UKIAH CA., 5/19/22 – The newest exhibition at the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House in Ukiah explores the back to the land movement of the 1960s and ‘70s in Mendocino County. The exhibit features artworks created by over 30 “back-to-landers” from throughout the county.
Details about the exhibit were submitted by writer Roberta Werdinger:
On May 19, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum will hold an opening reception for its new exhibit, Something’s Happening Here: Artistic Reflections on the Back to the Land Movement. Refreshments will be served, and Will Siegel and Friends with Les Boek, Steve Baird and Ellie Siegel will play music. Featuring artwork in diverse mediums by 35 Mendocino County residents who migrated here as part of the movement, the exhibit showcases the enormous creativity expressed by each individual in a time when “do your own thing” was a popular slogan, as well as their profound collective impact on the culture, beliefs, and lifestyles of Mendocino County at large. The reception is free and open to the public.
When Alyssa Boge, Grace Hudson Museum Curator, and David Burton, the Museum’s Director, set out to visit and interview Mendocino County artists and craftspeople who had been back-to-landers in order to form this exhibit, they saw a collection of individuals, not people who had signed up for a movement. “I was surprised at how non-homogenous they were,” Boge says. While they all shared a value of living simply and close to nature, their other choices could differ widely. Some believed in living communally; others were fierce individualists. Some used psychedelics and grew marijuana; others wouldn’t go near the stuff. Some engaged in political protest, including actions against clearcutting of redwood forests; others preferred to go within and shift consciousness. What they all had in common, though, was the creativity that suffused their daily lives. Burton notes that the very act of choosing to go back to the land was a creative one. Traditional crafts, such as weaving and woodworking, were revived and renewed. Thus the exhibit includes a plethora of mediums: furniture, clothing, instruments, masks, watercolors, mixed media, posters, and pottery.
“Every single back-to-lander we met was creative in one way or another,” Burton says. It was not so much art for art’s sake, as that a person had to be creative if they were to live out on the land. Anyone trying to install a water system or raise a herd of goats had to learn how to do it or figure out how to jury-rig a solution. Self-reliance is a close cousin of creativity. “If they practiced or never practiced any of the fine arts, their life on the land was itself a work of art,” Burton concludes.
Something’s Happening Here: Artistic Reflections on the Back to the Land Movement will be on display until Oct. 15, 2023. Several events, including a summer solstice celebration and a back-to-the-land artists panel, are planned.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.