Artist in focus: Obi Kaufmann
An avid conservationist and intrepid explorer of California ecology and the natural world, Obi Kaufmann is a native Californian, based in Oakland. Growing up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist and a psychologist, Obi Kaufmann spent most of high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo and map its creeks, oak forests, and sage mazes. Into adulthood, he would regularly journey into the mountains, spending more summer nights without a roof than with one. His first book, The California Field Atlas (Heyday/2017) became a #1 San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller and was awarded the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco’s Gold Medal for Significant Contribution to Publishing, and the 2018 Book of the Year by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association.
Kaufmann’s second book, The State of Water: Understanding California’s
Most Precious Resource (Heyday/2019), examined the Golden State’s most complex and controversial resource: water.
Kaufmann presents his work and vision of ecological preservation and restoration to environmental centers and groups across the state, including the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Mojave Desert Land Trust, The Anza Borrego Foundation, The Mono Lake Committee, Peninsula Open Space Trust, The California Native Plant Society, The Wilderness Society, and The National Audubon Society.
Kaufmann’s artistry, research, and reverence for the natural world have been covered such publications as the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Review of Books, Sunset Magazine, Alta Magazine, Entropy, and Western Art and Architecture. Kaufmann will be featured in an upcoming episode of OpenRoad with Doug McConnell on location in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California for NBC Bay Area this fall. When he is not backpacking, you can find the painter-poet at home in Oakland.