The American Landscape: Multimedia 'Melting Pot'

experience the rich traditions of

Traditional Music and Art of the United States

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear”  – Walt Whitman

American Landscape Banner.jpg

Sacred and Profane is excited to present our upcoming concert series The American Landscape: Traditional Music and Art of the United States, which explores the rich diversity of influences and traditions of American music. In addition to presenting diverse American choral music, Sacred and Profane has invited several local visual artists to add their perspectives to the ‘melting pot,’ with a performance and interdisciplinary experience free to the public, featuring an exhibit on the theme with works by local artists of many disciplines at our Alameda performance on March 10.

These local artists represent a wide range of mediums, and will explore the American geographical, cultural, and social landscape through a variety of lenses. It will be a celebration of the many places and traditions that make American art and music We’re proud to feature works by glass artist Kim Webster, textile artists George-Ann Bowers and Alice Beasley, painter Mi’Chelle Fredrick, mixed-media artists Åke and Leslie Grunditz, and ceramicist Maria Paz; supported by a generous grant from the City of Alameda.

We can’t wait for you to join us! Learn more about the concerts

RSVP for the exhibit is strongly encouraged.

Here’s a sneak peek about our visual artists:

We’re excited to feature our very own George-Ann Bowers, an original member of Sacred and Profane! Did you know she is also a talented textile artist as well as a fantastic member of the alto section?!

My work celebrates the infinite intricacies of the natural world. I am intrigued by the structure of trees, seed pods or rock formations, see weaving patterns in canyon walls, and thrill to the fine lacework of lichens on rock or bark. Color, contrast and texture are important elements in my work, as is dimensionality, whether implied through visual illusion or in actual form. My work captures fleeting moments in nature’s continuing cycle of creation, destruction and change. Growth, decay, eruption, erosion, and the interplay of light and shadow all provide inspiration for my creations.

For woven pieces, I weave in multiple layers using a variety of yarn fibers, and frequently paint on the yarn itself during the weaving process. I also work with woven sculpture and eccentric shaping, and often use clothing shapes as a framework for nature imagery, illustrating a connection and juxtaposition between the natural world and the human body. In non-woven sculpture, I use materials such as wool, flax fiber or sewing thread along with various construction techniques to build forms echoing those I find in the outdoors

Another of our multi-talented members, Kim Webster, makes blown glass that inspires wonder and awe. You can also see her work annually at the Autumn Lights Festival in the gardens of Lake Merritt!

The history of glass as a preserving medium, combined with my love of the garden provides a foundation for my work which celebrates themes of nurture, memory, tradition and fecundity – all with an inevitable touch of whimsy. Working primarily with glass, I use a variety of processes and techniques, each carefully chosen to enhance the communication of the piece: blown glass with screen printed hand-writing and photographs enameled and fired onto the surface of the glass; kiln-formed glass with sand-blasted imagery; and blown glass sculpture lit from within by low voltage lights.

I enjoy writing as well as glass-making and enjoy it best when I can combine story-telling with my art. I like to use hand-writing because it is so personally expressive, and on certain projects have invited people to write down their thoughts and stories so I can preserve them in glass. Through this type of work, I have been delighted to find where the personal meets the universal and how a conversation can be sparked by the recognition of another’s experience.

Coming from a cold climate (Ontario, Canada), I appreciate the preciousness of the natural world, and feel an inclination to preserve those things that are fragile and delicate and full of wonder. Glass is a perfect medium for me, because the material itself speaks to those qualities. Beauty, laughter, stories shared, a moment in the garden: these are some of life’s treasures worthy of being preserved and pondered.

I love language and I love metaphor. I enjoy the capacity of objects to connect me with memories of people, times and places. I have come to glass with a heart full of experience and an excitement at the possibility of expression, revelation and communion.

I feel at home in the garden.  And so, my work in glass seems to combine these things.

Textile artist Alice Beasly’s colorful and textural work will explore social and musical facets of American culture through fabric portraiture.

Fabric is my chosen medium of expression through which I create realistic portraits of people and objects. I find color, light, shadow, line and value in the pattern of ordinary household fabrics. From these I snip small pieces which I arrange and fuse into a figurative composition. As such the work grows from within rather than being applied to the surface of a canvas by paint, pencil or similar drawing tools. When the image is complete, I sew it together with the stitch line constituting the final “drawn” line.

My work has been exhibited in many venues throughout the United States including the American Folk Art Museum in New York and the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum as well as abroad in Madrid, France, Japan and Namibia.   My work has been purchased or commissioned by a number of individuals and public entities including the County of Alameda, Kaiser Hospital, Highland Hospital and the Sunnyvale Medical Facility.

Alameda-based multimedia artist duo Åke and Leslie Grunditz have created a wonderful sculpture with collage and found object techniques to explore the immigrant stories in our American identities.

Åke has a deep interest in the trials and hardships incurred by Swedish immigrants, especially in the early 1900s. Reading the The Emigrants, a series of novels by Wilhelm Moberg, has provided us with a rich source of imagery and understanding of the plight of these people. In the sculpture, A New Life, we have included a matchbox filled with appleseeds, just as Kristina, a character in the novels, brought seeds with her to plant in the new world. 

Also included in this piece are excerpts from a Swedish brochure from 1890 which was used by passengers on the ships bound for the new land in order to familiarize themselves with America and the English language. The map of New York refers to the landing port of many immigrants, and the Native Americans looking on is a reminder that immigration is a complex issue which impacts people in many ways.

Leslie’s great uncle Archie, born in 1878, escaped to America from Russia after suffering persecution and being exiled to Siberia. He landed in New York in 1904. Once in the USA he thrived and became a successful pharmacist and after retirement, a well respected poet. His daughter saved many of his writings and some personal belongings, and we have used these to illustrate the plight of escape. Success is shown in the partial image of his USA Naturalization papers. Archie’s portrait is front and center, along with quotes from his biography and poetry, and pieces from letters he wrote. Both Åke’s Swedish and Archie’s family photos are collaged together to enhance the intimacy of the experience. We are proud of the strength of our immigrant heritage, and hope we have been able to share a sense of what they went through to reach this new land and A New Life.

Another artist with an interesting view of the immigrant experiences that shape American cultural identities is local ceramicist Maria Paz. Investigating these stories in the ceramic tradition allows her to connect to the past in new ways.

Maria Paz (b. 1989, Quilpue, Chile), is an artist based in Oakland, California working primarily in ceramics and painting. Her practice draws from the analysis of material culture practiced in Archeology. By creating illustrative sculptures, Paz aims to archive global events, her path to familial healing, and her personal encounters with migration to the United States. She uses the symbolic imagery of her past and present life to reveal the fabric of her intersectional identity; an homage to the ceramic artifacts left before us. 

Painter Mi’Chelle Fredrick explores the American Landscape through natural landscapes and elements, celebrating the vast beauty of our country’s geography and wildlife.

Mi’Chelle’s creative interests include painting, drawing, photography and writing. She has exhibited extensively throughout the Bay Area and Midwest. Mi’Chelle received Rhythmix Cultural Works’ 2014 Golden Gear Award for outstanding visual artist. She teaches painting and drawing and is co-Director of popUp Gallery in Alameda, California.

‘Painting and drawing have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. All things wild and natural inspire me. Nothing makes me happier than sitting on a boulder in a quiet place drawing a little piece of what I see. I work primarily in graphite and watercolor, sometimes combining the two mediums as in “Where the Buffalo Roamed” and “Tomorrow Totem”.

In my landscapes and wildlife paintings, I strive to convey not just the physical attributes, but the fragile relationships we share with these places and subjects as well. Through my work, I hope to increase awareness of the delicate balance that holds our world together.’