The M Word: Real Mothers in Contemporary Art

I am pleased to announce the publication of a new book that includes work by Sue Maberry and me — The M Word: Real Mothers in Contemporary Art edited by Myrel Chernick and Jennie Klein (May 2011) from Demeter Press.

This important new collection has seven sections examining multiple aspects of mothering in contemporary art: History, Criticism, Theory, Artists’ Writings, Text/Image work, Interviews, and Visual Art. This stunning book includes full colour photographs and contributions from Mary Kelly, Susan Suleiman, Mignon Nixon, Jane Gallop, Margaret Morgan, Andrea Liss, Aura Rosenberg, Barbara T. Smith, Sherry Millner, Ellen McMahon, Renée Cox, Gail Rebhan, Marion Wilson, Judy Glantzman, Denise Ferris, Youngbok Hong, Patricia Cué, Monica Mayer, Cheri Gaulke, and more. Here’s what some scholars have to say about this book:

“The M Word puts the most hallowed and fraught life relationship of all into the center of visual culture. Working through feminist ambivalence about motherhood, this
collection offers a crucial corrective to the dearth of discussions about life choices and living tensions for creative women in art and art discourse. With a range of key feminist artists, art historians, and theorists addressing topics from Mexican feminist art collectives to the Holocaust and mothering to queer mothering, this book presents a range of rigorous thinking in textual and visual form. In The M Word, maternity, as a state, an ideology, an “image,” becomes the perfect pivot through which to examine women imagining ourselves into the sometimes incompatible roles of caring, care-taking, thinking, and making.”
—Amelia Jones, Grierson Chair in Visual Culture, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University

“The M Word is a welcome addition to the fields of both maternal and art historical studies. In their strong introduction, Myrel Chernick and Jennie Klein provide a smart
historical grounding for the intersections of mothering and visual art. The union of scholarly and narrative voices and the range of visual material included offer a compelling framework for this volume devoted to a significant and (always) timely topic.”
—Rachel Epp Buller, editor of Reconciling Art and Mothering

“The central importance of this title lies in the richness of the work collected together, and in particular in its creation of a political archive of feminist artwork that engages with the maternal. It will be a key book in the area of feminist art theory. The wonderful interview with Mary Kelly is an important piece of art historical documentation in
– Imogen Tyler, Senior Lecturer and Leverhulme Research Fellow, Sociology Department, Lancaster University

Consider ordering this book for your personal or institutional library. Let’s get some more images and writing about mothers in art into the art historical record! Here’s a link to the order form.

The book “Marriage Matters” is “Out There”

Marriage Matters, the artists’ book that Sue Maberry and I created in 2005, is included in an exhibition called Out There that opens tonight.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA) and the City of West Hollywood are proud to announce the third annual Out There exhibition celebrating the LGBT experience during West Hollywood’s Pride Month festivities. This effort commemorates West Hollywood’s lasting commitment to raising public awareness and appreciation of the talents and abilities of all artists.

The Out There exhibition, opening at Gallery 825 on June 11, is an all-media exhibition juried by Hillary Metz of Blythe Projects Los Angeles. Ms. Metz’s past commitment to the LGBT Community via the Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance and the 2009 Create Equality artwalk in Culver City poises her as the ideal curator to jury this important exhibition. Out There celebrates and acknowledges the special opportunities that West Hollywood has provided for creative individuals over the past 25 years. Out There is made possible by the City of West Hollywood Arts Grant Program and the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission. Out There runs June 11-17 at Gallery 825 (with special Sunday hours on June 13 after the Pride Parade).

Featured Artists: Brandy Eve Allen, Dori Atlantis, Eric Allen Carter, Joanne Chase-Mattillo, Ching Ching Cheng, YaYa Chou, Richard Chow, Raul de la Torre, Bryan Fair, Steve Fujimoto, Alisa Gabrielle, Martin Gantman, Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry, Shizuko Greenblatt, Niku Kashef, Siri Kaur, Shelley Kommers, Jonas Kulikauskas, Linda Kunik, William Mackenzie-Smith, Steven Moses, Gustavo Muñoz, Bob Poe, Mei Xian Qiu, Glynnis Reed, Gwen Samuels, Mark Schoening, Steve Seleska, Thomas Skene, Alix Soubiran, Eugenie Spirito, Michael Salvatore Tierney, Daena Title, Dan Vanclapp and Art Weeks.

Reception: Friday, June 11, 6 to 9 pm and after the Pride Parade on June 13. Show runs through June 17.

Admission: Free 

Where: Gallery 825, 825 N. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069  

For more information call 310.652.8272 or e-mail

Marriage Matters was also pictured and discussed in a review of the Love Never Dies exhibition in Minneapolis.  It’s a great review about a very interesting exhibition of work about the “gay marriage” issue. Check it out.

Exhibition about gay marriage opens in Minneapolis

Our Wedding, July 5, 2008

I’m very proud of my latest video art work called Our Wedding which was created in collaboration with my life partner Sue Maberry and our daughters Xochi and Marka. It just opened in an exhibiton called Love Never Dies at Form + Content gallery in Minneapolis.  The exhibition also includes Sue’s and my artists’ book, Marriage Matters, which is one of our art works that incorporates Sears portraits of gay and lesbian families. The book and video were called the “centerpiece” of the exhibition by Minnesota Public Radio (though they failed to say our names!). Here’s a link to the story and some wonderful shots of some of the other artists’ works in the show.

The video Our Wedding was produced by Sue Maberry and me, but the impetus for it came when our daughter Xochi wrote an essay about our 2008 wedding for a school application. Fifteen-year-old Xochi is the writer/narrator and her twin sister Marka is the director/editor. Sue and I served as producers/editors. Soon I will begin entering it in youth and lesbian and gay film festivals. Here’s a description of the 7 1/2 minute video art documentary.

Twin daughters of lesbians collaborate to tell the story of what their mothers’ legal marriage means to them. The 14-year-old girls served as “documaidens,” carrying flip video cameras instead of bouquets to record the ceremony. Phranc, the All-American Jewish lesbian folk singer, wrote and performed an original song for the event. The story unfolds against the backdrop of the battle against California’s Proposition 8. Not your typical home movie, this short documentary offers a glimpse into the life of an artistic lesbian family.

Filipino WWII Veterans Memorial Featured in New Book

Los Angeles's Historic Filipinotown by Carina Monica Montoya

Los Angeles's Historic Filipinotown by Carina Monica Montoya

The Filipino WWIII Veterans Memorial I designed is included in a new book called “Los Angeles’s Historic Filipinotown” by author Carina Monica Montoya (from Arcadia Publishing). The Filipino American Library (FAL) will present a Book Launch on Saturday, April 4 at 2:00pm at Lake Street Park (227 N. Lake St., Los Angeles 90026). I am scheduled to speak briefly at 3:10. For more information about Montoya’s book contact or 213-382-0488.

Also on sale will be the book “Valor: Filipino World War II Veterans Memorial” that is an indepth look at the memorial itself. Published by Midmarch Arts Press, it includes essays by art writers Betty Ann Brown and Eleanor Heartney, as well as Filipino writers Enrique de la Cruz and Mae Respicio. Stunning photographs of the memorial by Kevin O’Malley plus all of the historic photos and information I culled for the memorial grace its pages. Both books sell for $20 each.

Valor: Filipino World War II Veternas Memorial by Cheri Gaulke

Valor: Filipino World War II Veternas Memorial by Cheri Gaulke

The City Council of Los Angeles officially designated Historic Filipinotown on August 2, 2002 . It is the first Filipino community in the United States to merit a named area with distinct geographic boundaries. Historic Filipinotown was once home to one of the largest Filipino enclaves in California , a place where many Filipinos purchased their first homes, raised families, and established businesses. The cultural continuity of the area’s Filipino families and businesses inspired the collective efforts of Filipino organizations, Los Angeles community leaders, and individuals to establish Historic Filipinotown and maintain its vibrant culture.

Come help us celebrate this community and the publishing efforts that keep its history alive.

ECHOES: Women Inspired by Nature

Join me for one of two openings at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana, April 7 and May 5, 6–10 pm. I am showing two artist’s books, The Los Angeles: River Inside a River and Frogskin. Exhibition details are below.

“ECHOES: Women Inspired by Nature”
an exhibition of 21 women artists whose work focuses on the natural environment
Co-Curated by Betty Ann Brown and Linda Vallejo

Full Color Catalog
with essay written by Dr. Betty Ann Brown and
designed by Dr. Paula DiMarco, Roadwork Design

Exhibition Dates: April 6, 2007 to May 20, 2007
Opening Receptions: April 7 and May 5, 6–10 pm
Where: Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA), 117 North Sycamore, Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714.667.1517, Open Thursday and Sunday: 12 PM to 5 PM, Friday and Saturday: 12 PM to 9 PM

“Echoes: Women Inspired by Nature” will be presented at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) from April 5 through May 20, 2007. Curated by art historian Betty Ann Brown and visual artist Linda Vallejo, the exhibition will highlight the work of 21 women artists who focus on the natural environment. In artwork that ranges from traditional easel painting, to the newer media of photography and installation, to the very Postmodern use of non-art materials such as Gummy Bear candies, these artists call out attention to the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and to humanity’s deep and abiding connection with it. They also address issues such as pollution, over-consumption of resources, scientific atrocities and animal abuse.

We don’t need to have seen Al Gore’s compelling documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, to become aware of the devastating environmental changes in recent years. On an almost daily basis, television newscasters report on the destructive results of toxic spills, raging fires, rising pollution, or the horrific storms exacerbated by climate changes. Although artists are neither politicians (no matter how politically engaged), nor environmental scientists (no matter how intrigued by the vicissitudes of scientific inquiry), they can and do respond to the state of the natural world around them. In creating new and intriguing images of nature, artists can compel us to view our natural environment with fresh eyes. As Rachel Carson has noted, “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”


The “Echoes” artists listen to nature and tell of the stories they have heard. Some of the stories glory in nature’s beauty and power. Others bemoan our ongoing abuse of nature. But all of them acknowledge our oneness with nature and our desperate need to respect and love her.
The artists respond to nature in three elegantly interconnected ways. They create art that reveals an awe of nature’s beauty and power. They create art that manifests a feeling of meditative oneness with nature (rather than domination over nature or separation from it.) And they create art that mourns the losses from environmental abuse.


“Ultimately, it is the earth – which has supported us and loved us and caressed us –that we must now stand up for, for she is under the gravest danger ever in the history of man.” Chief Eddie Benton Banai, Grand Chief of the Three Fires Society

• Kim ABELES presents a potent testimony to governmental disdain about pollution
• Rabyn BLAKE creates fragile boats evoking a nostalgic sense of loss
• Yaya CHOU asks “Why are these artificially flavored and colored products so widely present and persistent?” with her Gummy Bear sculpture
• Cheryl Marie DULLABAUN asks what we have done to the paradise of nature
• Samantha FIELDS combines the tradition of landscape painting with contemporary environmental concern
• Linda FROST explores the abuses of genetic research and manipulation.
• Cheri GAULKE shares the artist’s concern about the loss of numerous frog species
• Holly TEMPO is concerned about the accelerating destruction of the tropical rain forests.


“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” Albert Einstein, German physicist

• Patsy COX uses the intense, saturated colors to fill up, even overwhelm, her installation space of clumping cactus
• Astrid PRESTON creates riveting images of trees and flowers that are so finely crafted they astonish the viewer
• Susan SILTON returns birds to the gorgeous rush of nature’s cycles
• Linda VALLEJO participates Native American ceremony and is keenly aware of the sanctity of nature
• Miriam WOSK presents dense, rich, and elaborate views of the ocean depths
• Takako YAMAGUCHI recalls the decorative elegance of Japanese scrolls and screens


“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” William Shakespeare, English dramatist

• Judith F. BACA depicts the ancestors united with the rocks and hills and caves
• H. Barbara CUTLER assembles nature’s detritus and recycles it into sartorial statements about our connection to the constantly regenerative powers of nature
• Cheryl EKSTROM senses the continued beauty in the world, of our oneness with natural cycles, and our need to press on even in grief
• Suvan GEER focuses on the body’s time and the cycles of nature
• Pamela GRAU TWENA is troubled by humanity’s ongoing disregard for nature and wonders what nature may do in response
• Akiko JACKSON evokes poetic allusion through forms sharing physical and functional affinities
• Lezley SAAR combines found black and white photographs with whimsical yet sophisticated drawings focused on natural forms

CONTACT: Pamela Grau Twena, Telephone: 714.667.1517 Email: