• The Williamson Gallery at the ArtCenter showcasing "Urbanature" until July 3, 2016 (Photo - Staff).

      The Williamson Gallery at the ArtCenter showcasing “Urbanature” until July 3, 2016 (Photo – Staff).

      Curator Constance Mallinson shares an afternoon with Colorado Boulevard’s Jessica Hardin at the exhibition Urbanature, currently showing at the ArtCenter’s Williamson Gallery (Hillside Campus).

      By Jessica Hardin

      Constance Mallinson has been an LA resident, artist, and writer for the past 35 years, and has taken on the challenge of curating this exhibition.

      “These pieces were selected to highlight the juxtaposition of nature in an urban environment,” Mallinson explains.

      Nature, as a subject for art, in a 19th century way of thinking, is ‘escapism’ or ‘romanticism’. Our world, however, has become increasingly urbanized. Today, 75 percent of the world’s population is urban. Therefore, our idea of ‘nature’ is not what it used to be. It has changed. It has to change. We are part of a vast eco-system, and art and nature have become part of our daily lives.

      The first piece we encountered was by artist Nancy Evans, who creates sculptures using natural materials such as pieces from palm trees found here in LA County. “She’s tapping into a collective need for a spirituality, and re-introducing a real connection as human beings with the natural world”, Mallinson explains.

      Another artist, Linda Stark, incorporates insects and seedlings into her work.

      "Short History" by Constance Mallinson on display at the Williamson Gallery at the ArtCenter (Photo - Staff).

      “Short History” by Constance Mallinson on display at the Williamson Gallery at the ArtCenter (Photo – Staff).

      Mallinson’s own painting, “Short History”, is a large, brightly colored amalgam of items that she has gathered walking about her neighborhood… “Consumer culture run amok…” she says. Indeed, she has gathered leaves, and other bits of nature; but mostly we see trash– brightly colored, filled with corporate logos, and mostly, it seems, marketed toward children.

      Mallinson speaks to her work, “Short History”:

      Advertising has greatly taken over, and cleverly uses ‘escapism’, such as… a car parked in the Redwoods….

      Deer - On the Grid, 2015, Tar and white oil on canvas (Photo - Staff)..

      Deer – On the Grid, 2015, Tar and white oil on canvas (Photo – Staff)..

      Art often causes us to question, and this exhibit certainly does. What is our relationship to nature? As our populations becomes increasingly urban, does our relationship to nature change? What is nature? Does it have to be a form of romanticism, or escapism, or can we appreciate what is in our own (albeit urban) backyards?

      Another artist’s work is that of China Adams, who observed squirrels and charted their movements in a city park.

      Finally, we viewed James Griffith’s work that uses actual tar from the La Brea Tar Pits as his “paint” to capture animals such as bears and deer.

      > Curated by L.A.-based artist and writer Constance Mallinson, Urbanature features works by China Adams, Elizabeth Bryant, Laura Cooper and Nick Taggart, Merion Estes, Nancy Evans, Brian Forrest, James Griffith, Constance Mallinson, Ross Rudel, Fran Siegel, Linda Stark, Coleen Sterritt and Don Suggs.

      Urbanature
      At the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery
      At the ArtCenter Hillside Campus
       1700 Lida St.
      Pasadena, CA 91103.
      Through July 3
      Tuesday - Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.
      Friday: noon to 9 p.m. 
      Closed Mondays and holidays.

      Jessica Hardin is a Pasadena resident and founder/Director of the Pasadena International Film Festival and in her spare time loves to act, sing, and write.


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