.Appreciating Harvest Time through the Eyes of Artists

Fall. An incredible season. Full of death, decay, mystery—full of, also, an incredible expansive beginning. 

The crackle of potential moves through the air; the atoms extra-charged with the transition from summer towards winter. Fall is a bardo period—a magnificent, liminal, in between state. There is an invitation to look inward, to reflect on our lives, loves, heartaches, changes, as the season whirls and moves around us. 

Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties are particularly spectacular places to experience fall. The oak and sycamore and maple trees become a pantheon of color; the air becomes crisp; rain comes and fills still-open windows with an aromatic petrichor. We shiver with anticipation for what? We don’t quite know. 

Our artists know particularly, the magic of fall and how to pay homage to the season. Here are their words, as we embrace, invite and welcome harvest season. 

“Autumn in Marin is the most beautiful season. The weather is usually very hospitable, and the light glows. I always look forward to all the fall arts’ events, such as the Mill Valley Film Festival and Larry the Hat’s Mill Valley Block Party. At O’Hanlon Center in Mill Valley, we have an annual Wabi Sabi exhibition in the gallery each fall that heralds the turn of the season. Since the work is primarily made with natural objects, and the aesthetic honors the transitory nature of life and death, the show deepens the viewer’s appreciation of the season. The fallen leaves from the maple trees blow into the gallery, and they are invited to stay.”

-Erma Murphy, executive director, O’Hanlon Arts Center, Mill Valley  

“I love fall! This time of year is such a transition, physically and metaphorically. This season really ignites and invites an energetic slowing down. I’m extremely inspired by nature and the process of shedding and slowing in preparation for the slower and colder months. It’s a time to turn inward. I find myself wanting to cozy up and crochet sweaters to adorn my body. This time also inspires me to give myself a break, to trust in my creative process and to be really present in what my needs are. I invite people to turn to the trees; as they shed their leaves, what are you shedding? And how are you caring for yourself in the shedding process?” 

-Kathryn Warren, artist and creator, Sebastopol 

“Fall is definitely my favorite season. More than any other season, I feel a sense of anticipation in the fall. Living in the North Bay, there are of course the festivities around harvest, and the gratitude for the bounty given before winter. But what I love most about harvest is that it’s really the end of the outdoor season. During the summer, we gather as groups to meet strangers and acquaintances, to revel in all that spring and summer has provided. But in the fall, the celebrations become more select. We feel the wind, heavy with anticipation of a storm; we see the vibrant urgencies of yellow ginko trees, and orange maple leaves, telling us to hurry and find shelter, as we travel to more intimate gatherings. It’s not a time to meet new crowds, but to celebrate the love we have with those closest to us. 

“The anticipation of those warm rooms, full of laughter, when you’re running in from the rain; the anticipation of those fiery leaves falling away and making room for regrowth; the anticipation of renewal to come after the letting go. That feeling is what energizes and inspires me during the fall. 

“We are so blessed to be in the North Bay, where Mother Nature paints herself so spectacularly. When I’m not snuggling up with family or a good book, and I need some inspiration from outdoors, the Marin Arts and Garden Center is gorgeous year-round. And one of my very favorite fall pastimes is Tomales Bay at sunset. September and October are incredible for the bioluminescence. When I kick up the sand, I feel like I’m walking among stars. It’s magical.” 

-Sarah Rodebaugh, artist, CDO Chronic Biophiliac, Henry Mae, Petaluma  

“Harvest season isn’t for potatoes. When you are young, it is sad—the end of freedom and beginning of the discomfort of the schools, without enough sun at the end of the school day for relief. It is an end of play and a reminder of death, at an age when death shouldn’t weigh on your thoughts. When you are old, it is comforting, because the world is beginning to reflect you.  And the neighbors are tucked away to cause no anxiety. And with no distractions, your creations are more relaxed and carefree, and not the fortress of spirits energized by the sun.”

-Art Moura, artist, Sebastopol 

“Harvest season has always been an inspiration to me, because the change of season ignites a new creative spark in me spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Many of my fragments of creativity seem to come together as a new story ready to be birthed during this crisp and melancholy time. Fall season is a time of reflection and rejuvenation, with many memories had and to be made. After moving to the Bay area, I feel I was truly able to witness my favorite season in a different view, which only magnified my love for this time even more. The one major magical attribute to the harvest season in Marin County is the somber yet reinvigorating breath of freshness that dances in the atmosphere, ready to be captured on a canvas. We are so fortunate to be in the valley of one of the most beautiful places in the States. 

“I urge people to get outside and be amongst nature. To hear the North Bay songs dedicated especially for this time, whether it’s a hike in the mountains, around the lakes or in the redwoods. Regardless of the location, know that you will witness something special that will feed your spirit and your soul. As an artist, you can’t ask for a better reference for creative perfection.”

  -Dr. Orin Carpenter, artist, visual and performing arts director, Petaluma 

“Fall has taken on a new feel in recent years. No longer the loss of summer fun and frolic, fall in California means relief is on the way, the end of fire season, the end of heat waves, the beginning of the rains. At least what rains may come. 

“A bounteous season as the last of the sun’s most generous output of the year starts to wane. Plants put the final rush of energy into growth and bloom before yielding to our hands. It is a tactile time… Get outside even as the weather cools, as the first rains wash the stick of summer away. Make sure to touch, look, listen. Prepare your mind toward the darkening months, the gathering of families, the challenges of gloom and the turning back that follows.”

-Michael “Original” Giotis, poet, writer, journalist 
Jane Vickhttp://janevick.com
Jane Vick is a journalist, artist and writer who has spent time in Europe, New York and New Mexico. She is currently based in Sonoma County. View her work at janevick.com.

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