New Fresno Art Museum slate of exhibitions includes some impressive firepower

For humans beings, fire has always meant life.

But it can also wreak havoc. Wildfires ravage California so frequently that the destruction almost seems normal. That fact gives special potency to “Rethinking Fire,” an exhibition by Bryan David Griffith opening this weekend at the Fresno Art Museum. The Arizona artist uses fire as his primary medium, along with wood, beeswax, and other natural materials to create paintings, sculptures, and installations.

Pictured above: Bryan David Griffith’s ‘Severance’ is part of the Fresno Art Museum exhibition ‘Rethinking Fire.’

The exhibition is one of several opening to the public on Saturday, Feb. 2. A preview will be held on Friday, Feb. 1. The event starts at 4:30 p.m. with curator and artist talks in the Bonner Auditorium followed by a chance to talk to artists in their galleries and a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. (The event is free for members; $15 for non-members.)

Here’s a rundown on the shows, which run through June 23:

‘Rethinking Fire’

Griffith’s home and studio in Arizona were threatened by the Slide Fire in 2014. In a roundup of the exhibition when it ran at the Mesa Arts Center, the Phoenix New Times noted: “Through his work, Griffith challenges Western dualities such as life and death, while highlighting human disruptions to the continuous cycle at the heart of the natural world.”

His work is held in public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; University of Michigan Museum of Art; Center for Creative Photography; and Fort Wayne Museum of Art.


Griffith left a successful business career for an international management consulting firm and pursued photography because he was troubled by the environmental impact of his clients. From his website:

After the Slide Fire, he received a grant to study wildfire in the West and develop new work for the traveling small group exhibition Fires of Change, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. This led to explorations in painting, sculpture, and installation using the primal mediums of wood and fire itself.

It sounds like a provocative and intriguing show.

Fresno Art Museum

BIG: Oversized Works from the Permanent Collection

The museum’s collection has grown to more than 3,600 items, the vast majority of which aren’t on view for logistical reasons.

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In this new exhibition, curated by museum director Michele Ellis Pracy, combines large-format works by nationally and internationally renowned artists Charles Arnoldi, Claire Falkenstein, Charles Gaines, Victor Vasarely, Oliver Jackson, and Ann Weber, among others. Also included are oversized works by local artists now deceased: August Madrigal, Clement Renzi, and Patricia Kirkegaard, among others.

‘Gary Geiger: On the Road Again’

For the last 36 years, Gary Geiger and two fellow friends and graduates from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara these three friends have come together once a year for a trip that they document through photography. These trips have taken them to locations all across the world: Mexico, Cuba, Indonesia, China, Morocco, Cambodia, and Vietnam to name a few.

In this exhibition, curated by Sarah Vargas, you get a glimpse at the adventures of these “Brooks Brothers,” captured through the lens of Gary Geiger.

‘Coiled and Twined: California Native American Baskets from the Permanent Collection’

Another chance to see some of the precious works held by the museum: Baskets from the Yokut, Mono (Monache), and Miwok tribes of Central California are among the highlights of this exhibition, also curated by Vargas.

Noted local basketmakers include Minnie Hancock, Sally Edd, Burtha Goode, and Lucinda Hancock.

Museum info

Fresno Art Museum, 2233 N. First St., Fresno. Regular hours are Tuesdays-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for non-members: $10 adults, $5 youth (6-17).

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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