TURF: Ecological activism and Art

Through December 1st at Diablo Valley College Art Gallery in Pleasant Hill, California (Bay Area) is a terrific little show organized by artist and educator Hopi Breton. Included are twelve artists, mostly from the Bay Area, with Vaughn Bell from Seattle, Michele Brody from New York, and Northern California's Cynthia Hooper who is currently working with ecoartspace on a water show in Stockton titled Delta Waters

Many of you who know Cynthia's work as a video artist may not be familiar with her landscape paintings (2000-2008). These small exquisitely painted works, eleven total for TURF, are from an ongoing series that evokes a "Sunday painter" vernacular cataloging human impacts on the land. Instead of ignoring the industrial detritus for these beautiful crafted landscapes, she includes it all just as she sees it, just like the wildlife and elements that also have to work with human impediments on the land.

Another artist from Oakland, Alex Jackson, who created "Our National Scenic Resources" while in graduate school in 1992, recently revived this work for TURF. The original installation included a replica of a National Parks wooden Information station with volunteer style designed pamphlets that incorporate collage of images and text that the artist has assembled through the years about how we relate to and interact with nature. Titles include: Interpreting Scenic Beauty Estimates, Nature As Logo, Ornamental Palms in California, and Understanding Bears, Alcohol and Human Nature. Jackson includes content taken from government and trade publications, advertising and academic articles pointing out the structures we impose on nature in our efforts to manage and conserve it. He included three new pamphlets for this recent iteration and has continued to place them in racks at park visitor centers and other tourist information sites unauthorized through the years as his creative expression.
Also included, a photographer from San Francisco Christina Seely, who has captured stunning imagery, almost painterly, of major cities at night. Three works included that are from her series "Lux," capture the oddly alluring artificial glow produced by urban lights. The three largest illuminated areas that are seen from NASA's satellite maps of the world at night are the United States, Japan, and Western Europe. Her work is inspired by the beauty the lights present, although at the same time begs the viewer to question our dependence on energy that has a huge impact on our planet.

Vaughn Bell's portable landscapes, or "Pack of Forests" with accompanying water bottles and a portable "surrogate" mountain, each with attached walking leash, added a layer of interactivity making for a playful atmosphere. And, Stephen Galloway's unique photographic scans of rhizomes were blown up and floating in space, nature observed, examined in parts. 

Get out to see the show if you are in the area before it closes on December 1st. You won't regret it. And, thanks to Hopi Breton who shared with ecoartspace that she was inspired by our work to curate this exhibition. She also noted that her art students were interested in environmental issues which also led her to TURF. It is rare that an artist curates a show for others and does not include their own work. Kudos Hopi!