The “Troubled Waters: Drought and Change” art show and exhibit opened last week at the Sun Gallery in Hayward, California. Using art and interactive experiences, the gallery hopes to engage all ages, to not only view the art, but to be inspired by it to make changes in their own water consumption and how they view the environment around them.
In addition to stunning photography of the drought in Death Valley by Wanda Worthington Kersey, the show also includes work by international artists Jean-Marc Brugeilles, Eszter Bornemisza and Anitta Toivio. Brugiellies unique and colorful style is a major presence in the show, along with environmental landscapes, wildlife and plants by local artists Simone Shin, Jae Shin, Bob Newey, Ross Becht, Christine Bender, Dorsi Diaz, Susan Ashley and Jennifer Koney. Colorful acrylic paintings, colored pencil, watercolor and photography bring attention to animals and habitat in work by artists Hollie Adamic, Terry Preston, Christa Schanda, Patra Rae Nesseth-Steffes and Alan P. Haley.
In a piece called “The Guardian” by artist Doyle Wegner, a thoughtful Native American Indian looks mindfully over the desert lands along with its companion piece, a landscape of the Ogallala Aquifer by painter Gerald Thompson. Lushly painted organic vegetable paintings by artist Tina Banda remind show-goers about the importance of sustainable gardening and consumption, which carries a lower carbon footprint than traditional crops. Artist Jan Nolte uses mixed medium and artful postage stamps to create a unique statement about the state of our environment. Dana Mano-Flank’s mixed media work features materials from the environment shaped into colorful and thoughtful pieces about the earth, water and mans impact on the planet.
In a twist of whimsy yet with profound impact, Fremont artists Peter and Maureen Langenbach use recycled materials to bring home the message of drought through their creative sculpture and art. Blending humor with a great deal of meaning, one of Langenbach’s pieces feature a pair of blue Levis that have been creatively painted and cut to represent the California Drought Monitor map being wrung dry, and squeezed through an old washing machine.
In another unexpected twist in the show, a talking fish in an oil soaked tire by Benicia artist Wayne Kohler highlights the sad plight of the states wildlife, not only impacted by the water crisis but as victims of what Kohler aptly names “Industry.” A push button on the tire dares viewers to press it and see what happens.
A highly interactive show, one piece that literally stops viewers in their tracks is the large installation by artist Dotti Chicon and Finland artist Anitta Toivio. The largest installation in the show (at 10′ x 8′) and perhaps one of the most moving. – is a blend of a forest background with moving water projected onto the background. When standing in front of it, the viewers silhouette is projected into the environment, creating an ethereal experience. Once viewers take photos of themselves in the art, another unique piece is created which becomes a new and personal piece of art for each participant.
Excited about the shows prospects, Gallery Director Dorsi Diaz hopes that show-goers will go home with not only a beautiful art experience but a deeper appreciation for the environment and the importance that water plays in our lives. A teaching artist herself, Diaz worked with local schools like Strobridge Elementary teaching them about water conservation through a blend of science and art. The art from the Strobridge students are on display in the show along with colorful collage fish and drought landscapes taught by artist Linda Lens, who teaches the free art Saturday classes held at the gallery on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month.
Local illustrator and author Joe Santiago unveils his newest piece made for the show, which will be the newest character in the 5th book of his series “All Creatures We Love.” Joe’s striking work features an otter and her cub sitting in a fish bowl, with bold and bright primary colors.
An interactive wall in the show has been dedicated to water conservation, engaging viewers to hand in their own ideas by adding them to a water bucket perched on the wall, entitled “Think out of the Bucket.” Local artist Alfred Twu has his own unique addition to the show, a professionally created game called “California Water Crisis” which is not only educational but provides a fun way for families to learn about the drought and conserve water. Alfred’s game sits on a pedestal in the show, inviting viewers to play.
The show has also partnered with the City of Hayward to bring show-goers ideas about how they can conserve water in the now 4 year drought. The City of Hayward, also progressive in its conservation efforts and lauded for its residents lower use of water, offers Hayward residents free flow shower-heads along with rebates for energy efficient toilets and for homeowners who convert their lawns to drought tolerant landscapes.
A new South East Bay 350.org group, an independent spin-off off the National 350.org group, hopes to teach residents the dangers of fracking (which consumers massive amounts of water) and also teach residents how to be pro-active in their conservation efforts.
“I think it’s important to work as a collaboration, as we have in this show,” Diaz says. “It’s going to take all of us together to talk about the water crisis that California is having because of the drought, and look for ways to not only educate people but to teach them about how precious water really is to our daily lives.”
Recognized for its unique outreach and education efforts, the Sun Gallery was awarded the 2015 Environmental award from the City of Hayward last week in the city’s council chambers.
The gallery is also participating in the upcoming East Bay Gives one day fund-raising on May 05, 2015 at 12:00 AM PDT. The East Bay Gives page for the Sun Gallery is at East Bay Gives Sun Gallery if you would like to help support the mission of the gallery which is “Creating Community Through Creativity.” Admission to the gallery is always free and donations are always appreciated as the gallery, now in its 40th year, is a non-profit organization and depends on the support of its community to operate.
The Sun Gallery is located at 1015 E St. in Hayward and the phone number is 510-581-4050. Their website is www.SunGallery.org and features a slide show features a sampling of the art for the upcoming show. An artists reception is planned for Saturday May 9th between 1-4, and refreshments and finger foods will be served. In addition to getting a chance to meet the exhibiting artists, a free art class will be held in the gallery’s art studio. Families are invited to create a colorful earth art project to take home.
You can also find the Sun Gallery on FaceBook.