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The Commonwealth Club of California Farmer Gallery Showcases the Works of Bay Area Photographer Sharon Beals: “The Wonder of Birds’ Nests” April 3 through June 28, 2019

San Francisco (April 8, 2019)—The Commonwealth Club continues its tradition of showcasing the work of local artists at its headquarters based at 110 The Embarcadero. The pieces are being displayed on a rotating basis in the Club’s new Farmer Gallery based on the Lobby Level of its new building. With funds from Tawnie and John Farmer, former Chair of the Commonwealth Club Board, The Club was able to establish a gallery space with proper lighting and a professional hanging system. The Club is currently pleased to present “Small Miracles: The Wonder of Birds’ Nests” photographs of Sharon Beals now through June 28, 2019.

Notes artist Beals, “It was only after making the first photograph of a nest, drawn to its palette and messy yet graceful and functional form, that I knew I had found my medium—or at least a way that I could be a medium for the birds.”

Photographer and author, Sharon Beals, was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1945. Having served an apprenticeship in photography, Sharon moved to San Francisco in 1979 to begin a career in professional photography. Since that time, she has expanded into the field of environmental protection, creating and documenting the intricacies of birds’ nests and their occupants, with the hope of protecting their continued survival. 

Beals adds, “Nests are creations of spider’s web, caterpillar cocoon, plant down, mud, found modern objects, human and animal hair, mosses, lichen, feathers and down, sticks and twigs–all are woven with beak and claw into a bird's best effort to foster and protect their next generation. It is my hope that capturing the detailed art form of the nests in these photographs will gain appreciation for their builders, and inspire their protection”.

Curator of the Club’s exhibits Lynn Curtis comments, “Not only does Beals’s work capture the beauty and intricacies of Mother Nature at her best, but underscores the need for environmental preservation and conservation of something most of us take for granted. I am so impressed with Beals’s quiet activism and the way in which she visually explores the complexities of natural fibers and transforms nature’s even tiniest bounty into stunning geometric shapes and imagery.”

About the Artist: Bay Area based Sharon Beals is currently photographing the next of extinct and endangered birds and recently photographed a variety of specimens at the Australian National Wildlife Collection in Canberra. She also takes pictures of wild native habitats and water sheds and the serpentine coastal faultlines. In an effort to promote environmental awareness of the global crisis of our polluted waterways and oceans she has created photograms of plastic fragments to create large scale deceptively beautiful, but provocative pictures. 

Sharon Beals is the award-winning author and photographer of Nests: Fifty Nests and the birds that Build them. Her Nest Series documents nest and eggs specimens dating from the 1800’s to present day as they are displayed at The California Academy of Sciences, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley, the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in Camarillo, CA, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian. 

About Lynn Curtis: Longtime Commonwealth Club volunteer and artist herself Lynn Curtis has curated over 40 of the Club’s exhibitions since 2007. Curtis produced exhibits in the Gold Room of the Club’s former office space at 595 Market Street from 2008 through 2014.

Curtis noted, “I love looking at art and looking for artists. It’s an exciting adventure seeking these visual treasures. Open Studios in the Bay Area provides a great opportunity to visit the artists where they work.” Curtis also frequents local galleries, mines local papers, and receives recommendations of those she meets at the Club. About the work she chooses to display she says “All of them must be honest, with a unique insight. The winners draw me to them.”

Curtis, a native of Pennsylvania, attended the College of the Arts in Oakland, known as the College of Arts and Crafts. She is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the first and oldest art school and museum in this country, established in 1805. She says she is indebted to the classical training she received there which, in fact, is the substance of her art background.

Notes Curtis, “The exhibition program is a continuation of the purpose of the Club: to expose the public to new thoughts and ideas as a public forum. The exposure here, though, is silent. Each artwork speaks to the viewer’s eyes, and the viewer must internalize what he sees.” Curtis recommends that the viewer always asks, “What is this artist trying to say to me, and why?” 

Exhibits of artworks at the Club's Farmer Gallery are available during most business hours and, unless otherwise noted, are free to view. Many exhibits will also feature a special event featuring the artist. For more information about Club exhibits please visit Interested parties may send exhibit proposals with photos via email: (300 dpi. Jpg.)

About the Commonwealth Club of California: Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s premier public affairs forum, with more than 25,000 members. For the past 11 decades, the Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on a wide range of topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, the economy and more in about 500 live programs each year. Based in San Francisco with a second office in San Jose, the Club presents speeches, debates and discussions each year on issues of regional, national and international significance. The Club continues to host its guests—from presidents and activists to scientists and chefs—at its headquarters on the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco as well as at venues around San Francisco, Silicon Valley, the East Bay and Marin County. In addition to its traditional forums, the Club hosts the Climate One project on climate change, and Inforum, a division oriented to younger community members. It has sponsored public policy projects over the years, ranging from early 1900s studies and reports leading to environmental and social legislative and policy innovations, to more recent efforts to improve state governance in California. The Club has produced a PBS film, published books and publishes a bimonthly magazine, The Commonwealth.

About 1 million people listen to The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcast—the oldest continuing radio program in the country—on more than 230 public and commercial stations across the country. The Club’s podcasts are downloaded about 5 million times each year. The Club’s videos also appear on the California Channel, C-SPAN and YouTube, where they have been viewed millions of times. For more information, visit