January 19, 2018 - di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art - Be Not Still
January 19, 2018

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art

Ala Ebtekar, Azimuth (12 billion years in 80 minutes), 2017. Cyanotype on canvas exposed to sunlight. 61 x 120 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Be Not Still
Living in Uncertain Times (Part 1)
January 27–May 27, 2018

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
5200 Sonoma Hwy
Napa, CA 94559
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 10am–4pm

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di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art presents its largest exhibition to date, Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times. Shown in two parts throughout 2018, the group exhibition addresses the present social and political climate through an experimental blend of commissioned works and di Rosa’s vast collection of Northern California contemporary art.

Part 1, on view January 27–May 27, assembles a diverse intergenerational mix of artists and cultural producers with ties to the Bay Area, including authors Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, and artists Ala Ebtekar, Rigo 23, and Allison Smith. Participants were invited to identify and respond to a topic of their choosing under the overarching theme of present-day America. The resulting artist projects—exploring topics of surveillance, citizenship, American exceptionalism, and the rise of white nationalism—are presented to open a dialogue around prescient matters affecting our local and global communities.

“California, and the Bay Area in particular, has long hosted a productive intersection of politics and culture,” Curator Amy Owen said. “The artists in Be Not Still reflect this transgressive lineage of provocation and share a distinct interest in looking back on history to explore what it can tell us about our present moment.”

Organized by Owen and Assistant Curator Kara Q. Smith, with Andrea Saenz Williams, Director of Education and Civic Engagement, Be Not Still is the inaugural exhibition under the newly renamed di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art and emphasizes the organization’s renewed focus on artist-driven collaborations and providing a platform for experimentation while also being socially engaged.

“We need to rethink the role of cultural organizations and the civic dimension they can embrace,” di Rosa Executive Director Robert Sain said. “As we collectively try to make sense of today’s polarized culture, we at di Rosa feel compelled to show why art matters and how artists can be a resource and an asset to the pressing concerns of our time."

Central to Be Not Still is an extensive education and civic engagement platform to provide multiple opportunities for visitors to interact with the exhibition throughout its run. Programs include artist talks, a series of art-making workshops, and a book club. di Rosa is also partnering on educational programs with several community-based organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley, Napa Valley College’s Theater Arts department, and Napa County Library.

“This is a milestone moment for the organization,” Sain said. “We regard Be Not Still as a launchpad for a future that dares to make art essential to the human experience.”

Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times Part I is on view January 27–May 27, 2018, at di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art (5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa). A public reception will be held on January 27, from 4 to 6pm. Part II opens on June 23, 2018, and will feature new work by Victor Cartagena, Ranu Mukherjee, Lava Thomas, and Lexa Walsh.
Hours: Wed-Sun, 10am to 4pm. Visit dirosaart.org for admission fees, tour schedule, and exhibition-related programming.

Major support for Part I is provided by Stags’ Leap Winery and Darioush & Shahpar Khaledi. Generous support is provided by Wanda Kownacki and Phil Schlein. Additional support is provided by the di Rosa Producers Council and Patrons Circle.

Artist projects
Dodie Bellamy
and Kevin Killian explore the topic of surveillance through a curated presentation of over 50 works from di Rosa’s collection. Their selections—works which evoke a sense of vulnerability and foreboding through imagery, mood, and form—reveal the collection’s heightened relevancy amid the upheaval of a divided nation.

Ala Ebtekar responds to the topic of citizenship through an elaborate ceramic floor installation that transfers a Hubble Space Telescope field image onto a handmade tile grid. With no visible distinctions between stars, planets, space, or time, the work invites viewers to consider the universality of existence and explore what it means to be a territory without borders.

Rigo 23 explores the concept of American exceptionalism and the long-term impact of contemporary leadership through a large-scale, three-dimensional rendering of the American Flag. Visitors are invited to walk in and around this metaphor for territory, with the installation’s stripes-as-walls configuration suggesting the physical and ideological boundaries that may come to define this country.

Allison Smith investigates the rise of white nationalism and how patriotism might be viewed in a different light through a series of sculptural installations including an assembly of cast iron tiki torches reminiscent of those used in the recent Charlottesville, VA, protests. Smith takes current debates on the removal of confederate monuments as a point of departure for discussions on the potent materiality of sculpture.

Public programs
In Conversation: Dodie Bellamy & Pamela Lee

Saturday, February 3, 2018, 2:30-4:30pm 

In Conversation: Rigo 23 & Christian L. Frock
Sunday, March 25, 2018, 2:30-4:30pm

An Evening & Ala Ebtekar
Saturday, April 14, 2018, 4:30-9pm

Third Thursday with Kevin Killian
Thursday, April 19, 2018, 4-7pm

In Conversation: Allison Smith & Amy Owen
Sunday, May 6, 2018, 2:30-4:30pm

For details about these events and other public programs related to the exhibition, visit www.dirosaart.org.

About di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
di Rosa is a catalyst for transformative experiences with contemporary art of Northern California. The nonprofit art center presents dynamic exhibitions and educational programs for all ages and houses the foremost collection of contemporary Bay Area art in the world. A wide range of styles, media, and subject matter provide an overview of the creative energy and freedom to experiment that characterize this region of California. di Rosa features three galleries, a sculpture park, a 35-acre lake, and a wildlife preserve, all located on 217 scenic acres in Napa Valley’s famed Carneros region. For more information, visit dirosaart.org.

For images, interview requests, and curatorial media tours, contact Danielle Smith, danielle [​at​] frameworksf.com, or Stephanie King, stephanie [​at​] dirosaart.org.

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
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