schoolyard art For my CV, please click HERE 

Once upon a time, before art sorted itself out as a category for me, I would be taken to the Los Angeles County Art Museum by my parents. They would drag me through the galleries of 1960’s masterpieces, and then we’d go outside and I would climb on concrete replicas of giant ground sloths. Tar pits, concrete animals, and the county art museum merged into an idea that art, while serious, was properly something to play on.

In the early eighties I was designing sets and costumes for dance companies, and painting little paintings in an apartment in New York City. My images were full of dancing figures and urban grids. One day, I put city and image together. It is essential to have a quiet place to concentrate and think, well organized with all the tools at hand. But outside, the rest of the contiguous world becomes part of the work, and the work part of the world.

I was hooked on working out there - in prisons, woodlots, old buildings, community centers, on refrigerators, public transit, baby lima beans... Nearly twenty years later I got a masters degree in landscape architecture. My capacities and curiosities had expanded; I wanted to know, in practical ways, how things hold together and why the spaces we live in look as they do. Now I work across these two approaches – art and design – using both toolboxes, testing each through the other.

Everyday life should be infused with art: the grace of things well done, the generosity that exceeds practical solutions, the true potency and depth of the things which surround and support our lives. By integration with our environment, artworks can share with other activities their refinement and conceptual complexity. Everyday experience becomes a rich circumstance, rewarding interactions, encouraging sensitivity and openness, empathy and compassion.

The images in my work are drawn from local circumstances, tailored in scale and material to harmonize and amplify their contexts. Acting like seed crystals, they provoke the thoughts of viewers, who then extend the meaning of the artwork in their own perceptions and activities.

My curiosity leaves me open to many things but fundamentally my passion is for culture. I mean the ways by which patterns and meanings are married to physical things; how objects are at the same time also processes; why close attention to the crafts of building and the courtesies of interaction is both necessary and useful. I feel an acute responsibility toward the increasingly vulnerable natural systems that support us, yet it is through our own being, ideas and communities, that we know those systems. Culture is our nature, a companion both inscrutable and familiar.

OCCASIONAL NOTES, QUIRIES AND LINKS

Winter, 2014
Do sheep feel at home in their wool?  and people?

A winter without rain - I'm feeling it for the fish! Fishbio, doing interesting work in California and SE Asia, ust lent me an image for a new project: juvenile Sacramento suckers in a holding tank.

Sacramento Suckers Juvenile

Fall, 2012
October 7th I'll be in conversation about "Shade" at the UC Berkeley Botranical Garden; 2:30-3:30, free with garden admission.

Summer, 2012
Just Opened at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden : Natural Discourse: Artists, Architects and Poets in the Garden.My project, "Shade" is a thousand-square foot photographic print of what a young plant might sense in the shade of an oak woodland. The exhibition runs through January, 2013

Fall, 2011
Photographs of the Endangerbuses may be seen at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, August 22nd through September 30th, 2011.

I spoke about endangered species advocacy at Counterpulse in San Francisco on September 14th, along with Brent Plater (Wild Equity Institute) and Jessie Raeder (Tuolumne River Trust).

SaltMarshHarvestMouse Todd Gilens

Summer, 2011
By way of celebrating the
Magna Carta coming to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, I led two L E T T E R F O R M workshops on June 5th . Contact me if you'd like a copy of the handout, which surveys developments in the history of letter-making.

One of my photographs of Endangered Species buses (but not the one above) was shown at the San Francisco Zen Center April 29 to May 29, part of an exhibition called "Sweetcake Enso." The exhibition is traveling to Zen practice centers around the country.

Endangered Species, my proposal for San Francisco public transit buses, is on the streets of San Francisco from mid-January on. Look for the project website or for endangerbus on Flickr and Twitter.

The proposal was also publlished in Bay Nature Magazine in their winter 2010 issue. For more on the project, download the ANTENNAE essay below.

ANTENNAE: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, published my essay "In and Out of Place" in their issue #10, Heat. The essay outlines the potential for public transit to connect animal and human communities, conservation land urban infrastructure. Download the article HERE.

TREASURE ISLAND BICYCLE RACK COMPETITION: My design is one of three finalists in a competition to create a signature bike rack design for Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Two prototypes have been installed on 6th and Market Streets. See SF Bicycle Coalition Treasure Island page.Bike Rack Design

Thinking Through Nature: Philosophty for an Endangered World, University of Oregon 19-22 of June, 2008. Todd presented a paper titled Iconic Comensalism: Public Transit and Endangered Species. See
www.uoregon.edu/~toadvine/TTN/

Resiliance Art Exhibition, at Resiliance 2008, an international Science Conference. See
resilience2008.org/resilience/?page=php/art