James Chronister within “Art Center branches out, pay tribute to the trees” | Palo Alto Weekly

“Rooted” examines the art of the arboreal, both symbolically and scientifically

by Karla Kane / Palo Alto Weekly 

Uploaded: Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 10:17 am

Following in the footsteps of last year’s nature-themed exhibitions that focused on the sky and encounters between humans and non-human animals, the Palo Alto Art Center is currently making like the Lorax and speaking for the trees.

“This community cares deeply about its trees,” Art Center Curator Selene Foster pointed out at the opening celebration for “Rooted: Trees in Contemporary Art.” After all, she said, “We are named after El Palo Alto, a tall tree.”

Through a variety of works by 20 artists, “Rooted” explores trees as subjects, materials and symbols, from fairy-tale whimsy to scientific accuracy.


James Chronister’s oil-on-canvas paintings of thick woodlands, “Summer 8” and “Deinze,” are difficult to distinguish from photographs at first glance, so meticulous is the detail in the black paint/white background landscapes based on photos taken while hiking with family in his native Montana.

“It’s kind of like California is the place I came to remember what Montana was like,” Chronister, who’s now based in San Francisco, mused.                         

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