Tree Portraits, Golden Gate Park

Love trees? Love parks? Love Golden Gate Park? Love fresh interpretations of all of the above? Then I think you’ll enjoy “Tree Portraits, Golden Gate Park,” an exhibit of pastels by Heath Massey, currently on show (through April) at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Thanks to Heath for the show, and for this blog share! More info is also available on the website of the SFBG: https://www.sfbg.org/art-exhibit

golden gate park: views from the thicket

IMG_0005 postcard “Windswept at the Beach” pastel by Heath Massey

Please stop by the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture at the San Francisco Botanical Garden to see the current exhibit of pastel portraits that I have painted over the past few years of various trees throughout Golden Gate Park.  The show will be on view through April 29.  Library Hours:  10 am – 4 pm (closed Tues. and most holidays).

My aim in these portraits is to capture the distinctive charm, beauty and character of individual trees, as well as to convey a range of landscapes in the park.  The trees are identified by both common and botanical name and the location of each pastel is shown on a map of the park.  So you can “tour” the entire park from the dry, warm interior of this charming library.  Let it rain!

This is also an excellent time to visit…

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Ambivalence

The morning after the storms passed in late November, I took my camera to the hills near my Inner Sunset home to capture views to the north, east, and west. I was feeling grateful, for many reasons. First, the storm’s tail-end spawned fantastic cloudscapes; this photo-ready drama, common elsewhere, is relatively rare in San Francisco. Second, the storm stirred hope for a good rainy season, which we still need after years of drought. Third, the clear sharp air was the first after nearly two weeks of smoke — breath-stealing, eye-stinging, school-closing smoke — that had drifted to the Bay Area from the tragic Camp Fire hundreds of miles to the north and east.

As my camera shoot progressed, this last bit of gratitude slowly opened itself to question. Yes, the skies dazzled, and my lungs sucked in cool fresh air, and I was grateful, even exhilarated, that the smoke was vanquished. But to our north and east, the dead were still being sought and counted, and beneath these same brilliant skies the people of Paradise were slowly returning to … nothing.

So I felt a mix of sorrow and gratitude. I can’t call it survivor guilt, because I was not in the midst of the fire, and what we survived here was by comparison a mere nuisance. I don’t know how to label it, and grammar-themed websites aren’t coming up with answers. “Cognitive dissonance” feels too removed. “Ambivalence” may fit the bill, but in some ways even it seems too weak a term. All I know for certain is that, for me, the images from that morning will always carry a weight beyond their blue skies, sun-struck buildings, and billowy clouds.