Up until 1998, I'd always drawn and painted people, particularly enjoying making gesture-based sketches like the one below, drawn probably around 2000, sometime around the time of the show.
In 1998, I met a number of artists who lived in my part of the county, north Monterey County, in California. A couple of them, Bill Fenwick, and Barbara Edell Poole, were involved in the beginnings of the creation of what became Friends, Artists, and Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough, an environmental action group focused on the protection of Elkhorn Slough and its surrounding watershed.
Bill proposed that we, collectively, join to paint in protest of a development of close to two hundred homes and nine holes of golf on land at the most sensitive part of Elkhorn Slough — its northern edge.
Everyone knows, worldwide, how beautiful the Monterey peninsula is. Where we lived, in north Monterey County, and along the wetlands of Elkhorn Slough, the land's more subtle beauty had been entirely overlooked. North County was where they put the junkyards, the landfill, and the power plant. It wasn't thought of as beautiful.
But the health and beauty of the Monterey Bay depends on the health of Elkhorn Slough, which serves as a nursery and feeding ground for many of the species of animals, sea creatures, and birds who live there. Elkhorn Slough is also a major stopping place and feeding ground for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
The slough is a wetland that is affected by the tides. When the tides are in, the water deepens and turns blue. When the tides are out, large stretches of it become mudflats — as you see in the satellite view — which makes hungry birds more than happy, as they find tasty morsels to eat.
So, five of us gathered once a week for four weekends in the fall of 1998 — four painters, Bill, Barbara, Gloria Shaw, and myself, and one photographer, Kyle Dawn Hills, who documented what we were doing. We wanted to paint the places that were threatened by development, and call attention to the particular beauties of the slough, as well as its importance to the health of the bay itself.
Thus began something that would have an impact and grew in ways that we could not have foreseen.... (to be continued)
Karen Lynn Ingalls
I am an artist in Napa and Sonoma Counties, in California. I paint colorist landscapes of rural California, teach art classes and lessons, and live in Calistoga, California. I also teach private, group, and corporate art workshops in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and other parts of Northern California.