March 5—April 10, 2022
Patricia Thomas, GRO’s first Visiting Artist in 2022, is exhibiting artwork in an installation titled “To Have or to Have Not.” The artist, who now lives in Point Reyes Station, lived in West Oakland for 25 years. Her experience of life in West Marin compared to contemporary urban life is the source of her exhibition which focuses on the extreme difference between the ultra-wealthy and those who have nothing, sheltering in tents on the street. Thomas uses the image of the chandelier, and altered chandeliers installed in the gallery, to represent the excesses of wealth. Her large gouache paintings of tents speak of the poverty of the unhoused. Through her treatment of the subject matter, Thomas expresses a paradoxical understanding of wealth and poverty:
“I’m looking at the unsheltered or unhoused through a lens of powerfulness rather than helplessness. I’m in awe of the ingenuity and perseverance of unhoused people. In my paintings, brightly colored tents are accompanied by familiars – animated figures, benevolent spirits, or aids.
I contemplate chandeliers as symbols of opulence, overabundance, excess, and decay. Is one enough? Is five enough? I’ve added a thick layer of wrapping or paint to the chandeliers. The wrapped chandeliers and charcoal drawings of chandeliers might be soft and inviting, yet [are]somewhat sinister.”