Guess the artist, nationality and site of the landscape. Answer at the end of this article.

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 on break for the summer and early fall.

What’s Coming Up for Fall/Winter 2018 and Spring 2019?

We will be starting up again on October 17 with new DVDs for your enjoyment. Classes are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month from 7 -9 p.m.

The classes for 2018/19 will highlight art in the 21st century, for all of you who have been clamoring for more “modern” art, with one exception. The first class on October 17 will take us to the 17th century, and focuses on the life and times of Johannes Vermeer. How can anyone not love Vermeer’s paintings? 

The series of 10 classes will run as follows:

Oct. 17 - Art of Johannes Vermeer

Nov. 7 - The Vision of Kehinde Wiley

8 part series on Art in the 21st century, in which each series has a theme, as listed below.

Nov. 21 – Place

Dec. 5– Spirituality

Dec. 19 - Identity

Jan. 2 – Stories

Jan. 16 - Loss of Desire

Feb. 6 –Time

Feb. 20 - Humor

Mar. 6 –Power


Oct. 17 - Art and life of Vermeer

This DVD showcases the life and work of Johannes Vermeer, a 17th century painter from Delft. It is a documentary from French filmmaker, Jean-Pierre Cottet, which reveals an imaginative approach to his subject. He focuses on Vermeer’s work, many paintings which will be familiar to you, and also his family life – his marriage, conversion to Catholicism, his contemporaries and the world of the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. Vermeer dies in 1675 at age 43, worn out by poverty, disease and humiliation.  His paintings are sold to pay off debts and he disappears from memory. 200 years later, art historians “rediscover” his work, and we will get to rediscover him as well.

Nov. 7 - The Vision of Kehinde Wiley

Who is Kehinde Wiley? He is an African-American painter from New York City, known for his creative reinterpretations of classical portraits, stylized portraits of young black men that are deliberate throwbacks to earlier traditions of painting. His “new” portraiture has taken the art world by storm. You may recognize his name as the artist who painted President Barack Obama, seated on a thronelike chair in a sea of greenery and symbolic flowers, now installed in the National Portrait Gallery in DC.

In this film, Wiley embarks on a new project, a series of classical portraits of black women – new territory for him. This film follows the project as it unfolds – his process from concept to canvas, putting models on the streets of New York, clothed in couture gowns, designed by Riccordo Tisci of Givenchy. You don’t want to miss this intimate view into one of the new generation of accomplished and provocative visionaries.

8-part series on Art in the 21st Century from Nov. 21, 2018 – Mar. 7, 2019

This 8-part series on art of the 21st century 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. 

Nov. 21 – Place

This DVD shows the symbiotic relationship between an artist’s work and the place that inspires it. These works of the artists affect how we look at public spaces, history and our societal norms.

Richard Serra is a sculptor who creates large scale installation all over the world. Locally, you can see his work at the Oliver Ranch in Geyserville. Serra wants people to interact with his work and see that art can be transforming and fun. He gives descriptions of his processes and collaboration with engineers to install monumental works.

Sally Mann is a photographer, intrigued by the ambiguity of objects around her. Formed by her free-wheeling childhood in the American south, she photographs her children and their growth, nature, even dog bones – things that intrigue her and that she can photograph in new ways. He eye transforms everyday objects into fun and thoughtful art.

Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen are street/graffiti artists in San Francisco, who want to show the beauty of street art to the world. Their work on walls, railroad cars and canvases reveals their love of community and how their community has influenced what they create. They definitely make a statement to the world.

Our last artist is Repon Osorio, a large scale installation artist who has been influenced by his roots as an African/Latino male. His works, often large, multi-room sculptures, are filled with Latino cultural items, paired with political messages that get your attention.

Dec. 5 –Spirituality

It is part of the human condition to think about questions of time, space and immortality. Artists approach their art influenced by their cultural roots and often, a religious upbringing. This DVD helps us to explore the meaning of spirituality.

Ann Hamilton is a fabric artist who sees fabric as a metaphor for the threads and connections in our lives.  Her work evokes a sense of mortality, quiet meditation and awe. She wants people to react to her lines of fabrics, as they connect to words and political issues. She is drawn to hot issues like slavery and racism in the U.S, and her works reflect this, encouraging her audience to engage in discussion.

John Feodorov is a Native American sculptor and performance artist,  who uses kitschy everyday objects in spiritual creations, like totem poles as one example, to reflect the Native American struggle to survive in the “white man’s world”. His work parodies both Native American and “white” culture, as he challenges New Age assumptions about Native American spirituality.

Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-American miniature painter and muralist whose work reflects her love of traditional Pakistani art but with a contemporary twist. Her miniatures are exacting work, but she demonstrates both the patience, training and love to do them. Her jewel-like miniatures and murals comment on Hindu and Muslim beliefs and traditions.

Our last artist is James Turrell, an installation artist who uses light to create a world that brings the cosmos closer to his viewers.  His fascination with light is a product of his Quaker upbringing, which his creativity transforms into something beautiful. Some of his works include a huge sculpture installation inside a crater in Arizona (a decades long project), and the interior of a Quaker meeting house.

Dec. 19–Identity

The questions of “Who am I” and “Who are we “are central to our human lives. These 4 artists reveal how they ponder these questions, determining their contributions, their contact to family and the history of art.

Bruce Nauman is a sculptor and videographer from Wisconsin, who relies on his life experiences as a rancher and love of the outdoors to create sculptures that provoke and challenge your sense of self. He has been recognized as one of the most innovative and provocative of America’s contemporary artists.  One of his works, the irregular, cement staircase, is found at the Oliver Ranch in Geyserville, and is a clear example of how activity can transform or become a work of art. 

Kerry James Marshall is a painter, sculptor and videographer who scrupulously studies the history of art, and then reinvents it to look at the history of black Americans. His signature trademark is a very black figure used as a symbol of power, which always appears in his work. His works are powerful and make strong statements about the position of black Americans in our society, focusing on injustices and racism.

Maya Lin is another sculptor/architect who redesigns city parks and landscapes with sculptures based on geology and her observations of nature. Her work is very thoughtful and transformative. One of her most famous works is the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., a work she is most proud of.

Lastly, we meet Louise Bourgeois, now a New York based sculptor, who identifies herself as a “pair of hands” who create. Her myriad sculptures in this DVD reflect her international and wide interests in women’s roles in life, their nurturing and emotionality.

Jan. 2 – Stories

The artists featured in this DVD tell stories through installation work, sculpture, painting and drawing.  We will see their inspiration from architecture, literature, mythology, history and fairy tales. Their work provokes us to think about our own stories.

Kara Walker is a printmaker and painter who grew up in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and now lives in New York City. She wants viewers to see history in a new way as her work explores the raw intersection of race, gender and sexuality. She adapts the 18th and 19th century medium of silhouettes, using overhead projections, to create unexpected images. Her work stimulates new discussions about racism, slavery and black vs. white America.

Kiki Smith is a sculptor, painter and fabric artist, the daughter of an American sculptor, Tony Smith.  His training plus her upbringing in the Catholic Church show up in her sculptures, drawings and prints.  Her work has focused on the human body as a source of storytelling, before she moved on to animals, domestic objects and figures from mythology. Life, death and resurrection predominate her work and provoke thoughtful examination by her viewers.

Do Ho Suh is a Korean-American painter and sculptor who now resides in New York City. He is known for his large scale and site-specific sculptures. His pieces draw viewers in to analyze how they and the sculpture fit into a public space. Some of his works involved thousands of tiny human figures, hundreds of dog tags from the military – all relating back to his upbringing in Korea, with his military schooling and service, and mingled with his longing for home. All of his sculptures question the identity of the individual in todays’ global society.

Trenton Doyle Hancock is a black American painter, influenced by his childhood in the black gospel church and community. Their stories led him to create his own mythology – the story of Mounds, a group of tragic protagonists of his unfolding narrative with characters such as Torpedo Boy, Loid and Painter. His use of color, images and words all play with language and meaning, decorated with a sci-fi quality depicting the battle of good and evil.  He definitely has a story to tell!

Jan. 16 – Loss and Desire

Responding to themes of loss and desire surfaces in many areas of our lives from the philosophical to the emotional. Art provokes us to contemplate issues like war and peace, the nature of beauty, a longing for perfection, and the role of science and myth.

Collier Schorr is a New York photographer known for her portraits of adolescent men and women. Her pictures blend photographic realism with fiction and fantasy. Her work creates tribes of people – young male wrestlers from her high school, young Germans whom she photographed over 14 years reliving German history, World War II and Nazism. The latter photographs make the viewer ponder the role of soldiers, gender identity, nationality and sexuality.

Gabriel Orozco is a Mexican-American sculptor and photographer who, without a studio, travels extensively exploring global cultures and cityscapes. His work is seemingly simple in subject (food items in stores, everyday objects), yet he tackles complex philosophical concepts through his images. Games, mapping and complex geometry intrigue him. Objects like an oval pool table, a huge expanded chess game all play a part of his world. By using everyday objects, he reframes the urban landscape to challenge our concepts of reality.

Janine Antoni is from the Bahamas and now lives in NYC. Her work is both sculptural and performance art.  She transforms everyday activities such as eating and bathing into art, often using her own body as the medium. She has painted canvases with her hair covered in paint, chiseled cubes of lard and chocolate with her teeth, creating sculptures that reflect the human desire to be held and loved. She strives for balance in creating works such as woven rope made of deeply personal items in her life. She finds so much meaning in how we choose to make something in art and our lives.

Feb. 6 – Time

The element of time is always present in how we interact with art. We can experience art by contemplation, movement around it, watching a video, listening to music. The artists in this section connect their work through references to art history or our collective human history. Their works seem to make art stand still.

Martin Puryear is a sculptor and woodworker from Washington, DC. After studying crafts from countries around the world, he incorporates these traditions and techniques into his own work. He has developed a sensibility toward simplified sculptural forms, which impress and make a connection to time-old crafts and building. A local example of his work can be found in his brick folly (an architectural building often unfinished and with little purpose) built at the Oliver Ranch, Geyserville.

Paul Pfeiffer, born in Hawaii and spent a childhood in the Philippines, is a videographer, sculptor and photographer. He is fascinated by the role that mass media plays in our lives to shape consciousness.  Media images lead him and us to question whether images use us or do we use them. His video works of professional sports events are meditations on faith and desire. He also has a fascination with horror which shows up in his sculptural work.

Vija Celmins, a Latvian American, is a painter concerned with visual depictions of time as it passes. Creating visual illusions on paintings, she builds up layer after layer on her paintings’ surfaces. With her palette largely of black and greys, she depicts scenes of nature copied from photos to create limitless spaces – seascapes, night skies, and the arid desert floor. Working in oils, charcoal and prints, she has an eye for organic details and surfaces.

Tim Hawkinson is a West Coast sculptor known for his complex, structural systems made of deceptively simple materials. Developing from his childhood fascination with making toys, he continues to tinker with found objects and household tools to create mechanized installations. He imaginatively recasts his own face into mechanical structures, or combines glass, wire, plastic to depict how our bodies relate to the external world.  Sound and music are an integral part of his work, to connect with the organic aspects of his sculptures.

Feb. 20-Humor

This episode explores how contemporary artists use irony, satire, and sarcasm in their art.  They have all been influenced by the history of comedy – vaudeville, cartoons, and comic books. Their art encourages us to use laughter produced by their images to explore serious subjects like discrimination, colonialism, war and environmental degradation.

Eleanor Antin is a performer, filmmaker and installation artist who is fascinated by history – whether ancient Rome, the Crimean War, 19th century European salons or her own Jewish culture. Her works use these historical allusions to explore the present. She describes her work as a “pictorial narrative”, using created character in a scripted and non-scripted performance. She sees the funny side of events, as well as the sad and painful. Her series of photographs telling the story of the 100 boots in historical landscapes is hysterical.

Raymond Pettibon is a writer, illustrator and videographer known for his eccentric and whimsical work.  He has an international reputation working with drawing and text. He explores various subjects like surfing, art history, 19th century literature, American politics and contemporary pop culture with images like Gumby, Patty Hearst as a guerilla, and trains. His surroundings inspire him as he finds humor as much as he can.

Elizabeth Murray is a painter of distinctly shaped canvases, large scale objects put together on walls.  They are playful, colorful and blur the line between the painting as an object and the painting as a space for depicting objects. We can compare her works to still lifes by Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse,  Her subjects are domestic- cups and saucers, houses, chairs, tables – but are juxtaposed with cartoonish finger and pointers. The works are abstract and fun. When examined in detail, her works reveal a fascination with the psychological underbelly of domestic life.

Walton Ford is an illustrator and painter of nature, who, in hi large scale watercolors, depicts natural history with political commentary. Much of his inspiration comes from the Museum of Natural History in NY, but he infuses humor into his work as he satirizes the history of colonialism and political oppression of the earth’s societies. Much of his work is a biting indictment of 19th century environmentalists and our current American consumerism.

Mar. 6- Power

Power is part of everyday life from politics to mass media. These artists explore their own personal and cultural history, challenge authority, oppression and control. They hope their art will act as a witness to violence, help to heal communities and reign in destructive tendencies.

Laylah Ali is a painter of small gouache (watercolors) pictures which takes months to complete. Her style resembles comic-book serials as well as hieroglyphics and American folk-art. She juxtaposes brightly colored scenes with dark and violent subjects, which jar and provoke a reaction. She uses everyday objects such as sneakers, Band-Aids, along with culturally loaded images of nooses, hoods, masks, and military uniforms.

Ida Applebroog, a New Yorker painter, makes pointed political commentary through intriguing comic book characters, anonymous figures, half-human and half-creature.  Her paintings and drawings stack up in installations. Her subjects are full of irony and black humor as she re-interprets subjects like gender and sexual identity, personal and political power struggles and the desensitization of people by mass media.

Cai Guo-Qiang from Fuijian province, China, is an accomplished mixed media artist, who began using gunpowder in his work. Why? To be spontaneous and to confront the controlled artistic world in China.  His art merges many elements of feng shui, Chinese medicine, images of tigers and dragons, roller coasters and computers. He believes that as an artist, he can transform some energies.

Krzysztof Wodiczko is a Polish American photographer whose works are politically charged. He has projected images onto architectural facades and monuments worldwide, like the Bunker Hill monument and the Hiroshima project. He often uses sound to give voice to previously silenced citizens. He wants us to see how architecture and monuments reflect collective memory and history. His projections challenge the monumentality of the buildings, so the viewer has to examine ideas of human rights, democracy, violence and alienation.

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 12 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

  • 4 part series on Art in the 21st century with artists from Chicago, Mexico City, Los Angeles and Vancouver

Please join us when we begin the new series on October 17, 2018. The crowd is friendly, and the illustrated lectures are superb. 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 answer to the opening illustration quiz = Tom Thomson, a Canadian painter, painted this picture, called Split Rock Gap, Georgian Bay, in the early 1900’s. Did you guess correctly? If you did, you really are an art whiz and attended the 2 classes last November on Tom Thomson’s work!

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.