Kent Manske's maps of the San Francisco Bay at R. Blitzer Gallery on First Friday. Photo by Traci Hukill.
Last fall, local artist Lisa Hochstein discovered that the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific Coast and Marine Science Center shared more with the R. Blitzer Gallery than an address at the former Wrigley Building—they shared a wall. Struck by the metaphor of this relationship between art and science, Hochstein began musing about their presumed separation. “The two have much in common: a curiosity about the world, an impulse to explore and probe deeply,” she explains.“Both search for aspects of truth. And both recognize that knowledge is elusive and always subject to challenge and refinement.”
Hochstein started a dialogue with Jane Reid, associate center director at the USGS PCMSC, about the possibility of pairing scientists with artists to create collaborative projects based on their scientific research, and received an enthusiastic response. Sixteen scientists from the science center volunteered to participate in the project, and Hochstein hand-picked 16 Bay Area artists specializing in a range of media.
The artists and their potential partners met in January where, much to the surprise of Hochstein, each artist naturally gravitated toward a different scientist, eliminating any need to juggle artistic inspiration with research—a reminder, she says, that everyone sees the world differently.
The result of this collaboration is stunning. The skill of the artists and the dedication of the scientists are equally moving. Through printmaking, textiles, paint, 3D materials and video, the pieces that have been created are as wide-ranging as the research that inspired them. None of the science is lost in their abstract representations; rather, they enhance each other and encourage the observer to probe more deeply into the ways in which art and science observe our changing world.
Rob Blitzer, owner of the R. Blitzer Gallery, is very excited about this exhibition and believes it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. “At this point in our history, both art and the environment are under attack. It’s very important to draw attention to them every way we can.”
Much of the research that’s displayed investigates human impact on natural environments like the coastal sea floor and the San Francisco Bay. The ways in which that’s expressed impresses upon the observer that art, science and community are strands within the same fragile web, where the removal of one means the collapse of them all.
Hochstein agrees. “This is important work on both sides and worthy of support.”
The participants discuss their work and collaboration on Thursday, June 7 and Thursday, June 14 from 7pm to 9pm at R. Blitzer Gallery, 410 Natural Bridges. A $5 donation is suggested, a portion of which will be donated to the Seymour Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab. More information at www.earthscienceartsc.com