Marine biologists have long noted the altruism of dolphins and gray whales. Singly or in groups, these animals provide critical assistance to others. Like their pelagic counterparts, a group called the BayWood Artists encourages and supports other environmental organizations, which in turn benefit the broader community and the planet.
On Friday, October 21, about 250 people headed to Sausalito’s Bay Model for the opening of a new BayWood exhibition and sale to benefit Save the Bay, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Save the Bay began in 1961 with the effort of three women who wanted to stop unregulated filling of the Bay and to open up the Bay shoreline for public access. “San Francisco Bay,” said Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis, “would not be the beautiful national treasure it is today without Save the Bay’s work since 1961. We celebrate changing the course of history by fighting and winning battles against impossible odds to protect and restore San Francisco Bay.”
The BayWood Artists have their own growing tradition: Since 1998, they have selected numerous environmental group for whom they mount benefit art exhibitions and sales. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to the beneficiary organization, as much as $25,000 in past years.
Baywood Artists paint plein air. They meet outside at a specific location as a group and create art while directly observing their subjects. “We as artists want to preserve and protect the environment,” says BayWood member Chris Adessa. “The artists’ angle is for the views, but we also support the health of the Bay and surrounding lands.”
- Natalie LaVan and Catherine Fox of Save the Bay, Ron Blatman of Saving the Bay, on the way to present Blatman’s film. Photo courtesy Chris Adessa, BayWood Artists.
Sherill Miller, one of the BayWood Artists and 2011 chair of the fundraising exhibition, explains her motivation for helping out: “I left the corporate world and started painting about 20 years ago. Before taking any classes on technique, I took a plein air workshop painting the baylands by Palo Alto and was hooked. Through landscape painting, my appreciation for nature has deepened. The scenes I particularly enjoyed painting this year were where undeveloped land and Bay meet like at China Camp, Kiel Cove in Tiburon, and an overlook at Angel Island.”
The pictures that the BayWood Artists produce sometimes share similar or even identical settings, but they demonstrate a wide variety of media, attitudes, and styles. Ben Farnham’s watercolors are often suffused with a wash of warm pink, purple or orange, soothing sunset colors. Meanwhile, in ironic (or horrifying) contrast, Jon Francis’s “OK, You Win” depicts two very small-looking windsurfers vying for water space with the Liberty Grace, a huge cargo ship.
The benefit show is open at the Bay Model through November 12, and on Saturdays at 1 pm, you can see screenings of the PBS documentary series Saving the Bay, by Ron Blatman.