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New exhibit opens Saturday at di Rosa

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The di Rosa Museum, one of the region’s best-kept secrets, brings together two Bay Area artists who share a fascination with the overlooked and the unfamiliar in the new exhibition “Lost and Found: Elisheva Biernoff and Floris Schönfeld,” opening Saturday, Feb. 22, and running until late April.

An opening reception takes place Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m., with a free members’ preview from 5 to 6 p.m. The artists will be in attendance.

The di Rosa is located at 5200 Carneros Highway. For details see dirosaart.org.

Through a range of media including painting, sculpture, text, film, installation, and ephemera, artists Elisheva Biernoff and Floris Schönfeld present work that considers the extinct, the endangered, and the forgotten.

Elisheva Biernoff investigates possible narratives through trompe l’oeil renderings of found and invented artifacts. Her series Last Postcards imagines the last communications of famous lost explorers through double-sided paintings on thin plywood. Biernoff conducts careful research into her subject’s lives along with a close examination of each cultural moment, from printing processes to what kind of stamps may have been used, to create the most convincing rendering possible.

In another series, Biernoff recreates found photographs as photo-realistic paintings, presenting them in pairs. Through similarities in the subjects’ natural settings and side-by-side positioning, the coupled works suggest a shared experience and an infinite number of plausible narratives. Like Last Postcards, the renderings take on the form of relics, passing as authentic at first glance while offering subtle hints to what is real and what is fabricated upon closer examination.

Floris Schönfeld explores lost histories and the realm of
belief with The Damagomi Project. Through multifaceted research and installation, Schönfeld presents a critical phase of his ongoing project—the retelling of the Damagomi, a forgotten group of loosely affiliated spiritualists and academics who sought ways to communicate with the natural world in Northern California. Using display tactics similar to that of a natural history museum, Schönfeld presents his findings in line with the history of the Bay Area and provides an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between man and nature. The installation will feature multiple experiments that will shift and change over the course of the exhibition, prompting viewers to join the artist’s journey of investigation and rediscovery.

“This exhibition encourages careful looking and deep listening, inviting viewers to pause, develop their own stories, and come to their own conclusions,” said Curator Amy Owen. “Biernoff and Schönfeld create nuanced ambiguities through their use of real world artifacts as suggestions of alternate realities. In doing so, the artists provide space for viewers to ask questions, to be curious, and to explore their own experience.”