Museum’s Festival Marries Art With Nature


By Daniella Walsh | LB Indy

Elizabeth Turk’s elaborate “Seashell,” a work carved from stone, will be part of her first museum exhibition.
Elizabeth Turk’s elaborate “Seashell,” a work carved from stone, will be part of her first museum exhibition.

Performance art, exhibitions on renowned environmental artist Lita Albuquerque and marble carvings of Elizabeth Turk, an already sold-out secret culinary soiree and lecture on naturalist John Muir highlight Laguna Art Museum’s Art & Nature exposition in November.

Museum director Malcolm Warner promised at the inaugural event last year to endeavor to make succeeding ones surpass the previous in ambition and scope.

“The fusion of art and nature does not only result in landscape painting. Nature can inspire great and both are essential to Laguna Beach,” he said this week, describing this year’s planned events.

His inspiration came from the Center for Art+Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, a unique institution that encourages art based on interaction between man and nature, including architecture and virtual environments, and which offers resources for artists, scientists and scholars to interact.

Laguna’s second Art & Nature festival will continue on a similar track, minus some organizational glitches of last year, he said.

Beginning on Thursday, Nov. 6, and coinciding with the First Thursday Art Walk, galleries like Art Cube, Artists Republic4Tomorrow, De Rus Fine Arts, The Redfern Gallery, Joann Artman, Kelsey Michaels, LCAD on Forest and Peter Blake will stage exhibitions based on themes illustrating the symbiotic relationships between nature and art.

A scheduled banquet staged by environmental artist and star chef Jim Denevan, to be held in a secret beach site, is already sold out. “It only took a few days and all tickets were gone,” said Warner of the event, which Denevan usually holds in bucolic Northern California locations.

On Friday, Nov. 7, Terry Gifford, a writer and environmental scholar, will give a lecture titled “John Muir: Transatlantic Influences,” the symposium’s keynote speech. It addresses Muir’s connection to art and artists in a transatlantic context and coincides with the centennial of Muir’s death.

Saturday, Nov. 8, starts with a sunrise performance of “An Elongated Now,” created by Lita Albuquerque and starring roughly 200 volunteers. She is seeking recruits as young as ninth-graders.

She choreographed the performance to accompany or interplay with her museum installation “Particle Horizon.”

Forming an arc close to the waves, the troupe will slowly wend its way into the museum and remain indoors until sunset when a smaller group will emerge onto the beach carrying blue lights. “The performance stretches time and is a testimony to the power of collective humanity and its collaboration with nature,” said Albuquerque.  Basically, she ruminates on the passage of time and how humanity perceives it, what is retained from events and what is lost in transition between time spheres.

Later that morning there will be a screening of “Mana,” a documentary film spotlighting the work of 10 California artists who incorporate love of the ocean into their aesthetic. During that early afternoon, the museum will host the panel discussion “Nature into Art” with painter Andy Moses (son of Ed Moses), Gifford, environmentally oriented contemporary art historian James Nisbet of UC Irvine, Oceana’s program director Geoff Shester and sculptor Elizabeth Turk, whose installation of intricate marble carvings titled “Sentient Forms” will have been on view since Oct. 12.

During that Saturday morning, viewers can also take in “Mana,” a documentary film following the creative path of 10 artists inspired by their love for the ocean or its immediate environment.

The day will rock out with local Matt Quilter’s “Surf’s Way Up: Our Surf Music Heritage,” including music and a presentation by Quilter.

Sunday, Nov. 9 will offer a “Family Festival,” a cornucopia of activities designed for the very young and up, including a portable aquarium provided by Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific.

“For all aspects of this year’s Art & Nature, volunteers are very welcome,” said Warner.

The museum has created a website extension covering events, times and contents.

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