Land That I Love: Scenes From the Cascade Siskiyou

Old Juniper at Soda Mountain Photograph by Matt Witt

Physical exhibition on view June 27 – July 13, 2020

Curated by Sarah F. Burns

Featuring: Julian Bell, Katy Cauker, Amy Godard, Nikolai Klein, Matt Witt, Dan Elster, Deb Van Poolen, Jeanine Moy, Sarah F. Burns

The catalyst for this exhibit is the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. Participating artists all live, work and are passionate about life in the Cascade Siskiyou bioregion. 

The Cascade Siskiyou region is known for its biodiversity.  Quoting the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument expansion proclamation, “The ancient Siskiyou and Klamath Mountains meets the volcanic Cascade Mountains near the border of California and Oregon, creating an intersection of three ecoregions in Jackon and Klamath Counties in Oregon and Siskiyou County in California. Towering rock peaks covered in alpine forests rise above woodlands, open glades, dense chaparral, meadows filled with stunning wildflowers, and swiftly-flowing streams.” Truly this place is a treasure and land that so many love.

The artists who make up the show are naturally diverse in their interests and artistic approach.  Artists include; Sarah Burns (who is also curating the show), Matt Witt, Amy Godard, Dan Elster, Nikolai Klein, Jeanine Moy, Deb Van Poolen and Katy Cauker.  Among them are painters in watercolor and oil, photographers and a printmaker. Subjects and approaches vary. Some focus on the wider landscape, some focus on plant life – including two separate artist’s depictions of the native camas lily. There are also two depictions of a stately old Juniper along the Pacific Crest Trail. There is exciting animal life and the treasure hunting of fungal life is explored.  Among the artists are a doctor, several art and environmental educators, two who run outdoor educational programs, native plant restorers and a parks commissioner.  A few artists have been awarded residencies in monuments and parks. 

Land That I Love: Scenes From the Cascade Siskiyou

Dan Elster

Dan Elster photographs wild animals in their natural habitats. He says, “It is always a privileged feeling to get close to a wild animal.” Through his work he raises awareness of the natural world and animals that live there. Dan lives in the Rogue valley with his family.

Amy Godard

Amy was born and raised in the Rogue Valley. She primarily works as an artist, printmaker, and mentor in the Arts. She also helps out on her family’s certified Organic farm where she grows crops for herbal teas and salves.

Her recent series titled “Plants and People” brings together her love of printmaking, folklore and plants.

“My goal is to produce a body of ethnobotanical prints to tell the story of plants and how people relate to them. As an artist, I want to consider the cultural history and heritage of plants. I use scientific journals, recipes, and stories as references for my work. I make extensive sketches from life and photos to refine my designs. Then I make a print matrix either by carving wood or cutting paper by hand. In my printing process, I am able to achieve different colors, values, and hues so each individual print is unique in its own way.”

Sarah F. Burns

“I have lived in the Rogue Valley for most of my life. The landscape feels so utterly familiar and intertwined with my memories and loved ones. I have a deep attachment to this place and am grateful to call it my home.

This series of paintings were created onsite, with repeated visits at the same time of day with similar weather conditions. I am attracted to distance and always want to show the expanse of the receding mountains and sky. I’m also interested in creating a record of this place and time. I use materials and methods that are designed to last for generations, and I hope my paintings will be part of this local historical record.

My methods are part of the European painting traditions, especially British landscape painter John Constable, who clearly loved being outdoors, and I look to American painters of the early 20th century, particularly Maynard Dixon and Georgia O’Keeffe, who painted the American West with flat colors. I love the stark directness of the American tradition, of which I am part.”

––Sarah F. Burns

Deb Van Poolen

Deb Van Poolen has been a painter for 25 years, exhibiting her work in Washington D.C., Oregon, Montana, Michigan and occupied Palestine. Deb’s most recent works have integrated science and art with the aim to help people grasp the global significance of the biodiversity present in this northwest region where the Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountains converge. She makes large paintings illustrating profound diversity in species.

From left to right
Species with affinity for wetland areas:  Chamaecyparis lawsoniana – Port orford-cedar, Gentiana plurisetosa – Bristly gentian, Darlingtonia californica – California cobra lily, Castilleja elata – Siskiyou paintbrush, Lilium pardalinum ssp. wigginsii – Wiggin’s lily

Other subalpine species: Pedicularis howellii – Howell’s lousewort, Rhodiola integrifolia – Ledge stonecrop (one population in the Siskiyous), Epilobium siskiyouense – Siskiyou fireweed, Lupinus lepidus var. ashlandensis – Mt. Ashland Lupine, Horkelia hendersonii – Henderson’s horkelia, (Lewisia cotyledon var. heckneri and Lewisia var. howellii are both rare in California), Lewisia cotyledon – Siskiyou lewisia, Penstemon anguineus – Siskiyou beardtongue, Triteleia crocea – Yellow triteleia, Allium siskiyouense – Siskiyou onion, Castilleja schizotricha – Splithair paintbrush, Eriogonum diclinum – Jayne’s canyon buckwheat, Picea breweriana – Brewer’s spruce, Fritillaria glauca – Siskiyou fritillary, Lewisia leeana – Lee’s lewisia, Tauschia howellii – Howell’s tauschia, Erigeron klamathensis – Klamath fleabane

Jeanine Moy

Jeanine Moy lived as a child at the interface of farmland, forest and the metropolis of New York City where her first sense of place was cultivated with an “in-betweenness.” This, combined with her experiences of biracial heritage and identity, have led Jeanine to put emphasis on the interconnections in the world. She is not primarily an artist, yet finds the greatest work satisfaction when working in the overlaps between science, art, social interaction, sensual experience and cultural understanding.

She spent many hours of her childhood playing in the forest, creating things with found materials, and exploring the other living things. To this day, she finds great satisfaction in studying the natural world, and her primary creative muses are landscape and flora. With some formal training in drawing, watercolor and oil painting, she loves most to be painting en plein air. Currently her other regular creative endeavors include cooking, native plant restoration and landscaping.

Jeanine Moy is Program Director of the Vesper Meadow Education Program, based at a restoration preserve in the Cascade Siskiyou bioregion. 

Matt Witt

“I have hiked and photographed all over the American West, but the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is home. It’s where I can be at dawn when new frost sparkles on the land, or when fog and mist create mystery, or when flowers will be radiating color at their peak. Whenever I am photographing in the monument, I am grateful to all the people who have organized to get this biodiverse land protected-and keep it that way.

As shown on my website, mattwitthphotography.com, my “Closer to Nature” approach to wilderness photography often tries to focus in on specific details and create uncluttered images to help us see nature’s beauty with fresh eyes. Even when I photograph landscapes I try to simplify the images to highlight moods and graphic shapes.

I have been fortunate to be selected as Artist-in-Residence in this monument and at Crater Lake National Park, Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Mesa Refuge and PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon and I enjoy contributing as an Artist in Partnership for the Vesper Meadow Education Project.”

––Matt Witt

Julian Bell

“DIMR” Oil Painting by Julian Bell

Julian Bell also started painting in the year 2000, but has been drawing since he could hold a pencil.  He starts his paintings en plein air(meaning outdoors, on site), and finishes them in the studio where he can take plenty of time to adjust the patterns and colors. Sometimes all he makes outdoors is a drawing, and that’s all he needs to build a painting from in the studio. Julian makes time to paint, despite having young children, being a full time physician (often working the night shift!) and serving as the Ashland Parks Commissioner. When asked why he makes time for art, Julian says it’s essential for him: “It’s a bit of transcendence in a world that sometimes seems very venal.” 

Katy Cauker

“My work has always been about the use of images and forms to convey ideas and emotions. I paint on location, and in the studio using drawings and set ups or models to create work that reflects current day life and concerns.  
The Cascade-Siskiyou Monument provides a haven for all of us, even if you never go there.  The natural landscape gives to us all in terms of clean air and water and room for the important ecosystems and space that healthy living depends on.  Research has confirmed that the healing, peaceful calm that can be found when you spend time in the natural world can be brought home through the paintings of the images found there.”

––Katy Cauker

Nikolai Klein

“Hi-Lo Country” Oil Painting by Nikolai Klein

“Hi-Lo Country is based on the view of Mt. Shasta when you go over the pass heading south from Ashland. It is not meant to be a representation of the scene, but a portrait of the way it feels. I have tried to utilize a method of mark making that borrows heavily from Chinese landscape painting as well as Abstract Expressionism, and I have made a concerted effort to not “finish” the painting, but to leave it at a state where it still contains as much of the spontaneous drawing spirit as possible. This “style”, which is an attempt to have no style, is a cumulation of over 40 years of drawing and painting in which I have explored a million different approaches. The purpose is to present an image with as little baggage as possible, as little artifice as possible, and as little perceived skill as possible. The idea being that the mystery should be obvious as it is impenetrable.

I hope you find it worthwhile.”

––Nikolai Klein