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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Northern California Barns: Routes 1 and 128

The coastal California Route 1 and State Route 128 wind through some of the loveliest seaside and rural country in America. The field grasses of late summer have turned light yellow, and wave in the light breezes, providing a contrast to the dark wood or red paint and corrugated zinc roofs on farm and ranch buildings. The barns in Sonoma and Mendocino are for the most part connected to dairy farms, while those in the picturesque Anderson Valley are split equally between dairy and vineyard/orchard uses. Most barns were built in the early part of the twentieth century, and some have fallen into disrepair as land use changes. They still provide a sense of agricultural and vernacular architectural history, however, and are an integral part of what makes the area so beautiful and so intriguing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Box Show

Hangar, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, New York

The annual Box Show will be on exhibit at Gallery Route One, 11101 State Highway One in Point Reyes Station, California from August 9th through September 13th. A public reception will be Sunday, August 9th from 3 pm to 5 pm at the Gallery. Each of the 100 artists invited to submit is provided with an unfinished pine box 7" x 14" x 5" with which to create an original art work. Please join us for this wonderful event!

The Box Show is the major fund-raiser each year for GRO's community outreach programs including Artists in The Schools and The Latino Photography Project. Visitors can submit bids on the art pieces in a silent auction format for the duration of the exhibit, and winners will be announced at the closing reception on Sunday, September 13th.

My piece, a mixed media construction, is titled "Hangar, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, New York". Floyd Bennett Field was New York's original commercial airport, and many of the original 1930s hangars still remain. Some have been converted to new uses including a sports center, while others are abandoned and awaiting new uses. The site and buildings are now administered by the National Park Service.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Mixed Media Art

American Vernacular Landscapes Revisited
Recent media art is currently on display as part of the Gallery Route One Members' Show 2009 at the gallery, 11101 State Highway One, Point Reyes, California through the month of July.
The images include new versions of previously created images as well as new views of Sausalito, California and Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Concrete Roads

Driving on old Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, the old main two lane east-west artery from Point San Quentin to Point Reyes through Marin County, California I was struck by the fact that as a child, many of our weekend "rides" were taken over concrete roads. I clearly remember the pock-eta pock-eta sound and vibration that filtered through the car, and announced our progress through the landscape. The steady rhythm was both annoying and comforting, and I wonder if today's children experience this cause and effect experience. As a child I found the noise and vibration to be annoying when I was trying to read or draw in the back seat, but very comforting when I wanted to take a short nap. During my college years the annoying repeating sound and feel kept me awake on late night drives.

Most of the roads I've traveled lately only have small sections of exposed concrete ribbon with exposed expansion joints still remaining. Where a thin layer of asphalt or wet tar joint compound has been added, the joints still telegraph from underneath the layer, as shown in the photograph of an abandoned section of old Route 66 in Arizona above. In many cases, thick black asphalt has been poured over the concrete and the joints are eliminated. Somehow as our highways became interstates and freeways, something has been lost - a rhythmic reminder that we were actually making progress through time, space, and distance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Las Vegas to Fairfax via back roads

I recently drove north and then west from Las Vegas, Nevada to Fairfax, California on US95, US6, NV120, US395, and US50. The contrasts between the glitzy metropolis of Las Vegas and desert towns like Mercury, Beatty, Tonopah, Bishop and Basalt couldn't be more different. The desert is still impressive - from its wide open spaces and rugged mountains to its hardscrabble settlements. The wandering took me through former mining towns, failed agricultural developments, marginal roadside businesses, and delightful surprises. It's still early spring in the desert, with profuse wildflowers and plants that will be green for only a matter of days before turning brown.
The trip has inspired me to do a new mixed media series based on my photographs of the vernacular landscapes I passed through and experienced first hand. One of the most interesting and isolated places I visited was Bodie, California. On an unpaved road east of Highways US395 and CA270, Bodie is w a state historical park, kept in a state of "arrested decay". The town was an active mining center beginning in the 1880s with a poulation close to 10,000, and was occupied as recently as the late 1960s. Both gold and silver were mined by the Standard Mining Company until 1932, when the mill closed and most of the population left.
Driving these roads means stopping in the small towns to get gas and water even when the tank is half full - you never know when the next station will appear. Most of the stations between towns have been abandoned to the elements, and temperatures ranging from 0 degrees in winter to 115 in the summer means that the decay is rapid. It;s a fascinating journey that proves again and again how big our country is, and how diverse our landscapes are.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Small Mixed Media

A selection of new small mixed media art on canvas and panels by Eric Engstrom are being exhibited at the Annex, Gallery Route One, 11101 Highway One, Point Reyes Station, California through May 10th, 2009. GRO is open from 11am to 5pm daily except Tuesday, telephone: 415. 663 1347; website:

Using existing photographs of vernacular American buildings that have been converted to mixed media collage paintings, the exhibition focuses on underutilized small town buildings, their contextual presence in the landscape, and their transformation into to new cultural/artistic resources. The Hazen, Arkansas railroad depot is now a small local history museum, the railroad line having been abandoned many years before. Several North Adams, Massachusetts brick mill buildings have been creatively revitalized as the new Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMOCA), featuring edgy, avant-garde art exhibits.

The re-use of old buildings for new purposes is a way to preserve our heritage, as well as to recycle usable structures and supprt sustainable practices.

Friday, January 2, 2009

January 2009

I'm exhibiting "Nick's Cove, Marshall, West Marin" at the Gallery Route One Annual Juried Show in Point Reyes from January 16th through February 16th. I'm really enjoying being an Artist Member of this 25-member organization of artists now celebrating its 25th anniversary - they are a terrific community-oriented group. The opening is Sunday afternoon, January 18th from 3 to 5 pm at 11101 Highway One in Point Reyes Station.

In other news, I've just returned from spending the holidays with friends and family "back east" in Massachusetts and New York City, where I added many new photographs, especially of Cape Cod under a blanket of snow and of old hangars at Floyd Bennett Field in the outer reaches of Brooklyn, New York.

2009 will hopefully be a great year for one and all - Happy New Year!