Memento Mori | Memento Vivere

A joint exhibition by the Bay Area Photographers Collective and Samurai Foto (Yokohama, Japan)
Curated by Trisha Lagaso Goldberg

On View March 9 – April 21, 2024

Fridays & Saturdays 10 am–4 pm
Sundays 12-4 pm (Closed Easter Sunday March 31)

In The Studio at Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross, CA (map)

Opening Reception: March 10

  • Ikebana demonstration, 1 – 1:30 pm
  • Reception, 1:30 – 3:30 pm

“Meet the Artist” series

Come ask the artists questions in this informal gallery setting

  • Sunday, March 24, 1-4 pm
    Artists Q&A at 2 pm
    Cindy Stokes, Chris Stevens-Yu, Ari Salomon, Ingo Bork, Mitch Nelles, Rusty Weston, John Martin
  • Sunday, April 21, 1-4 pm
    Artists Q&A at 2 pm
    Ellen Konar, Steve Goldband, Eric Blum, Angelika Schilli, Nick Winkworth, Rose Borden, Allison Taggert-Barone, Neo Serafimidis, Chuck Harlins

Purchase art: View Price Sheet (PDF) 

View or Purchase the exhibition catalog

SAMURAI FOTO is a collective of fine art photographers based in Yokohama, Japan, which works toward the goal of making a meaningful contribution to society through photography. Founded in 2012, the collective holds monthly workshops locally with invited international experts in fine art photography to foster growth of their members. The collective actively builds connections with key figures in international photography such as museum curators and festival organizers to foster global collaboration and extend their impact beyond the borders of Japan. Through these connections, SAMURAI FOTO has participated in many international exhibitions and festivals, such as The Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival in Arles, France and FotoFest in Houston, which have garnered worldwide recognition for its members.

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Curator’s Statement

The Marin Art and Garden Center (MAGC) is a place of beauty and wonder. It transforms with each season and plays host to all manner of insects and animals that inhabit the site alongside the resident perennials, volunteer plants and old timers, like the mature trees that dot the landscape. In keeping with their mission, MAGC invites artists to present exhibitions at The Studio that address the natural world in some way.

From this framework and in response to the portfolios of both the Bay Area Photographers Collective and Samurai Foto, the thematic foundation for this exhibition emerged. Phrases that came to mind included, “in full bloom” and “the bloom is off the rose,” two ends of a spectrum. Likewise, life cycles, such as birth and death; sunrise and sunset; the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall); and the progression of plantlife (bud, bloom and decay) also resonated.

Artworks included in this exhibition speak to multiple aspects of these natural cycles—from picturing a flower bud or new growth on the forest floor and the lace-like canopy of centuries old trees, to depictions of built environments designed to corral the natural world, the planting of seeds by agricultural corporations, the not-so-subtle effects of climate change, and even humans and the human world in modes of ascent, illness and decline.

Memento Mori | Memento Vivere was organized around these notions. The Latin phrase memento mori translates to: “remember you must die.” It is also a school of thought and painting originating in 17th century Europe. “A memento mori is an artwork designed to remind the viewer of their mortality and of the shortness and fragility of human life.” (Tate Museum, tate.org.uk) Memento mori artwork is often characterized by symbolic imagery that speaks to mortality and the ephemerality of earthly pleasures; a favored trope can be seen in still lifes of that era depicting wilted flowers, decaying fruit, dead animals being prepped for the dinner table, and even human skulls.

Some two-hundred years later, in response to this call to keep death in sight, the Latin phrase, memento vivere or, “remember you must live,” was engaged by thinkers of the 19th century. “Memento mori engendered an opposite imperative — memento vivere,” wrote James H. Capshew, professor of history and philosophy of science at Indiana University, Bloomington. “Less common and of more recent vintage, memento vivere seems to imply that a preoccupation with death is perhaps unwise and unhealthy.” (memento.sitehost.iu.edu/memento.html)

The artworks in Memento Mori | Memento Vivere reflect the full spectrum between life and death and are as varied and complex as the seen and unseen forces active in the natural world around us. The exhibition is designed to highlight the intrinsic way of things—from tenuous beginnings, to a middle life that is pedestrian and glorious in equal measures, and an end that may be tragic or magical. As the viewer makes their way through each space, my hope is that these works serve as a reminder for all to embrace this moment as the unknown on the horizon draws near.

It’s been a pleasure working with both collectives to form this exhibition, which illustrates a compelling narrative of the cycle of life.

Trisha Lagaso Goldberg, Curator

About the Curator

Trisha Lagaso Goldberg (b. Honolulu, Hawai’i) is an independent curator and artist. Born and raised on the Hawaiian island of O‘ahu, Lagaso Goldberg spent 15 years in the Bay Area (1991-2005). As executive director of Southern Exposure, the acclaimed San Francisco Mission District artist-centered organization and gallery, she stewarded over one hundred exhibitions and events and worked with artists from around the globe. In 2005, Lagaso Goldberg returned to Hawai‘i where she led the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ commissioned works branch of its public art program. As the founding gallery director and curator of the Honolulu Chinatown art space thirtyninehotel, Lagaso Goldberg launched an artist residency program that invited artists from outside of the archipelago to create site-specific installations. Through this initiative, she commissioned works by artists such as Eamon Ore-Giron, and Stephanie Syjuco. Her curatorial projects include Lands End (2021-2022), which featured the work of 27 international artists addressing climate crisis at the historic Cliff House in San Francisco and the 2022 Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision retrospective exhibition, presented at the Newark Museum of Art (Newark, NJ),  San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery and Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. Currently, she is researching and developing exhibitions for San Francisco State University’s Fine Art Gallery and the Honolulu Museum of Art. Lagaso Goldberg lives and works in San Francisco and on the island of O’ahu.

Artists

Bay Are Photographers Collective

Eric Blum
Rose Borden
Ingo Bork
Maria Budner
Arthur Cohen
Anthony Delgado
Gene Dominique
Steve Goldband
Chuck Harlins
Ellen Konar

John Martin
Mitch Nelles
Steven Raskin
Ari Salomon
Angelika Schili
Neo Serafimidis
Chris Stevens-Yu
Cindy Stokes
Alison Taggart-Barone
Rusty Weston
Nick Winkworth

Samurai Foto

Hiroaki Hasumi
Miki Kojima
Mariko Masumoto
Koji Murata
Kazuhiro Sasaki
Kouji Sasaki
Hiroyasu Sato
Motoko Sato
Shigeru Yoshida
Koushi Ishizuka
Setsuko Kanie

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