One day last fall we received an email asking if any of us at the Conservancy knew about an art piece composed entirely on location high along the ridge of Claremont Canyon. Attached to the email were photos of the piece showing the unfolding of a landscape—from open space to urban development to the Bay and beyond. We had indeed heard something about a fellow who was perched on a cut log high up in the canyon near Panoramic Way patiently drawing all summer long.
From the email, I was able to track down the artist, David Wilson, and later found a photograph of him at work. In responding to my request for permission to use that photograph in our spring newsletter, Wilson’s photographer, Alan Conner, quipped, “I’d be honored! I love this trail and seeing David work his magic was touching.”
David moved to his current home in Oakland about a year and a half ago and began to reorient himself by taking daily walks to the top of Claremont Canyon, a one and a half-hour journey from his home in the flatlands. When commissioned to do a large piece to be displayed in the hub of Silicon Valley, David chose the vista looking toward the South Bay that had become part of his daily meditation. “The relationship of open space to the developed space is a potent symbol of the area,” he says. For David drawing is very much about action and presence: “I draw from a place of direct observation.”
David would bring a 2x2-foot sheet of rice paper mounted on wood and draw with Sumi ink and pen. “I would focus on a point of view and each day would continue from memory where I left off.” The completed work, which measures 12x22 feet, has 66 original drawings assembled by framing each in a small box and mounting them individually. The artist is currently working on a round of other drawing projects, as well as organizing programs and events at the Berkeley Art Museum.