Thursday, April 17, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Pence Gallery: Art with a message

Lisa Reinertson's "Neptune's Daughter" captures a young woman cradling a pelican. The artist studied with renowned sculptors Manuel Neri and Robert Arneson at UC Davis in the 1980s. Courtesy photo

Last night, I was explaining the difference between “endangered” and “dangerous” to my 4-year-old. We had just received a Sierra Club map showing where all the endangered animals live.

My daughter, not to be fooled by the dangerous (and endangered) grizzly bear, pointed out that there were so many wonderful animals on this list. Her comment reminded me of a Jane Goodall excerpt from “Hope for Animals and their World,” that warned that at least a quarter of mammal species are headed for extinction in the very near future. One-quarter — this number seems hard to fathom.

Sometimes, really good art can impart more information and a stronger message than all the facts in the world, though. For more than three years, I’ve been watching Lisa Reinertson work on a powerful series of figures that deal with this same issue of animals on the edge of extinction. Her show, which marks her interest in “bringing the presence of these endangered animals into the room,” opened last Friday, and continues through June 14.

Having studied with renowned sculptors Manuel Neri and Robert Arneson at UC Davis in the 1980s, Reinertson works on a monumental scale, primarily telling her story about animals through the human figure. Her “Neptune’s Daughter” captures a young woman cradling a pelican. The message comes through the artist’s choice of glaze — the white surface of the piece changes to a thickened brown, in what can only be interpreted as oil.

On Saturday, May 18, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Reinertson and Kirsten Gilardi, co-director of the Gorilla Doctors at UC Davis, will give a talk at the Pence Gallery, 212 D St., on the issue of endangered animals. Gilardi’s organization is deeply involved in protecting the mountain gorillas in Rwanda and surrounding countries, a subject that Reinertson is passionate about. Several of her sculptures and one drawing are included in her exhibit, just on the subject of the mountain gorilla. The talk is free and no RSVP is necessary.

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For those of you who haven’t gotten your Garden Tour event tickets yet for the Pence’s annual self-guided tour of seven spectacular gardens in El Macero, there’s still time! Tickets are $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers and $28 on Sunday, the day of the event. From noon to 5 p.m., garden lovers can explore the extensive, mature spring gardens that are blooming right now with all sorts of flowers and new growth. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions as well.

We also have planned an impressive roster of artists who will be painting or demonstrating in the gardens. Tickets include a map and information on plant selection, and can be bought at the Pence, Beyond the Garden Gate, El Macero Country Club, Newsbeat and Redwood Barn through Saturday.

On Sunday, join us at 44290 Country Club Drive to purchase tickets beginning at noon, or grab some at the Pence Gallery. For more information, call 530-758-3370. Kids are welcome; mine love to enjoy the home-baked cookies and other refreshments, and children 14 and younger are free.

The tour is easy to walk or bike — others can park in front of tour homes or at the El Macero Country Club, 44571 Clubhouse Drive.

Hot items in our silent auction area (which grows every year to include more amazing gifts) include great deals on event tickets, restaurants and gifts for your garden. All proceeds from Garden Tour go to support the Pence’s exhibit and education programs, allowing more than 17,000 people last year to visit the gallery for free.

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Speaking of education programs, we are bringing back a great kids songwriting program on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m., led by Dave Nachmanoff. He is a singer-songwriter who will lead participants in writing and recording a group song. It’s amazing to watch him work with kids, as he prompts them to be innovative in coming up with their own lyrics and melody. After he edits the song, we’ll burn them to discs that the kids have decorated, complete with their own cover!

Kids ages 6 and older are welcome. The cost is $5 or $7 for nonmembers, and parents are free. RSVP by Friday to 530-758-3370.

— Natalie Nelson is executive director and curator of the Pence Gallery. Her column is published monthly.

Natalie Nelson

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