudi Made Me Realize the Lines Between the Arts Are Insignificant

By |02.16.12|



In the West, Hiroshi Teshigahara is best known as the avant-garde director of the 1964 film Woman in the Dunes–an erotic, surreal film that was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film […]

  • Edward Hopper-Click to Enlarge

How To Feel Miserable As An Artist

By |02.09.12|

This week a reader sent me a copy of “How to Feel Miserable As An Artist.” This marvelous list was created by illustrator Keri Smith and is part of The Artist’s Survival Kit, which Keri wrote and designed.

I like Keri’s list […]

  • Kim Uchiyama in her Tribeca studio (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

Creative Spaces: Painter Kim Uchiyama

By |02.07.12|


Kim Uchiyama’s studio is located on a quiet, tree-lined side-street in Lower Manhattan. On a crisp fall day in mid-November over tea and brunch, I visited Kim in her Tribeca apartment. We spent the day looking at art and discussing her […]

  • Doris Salcedo

Artist Doris Salcedo: I Began to Conceive of Works Based on Nothing

By |01.19.12|



With the continual stream of information and images flooding past me each day, I’ve come to appreciate the rare, found gems that stop me in my virtual tracks. This week it was the above photograph of wooden chairs piled […]

  • A currency collage by artist Mark Wagner (Photo courtesy Mark Wagner at

On Money, Fear, and the Artist

By |01.11.12|

An Artist Gets Audited
A visual artist I know once told me about an audit she endured with the IRS. My friend is a professional artist in New York City with her own studio. Her work is shown at galleries and […]

  • “How do you manage to be so happy all the time?” Lindsey Abrams asked short-story writer, Grace Paley. “Even when things really aren’t going very well?”

“I just decided,” Paley told her. “At one point in my life, I just decided to be happy.” (Grace Paley photo by Dorothy Marder)

Grace Paley: “Write What Will Stop Your Breath If You Don’t Write”

By |12.11.11|

Today is the birthday of writer Grace Paley.

Although Paley’s writing output was modest during her 84 years — some four dozen stories in three volumes: The Little Disturbances of Man (Doubleday, 1959); Enormous Changes at the Last Minute […]

  • Currency Collage by Mark Wagner

The Dow of Art: Why Art Still Matters in Our Market-Driven Society

By |11.30.11|

Writer Nova Ren Suma has just published a new essay of mine over at “Distraction No. 99.”

Although the assigned topic was “inspiration,” my piece covers a range of subjects, from library book censorship to the financial stresses of being an […]

  • Artist Eva Hesse in her studio

Sol LeWitt’s Advice to Eva Hesse: Don’t Worry About Cool, Make Your Own Uncool

By |11.25.11|




Because I’m surrounded by artists in both my professional and personal life, people often ask me what insights I’ve gained into the creative process.

The unromantic truth is that being an artist in any field is hard work. Because artists need a […]

  • (Untitled) #3839, 2000 © Bill Jacobson

Photographer Bill Jacobson: A Rare Look at the Evolution of an Artist

By |10.19.11|



If you’re in New York be sure to stop by Julie Saul Gallery to catch Bill Jacobson’s new photography show. Into the Loving Nowhere (1989 till now) opens Thursday, October 20th with a special reception from 6-8 p.m. and will be on […]

  • Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons (Red Heart the Ticker) were profiled in Gwarlingo's "Creative Spaces" series.

Creative Spaces: A Legendary Songcatcher Inspires Two Musicians on a Vermont Farm

By |10.09.11|

Two weeks after Hurricane Irene I’m wandering the back-roads of Marlboro, Vermont, making my way to Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons, also known as the music duo Red Heart the Ticker.

Route 9–the main thoroughfare between Brattleboro and Bennington–is closed because […]

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On Crows

By |09.19.11|

Here in New Hampshire the air has turned chilly, and frost warnings are popping up across the state. Autumn in New England means birds are on the move. The climax of the migration season is the departure of […]

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Sonny Rollins: “It’s All about Space”

By |09.07.11|

Today is the birthday of jazz legend Sonny Rollins. At the age of 81, Rollins is still touring, making new music, and recording records.

The long, remarkable career of Sonny Rollins is a good example of how sustaining it can […]

  • Augustina Woodgate-Li Po

The Art of Poetry Bombing

By |08.24.11|

What if cities that have endured horrendous, wartime bombings could experience a different sort of “bombing”–one that would bolster the morale of its citizens, instead of breaking it?

In my introductory article on street art, I discussed yarn bombing, a new […]

  • Eugène Delacroix's paint palette (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)

Paint Palettes of the Old Masters

By |08.08.11|

Why is van Gogh’s paint palette worth preserving? Lucy Davies, photography critic for the Telegraph, tackled this question in a blog post she wrote last year:

“The daubs of raw pigment or the mixes left in position can be an […]

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  • Dylan by Milton Glaser

Designer Milton Glaser on Creativity and the Fear of Failure

By |07.22.11|

You may not know graphic designer Milton Glaser by name, but you undoubtedly know his work. He is best known for the “I ♥ NY” logo, his “Bob Dylan” poster, the “DC bullet” logo used by DC Comics from 1977 to 2005, and the “Brooklyn Brewery” logo. […]

  • A Photograph from the "Medusa" Series (Photo by Angela Cappetta)

Creative Spaces: Angela Cappetta’s Love Letter to Medusa

By |06.30.11|

Photographer Angela Cappetta has a new show opening this weekend at the Medusa General Store as part of their MGS Projects series. “Medusa: A Love Letter to the Mountains” reflects on the working farm community of Medusa in Upstate New […]

  • Anna Schueit and Finnegan (Photo courtesy the artist)

MacArthur Fellow Anna Schuleit & the Whole Sweep of Trying

By |05.31.11|

Welcome to the first installment of “Creative Spaces,” a regular Gwarlingo series that will focus on the creative habits and work spaces of visual artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and other talented individuals.

I’m excited to kick off the series with an […]

  • Ira Glass on the Creative Process: Ira Glass, the host of NPR’s This American Life, gives some useful advice about the art of story telling. Remember the method you learned in college–opening paragraph, thesis sentence, supporting material? Glass says to throw that tired technique out the window. Beginners often quit too soon, Glass says, because of the difficult gap between taste and talent. Watch the full video here.

Ira Glass Talks about the Creative Process

By |03.23.11|


In the following clip, Ira Glass, the host of NPR’s This American Life, gives some useful advice to writers, journalists, and broadcasters about the art of telling a good story. Remember the method you learned in college–opening […]

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Hedgehog in the Fog: A Short Animated Classic by Russia’s “Golden Snail”

By |03.19.11|

If you’ve never seen Yuriy Norshteyn’s Hedgehog in the Fog, then you are in for a special treat. And if you have seen it, you owe it to yourself to revisit this classic, animated film.

Hedgehog in the Fog is one […]

  • An Early Draft of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

By |03.19.11|

The Guardian’s two-part series “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction” has been a popular topic of discussion in the writing community in recent weeks. The idea was inspired by Elmore Leonard’s “10 Rules of Writing,” which originally appeared in The New […]