“Southern California Coast” by George Gardner Symons, before 1913, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 in.

UCI exhibit explores California’s natural heritage


Experience the world of California’s natural resources through the thought-provoking exhibition “Indefinitely Wild: Preserving California’s Natural Resources” at UC Irvine’s Jack and Shanaz Langson Institute and Museum of California Art.

Through Sept. 9, the exhibit shows California landscapes during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as artists captured the expansive meadows and open spaces that defined California’s allure.

The exhibit derives its title, “Indefinitely Wild,” from a passage in Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden.” It presents 25 paintings and six previously unreleased watercolors. The gallery has five sections – mountains, trees, the coast, water and land. Each section features art on the walls and explanatory texts and glass cases containing a range of historical artifacts from avocado brochures to certificates for oil company stock.

For example, an impressionist portrait of a solitary tent perched on a wild seaside bluff is showcased alongside a photograph depicting myriad similar tents scattered across Aliso Beach.

Guest curator Cassandra Coblentz hopes museumgoers will reflect on the unavoidable clash between conservation and growth.

“That tension has always been part of California,” she says. “We often assume the state’s wild spaces will always be there, but that’s not the case. The goal of the exhibition is to offer a nuanced understanding of the persistent need for protection and care of our natural environment.”

The museum, at 18881 Von Karman Ave., was established in 2017 after UCI received two major art collections, including 1,200 works of California impressionism and plein-air art.


On July 15, visitors can join artist Yevgeniya Mikhailik for a hands-on workshop to create a collaborative family portrait while learning about California native plants. Visit imca.uci.edu for more information.

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