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Riki Rafner

The Commonwealth Club of California Showcases Work of Local Artsts at New Home

“The Visual Poetry of Landscape” March 5 through April 30, 2018

San Francisco (Mar. 14, 2019)—The Commonwealth Club is proud to continue its tradition of showcasing the work of local artists at its new headquarters based at 110 The Embarcadero. The pieces will be displayed on a rotating basis in the Club’s new Farmer Gallery based on the Lobby Level. With funds from Tawnie and John Farmer, former Chair of the Commonwealth Club Board, The Club was able to establish a gallery space with proper lighting and a professional hanging system. Now through April 30 The Club is pleased to present the creations of Michael Mudd in “The Visual Poetry of Landscape.”

Artist Michael Mudd said, “I am thrilled to be one of the first artists whose work was chosen to be displayed in its new home.” Notes Mudd about this particular exhibit, “Landscape is visual poetry. Some artists portray it in a literal, objective way, capturing physical reality in striking detail. Others are more expressionist, reimagining what they see and reshaping it to convey subjective feelings. I follow the second path.”

Mudd continued, “I like to think of my landscape images as a kind of photographic unconscious, a letting go in which the familiar is felt as dream state—sometimes pastoral and serene, sometimes filled with fiery light, and other times dark and brooding. For me, at least, these images become visual archetypes of mood and emotion.”

Curator of the Club’s exhibits Lynn Curtis commented, “I am certain that all who walk through the beautiful new Farmer Gallery will be moved and excited by what they see.” She added, “I am delighted to have the honor of working with so many talents, and provide a venue for local artists to reach a wider audience.”

About the Artist

Michael Mudd is a photographer based in Sonoma County. While his current work mostly celebrates the landscapes of the American West, as a young adult, Mudd travelled throughout Europe to capture the beauty of various other cultures—a passion he says he still has today. Mudd previously had a career in communications but retired in 2004 to pursue photography. Mudd says about his experience as a photographer, “The best part is being there. It’s not the act of capturing what I see that counts most. It’s the emotions I experience that make me want to capture what I see. And if my images are able to evoke those same feelings in the viewer, then I know I’ve succeeded.”

The basic form of each of Mudd’s images is captured by a practiced use of motion during a long exposure. He says it is like painting with the camera. His unique movement of each pass renders a singular visual moment. He then digitally enhances color and light, and blends the image with a mix of textures taken from a variety of sources. He says that his choice of textures might create the feel of anything from an “old tintype, to worn leather, to a fading fresco.” Finally, each of his images is printed with archival pigment inks on archival paper.

About Lynn Curtis:

Longtime Commonwealth Club volunteer and artist herself Lynn Curtis has curated over 40 of the Club’s exhibitions since 2007. Curtis produced exhibits in the Gold Room of the Club’s former office space at 595 Market Street from 2008 through 2014.

Curtis noted, “I love looking at art and looking for artists. It’s an exciting adventure seeking these visual treasures. Open Studios in the Bay Area provides a great opportunity to visit the artists where they work.” Curtis also frequents local galleries, mines local papers, and receives recommendations of those she meets at the Club. Of the work she chooses to display she says “All of them must be honest, with a unique insight. The winners draw me to them.”

Curtis, a native of Pennsylvania, attended the College of the Arts in Oakland, known as the College of Arts and Crafts. She is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the first and oldest art school and museum in this country, established in 1805. She says she is indebted to the classical training she received there which, in fact, is the substance of her art background.

Notes Curtis, “The exhibition program is a continuation of the purpose of the Club: to expose the public to new thoughts and ideas as a public forum. The exposure here, though, is silent. Each artwork speaks to the viewer’s eyes, and the viewer must internalize what he sees.” Curtis recommends that the viewer always asks, “What is this artist trying to say to me, and why?”

Exhibits of artworks at the Club's Farmer Gallery are available during most business hours and, unless otherwise noted, are free to view. Many exhibits will also feature a special event featuring the artist. For more information about Club exhibits please visit

Interested parties may send exhibit proposals with photos via email: (300 dpi. Jpg.)

About the Commonwealth Club of California:

Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s premier public affairs forum, with more than 25,000 members. Based in San Francisco with a second office in San Jose, the Club hosts over 450 speeches, debates and discussions each year on issues of regional, national and international significance. The Club continues to host its guests—from presidents and activists, to scientists and chefs, at its offsite venues around San Francisco, in Silicon Valley, the East Bay, and in Marin County as well. In addition to its traditional forums, the Club hosts the Climate One project on climate change and Inforum, the Club’s division oriented to younger community members. It has sponsored public policy projects over the years, ranging from early 1900s studies and reports leading to environmental and social legislative and policy innovations, to more recent efforts to improve state governance in California. The Club has produced a PBS film, published books and publishes a bi-monthly magazine, The Commonwealth.

At least 1 million people listen to The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 230 public and commercial stations across the country. The Club’s podcasts are downloaded about 2.5 million times each year. The Club’s videos also appear on the California Channel, C-SPAN and YouTube, where they have been viewed millions of times. For the past 11 decades, the Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on a wide range of topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, the economy and more in more than 450 live programs each year. For more information, visit