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The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at University of California, Davis, celebrates the depth and breadth of the human spirit in two new exhibitions opening July 14. Both are curated by Dan Nadel and run through December.

Landscape Without Boundaries explores the singularly vital mix of approaches to the idea of landscape in art represented by artists in and around Davis. Through the Manetti Shrem Museum’s collection, the exhibition charts the ways in which painting, sculpture, and drawing addressed the Northern California landscape in the years after World War II. Included are significant works by artists including Robert Arneson, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Mike Henderson, Robert Hudson, Judith Linhares, Gladys Nilsson, Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith, Martín Ramírez, Peter Saul, Cornelia Schulz, Wayne Thiebaud, William T. Wiley and Joseph Yoakum.

The roots of this exhibition are in the ground around Davis itself — a blend of nature, agriculture and industry in the Central Valley, Delta and the North Bay regions, which forced the artists who worked and lived in those regions into an awareness of, and daily interaction with, the environment. Here the landscape could inspire a map of an artist’s psychology, become the basis of a surrealist image or provide the raw material for a freshly invented world. Collectively, this artwork seeks the depths of the human spirit and luxuriates in the paradise of the ordinary hillside. It is profoundly attuned to being alive, in this place, at any time.

Landscape without Boundaries features a graphic depiction of the connections among the artists, their histories, this land, and its postwar artistic culture.  

ColorForm, Kathy Butterly’s first retrospective exhibition, is a homecoming of sorts, bringing the artist back to UC Davis, the site of her MFA, and to the Northern California region that has been so generative for ceramic art over the last half-century. Encompassing the artist’s entire career through approximately 50 sculptures and 20 drawings, the exhibition focuses on the last 10 years of work, including sculpture made especially for this occasion. She was one of the last students to study under Arneson before his death in 1996.

The works on display chart the evolution of Butterly’s sensibility, skillset and philosophical stance, all of which have strong historical roots in the work of Viola Frey, Ken Price and Arneson, her mentor at UC Davis.

Butterly is distinguished among modern and contemporary sculptors for her move to a highly personal, yet nakedly accessible ceramic language of line, form and color that tilts ever closer to emotive, endlessly inventive abstraction.

– Karen Nikos-Rose

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