Art About Ag exhibits show ‘fertile field’ of choices for top-flight artists
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: January 03, 2014
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
There were more than 100 entries but only 80 were accepted for two exhibits, but no matter where they are displayed or what the media, they all have one thing in common...Art About Agriculture.
The 6th Annual Art About Agriculture exhibit presented by the Ag Art Alliance is now on display at both the Santa Paula Art Museum and the nearby Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum.
The Ag Art Alliance was formed in 2007 by artists John Nichols and Gail Pidduck to promote a greater appreciation of the place of agriculture in our lives by revealing its many facets through the eyes of artists.
The exhibit includes artworks in both two- and three-dimensional media, all inspired by Ventura County’s agricultural heritage and contemporary agriculture. That inspiration can include, but is not limited to, depictions of rural life and landscape, farm animals and products, and art that in a more abstract way deal with issues and ideas related to agriculture.
The first year the show resulted from an invitation to Pidduck, an acclaimed painter and Nichols, an award-winning photographer, to stage a two-day exhibit during the 2007 Ag Classic celebration at Ventura County Fairgrounds/Seaside Park.
Nichols said, “Gail and I looked at the space and asked if we could invite friends,” and the response was overwhelming, with more than 100 pieces.
Art About Ag is always a great show: artists inspired by rural landscapes, farm animals, farm products, rural life or art that in more abstract ways deals with issues and ideas related to agriculture are welcome as is all styles, painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, mixed media, ceramics, batik, metals, even tapestry.
Nichols said the next year the show was scaled back to fit display space at the Santa Paula California Oil Museum but now, “With each year it gets bigger and better,” and the current show was split between the two larger museums.
Exhibited works fulfill the purpose of the show to promote art about agriculture by exploring all of the facets of agriculture from workers to water, machinery to soil, to the food that goes on our plates.
Art About Ag is more than painting and doodads but rather a way of life, a great artistic experience and an educational one too presented by top-flight artists in imaginative and unexpected ways.
At the Ag Museum, Duane Danmeyer’s “Onion Geometry” is solitary and striking while the “Road to Harvest” by Dolas Tubbs shows a simple scene lushly Impressionistic.
You can almost detect the scent of the fruit in “Somis Lemon Orchard After a Rainstorm” by Victor Schiro and a tableau of citrus, pottery and basketry results in fine art as seen with Gail Faulkner’s “Orange Bouquet.”
Other works have obvious touches of whimsy but all reflect Art About Ag and said Nichols, also “Cross promote both museums...”
And resonates with the artists: Nichols said some artists already had works they were exhibiting that fit the theme while others recognized the theme, “Was a fertile field,” he punned, as well as a venue to show their work in “prestigious museums. Once artists participate they catch the bug, they understand that maybe through their art they can help people understand agriculture and help preserve it in Ventura County.”
Agriculture is a subject matter of “So much complexity...you have to address water and labor and hot houses and beneficial insects and farmers markets,” issues that become art shown in the exhibit.
“In Santa Paula we’re a little more surrounded by it,” so locals have more of an appreciation of agriculture from the views it provides to the table it is served on, but “Urban people in Ventura County need this information more than anybody else.”
And Nichols said his and Pidduck’s intention was education: “Agriculture would be exposed, you can’t teach anybody anything until they are aware. So we want to build awareness, give them basic information and then on their own they will dig deeper and deeper for information.
“We want to make them hungry for information as well as for good food...”
Nichols will be offering a Gallery Talk at the Ag Museum on Thursday, January 9 at 2 p.m. and then again at the SPAM at 3 p.m.
The Art About Ag exhibit runs through February 9 at both venues: The Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Avenue and the Santa Paula Art Museum is located within easy walking distance at 117 N. 10th St.
For more information on hours, general admission and other attractions call the Ag Museum at 805-525-3100, or visit www.venturamuseum.org
or the Santa Paula Art Museum at 805-525-5554, or visit www.santapaulaartmuseum.org