Trio of June events begins during First Friday Artwalk at CatalystAshland, former home to the Ashland Art Center
By Art Van Kraft for Ashland.news
Sixty-five artists use 350 pieces to illustrate what they call a desperate struggle for survival, largely unseen, going on all around us, in “Pollinator Anthology.” The new book is celebrated in a trio of upcoming events at CatalystAshland.
The book, second in a series known as “The Rogue Valley Anthology,” was the idea of two local artists, Eden Orlando and Rebecca Ramm. Orlando edited the first book, “Oregon Wildfires Anthology,” which included work by Ramm, who suggested the second book in the series be about pollinators and benefit Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, a nonprofit group supporting wild pollinator species and the diverse native plant communities essential for their survival.
The two women approached the Pollinator Project with a proposal to tell a story that affects our environment and is largely untold by publishing a book of art and prose illustrating the fragility of our local ecosystem. After getting the go-ahead last year, they canvased the community for submissions in art and literature and the project took off. Within several months, the women received over 300 submissions.
Orlando, a local writer and creator of the Rogue Valley anthology series, which is “focused on important topics in the valley around the healing of collective trauma,” said the project is not just about art, but about education.
“We want to illustrate what’s happening with pollinators and what’s being done to identify them,” Orlando said. “I never knew that hummingbirds also pollinate.”
Orlando said she needed a nonprofit organization to help secure sponsors. When she got the go ahead from the Pollinator Project, the rest was easy.
“I found 20 sponsors who helped us pay for publishing fees and event fees, otherwise it would have been impossible.”
Co-editor Rebecca Ramm is a local artist who originally suggested the project be about pollination. She is a member of the Pollinator Project and understood the vague knowledge most people have on the subject.
“It’s not necessarily about bees who are not indigenous to the area, it’s about all the other pollinators that were here first and how they are dwindling,” Ramm said. “But I’ve also been catching and relocating honey bee swarms for quite a while now. It’s only dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. But as much as I like the honey bees, they are not native to this area.”
Other species of bees, butterflies, beetles and moths make up some of the dozens of other pollinators that are indigenous to the Rogue Valley. Ramm said those populations are dwindling.
Kristina Lefever is the president of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, and a co-editor with Orlando and Ramm of the book. She says they have been active in identifying the decline of indigenous pollinators and the plants they need. She says it’s a project that, without changes, has a grim future and is mostly unknown.
“The honeybee was brought over to America with the first European settlers,” Lefever said. “They have become (like) livestock and they have done a really good job of colonizing our landscape, but that can also be to the detriment of other native species.
“The problem lies in mono crops. When the same plants stretch for miles, you have to bring in bee pollinators. That can affect the indigenous pollinators and you have an imbalance.”
A gallery show featuring art from “Pollinator Anthology” opened in May in the gallery space at CatalystAshland, which offers coworking space, computer sales and parts, and community space at 357 East Main St., Ashland, the former location of the Ashland Art Center. The show continues through June 27.
The gallery space will be open during the First Friday Artwalk from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 3.
The book is expected to debut at a free, public gallery celebration from 1 to 5 p.m. the afternoon of Saturday, June 18, and from 5 to 9 p.m. the evening of Saturday, June 25, during National Pollinator week.
The celebration will include a chance to meet the artists, food and wine, performances, poetry reading, family education activities, disc jockey music, and the chance to meet representatives of nonprofit organizations. Go to the Pollinator Project Rogue Valley Facebook page or the Rogue Valley Pollinator Anthology Facebook page for more information.
Books will go for $40 for the 312-page, 8- by 10-inch volume, with a $70 special edition also available.
Art Van Kraft is an artist living in Ashland and a former broadcast journalist and news director of a Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.