The inaugural show at our new location in West Berkeley, “Beloved California” included 82 paintings, 19 of them new, of rural Northern California by our entire roster of artists:
Kevin Brown, Sharon Calahan, Bill Cone, Kevin Courter, Christin Coy, Mark Farina, Robert Flanary, Paul Kratter, Richard Lindenberg, James McGrew, Terry Miura, Robin Moore, Ernesto Nemesio, Carol Peek, Paul Roehl, and Erik Tiemens.
An essay by Tim Holton accompanied the show, a short version being posted in the gallery and at the bottom of this page, and a longer version on a blog post, here.
Pictures of the November 12 opening are also on the blog post.
Below are the 19 new works that were featured.
Beloved California: Sixteen Painters With a Passion for Place
A Word About Where We Are
“Beloved California” is the work of an under-appreciated but crucially important part of the culture of Northern California—its vibrant and vital community of landscape painters.
I’d like to make an audacious claim for this show and this group of talent: both are highly unconventional. This claim may sound strange to those for whom nothing seems more conventional than landscape painting—those who regard real Art (with a capital “A”) as a parade of innovations and “vanguard” movements which centuries ago marched across the landscape, did all they could with it, and moved on. “Landscapes have been done—they’re old hat.” Their supposed obsolescence is indeed no more than a meaningless turn of fashion—another arbitrary convention. Call it what you like, I call it ignoring the earth. To those who argue that Art has moved on from landscape painting, that we’re done with pictures of nature, I say, nature will decide when she is done with us.
But, some might object, how can something so traditional as landscape painting be considered unconventional? The answer is that tradition and convention are not the same. Conventions are dead, but traditions are living, else they cease to be traditions; conventions are mindless and unseeing, but traditions are alive to the surrounding and changing world.
We do well to drop for a moment our modern love of novelty (or a peculiar notion of novelty that somehow blinds us to nature’s vitality) and consider an immutable truth about art: A painter paints because he or she wants other people to see something. A painting—and an exhibit, as well as a picture frame, by the way—says: Consider this. This matters. In the case of this show, “Beloved California,” what matters is this place where we are—the land before our eyes, the land beneath our feet, the land that feeds and sustains us. What matters first of all is the land itself; but next of all, how we view the land—our humility before it, our consideration and veneration for it, our recognition that the land is our very life. So I and these painters don’t only want you to observe the landscape, nor simply admire the painters’ skills of depiction. We want you to witness this land through deeply, intimately engaged eyes that through the artists’ hands help renew and sustain Californians’ love for our landscape. Consider this. This matters.
If part of the mission of Art is to be visionary, to show a way forward, to break with careless conventions and bad old habits like ignoring the well-being of the earth, California’s tradition of landscape painters does just that. It is a tradition of hope and renewal. These painters are not only capturing the light on the land where we live but are themselves providers of light for the only way ahead—along a path toward greater consideration of the earth, toward living better on the land, toward taking greater care of the particular place on the planet every human community inhabits.
For us, that place is our beloved California.