Metafossil (Pinus: ponderosa, radiata, balfouriana)*

Installed outside the original deYoung Museum for the 1995 exhibition:
Facing Eden: 100 Years of Landscape Art in the Bay Area

Image: left: Pinus balfouriana, middle: Pinus radiata, right: Pinus ponderosa

“Bay Area artist John Roloff also makes sculptures with natural materials that connect them poetically and geologically to particular sites. In Metafossil (Metabolism and Mortality) Pinus: ponderosa, radiatia, balfouriana,* 1992, he covered each of three cement forms, each in the shape of a truncated ship hull, with a single species of pine branches and needles indigenous to the central California region, thus creating a “fossil” of each species. Roloff is associated with the ship motif, which in earlier works acted as “a metaphor for traveling into the distant past, particularly the vast distance of geologic time...[,] a time of primal emotion.”6 The descending ship in Metafossil refers both to the human presence in nature and to the process of deposition, i.e., of leaves descending to the ground and then constantly moving farther downward as they are pressed into the earth. The text that accompanies the work is an associative meditation that begins with the scientific species names of the pines, then moves to geography (Monterey), culture (Ohlone), history (Santa Maria, Pinta, Nina), prehistory (Mesozoic), alchemy (metallicus), poetry (rilkia), and finally to geology and entropy (fossilis, entropus).”

Lewallyn, Constance, catalog essay, Metaphor, Matter, Canvas, Stage: Conceptual Art 1968 to 1995, in Facing Eden: 100 Years of Landscape Art in the Bay Area, deYoung Museum Press, San Francisco, 1995, pg. 118-119.

Collection of deYoung Museum, San Francisco, CA.

*The title was shortened from Metafossil (Metabolism and Mortality) Pinus: ponderosa, radiata, balforiana, in about 1996.

Art in America review of GPA Exhibition; Installation at Gallery Paule Anglim, 1992

Pinus Collection Maps; Species-Facies Study (sic)