Palo Alto. Silicon Valley, an area of California known for its start-ups rather than its art scene, has welcomed its first private art foundation. Jane Woodward, the founder of the natural gas and wind energy investment firm MAP, opened the Foster Art and Wilderness Foundation on a quiet street in Palo Alto on 27 February.
The unorthodox organisation is dedicated to the work of the watercolourist Tony Foster, based in Cornwall, who travels the world to paint wild places threatened by climate change and pollution. A geologist by training, Woodward does not call herself a collector and she owns no other artist’s work. But she says she was “ambushed” when she encountered Foster’s watercolours by chance at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, in 1987. Her appointment-only venue presents rotating displays of Foster’s landscapes. The organisation is willing to contribute insurance, shipping and other costs to send the works on tour.
For Foster, the experience has been surreal. “I think the best thing for everyone after the opening is if I just died—but I have other plans,” he said. The artist’s next exhibition (Exploring Beauty: Watercolour Diaries from the Wild) is due to open at the Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery, in London on 8 June. The show will travel to the Foster in January 2017.