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Trouble Under the Big Trees: Paintings by Linda MacDonald

October 16 to November 13, 2020

Trouble Under the Big Trees: Paintings by Linda MacDonald

Published on 10/7/2020.

College of the Redwoods presents Trouble Under the Big Trees, a virtual exhibition of environmentally themed paintings by Northern California artist Linda MacDonald. In conjunction with this online exhibition, a Zoom presentation and discussion of the artist’s work with CR Art Professor Cynthia Hooper will take place on Wednesday October 21, 6:00 - 7:30pm, Pacific Time.

Trouble Under the Big Trees is an exhibition of paintings that feature innovative depictions of coastal northern California’s iconic redwood trees. With richly descriptive paintings, the artist Linda MacDonald meticulously examines the perceptual characteristics of these magnificent and monolithic forms. The paintings document the material evidence of these trees’ life histories inscribed in their bark: the marring, charring, and subtle disfigurement borne of their obdurate age. MacDonald’s paintings are both highly abstracted and precisely realistic—visually varied and colorful testaments to Sequoia sempervirens’ resilience in the face of more than a century of logging and habitat destruction. MacDonald’s visual analysis is also a testament to these trees’ admirable resistance to the destructive effects of climate-driven wildfires, which increasingly menace their historically cool coastal environments.

MacDonald is also fascinated by the challenge of depicting these trees in ways that evade the familiar tropes of representation. How can one convincingly describe the world’s tallest organisms on a 60” canvas? How can one approach representation that does justice to these trees’ incredible lifespans? What novel insights can an artist bring to this challenge? MacDonald’s solution is to get extremely physically and psychically close to these miraculous giants, interpreting their visual characteristics with brilliant color and precise observation. The artist hopes these works will create dialog and inquiry into the threatened status of these magnificent organisms—some of the longest lived on the planet.

Linda MacDonald, a native Californian, lives north of the Bay Area in a small Mendocino County town. She has taught in universities, colleges, art centers, and high schools, and has shown extensively in the US and Japan. Her work is included in collections at The White House, the City of San Francisco, the Museum of Art & Design in New York City, the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska, and in many private collections.

To virtually visit Trouble Under the Big Trees, go to the Creative Arts Gallery website at Selected images of MacDonald’s work can also be viewed on the gallery’s Instagram @redwoodsgallery and Facebook throughout the duration of the exhibition. Information about registering for and participating in the Zoom presentation and discussion on October 21 will be listed on the CR gallery webpage and on the CR gallery social media accounts.

The physical gallery space is currently closed to the public. For further inquiries or to be added to the exhibition announcement email list, email or leave a voicemail at (707) 476-4100 ext. 4869. Be sure to follow the Creative Arts Gallery online at


Image List for Trouble Under the Big Trees:

1. Proximity, oil on canvas, 2017, 48”H x 38”W

2. Pareidolia, oil on canvas, 2018, 60”H x 48”W

3. Verde Juke, watercolor on paper, 2019, 30”H x 22”W

4. Rising, oil on canvas, 2019, 60”H x 48”W


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