Chalk Artist Finds Inspiration, Impermanence In Mount Tamalpais [Video]

Exactly a year ago, Robyn dug into a documentary short by Bay Area filmmaker Gary Yost titled The Invisible Peak. The film details the story of Mount Tamalpais’ degradation by military development, and the current movement to restore the sacred mountain’s western peak. A story unknown to many who live in the area (even as they know “Mount Tam”), the film no doubt brought in a few more supporters of this spiritually and environmentally significant portion of San Francisco’s landscape.

Yost’s most recent work “Mountains Made of Chalk, Fall into the Sea, Eventually.” (embedded above) also focuses on Mount Tamalpais, specifically on its ability to inspire people even in its physically incompleteness. Chalk artist Gemma Panzarella sees the mountain as a living symbol of the notion of impermanence, and set out to create a work of art that captured this quality. Her artistic choices went well beyond the usual options of medium and material: Panzarella choose to make a chalk painting of the mountain on ground that was once covered by the missing western peak. She painted the mountain as it once stood, before the military reconfigured it, and did so at a time when she knew rain would be coming soon. The washing away of her chalk creation completed the portrait of change, even as her own artistic efforts (as well as those of Yost) give permanence to Mount Tamalpais’ former state. The whole mountain has been recreated in the memories of generations who never actually saw it.

Spend a few minutes with this video meditation, and then share your thoughts on the film, Panzarella’s artistic effort, or even Mount Tam itself.

Featured image credit: Screen capture from “Mountains Made of Chalk, Fall into the Sea, Eventually.”

About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at