Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Tree of Life

While organizing the Joshua Treenial in 2019, I got a call from Joe Baker at the Palos Verdes Art Center to say that  they had an artist from Mexico who had just closed an exhibition at the center and that her work would be perfect for the Treenial. JT2019's theme was Paradise Parallax and the works were wonderful small oil paintings of naked figures seemingly being expelled from Eden along with other mythological themes. The center offered to transport the work, install it and sponsor the artist - it was a perfect match.

With the work installed, I finally got to meet the artist - Paloma Menéndez - and she was really delightful to have as part of the Treenial community. Her imaginative treatment of landscape and the human presence were inspiring so it was easy for us to offer her a residency when she enquired about one. Paloma proposed looking at all of the life forms that rely on the Joshua tree and treating this desert icon as an analogy to the Tree of Life or the Mexican Arbol de la Vida. She received funding from Sistema de Apoyos a la Creación y Proyectos Culturales (Fonca) and we set a date. Which twice owing to the pandemic.

Paloma was finally able to travel in mid-November, 2021 and got to work immediately upon arrival. She was experimenting with a new support for the paintings, Duralar, and with some new mediums for moving the oils around. I was able to arrange a field trip into the park with Mark Wheeler, a local biology and botany enthusiast / expert and past president of the local national park association in order for Paloma to get even closer to the subjects of her work. She left a for what she thought would be a few hours before lunch and returned just before sunset, elated and exhausted.

The artists intensive studio schedule paid off with a wonderful open studio exhibition of paintings, drawings and a wall of informational inputs. The event was well attended and several artworks found new homes that day. Many thanks to Paloma for her great energy and wonderful artwork. 

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