- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It was quite a celebration during the unveiling of a UC Davis ceramic-mosaic mural, The Secret Life of Vineyards, took place at a Napa Valley organic vineyard.
The 10 x 6-foot mural, which graces an outer wall of the Matthiasson Winery on Dry Creek Road, Napa, depicts more than 80 arthropods (insects, spiders and centipedes), several bird species, mammals (bobcat, deer, rabbits, squirrels, a pocket gopher), a gopher snake, mycorrhiza fungi and even earthworms, according to the three project leaders, UC Davis distinguished professor Diane Ullman and assistant professor Emily Meineke, both of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, and retired lecturer Gale Okumura of the Department of Design.
The project is the culmination of a spring quarter class, Entomology 001, “Art, Science and the World of Insects,” taught by Professors Ullman and Meineke. Ullman, founding co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, described the project as “a collaboration between students and instructors in ENT 001; community members from Davis, Woodland, and Napa, and Matthiasson Winery; and the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program." Eighty-three UC Davis students participated in the mural.
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, Professor Ullman and Steve Matthiasson, owner of the winery, were among those delivering presentations.
Also in his address, Chancellor May discussed how UC Davis "is on the leading edge of innovation in the wine world. One of the first things visitors see as they enter our campus is a 120-acre vineyard that's used for grape breeding programs, rootstock trials and other research." (See news story)
In her presentation, Professor Ullman described the project "a testimony to the power of collaboration, community effort, creativity and collective will. This expressive, beautiful and educational artwork celebrates the synergy created when art meets science, and people observe the world around them with fresh eyes, testing their ideas and transforming those ideas into new concepts and new insights, and then share their epiphanies with others through design and art."
Ullman noted that the general education class, "Art, Science and the World of Insects," was founded in 1996. It's been taught ever year since, "attracting students from every major offered on the UC Davis campus," she said.
Meineke, an urban landscape entomologist, was unable to attend the Aug. 16th unveiling. Meineke and her husband Joe Kwon just "brought our newest Aggie, Genevieve Se Hwa Kwon into the world," Ullman told the gathering.
In a joint statement, Ullman and Meineke related that The Secret Life of Vineyards was designed to reflect the ecosystem within and around an organic vineyards as it progresses from early spring to harvest. A Cabernet Sauvignon vine is the centerpiece of the mural, shown from the first bud in the spring to harvest time in the autumn...The work is an ode to the importance of biodiversity and balance in the ecosystem in which wine vines are grown and reflects the passion of the Matthiasson Winery for sustainable viticulture.”
The professors credited artist Amanda Larson of Half Moon Bay "with the engineering and building of the hanging system, as well as the installation."