Third Street Gallery archive: 2008 Exhibitions: BEAUX ZOOS animal imagery in art

During the months of July and August, Humboldt State University First Street Gallery will present,  Beaux Zoos: Animal Imagery in Art, opening on July  5th.  The exhibition will feature art by six visual artists from California’s North Coast: Amy Granfield, Kelly Leal, Lush Newton, Rachel Schleuter, Naomi Mest and Peggy Loudon.

The six artists in this exhibition each use animal imagery with zoological or anatomical subjects covering a broad range artistic sensibilities and approaches. The use of animal imagery by artists reflects the long tradition in art of using such images to express various aspects of cultural, societal and political conditions.  The tenor of the art in this show runs from the sublime to the farcical, from the poetic to the political, stretching across the mediums of painting, drawing, ceramics and sculpture.

These paintings explore the different ways representations create meaning and what it is that makes a description accurate.  I try to create paintings that are very open for interpretation because I think meaning ultimately is dependant on some kind of exchange.  I often paint animals because they help bring the paintings into an area of play, and make them more inviting.  I find this important because visual expression has its own realm of diction that is so commonly manipulated, we often become desensitized and less willing to engage.  In my paintings, I try to create space where the viewer can inject that definitive quality on their own terms.  In working this way, I am always reminded how no single point of view can fully define an image.  I think that meaning is something that requires some investment, and also that the mechanisms of expression and perception within us are abundant and innate. 

Kelly Leal 
Summer 2008

It's easy to be facile about the interconnectedness of things, perhaps because it represents our supreme hope.  Yet it may also be our greatest fear: that we are not greater than, but the same as all else.

I have a BS in Soil & Water Science from the University of California, Davis, and an MS in Natural Resources from Humboldt State University.  Of course nothing we learn ever goes unused, and my interest in the natural world has continued, but in a less rigid structure.

In my work I mingle science and emotionalism.  People place themselves at the center of their world, and fail to recognize the systematic importance or the “soul” (essence, dignity, nobility) of plants and other animals.  Without plants and photosynthesis in particular, there would be no mechanism for energy input into the living world.

Viewers may experience my work as strongly aesthetic because I portray natural elements carefully rendered in settings either richly worked or ethereal.  However, I see my work as strongly emotional and political.  Just the act of placing these objects at the center, enlarged and dominating, challenges our notion of a world centered about ourselves.  My animals are caught in a moment of some stress, i.e. living.  Observed reality is prismed by my own sense of wonder, creating an unsentimental but empathetic view.  It is an aesthetic of challenged beauty, with loss, tenacity, humor, yearning and most of all of possibility as common themes.

I am inspired by the same subjects as always: stalking denizens of the fields and air in order to picture them back to us.  Their portraits invite us to remember them, to be discomforted and comforted, and to meditate on our relationship with them: our place among them, and within them looking back at us.

I paint in oils, on canvas and board.

Amy Granfield
Summer 2008

This work offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the heart.  It is a departure from the safety of the wheel and an exploration into areas a little less comfortable… connection, loss, and hope. Inspired by memories and tempered by time, they reflect a reverence for the everyday experience of the beating heart.

Naomi Mest
Peggy Loudon  
Summer 2008

Rachel Schlueter is a self-taught oil painter.  She was born in Chicago Illinois in 1960 and Resides in Humboldt County, California.

Rachel’s painting style is expressive in use of color and lavish brushwork.  She states that, “I have considered myself an artist all of my life though it is only now that I understand what being an artist means; It means work.  True inspiration comes with work and it come not before but during and after much hard work.  I paint for inspiration.” 

Rachel Schlueter
Summer 2008

Beaux Zoos,  will be on exhibition from July 5 through August 10.  A reception for the artists will be held on Saturday July 5th during Eureka’s monthly Arts Alive program.  HSU First Street Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m. and is located at 422 First Street, Eureka, California.  Admission is free.  Those planning group tours are encouraged to call ahead.  For more information call 707-826-3424.