Rain leaves an impression at Hyde Art Gallery

Story by Alexis A. Tittle; Video by Xavier Green and Russ Lindquist

GROSSMONT COLLEGE–For many artists, nature is an inspiration, but for Jim Wilsterman, nature is his co-artist. Wilsterman’s art is being exhibited at the Hyde Art Gallery until February 24. The focus of the exhibit is on the varied effects – the varied impressions – made by raindrops. On display are 24 pieces of his collection of more than 50.

Water conservation has been the center of many of his works. For ten years, Wilsterman has been experimenting with ways to capture rain, and he is even somewhat of a local celebrity for his students’ cloud sculptures on the nearby water tower in El Cajon, of which Wilsterman said, “The clouds are there to show where the water comes from.”

Regarding the pieces in the exhibit, Wilsterman commented:  “This work was an attempt to record every rainfall event in San Diego County from January 1st, 2010 to December 30th 2010.”   He said during that year there were 51 measurable rain events recorded near his studio on the Grossmont campus.  “I initiated this series by trying to capture the force and impact of falling rain, and by using natural materials that directly respond to and record the influence of the precipitation events.”

According to Wilsterman, his method is not a simple one. He took paper similar to the paper used to make money and stretched it out on the earth and left  it until he was satisfied with the result. Different rains left  their own signatures making every piece like a discovery from an archaeological dig – a uniquely recorded moment in time.

Wilsterman currently teaches sculpting classes at Grossmont; his students helped to make the iron frames which display the works.

Some of the pieces include small metal object or artifacts of nature. For example, leaves and a bird head were recovered from areas recently burned by wildfire.

Wilsterman said he is interested in local problems, among which are the California Wild-Fires and  fire-awareness in general.

“I approach art as a way of questioning what’s around me in the world,” said Wilsterman, who explained that his sculpture “Embarcadero,” which accompanies the rain impressions,  has within it nearly hidden homeless people.  He said it was made to draw attention to the removal of homeless people from downtown San Diego prior to the 1996 Republican National Convention.


The impression of Raindrops up by Jim Wilsterman (Photo: Russ Lindquist)

Tittle is a student in MCOMM 132; email her at [email protected]