Art and the Wild

“Yet most of us, when we think about it, realize that after our own direct experience of nature, what has contributed most to our love of wild places, animals, plants – and even, perhaps, to our love of wild nature, our sense of our citizenship – is the art, literature, myth, and lore of nature.  For here is the language we so desperately lack, the medium necessary for vision.” – Jack Turner, ‘The Abstract Wild‘ (I recommended The Abstract Wild in last week’s post.)

We do not always associate art and wild nature, and yet, as Jack Turner so eloquently points out, art provides us a form of expression which surpasses mere words. Thankfully there are places which bring art and nature together. The people of the Santa Ynez Valley are fortunate to have in their midst a museum dedicated to the art of nature, the Wildling Museum, a place “Where Art and Nature Meet”.

The Wildling Museum was founded twenty years ago. Originally located in Los Olivos, the museum moved to Solvang in 2013. The Wildling’s mission is “to inspire our community and visitors to enjoy, value, and conserve wildlife and natural areas through art.” The Wildling is my favorite museum. My wife and I live in the Los Angeles area and are members of Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) a fine museum to be sure, but we find ourselves visiting the Wildling Museum more often than we do LACMA. The exhibits and the mission of the Wildling Museum speak to me on a emotional level.

This past Saturday was the opening reception for the Wildling’s latest exhibit: Animals: A-Z. The show features art from six countries as well as plenty of works by local artists. The presentation is very well done and showcases many different artistic medium. I’ve included several photos from the exhibit (which do not begin to do justice to the actual pieces depicted) to give the reader an idea of what the show entails.

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Animals: A-Z runs through October 9th, 2017 and is well worth seeing.

The Animals: A-Z opening would have been reason enough for making the drive up north, but as an added bonus, later on Saturday the Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society, in partnership with the Sedgwick Reserve, presented a screening of the new film: ‘Gaviota, the End of Southern California’. Filmed over five years the movie provides an excellent overview of the wild nature of this undeveloped section of coastal Southern California.

The Sedgwick Reserve opened early so we could picnic beneath the majestic oaks of the Reserve prior to the movie. It was a pleasure to dine with my friends Fred and Rebecca (who are an inspiration to me) in this beautiful setting.

One might question how ‘adventurous’ this day was, but to see friends while sampling wine and enjoying fine art, and later sharing dinner with friends beneath old oaks, then learning more about one of the last remaining wild sections of coast in Southern California, well, it would hard to imagine a better way to spend a day. (And I was able to gather some useful information for a fun adventure later in the year.)

Additional Info: The Sedgwick Reserve is open for public hikes from November to June as well as hosting events and classes. It’s a remarkable place and if you haven’t been to the Sedgwick Reserve before I highly recommend it, especially in the springtime.

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