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Jeff Long

Jeff Long’s The Birds of California: Beyond Audubon

Jeff Long’s The Birds of California: Beyond Audubon

Jeff Long

Meet the Artist Receptions

June 16 at Berkeley’s David Brower Center

July 7 at Toomey Tourell Gallery, San Francisco

July 14 at TransAmerica Center, San Francisco

Sales from Exhibits benefit Nonprofit Earth Island Institute

31 May 2011 – Sonoma, CA:  Jeff Long’s work isn’t for the birds….that is, until now. Next  month, the internationally known and widely collected artist takes flight with a vivid series of watercolors — Jeff Long’s The Birds of California: Beyond Audubon —  sales of which benefit the nonprofit Earth Island Institute.

“I have to admit, my gallery was a little nervous with this new focus for me,” quipped Long ( whose multi-layered abstracts are highly prized and highly marketable. “Seriously, though, this work is a return to realism for me. I was always very graphic in my approach, and this allows me to use my love of the great outdoors as a jumping off point.”

A source for the paintings, reflected in the show’s title, is the legacy of noted naturalist painter John James Audubon whose depictions of birds and nature have become iconic and almost sacred.  Interestingly, however, Audubon never traveled further West than the Mississippi Valley. He relied for his depictions of Western species on specimens procured for him and shipped stiff and lifeless.

“Wanting to give Western birds their due, I conceived of fleshing out the visual record,” says Long.  “Plus,  I also wanted to introduce elements of contemporary ecological awareness, the history of humankind’s impact on nature, and possibly a bit of allegory.”

Long started the project with depictions of local vignettes, particularly on the three-acre piece of ground in Lake County, California, where Long has a weekend studio.  Soon, he began adding in visual references to episodes he had witnessed in travels to such places as the Great Plains of North America and the wild areas of Africa.  With nature as the theme, Long reached out to the respected Earth Island Institute, headquartered in Berkeley.

For 25 years, Earth Island Institute has been a hub for grassroots campaigns dedicated to conserving, preserving, and restoring the ecosystems on which our civilization depends. Its Project Support program acts as an incubator for start-up environmental projects, giving crucial assistance to groups and individuals with new ideas for promoting ecological sustainability. Since its founding in 1982 by legendary environmentalist David Brower, Earth Island Institute has provided fiscal sponsorship to more than 100 projects around the globe.

“To concentrate one’s awareness on the forms of life with which we share our habitat is to be amazed by many things, including a near miraculous tenacity, adaptability, intelligence, and visual splendor,” Long continues. “The process of painting these subjects reminds me, that for all our divorcement from nature, these living things are still recognized across cultures as a shared language of associations for humans.”

One of the works from Jeff Long’s The Birds of California: Beyond Audobon  will be seen at a reception at 6pm on Thursday, June 16 at Berkeley’s David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way) as a component of the larger showHello Tomorrow: Bay Area Artists Envision the Future. a group show featuring 20 Bay Area artists on environmental themes.

“I think it’s fitting that my birds are first seen here,” said Long, “as Brower was the founder of Earth Island Institute in addition to a number of environmental advocacy groups.”

The full solo show of Jeff Long’s Birds of California: Beyond Audubon will have two openings: The first at Long’s usual gallery, San Francisco’s Toomey Tourel (49 Geary Street) from July 5 – August 13, with a public reception on Thursday, July 7, 5:30pm-7:30pm; the second a week later in San Francisco at the TransAmerica Center (505 Sansome Street), where a reception on Thursday, July 14, 5:30pm-7:30pm, will preceed a run through the end of August.