If you visit the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art this autumn, you will find yourself in the company of noble oak trees. These trees, captured in Adam Wolpert’s Great Oaks series, stretch their ancient branches across large canvases and proudly show off their sun soaked leaves for viewers to admire.
Wolpert defines his art by his relationship with and participation in nature. He embraces ecological processes and engages with the shifting lighting and colors of the seasons. Some trees are lush and verdant, while others have began to shed their leaves. To paint these great oaks, Wolpert “communes” with them, studying them from different light and angles in the same manner as the European Masters. The influence of classical realism is evident within the use of light in the series: sun breaking though branches and stoic shadows created by trees demanding space is reminiscent of any classic heroic scene.
After earning his BFA from the University of California Santa Barbara, Adam Wolpert explored the work of European Masters while studying classical realism at Studio Cecil-Graves in Florence, Italy. After returning home, Wolpert earned his MFA from UC San Diego. In 1994, Wolpert co-founded the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, a research, demonstration, education, advocacy, and community-organizing center in West Sonoma County, California that aims to “design and cultivate resilience to mounting ecological, social, and economic challenges.” It is here that Wolpert lives, paints, teaches, and finds a great source of inspiration, including for his Great Oaks series, which depicts the ancient oak trees found around West Sonoma County.