Fertile Ground

Art and Community in California

September 20, 2014 - April 12, 2015

Oakland Museum of California

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 by generous support from the Evelyn D. Haas Exhibition Fund, the Oakland Museum Women's Board, OMCA Art Guild, SFMOMA's Collectors Forum, Barclay and Sharon Simpson, the Fisher Family, Pat Wilson, Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan, Frederick G. Novy and Susanna Novy MacDonald, the Helen Forster Novy Fund, and Nancy and Steven H. Oliver. 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, Christine and Michael Murray, Paul Sack and Shirley Davis, Judy C. Webb, and Anita and Ronald C. Wornick.

Evelyn D. Haas Exhibition Fund

  • Diego Rivera's The Flower Carrier, 1935
    Diego Rivera, The Flower Carrier, 1935; oil and tempera on Masonite; Collection SFMOMA, Albert M. Bender Collection, gift of Albert M. Bender in memory of Caroline Walter; Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo: Ben Blackwell
  • Elmer Bischoff, Orange Sweater, 1955; oil on canvas; Collection SFMOMA, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Schorer; Estate of Elmer Bischoff; photo: Ben Blackwell
  • Wayne Thiebaud, Delicatessen Counter, 1961; oil on canvas; Collection of the Oakland Museum of California, gift of Concours d'Antiques, Art Guild; Art Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
  • Robert Arneson, California Artist, 1982; stoneware with glazes; Collection SFMOMA, gift of the Modern Art Council; Art Estate of Robert Arneson / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; photo: Ben Blackwell
  • Margaret Kilgallen, Untitled, 2000; acrylic on unstretched canvas; Collection SFMOMA, Purchase, by exchange, through a fractional gift of Evelyn D. Haas, and through gifts of Albert M. Bender, Vicki and Kent Logan, Janice and Henry Rooney, and bequests of Dr. Gertrude Ticho and Dean Barnlund; Estate of Margaret Kilgallen; photo: Ian Reeves
  • Guests at the Fertile Ground member preview party view Amanda Eicher's Genealogy: Adobe Books (2014); photo: Drew Altizer
  • A guest at the Fertile Ground member preview party views Robert Arneson's California Artist (1982); photo: Myleen Hollero
  • A guest at the Fertile Ground member preview party views Barry McGee's Untitled (1996/2009/2014); photo: Myleen Hollero