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Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California

September 20, 2014–April 12, 2015

This major collaboration brings together important works from SFMOMA and OMCA’s collections, exploring how California artists have influenced and been influenced by artists, trends, and cultures on national and international levels.

Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California illuminates local histories and social forces that changed the face of art in—and beyond—the Golden State. Weaving together art and ephemera from the collections of the Oakland Museum of California and SFMOMA, the exhibition tells the stories of four creative communities at decisive moments in the history of California art: the circle of artists who worked with, influenced, and were influenced by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in San Francisco in the 1930s; the legendary painters and photographers associated with the California School of Fine Arts in the 1940s and 1950s, including Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Minor White, and Imogen Cunningham; the free-spirited faculty and students at UC Davis in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley, and Bruce Nauman; and the streetwise, uncompromisingly idealistic artists at the center of a vibrant new Mission scene that took root in the 1990s through the present, including Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen, Amy Franceschini,  Ruby Neri, Alicia McCarthy, and Rigo 23, along with many others. Focusing equally on the artworks and the contexts that fostered their creation, Fertile Ground presents an intimate and textured history of personal relationships, artistic breakthroughs, and transformative social change.

Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California is jointly organized by the Oakland Museum of California and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition is made possible in part by generous support from the Evelyn D. Haas Exhibition Fund, Oakland Museum Women’s Board, OMCA Art Guild, SFMOMA’s Collectors Forum, Barclay and Sharon Simpson, Fisher Family, Pat Wilson, Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan, and Frederick G. Novy and Susanna Novy MacDonald, the Helen Forster Novy Fund. Additional support is provided by SFMOMA’s Bay Area Contemporary Arts Exhibition Fund, founded by Agnes Cowles Bourne, Ann Hatch/Clinton Walker Fund, Maryellen and Frank Herringer, Eileen and Peter Michael, Nancy and Steven H. Oliver, Christine and Michael Murray, Paul Sack and Shirley Davis, Judy C. Webb, Anita and Ronald C. Wornick.

Diego Rivera Allegory of California (detail), 1931.The City Club of San Francisco, Stock Exchange Tower, 2014. Photograph by Johnna Arnold © 2014 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California, installation view, September 20, 2014 – April 12, 2015, jointly organized by the Oakland Museum of California and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; photo: Johanna Arnold
Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California, installation view, September 20, 2014 – April 12, 2015, jointly organized by the Oakland Museum of California and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; photo: Johanna Arnold
Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California, installation view, September 20, 2014 – April 12, 2015, jointly organized by the Oakland Museum of California and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; photo: Johanna Arnold
David Park, Portrait of Richard Diebenkorn, circa 1953. Oil on canvas, 21 x 15.25 in. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California, gift of Mrs. Roy Moore.
Mimi Jacobs, Robert Arneson, Sculptor, 1975; Gelatin silver print; 12.5 x 10.75 in; Collection of the Oakland Museum of California, Gift of Mimi Jacobs