Adam Wolpert: Pathways to Presence – Exploring Form and Energy in Nature

April 01, 2019 - June 28, 2019

at Gallery Commonweal (main gallery)
451 Mesa Road, Bolinas, CA 94924

No Registration Needed

~Artist Reception: April 13, 3pm – 5pm~

Pathways to Presence brings together my new large portraits of ancient oak trees with selections from my “Premonitions”series painted between 2011 and 2015. These two series of work are both rooted in my lifelong engagement with Nature.

I have lived in West Sonoma County for over 25 years. Ever since I moved to my home at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (, I’ve been captivated by the landscape and have often painted it directly, outdoors, “en plein air”. After fifteen years of painting in this way, my creative process led me from depicting natural forms to exploring energy. The paintings that emerged make up the ”Premonitions” series, a selection of which are in this exhibition. These works employ a visual vocabulary gleaned from many years of painting Nature. I don’t view these as totally abstract. Rather, they depict energy events or describe forces operating at every scale, within a cell or in the Earth’s atmosphere or beyond. These works were painted in the studio and each image emerged through the process of its own making. Using my hands as much as brushes to build up layers of paint, I followed clues that emerged along the way. In retrospect, I see that the critical ingredient in resolving these works and completing these journeys was the act of paying attention, or presence.

After this body of work was completed, I undertook a year-long contemplative painting project crafting multiple images of the same tree by a pond in the place where I live (the Pond Series). Through this work. I reconnected deeply with my love of natural subjects, especially trees. Currently I have turned all my attention to ancient oak treesand am undertaking a cycle of large portraits of these trees in their places. A group of these are included in the show. As I study these magnificent beings, they show me how they are really physical manifestations of energy and relationships. As I paint them, I can almost hear the branches crackling like lightning or imagine them as fluid, swirling like sea-foam around rocks. The forms, which often appear chaotic and arbitrary at first, upon deeper study prove to be eloquent and intelligent. They speak of the complex relationships of the tree to the place where it lives and the myriad changes in these relationships over decades or even centuries.

My practice of painting in Nature is a kind of listening and learning practice that makes me feel connected to a greater whole. When I am attuned, I find every twisted branch reveals a story, whispers a secret. This sense of connection is both beautiful and healing and in some subtle sense even allows some measure of self-transcendence.