Oct. 16 – The Second Moment of Creation

Guess the artist and nationality of this sculpture and painting. Hint-they are different artists. Answer at the end of this article.

For those new to this website, Discovering Art is a series of classes that focuses on exploring art and its relevance to our world.   It has been part of the Cloverdale Arts Alliance’s programs since 2006. It is meant for a wide audience, for those who are first discovering art, and those who have experienced art all their lives.  The program is currently on break for the summer and early fall.

What’s Coming Up for Fall/Winter 2019 and Spring 2020?

We will be starting up again on October 16 with new DVDs for your enjoyment for 11 classes in total.  Classes are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month from 7 -9 p.m.

The classes for 2019/20 will focus on 9 episodes from a series from PBS called Civilizations, exploring the wealth of treasures created through centuries of human experiences.   It was inspired by Kenneth Clark’s 1969 acclaimed series about Western art, which many of you may remember seeing back then. This series of informed speakers, great works of art from around the world and its historical background is worth a visit.  It looks at the role that art and the creative imagination have played across diverse cultures and civilizations.

Presenters Mary Beard, David Olusoga and Simon Schama (art historians), plus other expert contributors, travel around the globe, visiting the mosques of Istanbul, the ancient cities of Mesoamerica, the Buddhist caves of India, Aztec temples of Mexico, ancient Chinese treasures and many more.

We will end our series with 2 sessions continuing our exploration of Art in the 21st Century with a class on Memory and then our last on April 1, Structures.

The series of 11 classes will run as follows:

9 part series on Civilizations, in which each series has a theme, as listed below.

Oct. 16 – The Second Moment of Creation

Nov. 6 – How Do We Look

Nov. 20 –God and art

Dec. 4– Encounters

Dec. 18 –Renaissances

4 week break due to the 1st Wednesday of January being New Year’s Day

Jan. 15 –Paradise on earth

Feb. 5 –Color and Light

Feb. 19 – The cult of Progress

Mar. 4 –What is Art Good For?

Mar. 18 – Art of the 21st Century – Memory

Apr. 1 - Art of the 21st Century- Structures

Oct. 16The Second Moment of Creation

This DVD begins our series by looking at the role that art and creative imagination played in the forging of humanity itself.  It attempts to define what civilization is by identifying what it isn’t.  We travel the world, looking at the story of the first marks made 50,000 years ago in prehistoric caves, and see how arts first flowers.  We explore Petra, the city of rock, in present day Jordan, built possibly as early as the 5th century B.C. to learn about early ancestors.  We also visit China, looking at the masks of Sanxingdui, and other places, as the series explores the rise and fall of civilizations.

Nov. 6 – How Do We Look

This DVD looks at how the human body was and is depicted in art, traveling from pre-Spanish Mexico and ancient Greece to Egypt and China, ending up in today’s New York City.  The presenters ask the question why human beings have always made art about themselves.  It explores the place of the human body in politics, religion and culture.  It asks these questions- What are images of the human body for? What does a “realistic” image of the body tell us about the society that made it?  How are we taught to look at the human body?

Nov. 20 –God and Art

How has religion inspired art?  How has art inspired divine representations in many different cultures?  We will look at the controversial and divisive topic of religion and art, from antiquity to today.  The DVD takes us to the world’s temples, churches, mosques and sites from Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.  Throughout human history, empires have risen and fallen, with their religious component ever changing.  We will look at the history of Christianity as it filled the void after the collapse of the Roman Empire, as one example.  We will see how Christianity changed the nature of religious art in the West and Near East.  We will see the differences in Islamic and Buddhist art as they too depict the divine.  This lecture ends with modern artists embracing religious themes, searching to find a spiritual art relevant to today.

Dec. 4– Encounters

This DVD depicts how art became the great interface when distant cultures met for the first time.  In the late 1400’s, humans spread further and faster around the world than ever before, aided by technological advances in ships and navigational tools, as well as the lust for trade.  When distant cultures met, the results were wonder, awe, fear and incomprehension.  Think of the Portuguese encountering the ancient Japanese culture, Marco Polo the Venetian meeting the great Chinese empires, Europeans meeting the African age-old civilizations, as examples.   We will look at ways these encounters provided a unique array of art in China, Japan, Europe and the two Americas.

Dec. 18 -Renaissances

Traveling east and west, we will explore the connections and rivalries between Renaissance Italy and the Islamic Empires of the 15th and 16th centuries.  Art and ideas flow in each direction with amazing results in both empires.  We will view Islamic architectures, mosques whose interior spaces reflect light and clarity and soaring domes, and compare their similarities and differences to Italian church domes, like Michelangelo’s gigantic dome of St. Peter’s church in Rome.  We will explore how Caravaggio in Italy breaks social and aesthetic traditions in his religious paintings, bringing biblical stories to life with his depictions of 17th century Roman people in his paintings.  Art historians will compare Islamic art and its decorative elements against the more realistic figurative works of artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi.  It will be a visual feast for the eyes.

4 week break due to the 1st Wednesday of January being New Year’s Day

Jan. 15 –Paradise on earth

This DVD looks at one of humanity’s deepest urges – how to depict nature.  But depiction of nature which surrounds us is seldom straightforward.  Nature is a projection of dreams, escapes and refuges, all colored by the artists’ experiences.  We will travel around the world to see how various artists over the centuries depicted their version of heaven on earth.  We will see how depictions of nature define who we are, how humans can be redeemed and how spirituality affects our views of nature.  We will travel to the Northern Renaissance of Germany and Holland in the 16th and 17th centuries, to ancient China for its pastoral scrolls and depiction of order, to Pakistan and India for the Hindu and Islamic sense of nature, and views of the 19th century of the American West by artists like Thomas Cole, George Caitlin and Frederic Church.

Feb. 5 –Color and Light

Our episode explores the story of light and color in art, as artists through the centuries search for greater realism and spiritual ecstasy. The topics range from Gothic cathedrals, Indian courtly painting, and more modern art like the Impressionism and Cubism.   Highlights include the art of the 15th century Venetian painters who saw art and the world differently from the artists of Rome and Florence.  Unlike other renaissance artists who highlighted drawing before color, the Venetians prized color above all, saturated colors which delight the eye, like the San Zaccaria altarpiece of Giovanni Bellini.   We will also see Hindu works of metaphysical interpretations of light and color, 18th century Japanese “Ukiyo-e” pictures of the floating world, which depict courtesans and the common people of Japan, and a trip to Spain to see Goya’s use of color to depict mood and order in the world, contrasting his early pastoral works to his dark paintings after the Napoleonic invasion of Spain.

Feb. 19 – The Cult of Progress

Our narrators look at the rise and fall of “progress” as an ideology and its impact on the world.  The 18th century Enlightenment brought “civilizing” ideas to the world, but these ideas were full of contradictions that troubled many European and American artists.  Think about manifest destiny in the United States and how “civilization” spread across the west, destroying the lives of Native Americans.  Artists such as Thomas Cole tried to depict the unspoiled landscapes of the USA, and feared the spread westward would ruin its magnificence.  We will see the glittery, materialistic world of mid to late 19th France, where artists such as Manet depicted the consumer society with all its problems of inequality and poverty.  Another example will be the work of Otto Dix, a German artist who served for 3 years during WWI.  His paintings show his reactions to the war’s horrors and his own lack of faith in “progress” in the world.  He, like many artists, strives to show the lies of the “Old World”.

Mar. 4 –What is Art Good For?

This episode looks at art in the age of revolution, war and immense scientific changes.  It asks questions- Should art create a separate realm, a place of escape, or should it dive into the chaos to transform the way we see and live in the world?  The artists depicted in this last session ask us to ponder why this art has been made and what do we think about when we view them.  We will see artists such as Piet Mondrian who believed that nature was a lie, so he added to the world through his abstract views of it, breaking subjects into a new visual language, similar to the Cubist artists. Contemporary artists react to the calamities of the world.  Ai Weiwei uses art to depict the horrors of the displaced people of the world, their terror and despair.  Cai Quo-Chiong uses the violent act of immolation and gunpowder to create his paintings.  Our narrator sums up that we can experience creative acts all around us, wherever we live, and don’t have to rely on experiences in art galleries or world renowned museums.  Localized and basic contributions are as much a part of civilization as revered and iconic works of art and architecture.

2 part series on Art in the 21st Century from March 18 – April 1

These last 2 episodes of the series on art of the 21st century are a continuation from last season. It is a documentary series from PBS, which won a Peabody Award.  This award, named for George Foster Peabody, American businessman and philanthropist, recognizes distinguished and meritorious public service by American radio and television stations, networks, online media and producing organizations. 

The series focuses on some of the most dynamic visual artists of our time.  This series takes viewers behind the scenes into artists’ studios, homes and communities for intimate access to their lives and creative processes.  The artists themselves talk about how, why and what they create. Each of the series highlights 3 or 4 artists. Why is contemporary art important?  It addresses issues of our time, provokes curiosity and dialog, and encourages critical thinking.  Come and see how contemporary art can change how we see the world around us. 


Mar. 18Art of the 21st Century – Memory

This class focuses on four artists who use various mediums to depict memories and meaning, their own past memories as well as cultural memory.  Their work strives to capture the world I a sort of “time machine”.  Watch this episode to see where memories lead us.

Susan Rothenberg uses painting and drawing to depict her memories, both past and present.  Her earlier works before 1990 reflect her life as an artist in New York City, investigating the mechanics and essence of painting using life-size images of horses. After 1990, her move to New Mexico marks changes in her work – painting in oils, using thickly layered brushwork and eye-catching colors to create new memories of landscapes and common objects.  Her work shows how the rural desert around Galisteo, on the Turquoise Highway south of Santa Fe, affects her vantage point and subject matter.

Mike Kelley, now based in Los Angeles, is a videographer, painter, sculptor and performance artist with broad interest.  His work ranges from highly symbolic and ritualistic (thanks to a Catholic upbringing) to humorous and satirical.  His installations and sculptures question the legitimacy of “normative” values and the role of authority in our lives.  He uses his own personal memories of life in high school to create performances which startle and make you laugh.  His work, like that of Ida Applebroog and Laylah Ali , artists we explored last season, is not pretty and challenges the viewer on many levels, 

Hiroshi Sugimoto, born in Tokyo and now living in New York City, is a photographer and installation artist.  To him, photography is a time machine, a way to preserve and picture memory and time.  He often uses early cameras to create images that convey his subjects’ essence, whether it is a building, a piece of sculpture, a view of nature.  He loves old buildings, photographed slightly out of focus to intrigue, seascapes of sea and air.  His work also pays tribute to his Japanese heritage and Shintu religion, building shrines and photographing them.  His photos and installations take on a metaphysical element, inspired also by the Dada artist, Marcel Duchamp.

Josiah McElheny, from Boston and now in NYC, is a glass artist, sculptor and installation artist.  He creates finely crafted, handmade objects which are combined with text, photos, and museum artifacts in displays that evoke meaning and memory.  Recreating Roman, Renaissance or modern glass, he puts his own spin on the objects.  He creates a mirror for the viewer to ruminate on social and cultural ideas in our society and in our past.  His works are elegant and seductive.

Apr. 1 - Art of the 21st Century- Structures

This session reveals the work of four artists whose photography, sculpture, drawings and digital images show their struggles to represent abstract ideas and make sense of  them.  They try to create a kind of road map to make sense of our place on earth,

Matthew Ritchie, originally from England and now based in NYC, wants to represent the ” entire universe”(a big job!) through his paintings, drawings and installations.  He has huge imagination to match his big ambitions.  He wants to depict the universe’s formation as well as the attempts and limits of human consciousness.  His floor-to-wall installations, his freestanding sculptures and websites all tie his sprawling works together.  Such large works require a collaborative team and the results are impressive.  But does it represent the entire universe?  Check it out!

Fred Wilson, NYC born and bred, uses a wide variety of materials, methods and sites to create his sculptures, glassware and installation works.  In his displays, he creates thoughtful and new contexts for art and artifacts found in museum collections and antique stores. His aim is to lead viewers to recognize how changes in context create changes in meaning.  He also posits questions about how curators at museums and galleries shape interpretations of historical truth and the value of objects.  Heady stuff!!  His own history as a black man in America shapes his interest in how blacks have historically been depicted in art and our culture.

Richard Tuttle lives and works in New Mexico and NYC, creating sculptures, paintings and prints.  Working since the 1960’s, he refers to his works as drawing rather than sculpture.  He creates small, eccentrically playful objects in “humble” materials like paper, rope, string, cloth and wire.  He is not interested in monumental works made in stone, bronze or steel.  His works are oddly placed when displayed, to manipulate the eye and gravity.  He wants to move his audience through his interpretation of structure.

Lastly, Roni Horn, a NYC based photographer, has intriguing ideas which she uses in her photography and sculptures.  Through drawing, she composes complex relationships between the viewer and her work.  She describes her work as “site-dependent” (for example, her Icelandic works of photos of the Icelandic landscape or her 100 photos of an Icelandic woman taken over time).  Water fascinates her. You can see the impact of her 80 photographs of water on the hall walls of the University of Akureyrl  in Iceland, as they ebb and flow, like the movement of the students walking through the halls.

How long has Discovering Art been around?

The Discovering Arts classes have been a part of the Cloverdale Arts Alliance’s programs since 2006.  The class meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 7-9 p.m., usually October through March at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance art gallery.  We view illustrated DVDs in a setting surrounded by our own local art, with stimulating discussions afterward.  Everyone’s opinions and ideas are welcome at our classes.

 Over the past 14 years, we have enjoyed series such as:

 The History of Impressionism

 How to Look At and Understand Art

History and Collections of the Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre and the National Gallery in London

Masterpieces of American Art

The Greatest Paintings of Europe and America

Women and Art

Paris 1905-1930

History of European Art from the 9th century to the mid- 20th century

Life of Frida Kahlo

Life and Times of Francisco Goya

Picasso and Braque – Cubism and the Early Cinema

Photos of a trip to Cuba in April 2016, taken by Bob and Jennifer Jordan

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s and 1930’s

Mystery of a Masterpiece- authenticating a possible lost Leonardo

Annie Liebovitz, the famed photographer

Art of James McNeil Whistler

The Vision of Tom Thomson, Canadian landscape artist

Winds of Heaven, the story and vision of Emily Carr, West Coast Canadian artist

Pedro Guerrero:  A Photographer’s Journey

Series on Art in the 21st century with contemporary artists in their communities and studios from around the world

Please join us when we begin the new series on October 16, 2019.  The crowd is friendly.  The illustrated lectures are fun to look at and are thought-provoking.  The discussions held afterward are always stimulating.  You don’t have to be an art expert.   Everyone’s opinion is valid and appreciated. A glass of wine and a sweet treat always enhance the experience.  We look forward to seeing you at the gallery.

The answers to the opening quiz.   

Uberorgan sculpture by Tim Hawkinson,  American artist who uses lots of plastic, size and sounds in his massive sculptures..

Burning Man by Cai Guo-chiang, Chinese-American artist who uses gunpowder to create his fiery version of the world.

Did you guess correctly?  If you did, you really are an art whiz and attended some of the classes last season on Art in the 21st century.

Attend all classes, or choose the ones that interest you the most. DISCOVERING ART is meant for a wide audience, from those who are discovering art for the first time to those who have experienced art their entire lives and realize that it is a journey of constant discovery.

In order to reimburse the Cloverdale Arts Alliance (CAA) for the expenses of administration and refreshments, a nominal donation ($5 per evening for CAA affiliates, $7 for non-members) will be requested. Seating is limited to the first 40 participants.

Visit or call 894-4410 for further information and a full schedule regarding this or the many other fine Cloverdale Art Alliance programs. 

The Cloverdale Arts Alliance is located at 204 N. Cloverdale Blvd. in downtown Cloverdale. Visit for the full schedule and further information regarding this or the many other fine Cloverdale Art Alliance programs.