Gaze Up Close at Art and the Animal

Attention to Details by Cathy Sheeter, a Colorado-based artist. The striking clayboard-and-ink work depicts a curious ocelot.

Gaze Up Close at Art and the Animal 

The Society of Animal Artists’ on-sale exhibition will be on view at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art through Oct. 23.

Text and Photos by Julie Garisto, Aug. 9, 2018
 
The timing couldn’t be better for The Society of Animal Artists‘ touring exhibition, Art and the Animal, at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art. Its uncompromising and imaginative depictions of creatures great and small should appeal to everyone, even those who care just a little about animals (unimaginable!).
The exhibition of around 125 works reminds us of the potential losses we face as the federal government deregulates hunting, deforestation and the protection of endangered species. On a lighter note, Art and the Animal provides a therapeutic nature break from Tampa Bay’s relentless summer heat, our phones and computers.

Here’s an example of Emily Kapes’ expert curatorial placement of two vastly unlike creatures, both in profile. Pictured: Stuart-based artist Guy Coheleach’s Lioness and Great Egret by James Offerman of Missouri City, Texas.

“Art and the Animal celebrates creatures in nature in a relatable way,” said James Museum Curator of Art Emily Kapes.”Just like taking a stroll through the woods, the exhibition is a pleasant reminder of the beauty of our world.”

The sheer breadth of the exhibition is what’s most impressive. The pieces, all for sale, come to us from a variety of artists of all ages, background and experience level, in every thinkable medium.

A majority of the works impress with painstaking technique. We see creatures in their natural habitats, domesticated and as livestock. Whether in motion, still, captured, on the hunt or in the sights of a bigger animal, each creature depicted has a gripping story to tell.

Local art installers St. Cate Fine Arts assisted with the hanging of the works, but Kapes decided where the pieces would hang, meticulously arranging their placement according to action, expression and setting, among other similarities.

An artist from Tampa Bay area made it into the exhibition: Adrift, an oil painting by John Brennen, a Lutz-based artist.

 
The result: a harmonious viewing experience, one not likely attained by adhering to the more obvious categories of species, medium or geography. Strolling through the exhibit is not unlike a safari with side trips to familiar back yards, barnyards and beaches.

Entry is free with museum admission. The Society of Animal Artists, founded in 1960, promotes “excellence in the artistic portrayal of the creatures sharing our planet, and to the education of the public through art exhibitions, informative seminars, lectures and teaching demonstrations.”

 
Below are some highlights of their exhibition:

One of Art and the Animal‘s most distinctive works, Dan Chen’s Solitude. depicts a ghost-like raven that’s both majestic and ominous. The Chinese-born, Eugene-based artist engraved the Corvus in Lucite with LED lighting.

 

Tucson artist Pokey Park gives us one of the most charming and whimsical sculptures in the collection.

St. Charles, Illinois-based Renee Bemis employs mixed media (bronze and plastic) to depict a crab grappling with the intrusion of man-made synthetics in its habitat, in the ironically titled Looking for Water.

 
 
 
A detail of Cynthie Fisher’s Dauntless, which depicts a dazzle of zebras treading through water. The viscerally charged oil painting shows desperation in action with breathtaking realism.

 
 
 
Heartrending: Detail of Mimes ‘Baldie,’ by Washington state artist Kathleen E. Dunn.

 
Canadian illustrator Rox Corbett’s Dog Park complements Kent Ullberg’s Mind and Passion,ravens in bronze and stainless steel; Terry Miller’s To Get to the Other Side, of Course in graphite, and Kathleen E. Dunn’s Mimes ‘Baldie.’

One of the most boldly elegant sculptures in the exhibition, Silver Back #6, by French artist Michel Bossompierre, shows the fierceness and beauty of a silverback gorilla, crafted gracefully in bronze.

 
 

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