Another year passes and we find ourselves at summer's doorstep once more. California is fortunate to have year-round access to the outdoors -- but even in the land of never-ending exploration opportunities, summer affords special access to some of the most incredible places this state has on offer. Among these are the Sierra Nevada Mountains -- the Range of Light, as John Muir called it. At 400 miles long -- from Tehachapi Pass in Kern County, to Fredonyer Pass in Lassen County -- the Sierra is home to three national parks (Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon), 20 wilderness areas, and many other iconic features, including Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney.
Many consider the John Muir Trail to be the crown jewel of this spectacular mountain range. Even a well-traveled buck like me would be hard pressed to find a land to match its awe-inspiring magnificence. And so, with summer here once again, we pay homage to this stunning 220-mile ribbon of trail in the hopes of inspiring others to breathe its therapeutic air, see its exhilirating sites and feel its recuperative effects.
E+J hiked the trail in 2015, documenting the experience in detail in this travelogue. But for this wily duo, the process of interpreting such a transformative experience is not complete without creating their own visual narrative -- hence the works presented in this latest show. Since a relative few make the trek, we attempt to bring the trail to you, showing you vignettes of the trail's many highlights.
Like all past dearantler exhibits, this one borrows its title from a Hitchcock film. As many who love the outdoors do, E+J make their home everywhere they go, approaching a strange and unexplored place and immediately becoming acquainted with it. Backpackers also enjoy the freedom of quickly and deeply connecting with fellow travelers in the backcountry -- skipping over the inhibitions and social norms that are second nature in the city. Instead, they bond over shared visceral experiences, as they automatically know that the strangers they just met have experienced many of the same challenges and rewards. I've heard this special relationship described this way: people you will encounter on the trail are just friends you haven't yet met. Strangers On A Trail honors the process of moving seamlessly from being a stranger to becoming a friend of people and land alike.
Rhythm of Forms - Writing with light in the Range of Light
Defined literally, photography is "writing with light." The jaw-dropping landscapes of the Sierra Nevada change their character hourly with the angle, color and density of the light that bathes them, making each moment, and thus each photographic opportunity, distinct. In the same way that Claude Monet spent years exploring how light conditions transformed Notre Dame cathedral or the haystacks, photographers find themselves drawn to the Sierras' ever-changing character to capture a moment that may never again be repeated.
Edith's photo collection offers a peek into varied moments spent on the John Muir Trail. Treated with a warm saturation reminiscent of early hand-tinted photographs, it reminds the viewer that while the light constantly changes the character of the backcountry, it is a space that remains otherwise relatively unchanged despite modernity's urgent demands. Here, time passes as it did a hundred or a thousand years ago, dictated by the rising and setting of the sun each day.
Daydreaming - Six landmarks on the JMT
Jolly's painted masterpieces combine whimsy and grandeur to create unique interpretations of some of the trail's most iconic landmarks -- including Half Dome, Rae Lakes and the Mount Whitney summit. The highly stylized works in acrylic and mixed media reduce the landscape to a few dramatic elements, beckoning the viewer to travel through their sparse and intentional placement. Vibrant colors and a perspective as if we were floating just above the scene create an inviting space for us to experience.
Our characters (E+J) appear in each scene, and as the viewer you are invited to accompany our travelers as a witness and participant. A celestial object also appears in each piece, as if guiding our travelers. Is it the sun? Is it the moon? It's up to you to decide. Jolly chose the title -- Daydreaming -- both because the experience of thru-hiking the JMT is surreal in the moment, and because it stays with a hiker like a daydream long after leaving the trail.