High Rises and Homesteads
When people ask me where I am from, I always say I am from the agricultural part of California. I like that I can walk ten or fifteen minutes from my house in Davis and be in the middle of tomato fields or walnut orchards. I like exploring the back roads, getting off Interstate 5 when I am heading north, and taking 99 West instead. The grain elevators and silos rising high on the horizon attract me. So when I took up painting after I retired, I intuitively gravitated toward agricultural scenes.
Not every work in my part of this show contains a high rise, but agricultural high rises--barns, grain elevators, silos--are my main subject. I used to want to be an architect, and I love the ways these structures mass together. They may be utilitarian, but they are also beautiful pieces of industrial design. I am particularly fascinated by the interplay between the big, simple shapes of the silos and elevators and the intricate detail of the ladders, pipes, vents, and other equipment. One of my aims as an artist is to bring out this beauty through form, color, and pattern.
One way I do this is to try to find a balance between realism and abstraction. I always start out with a realistic photograph of the building, then I zoom in to the particular shapes I want to focus on. I strive for a recognizable building or part of a building, seen from a new perspective that highlights its beauty and uniqueness. It often takes me five or six attempts before I find the right combination of form, structure, and detail.
To me, these paintings are symbolic of the dynamism of California's agriculture and the challenges farmers face. Like other industries, agriculture has had to adjust to the times. Some of the buildings that I've painted no longer function as originally intended. More positively, I am amazed at how farms are responding to environmental issues, by installing drip lines and solar panels, for instance. I like to include these features in my paintings when I can.
Agriculture is an essential part of the vitality of the Sacramento Valley. "Look at us," the buildings seem to say as they rise above the horizon. "See how we are working for you, putting food on your table. See how we feed the world." I hope my viewers, farmers and art lovers alike, come away from the exhibit looking on their agricultural surroundings with new appreciation.Return to Exhibitions page.