A devoted hiker, mountain biker and horseback rider, Karen Reitzel has been reflecting on the devastation, both natural and manmade, that limited access to our local foothills this past year. She states, “Personal histories and life situations makes each person’s relationship with nature distinctive.”
Reitzel was personally affected by the 2009 Station Fire, which required her to evacuate her horse and limited riding trail access for months afterward. Her regular hiking and biking trails continue to be closed due to subsequent erosion from the recent winter storms that caused further damage and washed away repairs made last year to the Angeles Crest Highway.
Cismontane and the Belly of the Valley is Reitzel’s response, an exploration of the meeting of domesticated and natural environments, mingling, informing and affecting one another in those valleys and foothills. She uses elements of human design and intervention as well as the flora and fauna of the cismontane (“this side of the mountain”) chaparral of the San Gabriel Mountains encountered during her regular traverses. Just as Reitzel observed the sweeping effect of the wildfire and the slow rebirth of landscape, this installation relies on the contemplation of change, both dramatic and nuanced.