From the Vault: West Coast Biennial

West Coast Biennial is BACK! This year marks the fourth Biennial at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. This art competition and exhibition is the brainchild of Mary and John Harper. Mary is our former Education Manager and John, a long time instructor at Shasta College, is a former Curator of Art at the Redding Museum of Art and History. They wanted to restart a tradition and oh boy did they!

2011 West Coast Biennial
2011 West Coast Biennial

The Redding Museum held an annual art competition and exhibition associated with the Art and Craft Faire for many years. The move to the new museum building in 2002 put that contest on hold until we could figure out a way to organize it in the new space. Mary formed The Friends of the Arts at Turtle Bay from the existing Arts Council and set about turning this dream into a reality. We had a small “logistics” run with the Find Your Walden in Redding photo contest in 2010.

2011 Best in Show – James Allison’s Cable Mechanics
2011 Best in Show – James Allison’s Cable Mechanics

The contest and exhibition are biennial, meaning they happen every other year. Artists must be from California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska and pieces must have been made in the previous three years and can’t have been previously shown at Turtle Bay. It is juried by a new outside juror each time. Past jurors include Santa Rosa-based artist, instructor, and curator Bob Nugent; the Crocker Museum’s Associate Director and Chief Curator, Scott Shields; the Portland Art Museum’s Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art, Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson; and this year’s juror Michael Duncan, an art critic and independent curator based in Los Angeles.

2013 Best in Show – Jim Gilmore with his piece Paoha
2013 Best in Show – Jim Gilmore with his piece Paoha

Jurors choose the entries that will be included in the exhibition from digital images. All of the artist information is withheld during this process to prevent prejudice. The juror then visits Turtle Bay and sees the chosen pieces in person to determine the prizewinners and to give a juror’s talk open to the public for free. Michael Duncan spoke on the Bay Area artist Bruce Conner. You can see a video of that talk here.

2011 Biennial
Biennial, seen here in 2011, offers guests a lot of diverse media. There really is something for everyone.

The exhibition always opens the night of Redding’s Cultural Cruise, a long-standing, free, city wide event that falls on the last Friday every January. West Coast Biennial usually brings in a larger than usual cruising crowd to Turtle Bay that night. About 375 people saw the 2017 Biennial on opening night. The following day, local artist Lura Wilhelm, who has a piece in the exhibition, gave a painting demonstration. Oh yeah, and we have a winner. Best in Show goes to Gina Herrera for her piece Rocking the Future. You will just have to come in and see it!

Are you an artist working in California, Oregon, Washington, or Alaska? Keep an eye out for the next contest announcement in August 2018!

2015 Biennial
2015 Best in Show Hansel and Gretel by Katherine Ace is on the right.
2015 Biennial
Every Biennial, seen here in 2015 is different. The combination of entries and outside jurors makes for a new experience each time.
2013 Biennial
The crowd awaits the announcement of the winners at the 2013 West Coast Biennial.

The Vault is Always Open!

Curatrix Julia



Green World All Around Us: New art in the Gardens — the Odyssey of Earthstone

EarthstoneAnnually, as temperatures rise, gardeners lose the ubiquitous gardening spring fever that hits us all in earlier, cooler days of the year. Here at Turtle Bay’s McConnell Botanical Gardens there are other dimensions to thrill the senses besides plants, peace and shade: such as art in the Gardens.

The newest art to grace Turtle Bay’s McConnell Botanical Gardens is the monolithic piece named Earthstone. Earthstone was created by local artist Colleen Barry* and commissioned by patron Lawrence Dillon in honor of his partner Donald Ostreicher, a life-long supporter of the arts. In a whimsical way Earthstone is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge and predominately composed of calming earth tones. It is also a lively and completely unexpected piece. The site surrounding Earthstone is planted with California native trees and plants and is on the north edge of the Gardens (see below).

Earthstone map

Earthstone has had a four year odyssey from beginning to the grand opening on June 13th of this year. At the helm of the project was patron Lawrence Dillon, a very creative, ingenious person in his own right. At every step of the way Lawrence’s contagious enthusiasm fueled the project. From first steps, to the perfect placement, to the garden that surrounds Earthstone, to even boulder and signage placement; no detail was unimportant in Lawrence’s eyes.

Earthstone delivery
Delivery of Earthstone with artist Colleen Barry and patron Lawrence Dillon – May, 2014

The Horticulture staff loved working with Lawrence on Earthstone’s garden. In Lawrence we found a compatriot; he understood how important all of the minor details are to the whole garden. Planting (a bit of which will be finished in fall 2015), mulching, irrigation, etc., all crucial elements and all fascinating to not only Horticulture staff and visiting gardeners; but also to Lawrence, a patron of the arts.

Earthstone has had a true odyssey: from first steps, to its regal, but unceremonious journey through the Botanical Gardens, to its garden planning and planting, to its recent grand opening. It was a labor of love by Colleen Barry and Lawrence Dillon and is beloved by everyone here at Turtle Bay.

*Colleen Barry is a world-renown artist who lives and works in Redding. She has created other permanent pieces for Turtle Bay, including: Mosaic Oasis in the Children’s Garden, Frog Island and Slow Turtle Crossing outside the Museum.

Enjoy these two videos from the day Earthstone arrived at Turtle Bay!


Happy gardening and garden enjoyment everyone; from the Horticulture staff here at Turtle Bay!


Email Turtle Bay’s Horticulture department at for more information and/or questions.

Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery:                                                                                                         Drought-tolerant plants, including a selection of California natives and others, are available at the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery, now open year-round Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Visit our interactive Nursery inventory list at . Green dot sale on specific plants. Look for the plant signs with green dots for 50% discounts!