Gravity and Light

The San Joaquin River: Gravity and Light is a 130 foot long drawing on Arches paper permanently installed at the Woodward Park Regional Library in Fresno, California. It was commissioned in 1994 by the Fresno Art Museum’s then-director Robert Barrett, who conceived of a collaborative work by my brothers Doug and Keith, my mother Janice, and me on the topic of the San Joaquin River.





In its original 1997 installation, the work wound its way at eye level through three galleries of the Fresno Art Museum. The messy sweep of objects, growing denser toward the center, references the rare but still potent power of the San Joaquin to overflow its banks and carry away the stuff of man and of nature in an indiscriminate tangle. Three months before our scheduled hanging date, the river did just that.

The scroll-like drawing is visually anchored at each end by a river boulder. I became the project's de facto conceptual designer, which, as much as anything, meant solving the problem of how to coordinate the overlapping artwork of four artists in three cities.

I got a lot of satisfaction from seeing the interplay of our overlapping drawings: my brother Doug's ink rendering of an old bridge ruin is seen through the branches of my oak.

Woodward Park Regional Library architect Arthur Dyson's design, with its long, curving planes, was in part inspired by the sweeping curves of our work.


Photos by Brad Hansen


Filed in: River Objects

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree