Since the beginning of the environmental movement, artists and creators have worked to expose humanity’s detrimental impact on the Earth and to provoke positive societal change through their art.
This summer, several North Bay galleries are taking up the movement once again with exhibitions that speak to the perils facing the planet and the importance of saving the natural landscapes we call home.
Across the country, the multimedia project “EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss” is shining a light on all the ways the extractive industry of mining and drilling exploits and destroys fresh water, fertile soil and other resources. The project—founded by members of Bay Area-based CODEX Foundation—encompasses nearly 50 exhibitions, performances, publications, poetry readings and other events.
In the North Bay, a group of creatives and galleries are participating in “EXTRACTION,” including Santa Rosa’s Calabi Gallery, which is displaying a diverse array of artists who respond to environmental issues through a variety of mediums.
“The world is in crisis, and people just don’t seem to be aware of it,” says gallery Director Dennis Calabi. “As artists tend to be in the vanguard of progressive thinking, art is a great way to spread the word that we are in crisis and we need to fix it.”
“EXTRACTION” exhibits at Calabi Gallery, Saturdays from noon to 5pm and by appointment, through July 31. (calabigallery.com)
Elsewhere, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is showing a retrospective exhibition, “Sacred Landscapes: The Art of Ynez Johnston,” featuring paintings, sculpture and prints spanning seven decades.
Born in 1920, Johnston grew up in the Bay Area and held her first solo exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art—now SFMOMA—at age 22. Influenced by natural and cultural iconography, Johnston’s modernist paintings almost always featured imaginative animals and environments.
“Sacred Landscapes” exhibits at SVMA along with an innovative video installation titled “Question Bridge: Black Males”—which explores challenging issues within the Black male community across geographic, generational, educational and economic levels—through Sept. 5. (svma.org)
In San Rafael, artist Peter Adamyan exhibits his post-consumer art in the solo show “This Land Is Land,” at Art Works Downtown. Running June 25 to August 1, the show includes paintings that reflect modern society’s obsession with resource consumption. Adamyan contrasts that notion with several works that represent Native American societies, and environmentalists both past and present.
“I want to show what over extraction of resources and commodification of land looks like in the extreme of a materialistic society,” writes Adamyan in his artist statement. “‘This Land Is Land’ is about giving ownership of land to itself.” (artworksdowntown.org)
In July, the Santa Rosa Arts Center will provide artists and writers a way to respond to current environmental concerns in the non-juried group show, “Our Precious Planet.” The exhibit opens with a reception as part of the SOFA Arts District First Friday Open Studios on July 2, and will feature artistic and poetic interpretations of nature, people and places, with works that express environmental respect, love, fear and caution. (santarosaartscenter.org)