Solvang’s Wildling Museum features student-driven ‘Inspired by Nature’ photo exhibit
‘Inspired by Nature’
When: through May 27, 2019
Where: Wildling Museum of Art & Nature, 1511-B Mission Dr. in Solvang
Gallery hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (closed Tuesday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
It may be called the Yearbook and Media Class, but this Solvang School group of seventh- and eighth- graders have had something on the brain of late: the call of nature, with cameras at the ready. In the current exhibition “Inspired by Nature,” on the third floor of Solvang’s Wildling Museum of Nature & Art, 24 students show their photographic wares on the theme of nature, from Santa Barbara County’s natural bounty and from afar.
The show, organized by Wildling Executive Director Stacey Otte-Demangate and judged by illustrious Santa Barbara-based photographer (and naturalist) Bill Dewey, encouraged the students to pay close attention to nature, with an artful objective. The project embodies the museum’s twin focus, as a showcase for “Nature & Art.”
And the winners are: Zoe Kazali, first place, Evan Gotschall, second place, and third-place winner Sebastian Cote. Alyssa Spanier, the class’ teacher, commented that “as soon as I told the students about this opportunity, their eyes lit up. They were eager to show their best work in a professional setting.”
Learning process plays an obvious role in the project, as seen in the texts written by the students, reflecting on their work. In the appraisals, they describe the high points and inspirations experienced through the work, but also what they would change about the image. For Paige Holmes’ “Dusk,” for instance, she expressed disappointment that the macro-focused image of fresh, post-rain grass had one presumably distracting out-of-focus blade in the foreground.
On the other hand, the stray de-focused grass blade adds a quirky touch to the end result. The moral of the story: artistic success is a highly subjective matter, for maker and beholder.
Each of the prize winners meditates on a distinctive place and pictorial strategy. First place winner Zoe Kazali had her own perspective on verdant greenery with her image “Evergreen,” a crisp, chilled close-up of pine tree details in the California Sierras. It is a gentle glistening, snowflake-flecked ode to natural beauty.
Closer to home in the north County, second place winner Evan Gotschall’s “Tranquil Waterfall” celebrates an iridescent array of light and color at Nojoqui Falls, a short drive away from Solvang.
The blend of shimmering water and the fall’s hardened rock face mixes in with a blurring effect around the upper edges of the image. Meanwhile, Sebastian Cote’s “Silhouette Tree” is a romanticized vision, with a gnarled oak tree highlighted in silhouette against a setting sun.
Sun, and its visual effects, as subject became a recurring theme for several students here. Jesus Rodriguez Valdez’ “Sunlight” deals with sun and cloudscape, while a precisely-placed sunbeam on a blossom is the point-of-focus in Diana Duenes’ “Bright Flower.”
The sun is a beaming presence-sun spots and all-in the black-and-white sky study “Here Comes the Sun,” by Tristan Lake.
Slices of nature from near and distant places are also part of the show’s overall scheme. Sophie Curtiss’ “A Moment Suspended in Time” captures a special, serendipitous moment at the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach, when a butterfly landed on the photographer’s hand-as if on cue for a photo op.
Shot on Catalina Island, Logan Woodall’s “Poppies” take in a sensuous orange swath of wildflowers and, by contrast, a prickly cactus in the foreground. From another place and topography entirely, Cole Correll’s “Cold Morning” presents a palpably wintry, broad view of the snow, mountainous expanse in Sandpoint, Idaho. The title tells all, enhanced by the young photographer’s sensitive eye.
Expanding formative photographic skills while sensitizing appreciation of nature are clearly the core values delivered by this Wildling project. That story and mission continues, as the Museum plans to have another juried art show for juniors in the near future.