Artist Instigators


A series of surreal panels by Luke Matjas portray raccoons, crows, cougars, and wildlife among a jumble of cell towers, plastic bottles and urban refuse. Audubon illustrations replicated by Penelope Gottlieb twist it up with birds tangled by invasive plants that endanger flora and fauna. Aerial views reveal green blotches stretching from Palm Springs to Rancho Mirage in Kim Stringfellow’s Every Golf Course in the Coachella Valley.

Kim’s image shows 136 golf courses at posh resorts that suck up one million gallons of water per day – all the more relevant in California’s current drought. Only 25 resorts use reclaimed water though the Valley’s water district provides it free.  These artists and more are part of Ignite! The Art of Sustainability, a dynamic exhibition currently at the Longmont Museum in Colorado through May. Part of the Green Museum Initiative, these dramatic paintings, photography, sculpture and installations covering a wide swath of environmental issues, explore the impact of modern culture on the natural world with emotions.

What inspires artists to be activists about climate change? Here’s my story about the show when it was staged at the Pasadena Museum of California. 

Currently PMCA is showing another fascinating show, “Homestead” by Flora Kao, about shacks scattered across the parched landscape of the town of Wonderland near Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert. These small structures were part of the Small Tract Act of 1938, when homesteaders could claim five acres of expendable public land with a tiny shack – then abandoned them when the weather proved too harsh. 


About Roberta Cruger

"I'm a writer, but then nobody's perfect." - Billy Wilder Roberta Cruger, a journalist for more than 15 years, has contributed to an array of publications including Smithsonian, The Believer, HOW, Robb Report, and the Los Angeles Times magazine, websites such as Salon and Treehugger, and has written for National Geographic Traveler and in-flight magazines from Alaska Airlines to U.S. Airways. She was the founding editor of the media section at Creem magazine and worked in programming at MTV from 1981-'88. Her beats cover arts/culture and entertainment, the environment, design, food, and travel, and her books include the "Hungry? Seattle" guidebook and a chapter in the "Rock, She Wrote" anthology.
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