Better Together: Larnie and Bodil Fox

Photos by Luke George Photography

Through their differences and similarities, Benicia residents Larnie and Bodil Fox work together in art and love.

My interview started with Larnie and Bodil Fox playfully bickering over whether the Dogpatch District of San Francisco was always called that, or if the name had more recently caught on. It makes me smile. Instantly, I can feel that they are, in many ways, super comfortable with challenging one another while still remaining very best friends at the core. 

However long it’s been called the “Dogpatch,” it’s where these two talented creatives met one night.

“Since we’re both artists, we tend to go to events that feature art of some kind,” says Bodil. “There was a place that played B movies—not the big screens…there were drinks, but I’m not even sure there was popcorn. We had some mutual friends and that’s how we connected, through the art world. Having mutual friends helps.”

“I thought she was way out of my league,” admits Larnie. “But reaching over her bean bag chair, I spotted a bit of vulnerability. So, I invited her out for sushi.”

Their first date was not sushi, as Larnie got sick. They settled on a mellow encounter with hot-and-sour soup. An early test of the relationship, if you will, to see how easily each could bob and weave in unexpected circumstances. Their relationship has, without a doubt, stood the test of time.

Eventually, the couple was looking to move out of the Excelsior area of San Francisco. Larnie landed as Director of Arts Benicia, and the couple fell in love with the community. They cherish all of the connections they’ve built due to Larnie’s job within the arts community—though Larnie also enjoys Benicia’s birdwatching by the water and Bodil has a huge appreciation for the plethora of dogs.

While Larnie’s expertise is painting and Bodil’s is textiles, they both share a bond over growing up with different creative influences in their lives.

“I’m from Denmark and there are really long winters,” Bodil says. “You sit inside. My mother and grandmother, my aunties—were all into embroidery, knitting, doing stuff like that. And they were teaching me from age 5 or so. It has kind of stayed with me since then. In my case, I was taught the traditional way of doing things…I have worked to try and take that tradition into another direction.”

“My mother too, she is a really good painter,” Larnie adds. “I’ve been trying to live up to her standards of handling color, expressing qualities my whole life, and she taught me how to do it. I’d get lessons with brown paper bags with crayons, around age 8-12…it was a natural progression for me. To have somebody around that has the skills, the passion early on, that’s huge.”

Though they do solo projects, the couple has found many ways to work together, such as for an interactive sound sculpture they co-created for a show called “Probability” in Oakland. It’s not always smooth sailing or a clear answer as to how that will go off the bat, however.

“We had to figure it out; if our tasks are identical, it gets more difficult as we both think we are the authority on it,” says Bodil. “By trying to figure out our strengths, it helps. I’m much more detail oriented, while Larnie is more of a freeform painter. How do we put together these strengths with something we can be happy about? If there are failures, we come back and find something that really works.”

“It’s not always easy…but the result is different and better than something we could come up with on our own,” adds Larnie.

True to character, Larnie and Bodil want to encourage the younger generations in our community to explore art—but they have their own paths and messages for sharing this hope.

“I recently taught drawing for Joe Henderson Elementary’s STEAM program,” Larnie says. “It’s really satisfying work. Fifth graders especially, they really are longing for some kind of realism, but there’s not enough art anymore in the schools…the important thing is giving them the stepping stones and permission to do this. It’s socially acceptable to be a maker, a designer, a creative thinker, but it doesn’t come naturally; it has to be nurtured.”

“I encourage parents to be creative with their kids,” adds Bodil.

“We clearly benefited from our parents. It’s fun. Don’t think you have to make a career out of it. It’s for enjoyment and just feeling like you had a good time. You’re doing it just because you’re enjoying it, like doing a puzzle. Create your own, sit with it, be with it.”

If you’d like to see some of their work for yourself, there will be opportunities right in town. Larnie will have his solo show at First Street’s NY2CA Gallery next month. A joint show is also scheduled for February 2024, and you can catch Bodil’s that August.