Conversations With Artists, Writers, and Curators

Keep the Channel Open is a series of in-depth and intimate conversations with people working in all different creative fields.

Since 2016, I’ve talked with painters, novelists, short-story writers, poets, photographers, podcasters, gallerists, and more, about their work, their creative processes, and the things that matter to them. I’ve had conversations about the poetry of names, conceptual landscape photography, space opera and hippo cowboys, the importance of representation in visual art, and all manner of other topics.

What’s The Name About?

The show’s title comes from a passage in Agnes de Mille’s 1991 biography of choreographer Martha Graham, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham:

The greatest thing she ever said to me was in 1943 after the opening of Oklahoma!, when I suddenly had unexpected, flamboyant success for a work I thought was only fairly good, after years of neglect for work I thought was fine. I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. I talked to Martha. I remember the conversation well. It was in a Schrafft’s restaurant over a soda. I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have a peculiar and unusual gift, and you have so far used about one-third of your talent.”
“But,” I said, “when I see my work I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied.”
“No artist is pleased.”
“But then is there no satisfaction?”
“No satisfaction whatever at any time,” she cried out passionately. “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
— Agnes de Mille, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham.

About the Host

My name is Mike Sakasegawa, and I’m a writer, photographer, book artist, and activist.

My writing has appeared in Last Exit, Catapult, PetaPixel, and Don’t Take Pictures Magazine.

My photographs have been featured on Lenscratch, A Photo Editor, and SD Voyager, and included exhibitions around the US.

I’m originally from the Central Coast region of California. Nowadays I live in San Diego with my family.