Nancy Macko: The Fragile Bee
Terry Arena: Simbiotic Crisis: Northeast
Rooftop Terrace & Entry Atrium
Gary Brewer: Secrets and Emanations
Wells Fargo Gallery
Debi Cable: Glow
Candice Gawne: Lumen Essence
Lisa Schulte: Essence of Time
South Gallery, Top of Stairs & Jewel Box
Mud Baron: #flowersonyourhead
Jamie Sweetman: Affinities
8,000 Years of Antelope Valley History
Curated by Anthropoligist Dr. Bruce Love
Nancy Macko: The Fragile Bee
Since the early nineties, Nancy Macko has drawn upon images of nature—in particular the honeybee society—to explore the relationships between art, science, technology and ancient matriarchal cultures. Until recently, she combined elements of painting, printmaking, digital media, photography, video and installation to create a unique visual language. This combination of media allowed her to examine and respond to issues related to eco-feminism, nature and the importance of ancient matriarchal cultures, as well as to explore her interest in mathematics and prime numbers in particular, in which she endeavored to make explicit, the implicit connections between nature and technology. Since 2005, she has been developing a body of purely photographic work that takes the viewer into a space of light, air and unfamiliar textures. Using a macro lens to shoot nature subjects from her garden at close range, the images are then realized as large scale photographic works.
As a social practice, Macko’s work addresses life’s fundamental questions. She photographs the process of the life and death of plants that are a metaphor of our brief existence. Increasingly threatened by encroaching development, plants remind us how fragile the whole ecosystem is; for example, there is still a very serious concern over the longevity of honeybees.
For two decades, Macko has worked with honeybee imagery and media to imagine a utopia where the power and strength of women would be recognized and celebrated. The bees became the metaphor because of their cooperative and unified nature in literally creating the hive, protecting the queen and foraging for food to feed all. In 2009, her focus shifted to examining the flora they draw nourishment from and so carefully attend through the process of pollination. In essence, the bees experience memory loss when they “disappear.” Global research has determined that pesticides and fungicides containing neonicotinoids enter the bees’ nervous systems when they pollinate causing them to experience a form of dementia, which then prevents them from finding their way back to the hive.
Grassroots groups like SumOfUs have organized protests and gatherings to raise their voices against bee-killing pesticides and the corporations that manufacture them. We are reaching the point where our global ecosystem is straining, and the threat to the bees is becoming a threat to all of us. As bees die off, up to a third of the food we consume is threatened and food prices are already being affected around the world.
Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute released a report in August 2013 detailing how some “bee friendly” home garden plants, such as sunflowers, sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s and other garden centers have been pre-treated with the very neonic pesticides shown to harm and kill bees. “The Save America’s Pollinators Act” is included in the next Farm Bill in Congress and the EPA has released rules and new labels for pesticides containing neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam). These labels feature a special warning and prohibit use of these products where bees are present. While this is a good sign, it is not enough. We know that bees need more protection and we need more research so that we can better understand the impacts of these and other pesticides on pollinator habitat. As our farms become monocultures of commodity crops like wheat and corn—plants that provide little pollen for foraging bees—honeybees are literally starving to death. If we do not do something, there may not be enough honeybees to meet the pollination demands for valuable crops.
As the disappearance of the bees grows more and more dire, Macko’s sense of responsibility to saving them and all of us has also grown. As an artist one way Macko approaches this issue is to study and photograph the plants that attract the bees in Southern California and in different regions of the country. Working with native plants from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, CA, she is completing a series of photographic “portraits.” As an avid gardener, Macko has also created a drought tolerant space in her garden for these plants to attract the bees. In the future, she wants to continue to document and understand the disappearance of the bees in terms of comparative visual documentation by visiting botanical gardens throughout the United States talking to curators, botanists and horticulturists about it.
Originally from New York, Macko received her graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. A practicing artist since the early 1980s, she has produced more than 20 solo exhibitions and participated in over 150 exhibitions, both nationally and abroad. She has received more than 30 research and achievement awards for her art. She has traveled extensively and has had highly productive artist residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada and the Musee d’Pont Aven in Brittany, France. Macko’s work is in numerous public collections including: Denison Library and the Samella Lewis Collection of Contemporary Art at Scripps College; the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Bell Gallery at Brown University; the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, UCLA Hammer Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Mount Holyoke College Museum of Art; the New York Public Library; the North Dakota Museum of Art; Pomona College Museum of Art; Gilkey Center for Graphic Art, Portland Art Museum and the RISD Museum of Art. Macko is Professor of Art at Scripps College in Claremont, CA.
Terry Arena: Symbiotic Crisis: Northeast
Terry Arena explores the vulnerability of the honeybee and, in turn, our food sources through highly technical, rendered drawings. The growth of one-third of the crops we eat are supported by pollination from honeybees. This is to include direct consumables such as fruits, vegetables and nuts and indirectly in the crops that are grown to facilitate the production of meat and dairy products. The role of the honeybee is so integral to crop propagation that bees are transported by trucks to farmlands in need of pollination. Recently, the mysterious vanishing of the bees has been covered in public media. Though studies have been conducted, causes of the decline in the bee population are not yet definitive.
Considering the ideas of our relationship with the environment and impact bees have on our food sources, Arena’s detailed renderings are drawn on food tins and repurposed materials. The reductive, yet analytical nature of the graphite drawings is reminiscent of nature studies and botanical drawings of old masters. Though the appearance and quantity of drawings is somewhat mechanized, each one is unique and handmade from collected source materials.
Terry Arena received her Master of Arts degree in Painting at California State University, Northridge in 2009. Recently, Arena’s work was part of a two-person show at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California and she completed a series of mobile installations housed in a box truck last fall. In addition, she has had three solo shows of her graphite still life renderings at Sinclair College in Ohio and the Ventura and Moorpark Colleges in California. Her work has been included in various group exhibits such as Sweet Subversives: Contemporary California Drawings at the Long Beach Museum of Art in Long Beach, City and Self at Red Pipe Gallery in Chinatown, Chain Letter at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica and Revisiting Beauty at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana. Arena currently lives and works in Ventura.
Gary Brewer: Secrets and Emanations
For many years, Gary Brewer has been developing a vocabulary to articulate through images and metaphors, the mystery and history of life. His vivid oil paintings present subjects such as: orchids, lichens, corals, pollen and seeds—biological life forms suspended in space. Brewer uses their complex design and compelling architecture as metaphors for the history of life on earth and of human consciousness.
In his newest works Brewer has included the mapping of “Dark Matter”, a gravitational structure that is web-like: ordering and organizing galaxies into clusters—an invisible lattice structuring the known universe. For Brewer, our lives are lattice-like in the hidden web of connections that link us to our past and send tendrils into a future resonant with meaning.
Brewer states: “I was raised in Lancaster. My father was a test pilot and later became an engineer in the aerospace industry, working to land a man on the moon. As a young child we would walk to the end of our street, which dead-ended at the edge of the desert to watch the X-15 coming in for a landing after skirting the edge of the atmosphere. It was here that the first philosophical musings arose in my young mind. When I stood on the pavement of our street I was in ‘civilization’, but by simply stepping over the edge onto the desert sand I was back in ‘nature’ among the road runners, jack rabbits, horny toads and kangaroo rats that were my companions on my excursions into the wilds. There is something strangely poetic about my return to Lancaster where I spent my youth, to exhibit art works that still vibrate with those philosophical musings of a young boy standing on the edge of the desert, gazing up to the stars and exploring the universe at his feet.”
Brewer is a self-taught artist raised in the Mojave Desert. He has curated two major exhibitions, Them; Artists, Scientists and Designers Concerned with the Entomological World SOMARTS, San Francisco, CA in 1999 and The Age of Wonder; Artist’s Engaged with the Natural World Turtle Bay Museum, Redding, CA in 2011. His work has been exhibited in galleries located in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and are in private, corporate and museum collections throughout the United States. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
Debi Cable: Glow
Debi Cable creates colorful immersive art experiences through her fluorescent hand-painted murals. Subjects often incorporated include flowers, butterflies, geisha’s and dragons. She also creates full environments such as underwater visions, voyages through space and Alice’s Wonderland. Furthermore, her hand painted murals leap off the canvas through her signature accessory, 3D ChromaDepth® glasses.
Debi Cable's artistry was recognized early in her career, when the California native was invited to show at the prestigious “Festival of Arts,” in Laguna Beach, California. Then, after honing her talents for several seasons at the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival, Debi's faux finishing skills became renowned and she was invited to Las Vegas to paint some of the most amazing hotels, casinos and private residences in the world. Cable's return to Los Angeles has led to the detailed restoration of many landmark venues including the Los Angeles and Palace Theater on Broadway. Her latest personal project, a dazzling 120 foot long blacklight koi fish mural, is located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles on 4th and Main Street.
Debi Cable presently lives at the world renowned Brewery Artist Colony and is one of the most prominent up and coming blacklight artists in the country. Debi also supports the growth of her fellow artists by sitting on several committees that promote and market the vibrant arts scene of downtown LA. Formerly the co/founder/art curator for Pershing Square, she is now the Burning Man Regional arts director for Los Angeles allowing her to bring vast, public attention to some of today's hottest artists.
Candice Gawne: Lumen Essence
Candice Gawne is a Los Angeles artist living and working in San Pedro, California. Since 1975, her oil paintings, neon sculptures and art furniture have been exhibited in galleries and museums in Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Berlin, Tokyo and Taiwan.
Her neon sculptures are inspired by the fluid grace and endless variation of form found in the inhabitants of the seas and botanical realms. Through electricity, the noble gasses krypton, neon, xenon and argon are transformed to illuminate glass sculptures that show the color and energy of life. Glass, at once translucent and reflective, contains the light as form and energy are revealed. Thus, Gawne states “my invisible feelings of love for the natural world appear as ‘jewels of light’ in glass."
For Gawne, light also creates a special kind of abstract energy within the space it describes. She uses light coming into the darkness to symbolize a point of transformation.
Candice Gawne studied art at El Camino College and UCLA and has served as an art educator at MOCA, LACMA, OTIS College of Art and Design, ISOMATA, Los Angeles Union School District, the Cultural Affairs Department for the City of Los Angeles and many other public and private schools and institutions. She is currently a resident teaching artist for the Arts Council of Long Beach. She has original work in many corporate, public and private collections including those of Frederick R. Weisman, The Corning Museum of Glass, Charles and Lydia Levy, Doug Simay, Janine Smith, Dr. Cassie Jones, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium at the Port of Los Angeles, late actor Robin Williams, dancer Paula Abdul, director Penny Marshall, Stephen Reip and artists Eric Johnson, Lili Lakich and D. J. Hall.
Lisa Schulte: Essence of Time
Essence of Time (Hidden Beauty) is a body of neon work that began as a form of catharsis for self-taught neon artist Lisa Schulte. During a reflective time in her life, she reflected on what was important to her and what was not. She questioned what things, energies and people needed to be placed in the past to allow her to move forward into the future. Pondering these questions during a walk on the beach, Schulte was captivated by the ever changing beauty of pieces of wood that had drifted onto shore. The changes were infinite; influenced by water, sand, clouds, and, of course, light. With these images in mind, she set out to create a body of work that would transcend that same sense of change and contrast in the human experience.
Schulte states: “From beginning to end, life is an extraordinary, beautiful journey full of contrast and contradictions. As humans we are much the same on an anatomical level but uniquely different based on our experiences and influences. Essence of Time is a look at this journey.”
The neon artworks were created with different size neon glass tubes that show the strength and gentleness of each piece of dried wood. For Schulte, the “dead” roots, branches, and various other materials used, represent the passage of time and our basic sameness. It also reflects that there is a beauty in all things, regardless of age. The noble gas, argon, reflects how life affects each of us differently; while each piece of glass is pumped with argon, with a small drop of mercury added, the colors of white, which range from the warmer whites to the cooler whites, show that by simply changing color and temperature, a different personality and/or feeling is achieved from each piece.
For Schulte, the choice to use only white neon in this body of work is “a symbol of the beginning, the new, a lightness, the good and innocence, just as the wood chosen represents the beauty in aging and strength that lives on.”
Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Schulte currently resides in Hollywood and works from her studio in North Hollywood, California. Her work has been exhibited in many galleries across the United States including exhibits at the Museum of Neon Art and commissioned pieces for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Images of her artwork have also been published in many online art magazines, several books, magazines and a science text book for 10th graders. Schulte’s neon sculptures are also featured in many private collections.
Mud Baron: #flowersonyourhead
Mud Baron is a farmer, teacher, activist, artist and social media whiz. As the executive director of John Muir High School’s urban community farm, Muir Ranch, he runs the only hands-on teaching farm of its kind in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The farm makes fresh, organic goods and gorgeous flowers accessible to underserved communities and introduces the love of farming into the public education system. Baron and his students sell at farmers markets, host farm to table dinners and provide original floral designs of increasing popularity. As creator of the Plug Mob, a free seedling program mostly for young students, Baron leverages donations from major gardening companies to help cultivate more school gardens throughout Southern California.
It helps in getting the word out that this farmer and dahlia aficionado also has a knack for leveraging social media. He won the Shorty Award (think Oscars of Social Media) in 2012 in the category #Food; and his Twitter and Instagram accounts @cocoxochitl have some 32,000 followers combined. He is a superstar in the “photos of beautiful flowers” internet community; and that is because Mud Baron is also an artist.
His interactive performance-based photography project, #flowersonyourhead, developed from the simple realization that all kinds of people love flowers. He carries exotic, fragrant Muir Ranch-grown bouquets to public places, convincing friends and total strangers to be photographed with, as the name suggests, flowers on their heads. Disarming, intimate and art-historically evocative, this ongoing portrait series proves that flowers are food for the soul and the seeds of change can take root anywhere.
Baron states: “If you look at the development decisions that are made by business and local politicians, what we get constantly is a stream of strip malls and concrete. You can’t eat that. Other species don’t eat that, either. What might seem like a trivial Martha Stewart-esque effort, isn’t. With #flowersonyourhead, I’m doing [environmental artist] Andy Goldsworthy but including people into my art.”
In the future, Baron would like to develop a charter school with a maker curriculum and is currently working to raise funds to install a new aquaponic system at Muir Ranch.
Jamie Sweetman: Affinities
As an avid gardener and former biomedical illustrator, the natural world serves as a primary influence on Jamie Sweetman’s artwork. Recently, she has focused on drawing, using monotype on mylar with colored pencil, ink and marker. Sweetman looks for form and structure in the complexity of nature through layered drawings that often merge human anatomy with plant life. This process originated with Sweetman’s experience and studies in human dissection. She states, “The structure of the growth pattern of a wisteria or kiwi vine is similar to the veins and arteries of the human circulatory system. Viewing a cross section of the cerebellum of the human brain reveals the shape of a tree. The similarity continues when you look at tree branches, root systems, river beds viewed from the sky and lightning.” Sweetman also draws on fractal geometry as one explanation for these phenomena. According to Benoit Mandelbrot, "Fractal geometry plays two roles. It is the geometry of deterministic chaos and it can also describe the geometry of mountains, clouds and galaxies."
Sweetman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). She has exhibited across Southern California and is in several private and public collections including Paramount Pictures and Saxum Vineyards. Sweetman teaches Anatomy for Artists at CSULB and the University of Southern California and Printmaking at Azusa Pacific University. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
Bruce Love, Ph.D.: 8,000 Years of Antelope Valley History
Native peoples are here and were always here, a fact easy to forget if we think of California Indians as living in the past, but it has been only a few generations since California missions moved people from their homelands, and ranchers and farmers took over Native hunting and collecting grounds.
Long before the mission period of just 200 years ago, reaching back 8000 years (and possibly 12,000!) the Antelope Valley was home to diverse language groups who practiced long distance trade, social networks, religion, commerce, village life, and all the hallmarks of civilized society including land management and care for natural resources.
Evidence from distant millennia is scarce and many times only recognized by trained archaeologists, but traditions and cultures from more recent times are best understood by the Native peoples themselves. This exhibit attempts to bridge that enormous time span and introduce the visitor to the artifacts and the people, the history and the culture, the archaeologist and the Native.
The exhibit organizer, Dr. Bruce Love, Antelope Valley resident living in Juniper Hills, has a Ph.D. from UCLA in anthropology and has more than thirty-five years experience in Southern California as well as Mesoamerican archaeology, history, and cultural anthropology.
Acknowledgements: Wanda Deal, David Earle, David Em, John Fleeman, Dr. Roger Grace, John Kneifl, Roscoe Loetzerich, Lorence, Stevie Love, Rudy Ortega, Jr., Charlee Reasor, Ray Rivera, Jim Rocchio, Peggy Ronning, Carol Sevilla, Richard Suarez, Del Troy, Charles White, Darcy Wiewall, MOAH Staff, AVC volunteers.