■ Regional show to be juried by Berkeley Art Museum director
By Keri Luiz
It started with a suggestion by Arts Benicia board member Bob Nelson.
Nelson, chair of the nonprofit’s exhibition committee, floated the idea of a show about boats.
As it will in committee — especially those comprised of artists — the idea grew and changed until it became the show that opens with a reception this weekend, “Vessels.”
It’s not about boats, Arts Benicia Director Larnie Fox said.
“I was looking for a show that would fit with what we want to do along the lines of art and environment,” he said, pointing to a grant to the nonprofit from the Benicia Community Sustainability Commission. “Vessels” is a show that “explores the intersections between art and environmentalism.”
Fox said at first he was leaning toward an exhibition about art and ecology, but a field trip to Santa Rosa and the studio of artist Phyllis Thelen brought the “vessels” idea to the fore.
In Thelen’s studio he saw sculptural boats made out of found items, plants and natural products. “Things she had found like husks of palm trees and seed pods, dried weeds,” Fox said.
“They were just magical and very fragile. They really evoked the fragility of the earth, and our relationship with the natural world.”
Lawrence Rinder, director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, will jury the show.
“Getting somebody of his stature as a juror allows us to get people from all over the Bay Area excited about having Larry see their work, and get into a show that he juried,” Fox said.
More than 250 works were submitted for the show, and 55 were selected for the exhibit. About a third of the 39 artists whose work is on display are local.
“It was very competitive,” Fox said. “We got a lot of great applicants from all over the Bay Area.
“It totally met our goal of having something that illustrates the fragility of the Earth, and shows artists using recycled materials. There’s a lot of clay, which is earth. The idea of Earth as a vessel is sort of inherent in this entire thing.”
And the show will, in fact, contain some boats — bringing it back to the original idea by Bob Nelson.
“Humans are in this fragile container at the mercy of Mother Earth on the sea. It’s a great metaphor for how we relate to the earth,” Fox said.
An opening reception for “Vessels” is Saturday, and a panel discussion is scheduled for June 15. “There are going to be people from all over the Bay Area showing up for that one,” Fox said.
“It’s a real feather in our cap to do a regional show like this.”
If You Go
An opening reception for “Vessels” is Saturday from 7-9 p.m. Family Art Day is Sunday, June 9 from 1-3 p.m. A panel discussion will take place Saturday, June 15 from 2-4 p.m. Arts Benicia is located at 991 Tyler St., #114.