Mosaic Gallery: Suzanne Gibbs’ Carr Fire Exhibition
July 19 - October 18, 2019
On Tuesday, July 23, we hosted a very special opening reception for Suzanne Gibbs’ Carr Fire Exhibition at the Mosaic Gallery, observing the anniversary of the Carr Fire and commemorating all that came to follow. It was a restorative evening of healing, and even at times, humor. The artist shared her personal experience of the Carr Fire which led to the unique technique of including ash in her artworks in an effort to process the loss and devastation that occurred in her community of East Fork in French Gulch.
Event photos by Japheth Mast
A couple of the artist’s neighbors are depicted in the paintings and several attended the reception in support. One such neighbor, Lou White is the subject of one of the paintings. He stayed behind, despite evacuation orders, for eighteen days keeping the fire from devouring his and his neighbors’ homes. Bravely and with surprising levity, he recounted his harrowing tale.
Dr. Norman Verhoog is also depicted early on in the Carr fire, watching a helicopter drop buckets of water and a plume of smoke in the distance. His delightful wife Kelley spoke animatedly and sentimentally at the reception of the all too familiar series of events that led to the loss of their home.
Despite the heavy nature of the subject matter, folks were in good spirits and enjoyed coming together to share the common bond that was forged when the Carr Fire ravaged the community. Their experience is a microcosm of what many of us faced, from the trepidation of the unknown, to the anguish of loss, to the triumph of rebirth.
Suzanne has managed to capture the disastrous tragedy and transform it into a hauntingly beautiful tribute. The exhibition is a poignant testimonial to the devastation of the Carr fire, as well as the resilience, strength, and humanity that flooded in the wake of that tragedy.
In an agreement between the artist and Turtle Bay Exploration Park, 50% of the proceeds from the artworks sold from the Carr Fire exhibition, on display in the Mosaic Gallery until October 18, 2019, will go to the Red Cross, a charity chosen by the artist due to their tremendous assistance to those affected by the Carr Fire.
The Mosaic Gallery, located between the Mosaic Restaurant and the Sheraton, is managed by Turtle Bay Exploration Park and highlights local art from in and around the community.
Comments from the Artist, Suzanne Gibbs
I was extremely grateful and pleased to see so many familiar and new faces at the Art launch of the exhibition and thankful to Kelley Verhoog and Lou White for sharing their very personal and moving stories; revealing heroic deeds, a community’s strength, resilience, caring and charitable nature. My exhibition couldn’t even begin to capture a fraction of this, so I have only attempted to share my story, whilst perhaps conveying the hidden beauty in such torment and destruction.
After the Carr fire, we were surrounded by the eerie, desolate, monochromatic scenes of ash, which as an artist, was very moving, inspiring and compelled me to work with it. I incorporated the ash into all of the paintings, except the last, as I wanted the Butterfly to represent this month, a year on, the transformation. It’s important to see the actual work to appreciate the texture and to fully ‘see’ how the ash has become one with the paintings.
The personal message for me was a reminder of how our surroundings, possessions, and life itself is all so temporary, cyclic, or about change. Whether you believe there is or isn’t an ending, we just can’t escape our inevitable, personal, transformation.
I’m very grateful to Julia Cronin, the Art Curator for giving me this opportunity, to Amanda Kramp and her team for their support and work towards the exhibition, to Kelley and Lou for sharing on the evening and to all the familiar faces who came to support the event and for all the positive and encouraging feedback from so many.