Nature in the City

23 Oct

Dear Reader,

There are three weekends left to view an exhibition I have organized for Hayes Valley Art Works. This is a show where everyone looks right together. The work complements and enhances by proximity. I conceived of the show because of Zip’s sketching, which he would always commence during breaks in the Presidio as a fellow volunteer forester. I became aware of Ryan’s work through a single large painting of an egret that commands a large hall in the Presidio Trust’s Fort Winfield Scott offices. Laurie was recommended by Jack Laws of the Nature Journal Club, an extensive network of people who sketch nature. Here is information to give you a taste for what you will surely enjoy.

Statement for Exhibition: Nature is all around us in the city, whether native species or invasive newcomers.  San Francisco artists Laurie Wigham, Ryan Jones and Zip Lehnus work at the intersection of nature journaling and urban sketching to explore the teeming richness of life in our city. This exhibition celebrates the immediacy of impression in the works of these artists, the fresh sight/siting which harmonizes the natural and the urban. Wigham is a prolific sketch artist, recording all facets of the city.  Jones (1978-2008) was a self-taught artist whose love of nature is preserved in the watercolor works on display.  Lehnus always has a sketch pad and paint in pocket ready to record the environment whenever an idle moment provides.  Wigham and Lehnus are both educators; you may have attended one of Laurie’s journaling classes or Lehnus’s workshops at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. Jones was a dedicated teacher where he ran youth education programs in the Presidio. We hope that this selection of works from the hands of gifted artists will show you ways to discover the rich environment we live in through your own sketches.

Ryan Jones (1978-2008)

After a memorable class visit to the Presidio Native Plant Nursery at the age of 15 Ryan Jones decided he wanted to become a park ranger.  So clear was his conviction and passion that the Park scrambled to create opportunities for match his contagious enthusiasm and post-college he fulfilled his park ranger aspirations along with other leadership roles in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

As Ryan’s relationship with urban national parklands evolved art became a medium for expressing his love and passion for nature.  In addition to the artwork he created, he began offering “art in the field” classes to volunteers and youth caring for the environment – from the National Park to their local neighborhoods.  In 2008 Ryan was killed in a motorcycle accident at he age of 30.  Today his artwork continues a life of its own in park publications and interpretive signage.

-Damien Raffa, Senior Park Experience & Partnerships Specialist, Community Partnerships, The Presidio Trust

Zip Lehnus

Zip Lehnus is an urban artist living in San Francisco. He works in pen and watercolor. His focus is urban sketching—observing and recording the world around him, from rusting pipes to charismatic seagulls. Zip sees his art practice as a method to engage fully with the world around him, a means of pursuing mindfulness. The final art is a ticket stub in the pocket, a souvenir of the experience.

Zip studied Industrial Design at the University of Illinois, won the North American Butterfly Association art contest in 2015, and has been teaching urban sketching since 2018.

Laurie Wigham

For the last decade Laurie has been sketching on the streets of the city, looking at the ways that people interact with nature in the urban environment.  She looks at curated settings like landscaped parks and community gardens but also the untended spaces on semi-wild hilltops, beaches and the weedy edges of civilization.

Laurie mostly sketches with other people, at Urban Sketching and Nature Journaling events, but when the city locked down in the spring of 2020 she went out on her own to sketch the wildflowers on Bernal Hill’s off-leash dog park.

Laurie Wigham. Twisted trees in fog, 2016. Watercolor and ink, 6.5 x 9.5 in.

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