"On Alameda Ave. #1 (SCF)," A Painting by Lucas Reiner, Now Being Exhibited
Piece Commissioned by Farmlab; Depicts Iconic Walnut Trees
Lucas Reiner's oil-on-canvas painting, "On Alameda Ave. #1 (SCF)" -- reproduced above -- is part of the group show, "Portraits," now on exhibition in Los Angeles at the Carl Berg Gallery.
The portrait, commissioned and owned by Farmlab and not available for sale at the gallery, depicts the venerated, intertwined, California black walnut trees that graced the site of the former South Central Farm.
Following the bulldozing of the SCF, Farmlab rescued and moved the two walnut trees -- as well as 110 or so smaller fruit trees -- to the grounds of the Huntington Gardens. The walnuts were recently replanted at the Huntington.
The exhibition at Carl Berg continues through October 6, 2007.
During the past six years, Reiner has made various paintings of trees that have undergone, as he puts it, "radical trimmings."
After receiving his "On Alameda" commission from Farmlab Creative Director Lauren Bon, Reiner took a helicopter ride over the former SCF site. His research would also soon incorporate Google Earth aerial maps, plus the still photos and videos he took of the trees that became icons of the struggle to preserve the once-flourishing agricultural acreage.
Typically, Reiner's tree paintings feature trunks that continue downward off the bottom of the canvas.
But this time, knowing that his subject was soon to be boxed up, and moved from South L.A. to San Marino, Reiner broke from his usual form. In "On Alameda," the Walnuts don't come close to hitting the lower edge of the frame.
In fact, Reiner says, he imagined the trees as flying, ascending.
"That's why it's portrayed floating in pictorial space, uprooted," he says. "So this would be like the tree in transit -- if you were going to make a literal interpretation."
The act of uprooting, boxing, trimming, and transporting something arboreal can be dangerous and violent. Reiner notes that whenver trees are moved, there's always the chance they won't survive. The artist says his painting also aims to convey that element of suspense.
Suspense, Reiner says, but hope, as well. That's why there's a fair amount of green visible in the painting.
"I'm optistimic," Reiner says, "that it will grow back."
Click here for more information about and images from the Carl Berg Gallery group show featuring Lucas Reiner, as well as Dan McCleary, and George Stoll.
Click here for links to more information about and images of Farmlab's 'Monument to the Trees as Unsung Heroes of the South Central Farm'