Rising Stars

MCF will host the exhibition, “Rising Stars” from June 21, 2017 to September 22, 2017, honoring seven artists who have been awarded an annual grant from the Pirkle Jones Fund of the Marin Community Foundation. Approximately eighty artworks in the categories of photography, printmaking, painting and sculpture are included.

The exhibition will be held at the Foundation’s offices at 5 Hamilton Landing, Suite 200, Novato, CA and can be viewed by the public between 9am-5pm, Monday-Thursdays, and 9am-noon on Fridays. 

Opening reception: Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 5:00-7:00pm

Supported through the Fund’s Visual Artist Support Program (VASP), the seven artists who have received the grant are Lauren Bartone (2011), Ben Nixon (2012), Eli Geller (2013), Piera Nicole Bernhard (2014), James Sansing (2015), Julia Lucey (2016) and Ido Yashimoto (2017). 

These artists were selected by the Pirkle Jones VASP Selection Committee, who base their assessment on three areas: artistic value, artistic goals, and career impact. The annual grant of $25,000 aims to nurture artists’ imagination and drive, encourage their commitment to the creative process, while also developing aesthetic standards that can further artistic potential.

Recipients of the grant must be residents of Marin County, be an emergent (0-7 years) or mid-career (5-15 years) artist and meet specific income requirements.

The grant was established to honor Marin photographer Pirkle Jones, a renowned California photographer who was admired for his stirring images of migrant workers, endangered landscapes and social movements, including a series on the Black Panthers at the height of their activism in the late 1960s.


Lauren Bartone was the first recipient of the grant in 2011. She is a resident of Fairfax and a Marin County educator. Bartone received her Master's degree in Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2012. During her time there she began using recycled materials to produce collectively made maps about shared public spaces. The first of these maps, The TakeOut Project, addressed the social divisions in San Rafael. More recent maps have addressed Golden Gate Park and Market Street in San Francisco. Her work as an artist and educator is grounded in an interdisciplinary balance of painting, community, dialogue, and collective work.    

Ben Nixon is the second artist to receive the Pirkle Jones Fund grant, which he received in 2012, while a resident of Mill Valley. Since 2008 Nixon has been developing an ongoing series of early-technique wet-plate collodion photographs primarily focused on landscapes, and often celebrating trees. He attended Sierra Nevada College and also studied photography at Rockport College (now Maine Media College) on the East coast. Nixon’s photographs have been exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum, Oakland Museum of Art, Center for Photographic Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Morris Graves Museum. His photographs are included in the public collections of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Boston Public Library, Asheville Art Museum, and The Bolinas Museum.

Eli Geller received the Pirkle Jones grant in 2013 while a resident of Bolinas. He is the third recipient of the Award, and the second photographer. Originally from Lenox Massachusetts, Geller moved to the Bay Area in 2010 to pursue his lifelong dream and passion for photography. He studied piano at the University of Vermont, and received his BA in Music in 2005. With his grant, he was able to spend several months in the desert Southwest where he took a multitude of photographs of uninhabited American lands. Geller uses a “lith" printing process that utilizes black and white photographic paper to produce dark shadows and soft highlights with subtle hues and tones. Each print is unique.

Piera Nicole Bernhard received the Pirkle Jones grant in 2014 while a resident of Bolinas. She is the fourth recipient of the Award and is a printmaker. Bernhard began printmaking in 2009 at the College of Marin when she was seventeen years old. With an independent spirit she then traveled to Northern India and Germany where she immersed herself in classical painting techniques, figure drawing, engraving and, her true passion, printmaking. From 2014-2015 she did a year-long internship at Kala Print Studio in Berkeley, and is currently enrolled at Sierra Nevada College where she will receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2019.

James Sansing was the recipient of the Pirkle Jones grant in 2015 and is a resident of San Rafael. He has exhibited at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Headland Center for the Arts, Ampersand International Arts, and Mark Wolfe Contemporary, as well as at venues in New York, Los Angeles, and in Europe and Asia. He has won residencies from Recology, Kala Art Institute, Headlands Center for the Arts, and has been the recipient of a Pollock- Krasner Grant and received an award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Sansing received both his BFA and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. His mediums include melancholic films, monumental sculptures, atmospheric photos, and cement with graphite and casein pigment paintings for which he received the Pirkle Jones Fund Grant.

Julia Lucey received the Pirkle Jones grant in 2016 and is a resident of Fairfax. Lucey received her BFA in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and finds the inspiration for her art from her years spent backpacking and working in the Western United States. Most recently as Artist-in-Residence at Kala Art Institute, she has focused on traditional etching techniques and aquatint to create images dealing with the evolving issues of wildlife, its dissolution, and the attempt by many to direct its path. Lucey has exhibited at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, Mill Valley City Hall, and Rare Device in San Francisco. She is represented by Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, Texas. 

Ido Yoshimoto is the 2017 Pirkle Jones Fund grantee, and a lifelong resident of Inverness. Yoshimoto is a woodworker, arborist and artist who draws inspiration directly from his natural surroundings. Wood is his primary medium to produce prints, sculptures and functional objects, such as seating. His work has been exhibited in the Bay Area at the Berkeley Art Museum (BAM), Bolinas Museum, Gallery Route One, Ogaard Gallery, Midway Gallery, Sweeney Kaye Gallery, and internationally at Curator's Cube in Tokyo. Yoshimoto works as chief sculpture restorer and facilities manager at the JB Blunk Estate.