These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 2

For many years, Powder was one of only a few permanent residents of Headlands. As Alumni Artist Deborah Hamon (AFF ’02-’04) shares, Powder left a lasting impact on many of the Artists, staff, and friends to pass through Headlands over the years.


Powder, photo by Andria Lo.

A Tail from the Headlands


It was 2002 when Miss P and I first met; it was love at first sight. She was a young Feline-In-Residence, and I was working full time in my studio as an Affiliate Artist. We developed a special bond through hours of mutual adoration and companionship. The independent white mistress of the house would deposit trophies (aka mouse parts) in my basement studio in Building 960, and in return she would expect a warm heater, her own chair with a cozy bed, lots of affection, and someone to play with and chat to. She also thought it was fun to casually saunter in and then startle me by suddenly doing a 180 and tearing out of my studio and up the stairs, as if she was urgently needed elsewhere. At times she would have a special assignment up at one of the AIR houses and I would pester Holly to see when she would return. On other occasions, she vacationed with me at my home when she needed a break from the Open Houses, and once when she was sick and needed some warmth and extra TLC. I remember the day when several of us Affiliates were watching a mountain lion nearby from the safety of 960 — thankfully Miss P could navigate both the outside wilds and the ever-changing landscape of faces over the years.


A collage of photos of Powder, a white cat, sitting and lying in various poses and settings, surrounding a small painted portrait of the same cat against a red background; one photo features Powder in a cat bed on a red chair with a thought bubble featuring a photo of Deborah Hamon.

Photos of Powder, courtesy of Deborah Hamon.


Change is the one constant in life. I had just completed a large heart for the Hearts in SF project in 2004, fully pregnant lying on my back in my studio to finish the final touches. It took four men to move the 400lb heart out of my studio and up the stairs on a Friday afternoon, and Sunday night I went into labor delivering my daughter, five days early. Miss P and I missed each other, but in those early weeks I was in the throes of being a new mother and the studio would have to wait. Upon my return, Miss P and I sensed things would be different. I had naïve visions of my daughter sleeping in the Pack ’n Play while I painted. Perhaps it was the coldness of the basement studio or the lack of undivided attention, but my daughter would start to cry, I would have to feed her, and she would never allow me much studio time. After two and a half years it was time for Miss P and I to part ways. My final gesture was to put a little photo of her dreaming about me right by her food bowl so she would never forget our connection. Over the years when I visited, the photo always remained. My time at Headlands was amazing, filled with art, nature, and creative connections. But first and foremost, I think of Powder when I reflect on my time there. Powder was loved by so many people and especially by me.

-Deborah Hamon, 2022