Me and John Webster @1975
I was a crafty kid. I was tactile and loved to work with my hands. One of my earliest memories was standing out on my front porch, tracing my fingers over the grout between between the red bricks of our house, marveling at the tiny little specks of different colored rocks that lived there. Years before I ever learned to meditate, I was lost in a meditative trance in those vertical and horizontal lines of grout. Blissed out.
Yes, I was crafty. As a teenager in the seventies, I loved to make hanging macrame plant holders, create psychedelic designs on the black walls of our basement that would light up under the blacklight, and intricately embroider plants and birds and hearts all over my bell-bottom blue jeans.
The day after I graduated high school, my parents dragged me kicking and screaming from my stable life in Columbus Ohio to the land of endless lights and freeways, L.A. I was not a happy girl. Joyfully, exactly two years from the day that I arrived in L.A., good fortune intercepted. Some of my Ohio friends came to visit me. We went to a Van Morrison concert in Santa Barbara, and ran into two old friends from high school. Within the month, I left L.A. and was living with them on Del Playa Drive, the beachside road (the same road where “Dog-Shit Park” was), situated around the UCSanta Barbara Campus, a hippie paradise in the little town of Isla Vista, in 1976. That was the first day of the rest of my life!
Something happened the first day I moved to Isla Vista that re-oriented my perception. I met John Webster, who to this day is one of my closest friends. John is an artist. A very good artist who had been studying art at UCSC. I loved his beautiful bright impressionist drawings with oil pastels, and his abstract pencil drawings that took me into different worlds. I was inspired by his talent and anxious to explore that world.
I enrolled at Santa Barbara City College, and signed up for my first fine arts class, “Beginning Drawing”. That’s the semester that altered my perception. Twice a week I would go outside the classroom, to the nearby harbor, or sit beneath a large oak tree and learn how to “see”, as if it was the first time I ever really looked at anything. It was a virgin experience and I was hooked.
I finished two years of community college (although it took me three), and was ready to enter the UC system. I decided to attend UC Santa Cruz, on the beautiful Monterey Bay. I had never been there before, but heard it was a great school, sandwiched between the redwoods and the bay. I went there sight unseen! Wow! The campus blew my socks off. The big adventure was about to begin!
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Skateboarding by the Poppies by John Webster, 1977