Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

Strange Forest

Strange Forest presents contemporary drawings devoted to abstract and surreal dimensions of the natural world. Utilizing techniques of botanical and scientific illustration, six Bay Area artists – Leo Bersamina, John Casey, Masako Miki, Nora Pauwels, Lela Shields and Elizabeth Sims – take on the role of experimental naturalists. Through processes such as painstaking delineation, classification, and focus on the lifecycle, the artists express a deep respect for the flora and fauna of our planet, while at the same time reimagining it.

Looking for encounters that move her, Elizabeth Sims starts with a close observation of nature – a Bristlecone pine and a piece of obsidian – to create large scale drawings that are part realism, part invention. The titles of her work reference artists and fictional characters who have disappeared into the wilderness.

Using an unlikely mix of sea salt, quartz and glitter, Lela Shields creates surfaces on which to depict detailed botanical scenes using gouache, pencil and gold leaf. The uneven and unstable base for the imagery prevents Shields from working perfectly, and represents a kind of metamorphosis as the fragile work is always susceptible to change.

Nora Pauwels’ work focuses on the flora that spreads unchecked around her semi-industrial Emeryville neighborhood. It does not matter what the species of plant is – Pauwels often gathers weeds – rather the leaves, flowers and twigs are collected for their aesthetic subtleties and as markers of the places they determinedly grow.

Inspired by Shinto traditions, Masako Miki’s animals and abstracted scenes represent a space in-between the material and spiritual worlds. Using a palette of primarily blue and white, these colors can be interpreted as symbolic of the known and unknown.

Flowers are a metaphor for growth in John Casey’s drawings. On the surface they represent beauty, love and purity. Yet when the flower becomes an appendage growing from one of Casey’s creatures it takes on darker meanings; beauty through unnatural mutation, as well as the ability to persist and thrive in spite of a cancer-like growth.

Leo Bersamina studies nature for its patterns and textures. These elements are simplified and somewhat abstracted in his work, yet at the same time amplified. River rocks become repeating ovals of negative space on a field of black charcoal, the layered forms cannily mimic the rippling of shadows underwater.

Delineating a rock, a weed, a feather; the artists in Strange Forest share an affinity for the natural world. Taking a microscope to nature, their chosen subjects become microcosms for exploring the state of the earth and our place within it.

Extraño Bosque

Extraño Bosque presenta dibujos contemporáneos dedicados a dimensiones abstractas y surrealistas del mundo natural. Utilizando técnicas de ilustraciones científicas y de botánica, seis artistas de la Bay Area (Leo Bersamina, John Casey, Masako Miki, Nora Pauwels, Lela Shields y Elizabeth Sims) asumen el papel de naturalistas experimentales. A través de procesos tales como delineación minuciosa, clasificación y enfoque en el ciclo de la vida, los artistas expresan un profundo respeto por la flora y la fauna de nuestro planeta, mientras que al mismo tiempo lo reinventan.

Buscando encuentros que la emocionen, Elizabeth Sims empieza con una observación cercana de la naturaleza, un pino Bristlecone y un pedazo de obsidiana, para crear dibujos a gran escala que son parte real y parte invención. Los títulos de su obra hacen referencia a artistas y personajes de ficción que han desaparecido en el desierto.

Usando una mezcla poco común de sal marina, cuarzo y purpurina, Lela Shields crea superficies en las que se representan escenas botánicas detalladas con gouache, lápiz y pan de oro. La base desigual e inestable de las imágenes impide que Shields funcione a la perfección, y representa una especie de metamorfosis ya que el trabajo frágil está siempre susceptible de cambio.

El trabajo de Nora Pauwels se centra en la flora que se extiende sin control alrededor de su barrio semi-industrial de Emeryville. No importa cuál sea la especie de planta – Pauwels frecuentemente recolecta malas hierbas – hojas, flores y ramas también son recolectadas debido a su sutileza estética y también porque son demarcadores de los lugares que ellas están determinadas a crecer.

Inspirados en las tradiciones sintoístas, los animales y las escenas abstractas de Masako Miki representan un espacio intermedio entre el mundo material y el espiritual. Utilizando una paleta de colores enfocada en azul y blanco, estos colores se pueden interpretar como símbolos de lo conocido y lo desconocido.

Las flores son una metáfora del crecimiento en los dibujos de John Casey. En la superficie, representan la belleza, el amor y la pureza. Sin embargo, cuando la flor se convierte en una adición que crece de una de las criaturas de Casey, se adquiere significados más oscuros; belleza a través de una mutación antinatural, así como la capacidad de persistir y prosperar a pesar de un crecimiento similar al cáncer.

Leo Bersamina estudia la naturaleza por sus patrones y texturas. Estos elementos son simplificados y algo abstraídos en su trabajo, pero al mismo tiempo amplificados. Las rocas de los ríos se convierten en óvalos repetitivos de espacio negativo en un campo de carbón negro, las formas estratificadas pueden imitar el ondulado de las sombras bajo el agua.

Delineando una roca, una hierba, una pluma; los artistas de Extraño Bosque comparten una afinidad por el mundo natural. Tomando un microscopio para mirar la naturaleza, sus temas elegidos se convierten en microcosmos para explorar el estado de la tierra y nuestro lugar dentro de ella.

Image: Lela Shields, Horsetail, 2017

Small Works

Small Works: Selections by Phil Linhares features original small works of art (up to 14 inches) by California artists, representing a wide range of media, artistic styles and topics. Total cash awards of $1,000.

Juror’s Statement:

“As juror for the Small Works exhibition I was very pleased by the quality of the work submitted.  Approximately 60 works were ultimately selected, the number limited by the available gallery space; more works could have easily qualified otherwise.

Artists often ask exhibition jurors “What are you looking for?” as if the juror is seeking a particular form of expression to make a larger point. My response would be “looking for very good work in any form”; the artworks here illustrate that view.

I want to thank all the artists who submitted work for consideration, and also thank the staff of the Richmond Art Center for their gracious cooperation on every phase of the exhibition.”

Phil Linhares
Small Works Juror

You can read an interview with Phil Linhares here.

About the Juror: Former Chief Curator of the Oakland Museum of California, Philip Linhares has organized numerous exhibitions on contemporary art, including solo exhibitions of the work of Leon Golub, Joan Brown, Jim Nutt, Bruce Nauman, and Ruth Asawa. In the Oakland Museum of California’s recent gallery transformation and reinstallation, Linhares directed the installation on Folk Art and Counter Culture including works by Peter Mason Bond and Martin Ramirez (Folk Art) and Wally Hedrick, Jay DeFeo and Bruce Conner (Counter Culture).


Gina Golledge, Visceral Motion, 2017, linen, upcycled wool, silk, and cotton, silk and wool thread

Annual Members’ Show

About the exhibition: Each year, the Richmond Art Center invites our members at the Individual level and above to participate in our Annual Members’ Show, which will be showcased in our Main and West Galleries. This year’s featured Member Spotlight Artists are John Friedman, Ed Lay, Hilda Robinson, and Sandy Walker.

Please be sure to join us for the Opening Reception on Saturday, June 9, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. Our Members’ Artist Talk will take place on June 16 at 11:00 am.

Artists exhibiting: Tarnel Abbott, Bill Abright, Cassandra Adams, Cristina Alvarez Magliano, Peter Baczek, Donna Barati, Debra Barnes, Kirsten Barrere, Wallace Bastein, Benjamin Beede, Joseph Bellacera, Paula Bellacera, Dave Benoit, Mira Benoni, David Bernard, Jim Billy, Andi Biren, Priscilla Birge, Stephen Bischoff, Ruth Block, Bonnie Randall Boller, Lorraine Bonner, Claire Bowman, Linda Lee Boyd, Jennie Braman, Susan Brand, Stella Breslin, Edythe Bresnahan , Clair Brown, Jayma Brown, Walter Bruszewski, Sheila Cain, Lois Cantor, Donna Caplin, Suzanne Carey, Cherie Carter, Suzanne Cerny, Mari Chovan-Upton, Will Clipson, Kay Coffee, Lorna Cogen, Mort Cohn, Sas Colby, Robin Cooper, Edmund Coppinger, Hélène Paulette Côté, Larry Craighill, Cheryl Crane, Tara Daly, Barbara Daniell, Riti Dhesi, Deb Dyer, Gene Erickson, Danielle Fafchamps, Claudine Feibusch, Donna Fenstermaker, Lorrie Fink, Carole Fitzgerald, Duane Fitzgerald, Mary Fong, Thomas Franco, Nancy Freeman, John Friedman, Kathleen Gadway, Rita Gardner, Marilyn Gee-Cartwright, Carla Gelbaum, Elaine Gerber, Regina Gilligan, Kate Godfrey, Alisa Golden, Edith Goldstein, Sally Goldstein, Kathy Grady, Goodman Gries, Vicki Gunter, Patricia Guthrie, Annie Hallatt, Victoria Hamlin, Colleen Haraden-Gorski, Bryan Harris, Bea Hartman, Larry Hatfield, Ellen Hauptli, Karl Hauser, Katie Hawkinson, Heidi Headapohl, Will Headapohl, Bill Helsel, Jeanne Hendrickson, Marilyn Hill, Susie Hodges, Susan Hybloom, Lisa Jacobs, Carol Jenkins, Carol Jenkins, Dale Johnson, Bill Johnston Jr., Jessica Jordao, Sharon Jue, Myoung Kang, Kristen George Kavanagh, Betsy Kellas, Betsy Kendall, Holly King, Fred Kling, Elisabeth Koss, Lisa Krepela, Doris Kretschmer, Carol Ladewig, Eloise Larson, Allen Lavee, Diana Lawrence , Robbin Légère Henderson, Ed Lay, Sue Levin, Linna Lippke, Malcolm Lubliner, Lynn Maack, Barbara Maricle, Michael Maszk, Vicky McAdams, Erin McCluskey Wheeler, Susan Meinke, Kat Mill, Donovan Miller, Judy Miller, David Mintim, Steven Morales, Gordon Morris, Claire Murphy, Dawn Nakashima, Irene Nelson, Bernadette Ngai, Shamy Noily, Stephen Nomura, Fletcher Oakes, Owen Oakley, Karen Ondracek, Elmarise Owens, Anne Meade Paden, Rachel Padilla, Shirley Parini, Javier Perez, Heli Perrett, Lucy Phenix, Rich Quade, Lynda Reed, Jimmy Reina, Virginia Rigney, Solveig Roberts, Hilda Robinson, Joseph Rogers, Mark Rosenthal, Brian Rothstein, Linda Ruiz-Lozito, Elke Savala, Jabali Sawicki, Victoria Sawicki, Susan Schneider, Karen Schwartz, Stephanie Scott, Andrea Segall, Joani Share, James Shefik, Michael Shemchuk, Amrita Singhal, Allison Skidgel, Joseph Slusky, Bertrell Smith, Maryly Snow, Sophie Stathakos, Larry Stefl, John Steinberg, Jan Stevenson, Bethia Stone, Lynn Sullivan, Ruth Tabancay, Phoebe Tanner, Claudia Tarantino, Leitha Thrall, Pam Stefl Toki, George Tomberlin, Toby Tover, Susan Tureck, Sandy Walker, Catherine Waller, Marlene Walters, Wei-Jing Wan, John Wehrle, Susan Wehrle, Eleanor Day West, Marcy Wheeler, Heather Wilson, Albert Wong, Danielle Wright, Jan Wurm, Dave Yoas, Clarie Young, Susan Zimmerman


Hilda Robinson
Jump So High
oil pastel on paper

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