Millennial Abstractions, curated by Patricia Watts

"Abstractions are seductive and evocative and invite contemplation and reverie. In the liminal space of an abstract work of art, our perceptions are free flowing and transitional. We know the world is changing and growing rapidly, with seven billion people and counting. How we respond to these changes and cope with them can be supported by art that makes room for our deepest cultural and personal concerns." Patricia Watts

 In 2011, I began researching artists who were doing abstract paintings, mainly in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. It was my suspicion that what might be happening with this new vibrant and energetic work was a response to extreme weather events or climate change, if not explicitly, subliminally. I wasn't sure if my hunch was right, but eventually found a few artists painting fragmented landscapes that evoke our most pressing environmental issues. Of course, the outcome was a much broader representation for an exhibition titled Millennial Abstractions including 22 artists and over 90 paintings (a few sculptures) presented at the Marin Community Foundation in Hamilton Field, Novato, California (Feb. 15 - May, 31, 2013).

Artists such as Marie Thiebault, Samantha Fields, Gina Stepaniuk, and Judith Belzer (from top to bottom, left to right, above) each have been very outspoken about how our changing climate influences their work. And, each has captured the intensity and dynamism of the flux we find ourselves in--working through who's to blame, who's responsible, and how can we hold on to what we have before it becomes indistinguishable. For example, Thiebault with her series on the devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Fields with her blurred windshields with pounding weather events; Stepaniuk with her satellite perspective of a fragmented planet; and Belzer with her topographical lands eroding off in the distance.
Although not all of the artists in the show felt that their works were identifiably related to events of the new millenia--9/11, the Iraq War, or climate change--they are each a part of what appears to be a revival in painting that hasn't been seen since the 1980s.
Artists from Los Angeles and the Bay Area included: Kim Anno, Judith Belzer, Val Britton, Chris Duncan, Samantha Fields, Sherie Franssen, Justine Frishmann, Benicia Gantner, Christopher Kuhn, David McDonald, Yvette Molina, Ali Smith, April Street, Julia Schwartz, Blandine Saint-Oyant, Gina Stepaniuk, Sylvia Tidwell, Catherine Tirr, Marie Thibeault, Cassandra Tondro, Ruth Trotter, and Adam Wolpert.