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.