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Posts Tagged: UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program

Mayflies, Fish and the Fusion of Art and Science

Mayfly on an atichoke. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This week while searching through backyard  photos, I came across a mayfly I photographed on July 1, 2012 on our flowering artichoke. It looked like a little ol' man skiing through a purple landscape of spiked petals.

How did the mayfly wind up on the flowering artichoke? Well, there's a body of water close by--our fish pond.

Speaking of fish--not the kind in our pond, though--the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is hosting a LASER-UC Davis event on Thursday night, Dec. 4 and one of the speakers is Chris Dewees, retired marine fisheries specialist, who fuses art with science. His topic: "Passion for Fish: When East Meets West."

The LASER event, free and open to the public, is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Room 3001 conference room of the Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) Building, UC Davis campus. LASER is an acronym for Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous.  

Dewees, a San Francisco native with a lifelong passion for fish, will speak from 8:10 to 8:35. His career has included commercial fishing and 35 years as the statewide marine fisheries specialist based at UC Davis. 

When first exposed to the Japanese art of gyotaku, DeWees says he was "hooked." Gyotaku is the traditional method of Japanese fish printing, dating back to the mid-1800s.

His illustrated talk will offer insights into two-way communication between scientists and artists. "I will talk about how I can express my love of fisheries as a science-based career and as art."

"Combining my fisheries expertise with this art form gives me a very balanced life and a way to communicate my passion for fish to others," DeWees says. The art has led to shows and adventures around the world including the Smithsonian. Dewees received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Redlands in biology and speech; his master's degree from Humboldt State University in fisheries; and his doctorate at UC Davis in ecology. 

Three other presentations will take place at LASER-UC Davis event.  It's a good time to "bug out" of the house and attend.

The complete schedule:

6:30 to 7 p.m.
 Socializing and networking 

7 to 7:25 p.m. Venkatesan Sundaresan, a plant sciences professor at UC Davis, will speak on “Mysteries of the Silent Kingdom: Sticking to One's Roots, Managing Hormones and Spreading Genes”

7:25 to 7:50 p.m. Robin Hill,  art professor at UC Davis, will speak on “Idea Cultivation in the Studio.” 

7:50 to 8:10 p.m.
 Break: Networking/socializing.

8:10 to 8:35 p.m.  Chris Dewees, retired marine fisheries specialist at UC Davis, will speak on “Passion for Fish: When East Meets West." 

8:35 to 9 p.m.   Nanette Wylde, professor of art and art history at California State University, Chico, will speak on “Instigating Some Kind of Action: Interactive Projects Online and Off.” 

The coordinator/moderator, Anna Davidson of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, received her Ph.D. earlier this year from UC Davis in plant sciences and is now seeking her master's degree in fine arts.  She continues to study the biological world using both artistic and scientific approaches.

The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program was founded by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor of entomology at UC Davis and her colleague, self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick, now retired. Their legacy--and that of the students they taught--is the mosaic ceramic art all over campus and beyond.

Retired marine fisheries specialist Chris DeWees fuses art with science.
Retired marine fisheries specialist Chris DeWees fuses art with science.

Retired marine fisheries specialist Chris DeWees fuses art with science.

Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 9:18 PM

UC Davis Arboretum Plant Sale!

Tom Tucker's bee hat: all the buzz! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you missed the first fall plant sale at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, you're in luck.

The next public sale is Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

We attended the sale on Saturday, Oct. 11 and it was the equivalent of Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving Day). Only this was like "Green Saturday."  It was a gathering of green thumbers and wanna-be green thumbers. We delighted in seeing their enthusiasm for plants and pollinators.

Bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker of Vacaville was there to display his bee condos, or housing for leafcutting bees and blue orchard bees. The bee condos? They're easy to make, he says. His "bee hat" was all the buzz. 

Art was there in the form of ceramic insects that UC Davis Entomology 1 students created under the encouragement and direction of the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program, co-founded and co-directed by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick. Ullman is a professor of entomology at UC Davis and Billick is a self-described "rock artist" who retired from teaching classes at UC Davis in June--but not from art.

A ceramic ant nestled in the plant growth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A sign indicated that the ceramic insects were perching, nesting or resting.

Not to be outdone by the ceramic bees, the real bees were there, too. We watched them nectar purple  lavender (Lavandula), red blanket flower (Gallardia) and the yellow bulbine (Bulbine frutescens). One good rule of thumb in purchasing plants for pollinators: observe what the pollinators like.

The UC Davis Arboretum website explains it all: "Several times each year, our support group, Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum, holds plant sales at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery, offering hundreds of different kinds of uncommon garden plants that have been locally grown, including the Arboretum All-Stars, our top recommended plants for Central Valley gardens. Dozens of volunteers work hard all year to grow plants for sale to support the Arboretum. Learn about volunteering at the Arboretum."

Check out the plant list on the website. You can download a PDF or an Excel file.

If you don't know a plant from a hole in the ground (in preparation for a plant, of course), you can ask the experts at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery.

They know.

Honey bee heading toward a bulbine (Bulbine frutesens). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading toward a bulbine (Bulbine frutesens). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee heading toward a bulbine (Bulbine frutesens). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

These are some of the bee condos that bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker displayed at the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
These are some of the bee condos that bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker displayed at the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

These are some of the bee condos that bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker displayed at the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Plant enthusiasts attending the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Plant enthusiasts attending the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Plant enthusiasts attending the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Time for Celebration and Nostalgia

Donna Billick with a bouquet of flowers from UC Davis Arboretum director Kathleen Socolofsky. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It was a time for celebration and a time for nostalgia.

The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, an innovative program that fuses art with science--and science with art--took shape 17 years ago, co-founded and co-directed by entomologist/artist  Diane Ullman and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick.

Together Ulllman, professor of entomology, and Billick, trained as a scientist (genetics), formed a tight-knit talented team that taught Entomology 01 students about art and science. For nearly two decades, the duo taught students about such scientific subjects  as honey bees, bumble bees and dragonflies, and then inspired them to create mosaic ceramics, paintings and other art work.

“Participants see and feel art and science, hold it in their hands, hearts and memories—in ceramics, painting, photographs, music, and textiles,” Ullman said.

Today the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program includes science faculty, design faculty, museum educators, professional artists and UC Davis students.

Tonight (Friday, June 6) marked the end of an era. At the celebration in Third Space, Davis, a crowd came to admire the work of the spring-quarter ENT 01 students and praise the accomplishments of Billick, who is retiring from the university at the end of June. Barring a financial miracle or a grant to save the program, the spring quarter marked Billick's last as an ENT 01 teacher.

Of their 17 years together, Ullman quipped: “Some marriages don't last that long.”

Billick praised the students' work and "their ability to connect the head through the heart through their hands. We created together and we communicated together… the students rocked this venture.”

The result: an internationally recognized program that continues to draw oohs and aahs, as well as and overseas invitations to speak. Much of the art is displayed throughout the campus, including the UC Davis Arboretum and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.

Diane Ullman, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis Arboretum Director and Assistant Vice Chancellor Kathleen Socolofsky, applauded the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program's huge legacy of art in the Arboretum that attracts scores of visitors and will be treasured for generations. One piece, Nature's Gallery, showing the interaction of plants and insects, was displayed in the U.S. Botanical Garden, Washington D.C., and is now permanently at home in the Arboretum's Storer Garden.

As for Billick, she toyed with a scientific career before opting for a career that fuses art with science. She received her bachelor of science degree in genetics in 1973 and her master's degree in fine arts in 1977, studying art with such masters as Bob Arneson, Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri. 

Billick maintains a compound in Baja, where she teaches three workshops a year called "Heaven on Earth." 

For outstanding teaching, Diane Ullman was recently selected the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Award in Teaching from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. She is now one of six candidates for the ESA Distinguished Teaching Award. ESA will select the recipient from one of six branches—Pacific, Eastern, North Central, Southeastern, Southwestern and International—and present the award at its Nov. 16-19 meeting in Portland, Ore.

Billick said she is grateful for the UC Davis experiences and the endless opportunities. "I'm looking forward to the next phase (of my life as an artist)," she said. "Please don't think of me as leaving; I'm spreading out.”


""Rock artist" Donna Billick with Terry Nathan, UC Davis professor of atmospheric science. He teaches photography in the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"Rock artist" Donna Billick with Terry Nathan, UC Davis professor of atmospheric science. He teaches photography in the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Justine Abbott, majoring in biological sciences, created this work on the Asian giant hornet, Vespa manderinia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomology 01 student Justine Abbott, majoring in biological sciences, created this work on the Asian giant hornet, Vespa manderinia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Justine Abbott, majoring in biological sciences, created this work on the Asian giant hornet, Vespa manderinia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Eric Smith, majoring in biochemistry, titled his work on the walnut husk fly,
Entomology 01 student Eric Smith, majoring in biochemistry, titled his work on the walnut husk fly, "Look Into My Eyes." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Eric Smith, majoring in biochemistry, titled his work on the walnut husk fly, "Look Into My Eyes." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, June 6, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Fusing Art With Science

This is part of Nature's Gallery, fusing art with science. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is incredible.

It's a program that, as the name indicates, fuses art and science. Science with art.

On that note, two noteworthy events sponsored by the program will take place next week. 

But first, what's the program all about? 

It's the brainchild of UC Davis entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and her close friend and colleague Donna Billick, a self-described "rock artist." Their visions and talents are absolutely amazing and have drawn national and international attention.

Ullman and Billick began teaching classes in the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now Entomology and Nematology) in the mid-1990s that led to the formation of the Art/Science Fusion Program. They founded the program and now serve as co-directors. Today it includes design faculty, science faculty, museum educators, professional artists and UC Davis students.

“Participants see and feel art and science, hold it in their hands, hearts and memories—in ceramics, painting, photographs, music, and textiles,” said Ullman, professor of entomology, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and former associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Basically, it's an innovative teaching program that "crosses college boundaries and uses experiental learning to enhance scientific literary for students from all disciplines." The program promotes environmental literacy with three undergraduate courses, a robust community outreach program, and sponsorship of the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASERs).

Entomologist-artist Diane Ullman, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Now a noteworthy part: On Friday, June 6, the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program will sponsor a public celebration of the art of Entomology 1 students (taught by Ullman and Billick) and the accomplishments of Billick. The theme:  “Seeing the Invisible: Art and Insects.” It will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Third Space, 946 Olive Drive, Davis. 

One of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program's most visible and “wow!” projects is the 2,500 pound mosaic art, Nature's Gallery in the Storer Garden, UC Davis Arboretum. It showcases the interaction--and the beauty--of insects and plants. It was initially displayed at the U.S. Botanical Garden in Washington D.C. and at the California State Fair.

Another project that draws much attention and acclaim is the Ent 1 art in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.  

Billick created “Miss Bee Haven,” a six-foot-long honey bee sculpture that anchors the garden. "I like to play with words,” said Billick. She also created  the colorful Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility's mosaic ceramic sign that features DNA symbols and almond blossoms. A hole drilled in the sign is ready for a bee hive.

Also in Davis, Billick created the whimsical Dancing Pigs sculpture and the Cow Fountain, both  in the Marketplace Shopping Center on Russell Boulevard; the Mediation sculpture at Central Park Gardens; and the Frawns for Life near the West Area Pond.

Anna Davidson, moderator/organizer of LASER event. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Billick toyed with a scientific career before opting for a career that fuses art with science. She received her bachelor of science degree in genetics in 1973 and her master's degree in fine arts in 1977, studying art with such masters as Bob Arneson, Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri.

Billick traces her interest in an art career to the mid-1970s when then Gov. Jerry Brown supported the arts and offered the necessary resources to encourage the growth of art. He reorganized the California Arts Council, boosting its funding by 1300 percent. 

She maintains a compound in Baja, where she teaches three workshops a year called "Heaven on Earth." She has won numerous awards for her work.

For outstanding teaching, Diane Ullman was recently selected the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Award in Teaching from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. She is now one of six candidates for the ESA Distinguished Teaching Award. ESA will select the recipient from one of six branches—Pacific, Eastern, North Central, Southeastern, Southwestern and International—and present the award at its Nov. 16-19 meeting in Portland, Ore.

The other noteworthy event involving the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program occurs on Monday, June 2. It's the popular LASER-UC Davis event and will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Room 3001 of the Plant and Environmental Sciences Building.  (LASER is an acronym for Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous.) One of the program's teachers, Anna Davidson, a Ph.D candidate in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, is coordinating and moderating the event. Come by at 6:30 for socializing and networking. The program starts at 7.

Davidson has gathered an exciting program of four speakers, with a discussion and more networking to follow from 9 to 9:30: 

 The  schedule:

  • Gene Felice, graduate student, at the University of California Santa Cruz, will speak on "Justice in a More Human World" from 7 to 7:25. 
  • Michael Neff, associate professor in Computer Science and Cinema and Technocultural Studies at UC Davis, will speak on "The Gap Between Computational and Artistic Models of Movement"
  • Danielle Svehla Christianson of the Berkeley Center for New Media, will discuss "The Gap Between: Computational and Artistic Models of Movement, “A Digital Forest: 01100110 01101111 01110010 01100101 01110011 01110100” from 8:10 to 8:35 p.m.
  • Joe Dumit, director of Science and Technology Studies and professor of anthropology at UC Davis, will speak on "Haptic Creativity: Seeing, Scaling and Storymaking with the KeckCAVES" from 8:35 to 9 p.m.
Read more about the four speakers on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.
 

UC Davis Art/Science Fusion co-founder and co-director Donna Billick with her mosaic ceramic sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, in the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis Art/Science Fusion co-founder and co-director Donna Billick with her mosaic ceramic sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, in the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis Art/Science Fusion co-founder and co-director Donna Billick with her mosaic ceramic sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, in the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Self-described rock artist Donna Billick addresses the crowd at the opening of Nature's Gallery, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Self-described rock artist Donna Billick addresses the crowd at the opening of Nature's Gallery, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Self-described rock artist Donna Billick addresses the crowd at the opening of Nature's Gallery, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 5:53 PM

A Brush With Bees

If you plant a bottlebrush in your yard, you'll experience a brush with kindness.

This time of year there's not much food for honey bees to eat. Bottlebrush, in the genus Callistemon and family Myrtaceae, fits the bill. 

We captured this image Oct. 16 at the Häagen-Dazs Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, west of the central campus. The half-acre garden, planted in the fall of 2009, serves as a year-around food source for the bees at the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Faciity, as well as other  pollinators, raises public awareness of bees, and provides visitors with ideas of what to plant in their own gardens. Admission to the garden, open from dawn to dusk, is free. If you want a guided tour (a nominal fee is charged), contact Christine Casey at cacasey@ucdavis.edu.

The bee-utiful Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long ceramic mosaic sculpture by Donna Billick of Davis, anchors the garden. The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, directed by Donna Billick and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, has kindly provided a plethora of art, the work of their students in Entomology 1. Think decorated bee boxes at the entrance, a native bee mural on the tool shed, ceramic mosaic planters filled with flowers, and native bee condos for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees.

The bottlebrush fits in well. Native to Australia, this plant resembles--you guessed it--a bottlebrush, the kind of tool you'd use to clean a baby bottle or an insulated bottle. Most flower heads are red, but they can also be yellow, orange, white or green, depending on the 34 species.

The bottlebrush is a long and late bloomer, to be sure. But a welcome one at that.

Honey bee on a bottlebrush at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by  Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee on a bottlebrush at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee on a bottlebrush at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is Miss Bee Haven, art work by Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is Miss Bee Haven, art work by Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is Miss Bee Haven, art work by Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, November 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM

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