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By Karen Nikos-Rose on July 2, 2019

Hello Arts Blog Subscribers:

As we approach the summer holidays, many of the arts slow down a bit. But we have new things on the horizon, including a new series of exhibitions at the UC Davis Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art beginning July 14.

There’s exciting news across the street, too, at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, which is embarking on a new Mellon Grant that will take STEM to STEAM and add in some humanities. We also have a new plaza at Third Street and University Avenue that includes a tall tower of bicycle parts, bringing public art, new plantings and even a bicycle traffic counter to that high-profile entrance to campus.  And, this spring, the School of Law (King Hall) unveiled a mural featuring the law school’s namesake, Martin Luther King Jr.

Following, we will give you the highlights of the Arts Blog content since spring as well as some upcoming news on regional arts.

Landscapes by the masters and ceramics too

First, the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis will feature two exciting exhibitions starting July 14:  Kathy Butterly | ColorForm,  through Dec. 29; and  Landscape Without Boundaries: Selections from the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art,through Dec. 15. Both exhibitions are curated by Dan Nadel.  Full opening reception on that first Sunday. Details on that event and other museum programming here. Details about the exhibitions here.

"Both exhibitions are special because they have their roots in UC Davis," said Nadel, the guest curator for both exhibitions. "The landscape exhibition is literally about the Northern California landscape that is so much a part of life in Davis, and the culture that nurtured such an extraordinary collection. And Kathy Butterly is a  distinguished alumnus of the university, who considers her time studying with  (Robert) Arneson to be crucial to her art thinking and making. It’s meaningful to her and the community that we are hosting her first major retrospective." 

Obelisk of Bike Parts Unveiled

A 25-foot-tall obelisk created from reclaimed bicycle parts is a sparkling new addition to Davis’ public artworks, according to a story published in the  Davis Enterprise

The city of Davis commissioned it in 2011 as part of the Third Street Improvement project. While it's in the city, it's definitely in the UC Davis neighborhood, and highly visible from campus. More here.

More ‘news’ on bike art

While on the subject of bicycle-inspired art, give this story a spin...

bike parts sculpture
Public art featuring bicycle parts now graces one entrance to campus.

Freshly decorated news racks echo traditions of Davis with eco-friendly art 

When the Aggie went from a print paper to online only two years ago, the racks that held the papers all over campus went out of use too. 

But with the return of a print newspaper came a new problem. Distribution racks. 

Now, The California Aggie looks to bring eco-friendly art, representative of Davis’ character, to these many blue racks with the help of student designers, artists and even the local bus service. 

The Aggie Racks Restoration project was born through the efforts of Laurie Pederson, a business manager for the Aggie beginning in 2017, as well as student managers and designers from three different teams: The California Aggie, Unitrans and The Bike Barn. Unitrans retrieved all the old rack and primed, sanded and painted them to be ready for their rejuvenation. 

Thanks to a $2,000 Green Initiative Fund granted from ASUCD TGIF fund, student designers were able to use recycled parts of bicycles to decorate the racks in a way that reflected the campus. They now dot the university grounds, including in front of the library and in front of Mrak Hall.

Here’s the rest of the story.

Mondavi Center Gets Grant to Integrate the Arts, Humanities and Science in New Courses 

The University of California, Davis, has received $600,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to offer courses that merge arts, humanities and science in undergraduate seminars co-taught by science, humanities and arts faculty, with the work of visiting performing artists integrated into the curriculum. 

The program is called SHAPE, named for Science, Humanities and Arts: Process and Engagement. “SHAPE is meant to jointly address two complementary sets of concerns in today’s society — the marginalization of the performing arts and a lack of understanding of and even hostility toward science,” said Don Roth, executive director of the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis. “SHAPE will address these imbalances, through a program to broaden students’ perspectives on the value of the arts, humanities and sciences, regardless of major or disciplinary focus,” added Roth, who is leading the grant. “We are extremely grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for recognizing the importance of these issues and supporting our proposed approach.” 

Implemented in partnership with the Davis Humanities Institute,  and the University Honors and First-Year Seminars programs, 10 new undergraduate seminars will occur, each co-taught by a science faculty member and a humanities or arts faculty member. Working with the Mondavi Center, each course will incorporate work by and interaction with a specially selected artist or ensemble. A steering committee, appointed by UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May, will solicit faculty proposals in fall 2019 with classes being taught during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years. 

Roth said the program is aimed at bridging the gap that often occurs in undergraduate education in which non-STEM students may arrive without an understanding of the scientific method or awareness of the landmark scientific discoveries that shape the world, while the arts and humanities are often marginalized as lacking practical value. 

In the faculty proposals, preference will be given to courses that address subjects of major social significance, and that 

  • are taught by co-teaching teams that pair an arts or humanities faculty member with one from the sciences; 
  • address subject matter from a multidisciplinary perspective; 
  • are designed to incorporate artists’ work as a meaningful part of the curriculum; and 
  • contribute to the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion based on teaching, service, research and perspective. 

More here.

Law School Unveils ‘Dream’ Mural

A vibrant new mural adorns a wall in the courtyard of King Hall, the building for UC Davis School of Law. 

Co-created by Reza Harris ’19, the mural depicts Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., after whom King Hall is named, and the word “Dream.” That spray-painted word pays tribute to King’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, Harris said, “and it is a message to the students here: You can look out the window while you are studying, and see a reminder of what your goals are.” 

Harris collaborated on the mural with artist Eric Norberg. Fellow King Hall students helped paint the mural.  More information, and a video, here.

From Research to Block Printing: Doctoral Student Creates Art Inspired by Davis Scenery 

While working on her doctorate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis, Megna Hari spends her free time creating block printed cards inspired by iconic UC Davis landmarks. 

“I have always enjoyed art (drawing, painting, jewelry making) and discovered block printing in the fall of 2017 when scrolling through random Instagram art videos. I started by trying wood carving but found it pretty difficult and had a better time carving rubber and linoleum,” Hari said. Block printing creates beautiful art, but the process is time consuming, she said. One must use the right amount of ink to create seamless line work. 

“I have always enjoyed art (drawing, painting, jewelry making) and discovered block printing in the fall of 2017 when scrolling through random Instagram art videos. I started by trying wood carving but found it pretty difficult and had a better time carving rubber and linoleum”, Hari stated. Block printing creates beautiful art, but the process is time consuming. One must use the right amount of ink to create seamless line work. 

The beauty in block printing lies within its accessibility. Hari said.  “You don’t have to be good at drawing to be good at printmaking — there are methods for printing out designs from your computer and then transferring them over to the linoleum or rubber.” All one needs is passion and inspiration to create art. See the full story and photos here.

A video of her making her prints is available here. Fun and inspiring to see such talent among our students.

Arts Blog ‘best seller’ ­— we love our poets

So, one of our best-read features this spring was a short post about retired poetry professors Gary Snyder and Sandra McPherson introducing an alum poet Pos Moua for his poetry reading in Davis. It was a one-off intended to get an audience to the reading, but it attracted 200 readers that week and afterward who spent an average of three and a half minutes reading it. We love our poets at UC Davis. Read the story here. Stories about murals, painted rocks and other community art are also popular reads on the Arts Blog. Keep those stories coming.

Upcoming: UC Davis ceramics and the Slant Step

Because “Upcoming” is a tease on each Weekender Arts Blog piece, I thought the newsletter should be no exception.

UC Davis Professor of Art and Art History Annabeth Rosen will be exhibiting her sculpture at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco later this month. You’ll have to watch the Arts Blog for more information about that traveling show. And, Verge in Sacramento will feature a special exhibition on the Slant Step, part of the UC Davis special collection, in September. They are even republishing a catalog. The Slant Step has been featured in shows nearly every decade since the 1960s.

More about UC Davis’ important history, and the art that was created in TB 9 over time and to this day, is available in this feature story published in May. There's also a great video of students creating art at TB 9.

Hint: The Slant Step (in the chronology), Annabeth Rosen’s Art, and The Manetti Shrem Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition are ALL featured. The story highlights how the UC Davis temporary building gave a lot of artists’ their starts in life, and continues to cultivate young artists today.

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Lastly, if anyone has any ideas for Arts Blog content, or if you’d like to write something for the Arts Blog, send it my way.

Karen Nikos-Rose

Arts Blog Editor

kmnikos@ucdavis.edu