Marin County

Rural Culture & Urban Arts: Terroir Wrap

Emily Payne Haven
(2009) site-specific installation
clay, wax, linen thread

After a three month run the Terroir exhibition in Marin County (Northern California), organized by ecoartspace west has closed. This indoor/outdoor exhibition included 28 Bay Area artists and several site-specific installations both indoor and outdoor. A few of the outdoor temporal works were already removed by the time of the closing reception. There are several posts on the Art at the Cheese Factory blog that capture the programs and artists included. Below are a few highlights and additional information.

Overall, it was a well attended exhibition with a high number of people who had not planned to see an art exhibition when they arrived to visit the Marin French Cheese Company. Of the 42 days the gallery was open to the public, attendance was approximately 70 persons per day. Outdoors there was high traffic flow, with up to 10,000 people over the three-month period. There was also a one-week residency, the very first at this site. And, a total of four events including an opening reception, curator’s tour & tasting, artist talk and closing reception. The owners of the cheese factory were closely involved and really appreciated the number of younger conceptual artists included. Our goal was to show work that visitors could relate to with regard to subject matter and that was a new aesthetic than they might expect to see in a local gallery (no landscape paintings or traditional sculpture). The consensus was that the works were engaging and that visitors were surprised to find conceptual art at their local gathering site.


Some highlights include:

Susan Leibovitz-Steinman Land(e)scape (2009) topsoil, rain and pond water all collected on the cheese factory grounds, and acrylic paint Photo ©2009 Jeannie O'Connor

Philip Krohn with Paul Reffell
The Kindling (2009)
11’ X 8’ diameter misc firewood (cypress, douglas fir, eucalyptus, monterey pine)

Mark Brest van Kempen Lineaus Line
2009 approximately 600 ft
(500 tags)

Jessica Resmond Jorge Bachman Shipped
Global Terroir (2009)
58” X 130” 4 inkjet prints/sound component

Lewis de Soto
APPELLATION: Napa 4 (10.12.07)
K3 inks on paper 26″ x 77.5” X 2″ Courtesy Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco

Go to EcoArtSpace

Terroir at the Cheese Factory, Northern California

Finding a venue for both indoor and outdoor art installations, where foot traffic is high, is an art and nature curator’s dream. Last fall, a start up organization called Art at the Cheese Factory, invited me to guest curator the inaugural show at an historic cheese factory in Marin County, 45 minutes North of the Golden Gate Bridge. When I found out that foot traffic at the Marin Cheese Factory is 150,000 visitors a year, my immediate response was “lets do it.” I cannot tell you how many times I have organized group shows, working with over twenty artists, and then have 2,000 people actually come see the show during a two month viewing. It is so much work that I often wonder to myself “why do I do this?” After curating Hybrid Fields in 2006, in Sonoma County, I realized that art and agriculture, combined, are a regional favorite that captures the interest of both foodies and art lovers. Here where happy cows, goats, and sheep roam the hillsides, and vineyards abound, the real challenge has been engaging a culture of mostly landscape painters and object makers in a dialogue on the role that contemporary art can play in expanding the conversations on land and aesthetics. Not that there is isn’t an audience that can have this type of conversation, it has mostly been a resistance to what is perceived as an urban or “city” conversation. During a visit to the UK a little over a year ago, what intrigued me was the commitment by the government to support not only the arts in rural areas, but to also raise the level of conversation about the role rural populations play in the larger culture. It is almost as if the artist has been sent from the Art World to acknowledge what remains of the rural lifestyle that existed say in the 1950s and 60s. And, then there is the history of the place that intrigues the artist. Who lived there and why, their stories. These rich remains in rural areas are savored by artists.

Terroir: A Sense of Place is an exhibition of 28 artists from the Bay Area who through paintings, photography, sculpture, installations, and performative events offer their take on a relationship with soil, air, and water; all the elements that make up our watersheds, ecosystems, and local environment.

For more information go to the exhibition blog at http://artatthecheesefactory.blogspot.com

Go to EcoArtSpace