Lynn Sondag

Lynn Sondag uses landscape painting to explore the ways we assign aesthetic value, and a sense of belonging, to our every day environments. For over twenty years she’s recorded the landscapes and neighborhoods in the U.S., India, Nepal, Italy, and Denmark.

“With a focus on recording the specific light and physical traits of the neighborhood landscape, I hope to inspire a conversation on the relationship between aesthetic appreciation of the environment and a sense of belonging.” -Lynn Sondag

Ms. Sondag received her BFA in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design, cum laude, in 1990, and her MFA in Painting, with honors, from the California College of the Arts (CCA) in Oakland in 1997. She is an Associate Professor of Studio Art in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at Dominican University of California where she applies her extensive and varied background in arts education and community-engaged art.

Press Release

Lynn Sondag: Cityscapes review by DeWitt Cheng

If the title of this exhibition, Cityscapes, suggests panoramic views from some of San Francisco’s new apartment towers looming over its boarded-up street businesses, the subject matter of Lynn Sondag’s lyrical watercolors, however, is more bucolic. Sondag focuses on the northwest quadrant of San Francisco where she lives, and, to use John Muir’s terminology, saunters, with an observant eye. San Francisco—ineffaceably dubbed The City by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen—is still a walker’s town, and these paintings reflect the artist’s strolls around the Richmond District, Lake Street, Seacliff, The Presidio, Mountain Lake Park, Crissy Field, and Baker Beach. Cityscapes comprises thirty-plus paintings from several series executed during the past twelve years, concluding with the Lake Street series from 2020, depicting scenery only a block or two from Avenue 12 Gallery.

Sondag, a professor of art at Dominican University, grew up in the Midwest, and brings her love of nature to the Bay Area, famously rich in natural beauty and distinctive architecture. While the viewpoint of the paintings and their fresh immediacy suggest a plein-air, on-site painting practice, Sondag works from reference photographs, reconstructing the scenes in her studio. (Photographers will note that her framing has the modern 2:3, 3:4 and 9:16 aspect ratios.) But there is nothing photorealistic about her loose, atmospheric renderings which seem to record her feelings about the scene as much as the facts of weather, architecture and foliage. The art historian Barbara Novak, describing the conflict in early American painting between realist and Transcendentalist impulses, between objective and subjectivity, cites the painter Thomas Cole, who worked from memory, trying to “get the objects of nature, sky, rocks,, trees, etc. as strongly impressed on my mind as possible … [B]y looking intensely on an object for twenty minutes I can go to my room and paint it with much more truth than I could if I employed several hours on the spot…. I become more intimately acquainted with the characteristic spirit of nature than I could otherwise do.”

If photography serves as Sondag’s sketch book, replacing Cole’s twenty-minute fixed gaze, the sense of place must surely be recorded in the artists’ visual memory, or, in Wordsworth’s words, “that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude.” While watercolor is the perfect medium for recording color effects and spontaneity, it is not forgiving; it is inherently not amenable to correction or adjustment, demanding decisiveness, experience and a vision or, in Sondag’s case, an interpretive “emotion [to be] recollected in tranquility.”

San Franciscans—especially of the wanderer-lonely-as-a-cloud tribe—are likely to have a strong affinity for Sondag’s evocative pictorial tone poems of our beloved peninsular paradise, which capture meteorology and mood more completely than any of the artist’s photographs must manage to do. The camera never lies, but it’s only a machine. Sondag’s atmospheric paintings of sky overarching the domestic landscape may remind you of Turner (Sea Cliff V and VI, Lake District 16th Avenue, Presidio Drive I, II), and her architectural renderings may suggest Hopper (West Clay I, Anza Trail I) as an antecedent or ancestor, but these art-historical resonances attest to a shared sensibility that finds visual analogues for feeling available to the attentive, transparent, Emersonian observer. —DeWitt Cheng

ARTIST STATEMENT

These watercolor paintings convey the natural phenomena – sunlight in particular, unique to the Lake District of San Francisco environment at the end of the day, as viewed from the side walks. This twilight period, the long shadows, the highlights illuminated in the trees, buildings and cars, has a distinct beauty, which for me defines a quiet, calm, and contemplative frame of mind at the day’s end. With a focus on recording the specific light and physical traits of the neighborhood landscape, I hope to inspire a conversation on the relationship between aesthetic appreciation of the environment and a sense of belonging.

 

BIO

Lynn Sondag has lived in San Francisco since 1995. She uses landscape painting to explore the ways we assign aesthetic value and a sense of belonging to our every day environments. For over twenty years she’s recorded the landscapes and neighborhoods in both in the U.S. and abroad. Lynn began working with themes of landscape painting and environmental aesthetics during her first international artist residency in Dresden, Germany. She’s also lived and attended artist residencies in India, Nepal, Italy, and Denmark, to develop series of paintings under this theme. She’s exhibited in both galleries and public spaces in San Francisco and other cities in the United States.

Lynn received her BFA in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design and her MFA in Painting from the California College of the Arts (CCA). She is an Associate Professor of Studio Art in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at Dominican University of California where she applies her extensive and varied background in arts education and community-engaged art.

CV

EDUCATION

California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA, M.F.A Painting, with honors. 1997

Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, B.F.A. Painting, cum laude, 1990

EXPERIENCE

2007- present Chair, Dept. Art, Art History and Design, Dominican University of California

2009 –present Assistant Professor, Dept. Art, Art History and Design, Dominican University of California

2002 – 2007 Adjunct Faculty, Dept. Art, Art History and Design, Dominican University of California

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS and INSTALLATIONS

2018 “Park Stand,” Watercolors by Lynn Sondag, Fleet Wood Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2016 “Summer’s Lease: Watercolors by Lynn Sondag,” San Marco Gallery, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA

2015 “Presidio Trails: Overlapping and Unfolding Narratives,” San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, Wallace Stegner Center for Environmental Art, San Francisco, CA.

“Creative Voices,” a public artwork with students of Dominican University and members of Downtown Street Team. Fourth and C Street, San Rafael, CA.

2013 “Facing the Gap: Educational Equity in Marin County,” a public artwork, part  of the global Inside Out project. co-facilitated with Julia van derRyn.

2012 “Sea Cliff, Presidio and Ocean Beach,” Mystic Hotel, San Francisco, CA.

2010 “Looking Near and Far,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2008 “New Works,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

“A New Horizon Line,” The Gallery, St Louis Public Library, Clayton, MO

2007 “Watercolors,” San Marco Gallery, Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA

2005 “Ocean Beach Series,” Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito, CA “Watercolors,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2003 “Watercolors,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

ARTISTS RESIDENCIES AND FELLOWSHIPS

2017 PROYECTO ACÉ, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2009 Artist in Residence, Danish Council of the Arts, Hirsholmene, Denmark

2008 The Bau Institute Fellowship Program, Otranto, Italy

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2013 “Marin Masters,” Outdoor Art Club, Mill Valley, CA

“San Francisco Travel Association Annual Arts Exhibition,” curated by Art Span

2011 “Of Paper / On Paper,” San Marco Gallery, Dominican University, CA

“57 Degrees,” Gallery @ Thoreau Center for Sustainability, San Francisco, CA

“50/50: Fifty Paintings in Fifty Days,” Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA

2010 “Triangle Gallery 50 Years of Artwork,” North First ARTSpace, San Jose, CA

“CCA Alumni Exhibition,” Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA

2009 “Statewide Watercolor Exhibition,” Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA

2008 “Works on Paper,” Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA

2007 “CCA Centennial Alumni Exhibition,” Mont Clair Gallery, Oakland, CA

2006 “Fog Bay Tree,” Thoreau Center for Sustainability, San Francisco, CA

“New Work by Gallery Artists,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2005 “Bay Area Bazaar,” Pulliam-Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR

2004 “Looking Once Seeing Twice: Exploring Abstraction& Realism,” 21 Grand Gallery, Oakland, CA

2003 “Unbound Vistas: Artists Interpret the Northern California Landscape,” St Mary’s College, Moraga, CA.

“Celestial Musings,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2002 “Works on Paper,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2001 “40th Anniversary Exhibition,” Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1998 “Open Spaces: Installation Art,” Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA

1997 “Graduate Honors Exhibition,” California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA

1999 – 2000 Vishwa-Bharati, Kala Bhavan; Shantiniketan, India

AWARDS

2013 San Rafael Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Education Award

2011 Academic Excellence Grant, Dominican University of California

2011 Teacher of the Year, Dominican University of California

GRANTS

2018

Marin Community Foundation Arts Education Grant $20,000

2017

Marin Community Foundation Arts Education Grant $20,000

2016

Marin Community Foundation Arts Education Grant $20,000

2015

Marin Community Foundation Arts Education Grant $20,000

2014

Marin Community Foundation Arts Education Grant $20,000

US Bank Grant $5,000

Umpqua Bank Grant $5,000

2013

Marin Community Foundation Arts Education Grant $18,000

US Bank Grant $5,000

2012

Marin Community Foundation Art Education Grant $12,000

Youth Leadership Institute Grant $600

Strategic Initiative Grant, Dominican University For “Urban Community as Canvas for Social

Change” $8,000

2011

Marin Community Foundation Arts Education Grant $12,000

Academic Excellence Grant, Dominican University $1,000

2010

LEF Foundation Grant $5,000

PUBLICATIONS

2011

Transformative Leadership, co-authored white paper for Think Tank 6: Artist Leading Chang

conference, sponsored by Integrative Teaching International, Lamar Dodd School of Art,

University of Georgia, Athens. GA.

Adjusting the Lens: Creating an Aesthetic Appreciation of the Environment, International Journal of the Arts in Society. Volume 5, Issue: 6, pp 79-88.

 

LECTURES/PRESENTATIONS/WORKSHOPS

2015

“A Conversation About Art & Place,” with Chief Park Officer Michael Boland, Koret Auditorium,

San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA

“Presidio Dialogues: A Conversation with Lynn Sondag,” Presidio Officers Club, San Francisco, CA.

“Watercolor Workshop,” two free public workshops for youth and adults, Latino/Hispanic

Center, San Francisco, Public Library, San Francisco, CA.

“Field Drawing Class,” (3) free public workshops for youth and adults at various locations in the

Presidio National Park, San Francisco, CA.

“Asking Big Questions: Cultivating Critical Consciousness and a Community of Creative

Practice,” presented at the 18th Annual Continuums of Service Conference, Long Beach, CA.

2013

“Inside Out: Facing the Gap: Community-Based Participatory Public Art Project.”

presented at the School of the Visual Arts National Conference on Liberal Arts and the

Education of Artist.

2012

“Building the Architecture of Inclusion for Higher Education.” A collaborative regional and national research project organized by Imagining America and the Center for Institutional Social Change formed to advance full participation and linking diversity and engagement.

Beauty in the Struggle: Realizing Full Access to Higher Education,” presented at the Annual

Imagining America Conference, NYU, NY,NY.

“Big History: First Year Experience,” presented at the Asian Association of World Historians,

Second Congress of World Historians, Seoul, Korea.

2011

“SL Art Fundamentals”, poster presented at the Annual Imagining America Conference  Minneapolis, MN.

“Engaged Learning,” presented at Dominican University of California

“Cultivate, Create, Connect,” presented at the Annual Academic Excellence Grant

Dominican University Academic Showcase, Spring 2011

2010

“Landscape Painting and Environmental Advocacy,” presented at Green, Greener, Greenest:

Romancing Nature Again, Annual Arts and Humanities Conference at the School of the Visual Arts, NY, NY.

“Adjusting the Lens: Creating an Aesthetic Awareness of Environment,” presented at the

International Arts in Society Conference, University of Sydney, Australia.

2009

“Visual Literacy Across Disciplines”, presented at Visual Literacy in Faith Based Institutions Symposium, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA

SELECT PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS:

INHALE THERAPEUTICS

DANCE PHARMACEUTICALS

PRESIDIO TRUST

STANFORD MEDICAL CENTER

DR. PETER STANSKEY

BRUCE JOHNSTON, MD

FRANCIS FORD AND ELEANOR COPPOLA

 

Avenue 12 Gallery
1101 Lake Street at 12th Avenue
San Francisco CA 94118
415-750-9955