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Dive into the Tidal Response Exhibit: Petaluma Arts Center

A Life Among Fishes by Chris Dewees is a featured art piece in the Tidal Response Exhibit.

Tidal Response: Coastal Marine Environments from Above and Below, on view at the Petaluma Arts Center through Oct. 21, 2017, investigates coastal creatures and habitats through art.

The exhibition brings together accomplished artists working with science to educate, inspire, and provide an in-depth experience for visitors, with particular emphasis on Sonoma County’s unique, thriving, yet fragile coastal ecology.

Most of the artists have extensive backgrounds in art and science, creating a more holistic and richer exploration of complex ecosystems.

tidal response exhibit art piece by courtney mattison petaluma sonoma county“This exhibition prompts us to consider how artistic process and scientific method inform each other, while reminding us of the fragility and scarcity of natural resources,“ says curator Carin Jacobs.

The artistic responses to the subject matter include conceptual, interpretive, and more literal and scientific approaches.

The internationally acclaimed team of Richard and Judith Selby Lang display photographed arrangements of plastic debris collected on the beach. Since 1999 they have been visiting and collecting plastic from Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. After collecting and sorting the bits of plastic, the Langs fashion it into works of art, which is then photographed. The culminating beautiful compositions show, with minimal pretense, what the material really is — the thermoplastic junk of our throwaway culture.

Chris Dewees, a marine fisheries specialist for 35 years, creates fish prints using the traditional Japanese method of printing fish, called Gyotaku. The process, which dates back hundreds of years, consists of applying ink to a fresh-caught fish, then carefully pressing it to a piece of paper and rubbing gently to transfer the image. The resulting prints reveal marvelous detail.

A dedicated ocean advocate, Courtney Mattison (left) creates intricately detailed ceramic sculptures inspired by the fragile beauty of ocean networks — principally coral reefs. With an education in art and science, her work has been exhibited at prominent art and science venues, and featured in international science and culture publications.

tidal response exhibit art piece by holly summer petaluma sonoma county

Holly Sumner (right) combines scientific data with artistic interpretations of plankton. By painting large-scale images of plankton on top of data sheets and diagrams, she gives the organism an individual personality, and allows the viewer to see something not normally visible to the naked eye.

In a more technology-based yet beautiful exhibit by The Hydrous project, the use of high-resolution 3D models is demonstrated for the research and visualization of corals. By using cameras and software, they produce accurate, interactive 3D models that are representations of living corals helping scientists to study them and also introducing the public to their beauty and fragility.

The artists included in the exhibition are Peter Connors, Chris Dewees, Richard and Judith Selby Lang, Courtney Mattison, Julia E. Rigby, Holly Sumner, and The Hydrous. Their work will be on view through Oct. 21, 2017.

Upcoming Event: Saturday, Oct. 21, 1-3pm

“The Art of Japanese Fish Printing (Gyotaku)”

Chris Dewees will describe and demonstrate the fish printing process, followed by a reading and signing of his newly published book A Life Among Fishes (Goff Books). Signed books will be available for purchase. Free with gallery admission.

Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville St., Petaluma, 707-762-5600; open 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday;  the entrance to the parking lot is on East Washington.

For a closer encounter with the living ocean you can visit the Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay. A fantastic community resource and exhibition collaborator, BML offers public tours and host events.

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