Intertidal Heroes: pink seaweed

Images of seaweed gathered along the California and Maine coasts are the focus of an exhibit titled "Intertidal Heroes" opening Jan. 2 with a reception in the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

Art, the natural world and science will converge in a new exhibit opening today, Jan. 2, with a public reception for the artist at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

“Intertidal Heroes” is artist Josie Iselin’s poetic and compelling tribute to undersea life and the wonder and mystery it evokes, a Museum of Art spokeswoman said.

Seaweed is a “secret treasure of largely unseen forms,” from the monochrome knotweed and bladderwrack of the Maine coast to the more spectacular bull kelp, sea grapes and nori of California, the spokeswoman said.

Produced on a flatbed scanner, Iselin’s vibrant portraits of ocean flora reveal the exquisite color and extraordinary forms of more than 200 specimens gathered from tidal pools along both coasts.

“She brings the traditional pressed seaweed specimen — invaluable to scientists and beloved by collectors — into a contemporary format, unveiling an often overlooked but fundamental aspect of ocean life that has great value for human health and well-being,” the spokeswoman said.

Iselin is a San Francisco photographer, writer and book designer with eight books to her credit. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in visual and environmental studies from Harvard College and an master of fine arts degree from San Francisco State University.

She lives and works in San Francisco, where she walks the beach often.

A reception for the artist will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 2 during Art After Dark festivities at galleries and exhibit spaces in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The reception will be preceded by a conversation with the artist for museum members only at 5 p.m.

An ARTalk with the artist, which will be open to the public, will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11, in the Museum of Art, where the exhibit will be on display until March 1.

The Museum of Art at 1010 Broad St., at the west end of Mission Plaza, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Tuesdays, when the museum is closed until after July 4.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted. For more information, visit www.sloma.org.

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