In Collaboration

Lynn Marie Kirby and Etel Adnan make a mountain of art together

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Longtime Marin artist Etel Adnan, seen here in the film ‘Under the Linden Trees,’ is featured in a presentation in Mill Valley. Photo courtesy Lynn Marie Kirby

San Francisco-based artist Lynn Marie Kirby explores the big picture in her work, offering insights into technology, perception, the flow of time and more in film and multimedia projects.

Ninety-four-year-old poet, philosopher and artist Etel Adnan, who spent decades splitting time between Sausalito and Paris, creates politically charged and culturally rich writings and paintings that draw from her life experiences and surroundings.

The two artists have collaborated on several projects for over 20 years and Kirby shares stories and work from their time together at a presentation on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at the Mill Valley Library.

“I have to say how excited I am to present work at the Mill Valley Library,” says Kirby. “Not only because it’s a beautiful site nestled in the trees, but the library has a particular significance for Etel. She was at the dedication of the granite sculpture outside the library made by Dick O’Hanlon, the husband of Anne O’Hanlon. And it was Anne who started Etel painting.”

Surrounded by an artistic community in Marin, Adnan took particular inspiration from Mount Tamalpais, walking through the park almost daily, painting the mountain many times and in 1985 writing a book—Journey to Mount Tamalpais—that delved into themes of nature, impermanence and spirituality.

Adnan and Kirby meet in the 1990s through a mutual friend, and Kirby says she was already a quiet admirer of Adnan. Between 1996 and 2000, Kirby and her family lived in Paris and spent much more time with Adnan and her partner. The two began collaborating on multi-disciplinary projects like their short video shot in Marin, Under the Linden Trees (2002), which combined projected footage of the two accompanied by live readings.

“We shot it in an alley in Ross under a group of linden trees,” says Kirby. “We bonded over linden trees because they are both in Paris and that alley in Marin.”

Under the Linden Trees will be shown in a new edit at the upcoming presentation, featuring Adnan’s readings in text. Kirby and Adnan re-edited the piece last November in Paris, where Adnan now permanently resides.

That video and the other work that Kirby will touch upon at the presentation often find the two artists reveling in the process of creation itself.

“I think that Etel and I are both quite playful and open to collaboration,” says Kirby. “I think one has to come to a project open to how it will unfold. It’s the process and not necessarily the end result that’s important; the movement.”

The other piece in the presentation is Kirby’s Transmissions (2017), a video and live-reading inspired by Adnan and incorporating the artists’ collaborative drawings and open-ended conversations about Mount Tamalpais. Transmissions will soon be published as a book.

“People know Etel’s writing and her paintings, but they may not know this other playful side,” says Kirby. “Her openness and spirit of collaboration is marvelous.”

Lynn Marie Kirby presents ‘Collaborations with Etel Adnan’ on Tuesday, Aug 20, at Mill Valley Library, 375 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. 7pm. Free. Reservations recommended. 415.389.4292.
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