“So many people have an romance with West Marin and love it so much. Yes, it’s the vistas and the food and the kayaking and the beaches and all of these things are really amazing; but they would just be sites if it wasn’t for the underlying energy that exists in the space. It’s the artists and makers who create that energy, but a lot of the artists out there are very reclusive so they’re not a very obvious element of what makes [West Marin] so special.”
Midway Gallery resident artist, Isis Hockenos was born and raised by artist parents in Marshall, CA. As part of her residency, Isis is curating RHIZOSPHERE: Celebrating West Marin’s artists & creative legacy from 1960-today, opening Friday, March 24th at The Midway Gallery.
The sprawling group show will feature 58 artists from Inverness, Marshall, Pt. Reyes, and the surrounding areas, exhibiting a selection of hand-made pieces in a variety of mediums. From painting to ceramics, to textile and photo, RHIZOSPHERE invites visitors to experience the artistic vibrancy hidden within the natural beauty of West Marin.
“Rhizosphere” is the nutrient-rich soil which directly surrounds the roots of a plant providing it with the necessary microbes for healthy growth. Reflecting on the name of the upcoming show, Isis explains how it’s the perfect analogy for West Marin:
“I think of the environment of West Marin as being the rhizosphere to the root structure of artists who create the blossoming plant, which is their work. Just like the rhizosphere provides all the important microbes to the root structure, so the environment of West Marin gives that inspiration to the artists in order to grow this amazing community.”
While curating the show, Isis was struck by the familial ties running through West Marin’s artistic community. With six sets of parent/child makers, numerous sets of life partners and countless examples of cross-pollination among all of the artists, the community’s tight weave–was impossible to overlook and became another element explored in RHIZOSPHERE.
This amalgam is exemplified by wood-artisan Kelson Isaiello who uses local wood to hand-carve tools and drafting pencils that are used by several artists in the show. Marilyn Beck, who creates whimsical mixed-media compositions, used Kelson’s drafting pencils and ink pens for the work she’ll be exhibiting in RHIZOSPHERE. Ido Yoshimoto, wood-sculptor and printmaker, also employed a number of Kelson’s tools to produce his pieces.
A selection of Kelson’s tools will be for sale and on display in a glass case for which he constructed the base.
In addition to spotlighting West Marin’s esoteric artisan community, Isis hopes to bridge the gap between the younger and older generation of artists. She believes it’s a time for the younger artists, composed of native-residents and a few transplants, to “take up the mantle” while forging a mutual system of support between themselves and veteran artists. This could be by way of sharing a studio-space in exchange for assistance with web-design and social-media management.
For community heads who have passed Isis would like to see their spaces revived by emerging artists whose work will in turn be influenced by the space. She has seen the success of such a project with Ido Yoshimoto’s presence in renowned Inverness artist JB Blunk’s, home-studio. Isis explains:
“JB Blunk passed away in 2002. He had an amazing hand-built house and studio space he shared with ceramicist and artist Rick Yoshimoto. Rick’s son, Ido, is [now] using his dad and JB’s studio space for his shop, and his work is directly inspired by JB’s. He’s getting a lot of that inspiration from this particular environment. In exchange [Ido] is giving back to the space. It’s not a shrine to JB, his tools are being used, things are moving around, things are being revitalized in a way that it doesn’t let [the legacies of the artists who came before] become stale and stagnant; which is tempting to do with artists because their spaces are so special. But if you just leave it encapsulated like that it loses the magic and being able to carry that forward is very important.”
Although RHIZOSPHERE primarily focuses on West Marin visual artists and their work, the exhibition will also feature a fair on Saturday, April 1st (4-10pm) which shifts the focus to food and music. This exciting one-day event perfectly fits with The Midway’s mission to bring diverse disciplines together, in this case connecting art, food, and music.
As part of the festivities, The Midway’s culinary team will be collaborating with Matt Elias, visiting chef from (previously) West Marin’s Saltwater Oyster Depot (and most recently of his new food truck The Bodega CA) , to create a special menu of West Marin focused eats for the evening. There will also be 6 musical bands gracing the space, including Luke Temple and The Jeffrey Manson Band, with beats inspired by the Northern California community, and performance artist Diana Marto activating the space throughout the evening.
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RHIZOSPHERE: Celebrating West Marin’s artists & creative legacy from 1960-today opens on Friday, March 24th with a reception from 6 to 9pm at 900 Marin St, San Francisco.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, March 24 – Sunday, April 9, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, March 24th, 6-9pm
Fair: Saturday, April 1, 4-10pm
Artist Talks: Friday, April 7, 6-9pm
Open Wed/Thurs/Fri by appointment & Sat/Sun 12-6pm
Photos courtesy of Isis Hockenos