Here are my Best Bets in the visual arts for this week.
Currently at di Rosa in Napa, is Entering the Wild, an exhibition that features over thirty pieces by six Northern California artists. Some years back Barry Lopez wrote an essay called The Near Woods, in which he described “the elusive and magical space between the wild, deep woods and the civilized space of humans”. This premise is the binding thread for the theme of this exhibition, and a special edition of the book, designed by Charles Hobson, is on view. Many of the other works in the show reflect on this margin between the animal and human world, bringing up questions such as; “How are we like them, and what can we learn from the mystery and wonder of their behavior?” In a large-scale wall installation called Up From Under the Edge, artist Adriane Colburn, uses various materials to investigate the complex relationship between human infrastructure and the natural world. She includes a viewing tube that’s set at about knee level, and if you make the effort to look in, you’ll see video footage of bugs and microbes that live beneath the soil.
In Animals Around Me, Lukas Felzmann uses photography to capture images of animals we may encounter, including wild, domestic, and dead ones, as well as those destined to be a food source. The piece as a whole is quite thought provoking. One of my favorite pieces, by Jane Rosen, White Scarf Skyscraper, is a hawk made of cast glass that is perched on a marble pedestal. To me it stands as a monument to the birds of prey that inhabit and nest in urban areas. The exhibition continues through September 23. For information check their website, www.dirosaart.org.
Then, at Sonoma Valley Museum, on Broadway, we have Cross Pollination; the Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The title, Cross Pollination, is quite apt for this exhibition as it pulls together a number of influences and thematic parallels that have been consistent throughout his career. Most of us know Ferlinghetti as the beat era poet and co-founder of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, and both of these are true. However, Ferlinghetti, who is 93, has also devoted much of his career to the visual arts, and the show includes a very recent set of lithographs that he created to illustrate is latest poem book, Out of Chaos.
The paintings, prints, and drawings in the exhibition are a sampling of his work, which touch on the themes of politics, his relationship to women, and his time spent at sea. Through the work he also engages in direct dialogue with other artists and writers. The exhibition curator, Diane Roby, states that “In Ferlinghetti’s art, words give rise to image-making, and word and image meld in the paint.” A powerful painting, titled Moloch, sums it up. On the large canvas, iconic elements from The Scream, by Edvard Munch are painted in white on a black background, lines from Allen Ginsberg’s poem, Howl, are written across the top, and as the gallery label states, this is where “Howl meets the Scream”. The exhibition continues through September 23, for more information check their website, www.svma.org.