On Monday I drove to UC Davis to attend a seminar on water scarcity in the West. The seminar was on Tuesday and so on Monday I walked around the campus. I had read that the Shields Library had a solid collection of artwork, most notably for me some work by Wayne Thiebaud, who taught at the college. The campus also offers a wonderful arboretum complete with what seems like several miles of pathways through beautiful gardens and a slow moving creek.
First off, the above photos. The first shot shows one of my favorite things about these types of spaces. It's possible to feel enclosed and surrounded somehow by the foliage and water. By not including the sky in the pic and by just literally focusing on the water and trees, I got this wonderful idea that it was just me and the environment. The remainder of the pics show various places along the creek. There are several bridges crossing from one side to the other. They all reminded me of Monet's bridge of course!
The library visit itself was quite incredible. Because of the Internet and all of its attendant mobile devices, it's easy to forget about libraries and all that they offer. Here is a whole building devoted to the storage of information in one form or another: books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, microfilm and microfiche, and all sorts of other types of publications, including an entire map room. To top it all off, there was a wonderful selection of artwork on the walls. What more does one want? I wandered around sort of systematically and still managed to miss quite a bit. I loved too that there were a ton of spaces for the students to hole up in and study fairly privately. It reminded me of my time at CSUH only WAY better!
With regard to the seminar, I chose to attend because of the potential for learning about the history of water in the West. As a citizen, I see that the area where I live is heavily affected by the management and distribution of water and the potential for a shortage. As an artist, I just participated in a show featuring work based on the Mokelumne River. The river is both a habitat for wildlife and a source of recreation for the people who live in CA. The river is also a key source for consumers who depend on its water. There really is a connection for me between my work and water and I thought that the seminar would help me to be better informed. (There is no way you can say that something "informs" your art if you don't know about it more fully.)
One last reflection. I like to consider the potential meaning in most everything that I do, including this trip to Davis. This month I have a birthday. I will be 45 and I couldn't be more pleased. It seems a perfect age. I walked around the campus with this idea in mind and reflected on the fact that I could certainly have had a child attending the school. In fact, had I gotten started early, I could have had a child who graduated! I also thought about some of the things that occur as a person ages. One of the best things about getting older is the development of a kind of "elasticity" to your way of thinking. My observation is that some people get set in their ways as they get older. Often times, new thoughts and ideas and ways of looking at the world around you aren't successfully incorporated. As I approach my birthday, I am very aware of this in myself and as a result am trying to approach things that make me bristle with the view of , "OK, what about it? Why am I resisting?" I am finding that it pays to consider a viewpoint or concept that I find alarming in order to see what is there. Am I missing something that will allow me greater understanding? I realize now that my trip to Davis helped me to solidify this approach. Time to simply walk and observe is an invaluable gift that I unknowingly gave myself.
OK, hope everyone is having a good week. I have been sketching and working on some ideas in between being in the car! Lots of driving for me so far!
Thanks for reading and commenting,