Ethan Estess Out Of Mind The Great Highway

Out Of Mind – Ethan Estess

October 11th – November 17th 2019
Reception Saturday, October  12th  3-9pm

The Great Highway Gallery is stoked to present “Out of Mind”. Installation and ropework art made from crab and lobster pot rope by Ethan Estess. During the reception “Fore the Waves” will be parked in front of the gallery. An interactive sculpture made from twenty thousand golf balls that Alex Weber started removing from the waters off Pebble Beach when she was 16.

Artist’s Statement
I’m interested in the blind spots we can have with respect to ocean health, and I see art as a powerful conversation starter that can help us open our eyes and connect to complex challenges. For example, people tend to talk about sustainable seafood solely in terms of fish population levels, but rarely do we consider how certain fisheries contribute massively to the issue of marine plastic pollution. More dangerous and abundant (by weight) than single-use straws and plastic bottles, derelict fishing gear can entangle and kill a wide range of marine species. For these reasons I have been working to reclaim old fishing rope directly from fishermen and picking it up off beaches to highlight this challenge through my artwork. My hope is that increased consumer awareness on this issue will encourage fisheries to adopt better materials and practices to reduce their plastic pollution footprint.

As another example, I recently found myself in the dark in regards to an environmental issue in my own backyard. It had never occurred to me that golf balls could cause harm to the marine environment, that is until I received an email from a teenager who had spent three years picking 50,000 of them up off the seafloor near Pebble Beach. She had published a research paper documenting how 2-5 million balls remained buried in the sediment off the Carmel coast, seasonally getting ripped up by winter swells to tumble along the sandy bottom and erode into potentially toxic microplastic particles. Golf balls are just one of the many forms of plastic that sink in seawater, so I took the artistic opportunity to envision what the shore break at Carmel would look like if they happened to float. Fore the Waves is made from over 20,000 of these golf balls and is intended to inspire individual action and corporate responsibility to solve the broader plastic pollution crisis.

About the Artist
Ethan Estess (b. 1989) is an artist and marine scientist from Santa Cruz, California who communicates about the challenges facing the ocean through sculpture and printmaking. He travels extensively for his work as a marine biologist and draws on these experiences to inspire his creative works. He holds B.S and M.S. degrees in environmental science from Stanford University where he studied oceanography, mechanical engineering, and studio art.

Estess has participated in several art residencies, including the Recology program at the San Francisco landfill where he constructed a life-size whale tail sculpture from reclaimed rope that was later displayed for millions of viewers at the San Francisco international airport. His artworks are currently exhibited in public and private collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan, and he recently installed a temporary sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Estess operates a studio and gallery while continuing to work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium studying bluefin tuna ecology and conservation. In 2016 Estess founded Countercurrent, a non-profit that engages communities in issues of ocean sustainability through science-based public art installations.

Artist Links

In Their Own Words A dialogue about Global Warming


J. Matt

October 4th – October 22nd
Reception Friday, October 4th 6pm – 9pm

Artist’s Statement
At the water’s edge politics were once reputed to stop. Today our politics offer no foreign policy consensus and our coasts are the most desired, politically contested, and environmentally burdened regions on earth. Facing rising sea levels, depleted resources, massive storms, unsupportable population densities, and the many other ravages of global warming the very geography of the coast is under siege and addressing these issues is

the world’s most desperate international policy necessity. And yet people still travel to the coast for recreation in record numbers— often oblivious to ongoing debates about access, use, exploitation of coastal resources, and the global warming crisis itself. The coast has become a battleground, even as it remains merely a day at the beach.

The photographs included here are selections from a forty image book project that uses quotes from scientists, bureaucrats, policy statements, politicians, and ordinary citizens who have been affected by the actions of extractive industries or global warming-related events. The dialogue is dire, the lack of concerted action around the world is terrifying. As we face an existential threat to life on earth as we’ve come to know it, the vacuum of response is our species’ greatest failing. It seems likely that “We had it all and used it up.” will be our species’ epitaph. The contrast between our ecological and climatic realities and people’s time at the coast is stark, this work pushes that discordance to the limits. It is intended to be shrill, strident, even as the images themselves are beautiful. It is intended to be an alarm rung in response to the emergency we face.

But an alarm rung without response is hopeless and it seems the best answer to forcing our governments’ hands is non-violent direct action of the sort that Extinction Rebellion is practicing. The posters, flyers, and first issue of the Rebellion Recorder are another of my responses to where we have put ourselves due to our history of irresponsible, greed-driven actions. Please take the time to read the essay by Bill McKibben, Peter Kalmus’ list of facts about where we are today, and take in the rest of the paper’s print galley content. There will be a new edition available this October, look for it here in SF; the local Extinction Rebellion cell will be distributing it around town and at their actions during the latest international period of non-violent civil disobedience beginning October 7th.

About the Artist
J. Matt graduated from SFAI and believes that photography is merely an excuse to pay careful attention and relay information gleaned from doing so to others. See more at

Artist Links

Paradise Adrift - Sonja Navin - The Great Highway Window Gallery

Paradise Adrift

Sonja Navin

September 12th – October 6th
Reception Saturday, September 14th 6pm – 9pm

The Great Highway Gallery is excited to present “Paradise Adrift”. Window installation and paintings by Sonja Navin.

Artist’s Statement
To seek a state of bliss is to seek paradise. As humans, we are all inherently imperfect. We can start off with good intentions, but just by nature of being human, we get in our own way. We are perfectly flawed. Our adaptation to the unforeseen is what is beautiful and moving.

About the Artist
I work to sustain that first glimpse of an image through the process of producing a painting. The many layers of paint are used to first break down an image, then to rebuild it. The result is somewhere between representation and abstraction: when a painting expresses what I cannot with words. I can communicate in a language of my own making.

I started painting as a way to record and study places. This evolved naturally from my work as an architect. My paintings now strive to capture that fleeting image and emotion of a place or person. My version of the truth.

I attended the University of Michigan where I received a Bachelor and Master of Architecture and first started painting. I currently live and work in San Francisco.



The Great Highway is a fine art gallery and working studio featuring contemporary works in all mediums. The gallery has a deep appreciation for images and ideas that explore where lands meet water.

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The Great Highway
3649 Lawton St.
San Francisco, CA 94122

phone: (415) 680-3891

By appointment 7 days a week

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