Creative Sovereignty: Recent Works by Gerald Clarke at Sanchez Art Center
Sanchez Art Center is pleased to offer three new exhibitions, opening Friday, July 12, with a reception from 7 to 9 pm. The Main Gallery presents Creative Sovereignty: Recent Works by Gerald Clarke, curated by Sanchez Art Center’s artistic director, Jerry Barrish. The East Gallery hosts a group show of plein air works in Along the Ohlone-Portola Trail. In the West Gallery, the Art Guild of Pacifica presents a group show titled Ancestry. Music for the July 12 reception will be provided by “The Breeze,” aka Jamey Brzezinski.
Gerald Clarke is a Cahuilla Native who lives with his wife and children on the reservation in Riverside County, California, where he runs cattle and has a self-storage business. Having been told he was not college material upon graduating from high school, Clarke studied the welding trade, a move that has stood him in good stead as a sculptor. Now with his BA from University of Central Arkansas and an MFA from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, he is a well-known sculptor, as well as a conceptual, installation, and performance artist who teaches ethnic studies at UC Riverside. (He previously served as visual arts chair at Idyllwild Arts Academy.)
Clarke’s artwork reflects on his heritage and the current conditions of Native communities, as well as conveying his personal views as an individual artist in the 21st century. He has exhibited widely in California and beyond.
Clarke’s work defies categorization. The works in this exhibition range from bronze sculpture and painting to works of ink and brands on paper. Creating Sovereignty includes references to Clarke’s ranching work on the Cahuilla reservation, such as the branding irons he created. These are part of his exhibition as art objects, and are also used as art implements in his branded paper artworks. His take on the Cahuilla basket-weaving tradition has involved found objects such as beer and soda cans, a reference to Native health issues of diabetes and alcoholism. Clarke’s particular blend of serious intention with wry humor is captivating—it seems simple, but goes deep. Reflecting universal themes through his particular lens on history and current events, the artist holds up a new mirror of meaning to Native and non-native viewers alike. Clarke has commented that he initially fell into the trap of seeing his role as educator to non-natives, and only later realized that he needed to communicate to Native communities as well.
Showing concurrently in the East Gallery is Along the Ohlone-Portola Trail, a show of plein air works created in recognition of the 250th anniversary of the first sighting of the San Francisco Bay by Spanish explorers (a historic event that is celebrated in early November). Along the Ohlone-Portola Trail presents the works of local plein air artists who, between February and April 2019, created artworks at four locations along the path of Portola in Pacifica (Rockaway Beach, Pacifica State Beach at Linda Mar, Shelldance Overlook, and the Sweeney Ridge Discovery Site). Supervisor Don Horsley, SMC District 3, is a sponsor for this show and will participate in the special event slated to take place on Thursday, July 18, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. This event is free, and the public is invited to come hear the artists share their experiences in a Gallery Walk and Trail Talk. In addition to the artists speaking about their work, we’ll hear from Supervisor Horsley and a representative of the SMC Parks Department about the plans for the Ohlone-Portola Heritage Trail.
A second special event will be held on Sunday, July 28, from 2 to 3:30 pm, with Linda Janklow of Peopleologie, who will lead a workshop on Native California Canoes and Rafts. Peopleologie presents programs at schools and libraries throughout the peninsula, with workshops designed to promote cultural literacy, celebrate community, and build connections to the world. You can purchase a workshop ticket for $10 on Eventbrite.com. Following the slide show with artifacts, all taking you to our own seashore, bay lands, hills, and backyards to honor our first peoples, you’ll learn about the sustained traditions of making baskets, boats, and baby carriers, all from native plants, and will weave your own toy canoe or raft to try out in your favorite body of water!
The Art Guild of Pacifica’s exhibit in West Gallery is titled Ancestry. This group show explores concepts of family, ethnic descent, ancestors, and background. Widening the exploration, some artists may even delve into the inception or beginning of a phenomenon, object, idea, or style.
Sanchez Art Center is located at 1220 Linda Mar Blvd in Pacifica, about a mile east of Highway 1. Following opening night, the galleries are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1–5 pm, and by appointment, through August 11. For more information call 650.355.1894 or visit SanchezArtCenter.org/index.htm.