Forests And Clearings, Organized By Wayne Smith
“Forests and Clearings” pairs historic Early California landscape paintings of woodland interiors alongside contemporary abstract works by NIAD artists. Both bodies of work display a similarly immersive density, or, in some cases, it’s opposite—a clearing of sorts. Contrasting the works of artists practicing in very different times and circumstances, the exhibition brings to light an affinity between the depiction of external and interior worlds, reinforcing how the natural environment can serve as a point of departure for an artist’s abstract vision.
The show is organized by San Francisco artist Wayne Smith, who inherited numerous Early California landscape paintings from his longtime friend and neighbor, Edan Hughes (the author of Artists in California: 1786-1940). Over many years, Hughes and Smith had an ongoing dialogue about the merits of representation versus abstraction.
Wayne Smith lives and makes art in San Francisco, working primarily in drawing and sound. His visual work has been shown locally and internationally, most recently at Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland Oregon; Iceberg Projects, Chicago Illinois, and Republic, Vancouver British Columbia. His sound/music work combines field recording, improvisation and digital manipulation.
Simon Tran + Kari Simonsen
Both Simon Tran and Kari Simonsen’s works offer different reflections on the power of nutrients. Nutrients help sustain life, cultural traditions, memories, or a perspective. Much of the work depicts the artists’ own awareness of our current moment, with the hope that the pieces can become the nutrients for future cultures.
Simon Tran (aka Ghost Ghost Teeth) is an artist and educator who focuses on painting, drawing, and installation. His art references the human figure, topography, reconfiguration, and nostalgia. Tran was born in Long Beach, California and recently relocated to San Jose. He received a BA in Art Practice from U.C. Berkeley. Simon taught with Southern Exposure’s Mission Voices youth arts program. Tran has shown with multiple galleries in Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Seattle, Portland, Tuscaloosa, and Denver. His work is in the Capital One collection in Delaware. Simon Tran has done a handful of murals with Dragon School.
Kari Simonsen is a Burmese-Norwegian-American artist. She uses her background in philosophy and language to create small pieces within which reside worlds of thoughtful exercises in translation, understanding, and reiteration. Kari writes in thread, acrylic, and ink, the familiar and reoccurring shapes and patterns found in the environment around her.
Pollinators: Jean McElvane + Mary Mortimer
For the past several years, NIAD artist Jean McElvane has been creating richly retailed sculptures (with found and recycled materials) of nature’s pollinators – butterflies, humming birds, bats and bees. The objects, when finished, are often hung as mobiles, and offer a look at the importance of these creatures in our fragile ecosystem.
Prior to NIAD, Jean McElvane studied art and music at Contra Costa Community College for two years. She also worked as an artist’s assistant. Her paintings and drawings tend toward realism, but the majority of her work is in the craft field, creating meticulously built fiber projects.
When Oakland-based artist Mary Mortimer saw how the border wall would impact migratory pollinators she felt compelled to use the power of her letterpress to help these creatures. All of the proceeds from sales of her amazing prints (celebrating pollinators) will be donated to the National Butterfly Center at the border in Mission, Texas.
Mary Mortimer started out as a painter. Inspired by mentors Amos Kennedy and Alan Kitching, she’s been able to explore painting using type and ink. Every print is an artist’s proof, hand-inked and unique within the edition. The type she uses is antique wood and all prints are made using vintage presses.
NIAD is located at 551 23rd Street in Richmond California. The exhibitions are on view from April 6-25, 2019. Opening reception is Saturday, April 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm with a DJ set from John Everett.