If I had to choose one word for the town of Solvang, I would choose 'kitsch'; it's a town of windmills, bakeries, crazy dutch style everything. It's cute, which is fine, but after about an hour of that I needed a little break. One of the less kitschy parts of Solvang is The Wildling Museum, so when I saw the list of current exhibits, I knew we needed to stop in. The Wildling is a museum dedicated to inspiring the public to value nature through art. All of their exhibits have something to do with the natural world, and are usually focused on education about preservation and appreciation. The main exhibit was of Thomas Paquette's landscape paintings.
The chosen works are in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which was the first of it's kind, defining protected wilderness areas. Paquette's paintings are of those protected areas, and they really are quite breathtaking.
The other featured artist was Everett Ruess, a California artist with a mysterious story. Here is an excerpt from the exhibit catalog:
"Everett Ruess (1914 - 1934?) was raised in Los Angeles and was taught how to make linoleum block prints by his mother Stella. At a young age he felt a strong calling to be in and explore the wild. He spent the last four years of his brief life exploring wilderness areas along the California coast, in Yosemite and the deserts and canyons of northern Arizona and southern Utah. He wrote letters and poems that were sent home and made drawings, watercolors, and block-prints along the way. At the young age of 20, Ruess disappeared. His last letters indicated that he was headed to Escalante Canyon, and investigators looking for him months later found evidence that he had been there but, to this day, his remains have yet to be found."
I loved his prints; though I usually do tend to gravitate towards the medium. They are a beautiful illustration of the California coastline. His view on the world was truly beautiful as well, I love this quote by him:
"I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities." - from the final letter sent to his brother, November 11, 1934
The final exhibit was a tiny little corner featuring bronze sculptures of sea creatures. I briefly became one with the creatures of the sea before we headed out the door to explore the picturesque countryside that inspired these artists.
Seriously, how could these artists not be inspired by views like this?