Like Old Testament prophets, artists, too, have dreamt of apocalypse: Dürer, Cole, Allston, Friedrich, Marc, Meidner, and Ernst all depicted rack and ruin with varying degrees of enthusiasm, moral outrage, and philosophic wisdom. Today, many young artists contemplate the collapse of the current petro-order, but without the old wait-till-your-Father-comes-home tone. Here, devolution is seen as a return to utopian harmony, somewhat like camping out; it’s a vision of the young, fit (we oldies consider Burning Man too funky, hot, and far away), and optimistic, and certainly untroubled by practical realities, but the people perish for lack of vision (or “vision thing,” in the words of the father), and we need to learn this lesson fast. Naturation, featuring artwork by Miguel Arzabe and Evan Holm at EgoPark, and curated by Adam Hatch, depicts the desired détente between nature and culture needed for ecological grace. God-fearing Marin knows already that we cannot have it all. As for “real Americans,” convinced that God created dinosaurs to provide us oil, they, too, will have to evolve, the good Lord willing, toward maturation.
Both artists have dealt with environmental themes before: Holm, with a public art bench encircling an oak sapling that will be complete only when the tree matures in 2300; and Arzabe, with a large satirical collage painting depicting our 3006 colonization of Mars with “gated tract housing, golf courses, parking lots, and strip malls,” to the derision of native Martians, who dub us “Wearthlings,” worthless earthlings. Arzabe’s Dreamers gel transfer drawings depict sunbathing sleeping figures sprawled across urban landscapes; everything is depicted in line, so mass is transparent and evanescent, as if figures and environments were time-traveling past each other. In Accelerated Progress, a stop-motion (“pixilated”) video, the artist and his friends, sped up to manic silent-comedy speeds, cavort with portrait drawings held up like masks; a balloon or globe spins madly; and a painting explodes into being like the flowers in the old Disney nature movies. His laser-cut wooden blocks depicting Etch-a-Sketch drawing toys convert those notoriously delicate images into fossils or hieroglyphs: “Downtown Oakland,” “Lois the Pie Queen,” and that unshakeable “Barry Obama.” Holm’s Whisperland, a graceful kidney-shaped wooden table, is semi-enveloped by a huge plaster dune sprouting airy grass tendrils. Plush Stool is barely recognizable as furniture beneath its carapace of paper tubes, white coral animals with siphons extended. Through March 30 at EgoPark (492 23rd St., Oakland). Egopark.org or 510-823-8045.