To observe Morgan O’Hara at work in her Midtown Manhattan studio is to witness power, something like a tornado with dancingly fluid limbs, poignant speech, and intense blue eyes that smile as they inquire under a neat crop of jagged, burgundy hair. As a seasoned, internationally acclaimed “live transmission” artist – faithfully hardworking since her undergraduate years of the early 60s’ in California, when she first met and became irrevocably influenced by the life and work of John Cage – she epitomizes the phrase “a force to be reckoned with”. Contrary to common associations with the phrase, however, she imbues it with grace.
Recently, while sauntering through Seattle’s Pike Place Market with Morgan, I noted the quiet intensity with which she absorbed the place. We stood in front of a French bakery window for several minutes, watching a young man methodically fold strands of dough between his floured fingers. The baker, at first amusedly self-conscious of his movements upon noticing her observations, eventually met her eyes, smiled, and the silent exchange as we watched his meticulous motions in weaving the pastry took on a ceremonious quality.