Thursday, July 18, 2024

Mendocino Art Center Hosts Contemporary Native Artists Exhibit ‘We Are Still Here’


The following is a press release from the Mendocino Arts Center:

The Mendocino Arts Center

The Mendocino Art Center (MAC) hosts “We Are Still Here,” an exhibit which allows for three artists from three different Pomo regions to honor the continued cultural landscape and lifeways of the Pomo people. The exhibition, May 6 through June 27 in all three MAC galleries, features the artistry of Bonnie Lockhart (Northern Pomo/Kai Poma), Meyo Marrufo (Eastern Pomo), and Eric Wilder (Southwest Pomo/Kashaya).

“As Native Americans, we need more venues to share our story, and for us, it is often through our artwork. Through our art, we show the community that we are still here,” said artists Lockhart, Marrufo and Wilder. “We are more than basket weavers,” continued Wilder. “As Native people, we have merged our traditional culture with contemporary art.”

There will be a free Second Saturday Gallery Reception, May 14, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., with the opportunity to meet the exhibiting artists and attend an Artist Panel, with Lockhart, Marrufo and Wilder, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. As part of the Second Saturday Gallery Reception, June 11, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., there will be an Artists Talk: Exploring Our Culture Through Art, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

May Murrufo’s “The Helper”

Meyo Marrufo is Eastern Pomo from the Clear Lake basin, and her tribe is Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. Meyo began working for her tribe as a cultural resource assistant in the environmental department. Currently, Meyo is an Environmental Director for another Pomo tribe in Central California. She also teaches classes on the continuation of tribal knowledge and renewing it for future generations in Northern California.

When Meyo started coming of age, she began to learn traditional Pomo regalia and food preparation from the ground up. As she deepened her art practice, she began sharing her knowledge in cultural arts, regalia making and traditional foods with others. Meyo connects her digital artwork (as she calls finger-doodles), to the traditional Pomo life, customary dance and basket patterns. With the cultural nature of Pomo basket designs, Meyo weaves the ‘basket language’ of meanings and uses into her drawings and beadwork. Each design represents a different strength and can change tone with different color arrangements. Meyo works hands-on for the protection of the Pomo cultural landscape. She works in a conscious and direct way, to better impact the restoration and protection of tribal lifeways.

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Bonnie Lockhart (Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Kai Poma) was raised on the Pinoleville Indian Reservation just outside Ukiah. As a kid, Bonnie spent much of her free time drawing, playing outside, climbing trees, watching the sunset, taking walks in the nearby creek, and singing to the plants on the reservation. Bonnie and her little sister Sequoia traveled with her parents to the coast and would drive to the redwoods pointing out medicine, basket materials, and animals. As Bonnie grew up, she doodled on her homework, eventually sketching trees, birds, waves, and grasses – inspired by the starlings she watched in the sky, illustrating the beauty around the reservation and special places she visited throughout Mendocino County.

Bonnie Lockhart’s “Always Sacred, Always Here, Always Home”

In her early 20s, Bonnie lived in Monterey with her sister Sequoia, who worked at a local art store, and filled their living room with clearance art supplies. The sisters started painting together and Bonnie found that working with acrylics opened a deeper sense of spiritual connection, through storytelling.

Now, a decade since Bonnie started painting, she often spends time touching medicine to memorize the texture of the leaves, standing in a sunset to absorb the warmth of the sunlight, sitting next to the ocean, and collecting the sound of the water crashing on the rocks. Working with wet and dry mediums, paint and natural materials, Bonnie paints and weaves. She continues to grow and learn while gathering her inspiration from the colors changing on the mountains, the diversity of clouds in the sky, how the wind feels, how the sedge grows, and how the river reflects in the light of the sun. Through art and culture, Bonnie carries on the tradition of mentoring youth by passing on the knowledge that was passed down to her to the next generation.

Eric Wilder is a member of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria in northwest Sonoma County, south of Point Arena, CA. Eric grew up on the Kashia Reservation and has shown interest in art since he was a child. He is the grandson of Essie Parrish, the last spiritual doctor of the Kashia people, and grew up learning her teachings, songs, dances and crafts. Wilder has come full circle, both as a leader of his Tribe and professionally as an artist. It took Eric some time to grasp everything he’s learned up to this point in his life, and to even accept himself as a professional artist.

Eric Wilder’s “Bird Story”

It was not until Wilder was 29 when he finally got his break into a professional art career by entering into a comic book shop drawing contest and winning. Soon after that, he found work with companies such as Jumpin’ Jack Software, Big Ape Productions and developed games for LucasArts, Fox Interactive and MTV. He has worked as an animator, level designer, character designer, storyboard artist, and concept artist at various stages through his career and worked on noteworthy games such as Star Wars Phantom Menace, Celebrity Deathmatch, and The Simpsons Wrestling.

Following his career in gaming, Wilder was elected to the Kashia Tribal Council for two terms as the Tribal Secretary and then two terms as the Tribal Chairman. After fulfilling his elected Tribal Leadership roles, Eric again found himself searching for a new direction to take his life and career. Through the encouragement of friends, fans and peers, Wilder entered the Art in the Redwoods show in 2013 and was awarded 2nd place in the pen & ink drawing category. This was the motivation that connected him back to his talent as an artist. Since that time, he has done two art openings for shows featuring his work at different venues, he sells his line of greeting cards, and is always experimenting with new mediums to display his designs.

The Mendocino Art Center, acknowledging that its facility sits upon Native soil, offers a deep apology and condolences for the oppressions that have occurred to the Native Peoples of these lands. With education, understanding and cooperation, we can do better as a people, to help heal past transgressions through future stewardship, along with a mindful practice. In this exhibition, its MAC’s greatest hope to expand shared intentions to the larger communities, to create a greater understanding and dialogue. MAC is honored to highlight these indigenous artists, to hear their voices, gaze upon their visual stories, and welcome their rich and diverse inheritance, in our one community.

Collaborative Tile Art Project at the New Ford House Restrooms

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Mendocino Art Center and Mendocino Area Parks Association (MendoParks) are collaborating on a tile art project at the new Ford House restrooms in Mendocino, featuring original artwork by Lockhart, Marrufo and Wilder. The conceptualized themes celebrate the lifeways of Coastal Pomo people and began a truly collaborative art project with each artist painting different themes and sections of the murals. The restrooms are scheduled to open in June 2022.

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The following generous funders made the exhibit and restroom tile project possible: Bill Graham Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, Community Foundation of Mendocino County AD Abramson Endowment Fund for the Visual Arts, George and Ruth Bradford Foundation, Debra Lennox, Visit Mendocino County, and MendoParks.

Admission to the gallery exhibit is free. For more information please call 707-937-5818 or visit MendocinoArtCenter.org. The Mendocino Art Center is located at 45200 Little Lake Street (at Kasten Street) in Mendocino. The gallery is open daily, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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