Although my artwork explores many themes, painting animals is my greatest joy and passion. Animals connect with our spirits in a way that humans cannot, and that phenomenon is a constant wonder to me. Animals also have a way of revealing the most human qualities in us, a paradox that continually amazes me.
Knowing that animals are a favored theme in my artwork, you can imagine my excitement when I was asked by my friend and fellow artist Tom Wachunas to be a part of an animal themed art exhibit at Gallery 6000 at the the Kent State University Stark Campus!
I created 5 artworks for the “Animal Instincts” exhibit, each one exploring a different element of style. The works range from whimsical playfulness to a more pop art style of pet portraiture. Two paintings take on a deeper psychological exploration, one in a paradoxical whimsy; the other through a colorful exuberance balanced with a somewhat cryptic title. All are painted with acrylic paint on wood.
“The Boss” (see picture above)—Anyone who lives with cats must learn quickly who is the Boss, and it certainly is not the human of the household. This painting of the ultimate Alpha cat of my own household, Brewskie Butt, takes a humorous look at the feline-human dynamic that “cat people” know all too well.
“Predatory Instincts”—This work takes a playful look at one of our most basic instincts. To some extent, we are all predators at heart. In this picture, the cat spies the fish, his typical object of desire, yet it is not clear who will be the winner in this scenario. Will the cat capture the fish and enjoy a tasty dinner, or will he doom himself to ridicule as he fails in his attempt to overpower another? All too often, our predatory instinct becomes our undoing—not our nourishment.
“The Look”—In recent months, I have developed a somewhat new style in order to capture the essence of actual animals in commissioned pet portraits. The new style has been described as Pop Art by some. It is a little more hard-edged and descriptive, yet still non-literal. Most of these paintings still have my characteristic bright colors, however, this particular painting did not lend itself so well to that. I kept the colors more monochrome because the painting dictated it. The animal depicted is a friend’s Border Collie named Rosie. (Rosie’s”human” has requested to purchase her painting at the conclusion of the exhibit).
Artwork by BZTAT
“Anonymous”—This work is reminiscent of a smaller painting that I created for an earlier series entitled “Anonymous Feline Spirits”. The earlier series has 4 cat images painted in a similar ghostly fashion with a limited palette. All of the works reflect upon the callousness of communities that fail to invest in spay-neuter programs to control feral feline populations, instead euthanizing healthy animals needlessly. It is a very sad commentary on our society that we chose to eliminate animals instead of helping to manage them in their habitats in effective ways. I grieve for the anonymous spirits of these lost animals.
“Survivor”—As a child, I grew up next to a horse farm, and I drew many pictures of horses in my youth. This work, however, is my first formal painting of a horse. I have been inspired by equine artist friends in the Canton Arts District, and I wanted to challenge myself to take on an image that was new to me.
This particular horse has a story of survival that has moved me deeply. The horse depicted is an actual animal that twice fell into the hands of people who mistreated and neglected her. Twice rescued, she has required considerable patience and compassion to restore her to health and beauty. Her current owner understands her well, as she too has a story of survival that is moving and inspiring. Both have amazed me in their zest for life, emerging from the direst of circumstances to not only survive, but also to thrive. The will to survive is, perhaps, the most astounding of animal instincts.
Kent State University Stark is proud to host the Gallery 6000 exhibit, entitled “Animal Instincts”. The exhibit, which is open to the public, is displayed in The University Center (Professional Education and Conference Center), 6000 Frank Avenue NW in Jackson Township.
The Animal Instincts exhibit will be on display from September 1 through November 20. Each of the displayed pieces is for sale.
Kent State Stark will host an opening reception on Tuesday, Sept. 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Please RSVP to Rebecca DeHart at 330-244-3518 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The reception is free and open to the public. Representatives of the press are encouraged to attend.
Animal Instincts features the distinctive visions of four artists who are passionate about the animal kingdom. While each artist has a unique visual approach, all four communicate not only a clear appreciation of the character and beauty of the animals they depict, but also a personal sense of stewardship.
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