By Bonnie Gangelhoff
One night several years ago, Lori Aquirre Snable was dining with her husband at Postrio, a popular restaurant in downtown San Francisco, when she became intrigued by the chefs and how they moved in the kitchen. “I love chefs, and I am fascinated by what they do. It’s like watching a choreographed dance amid this controlled chaos,” Snable explains.
As she left the restaurant, she turned and snapped a picture of the chefs. The image eventually became reference material for IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN (at right), which features a cadre of chefs preparing meals for the evening’s guests. Snable’s pastel piece is a good illustration of her penchant for capturing slices of modern life—scenes where people are engaged in seemingly ordinary activities.
A native Californian, Snable moved to Santa Fe seven years ago after frequent visits. She has always felt a special connection to The City Different, where these days she appreciates everything from walking along a dirt road near her home to the community’s love for the arts. On any given day or night Snable can be seen sketching or snapping photographs around the downtown plaza area—St. Francis Cathedral, a storefront festooned with Christmas lights, or an outdoor café. She relishes capturing the flavor of what she describes as a very vibrant city.
Snable notes that she does have a few favorite local haunts that often serve as inspiration for her pieces—Starbucks and the Plaza Café. From an artistic point of view, such enclaves evoke a certain mood that she wants to convey to her viewers. Her subjects may include a table of friends or a single person. The solo diners may be alone but they are not really alone. They are likely to be completely engaged in activities such as reading a newspaper or maybe even writing a novel.
Snable’s love of Santa Fe was honored recently when she was chosen as the poster artist for the celebration of the city’s 400th anniversary. Her winning entry portrays a group of mariachis—subject matter, she says, that has been close to her heart ever since she was a young girl growing up in a large Hispanic family in Southern California. Her grandfather played the guitar, and the family frequently gathered in the back yard to sing along with him. And mariachis always played at weddings and celebrations. Although Snable has won more than 100 awards for her works, including top honors from the Pastel Society of New Mexico and the Pastel Society of the West Coast, receiving kudos for the mariachi painting struck a personal chord, she says.
Snable has been hooked on pastels since her husband first gave her a beautiful box of multi-colored pastels 12 years ago. “I’ve painted in watercolor and acrylic, but nothing compares to holding a stick of pigment in my hand,” she explains. “I feel so much closer to the piece, and I feel like I can get more texture.” Since then she has taken a variety of workshops, including ones with Colorado pastel artist Doug Dawson, whom she considers her mentor.
Although Snable has a degree in fine art, a significant part of her expertise comes from an early career as an X-ray technician, she says. “I positioned people so the radiologist could see their bones, and I was always taking a look at the film to make sure I got it right. I would be looking at the body but I was always thinking bones and structure. It gave me a good foundation for figurative work.”
All of her experiences help Snable fulfill one of her artistic goals: to convey the world as she sees it. “I want to let viewers see a scene that they have experienced and say, ‘Oh, I remember a moment like that,’” she says. “I want to create a scene that people feel drawn into.”
Mark Greenberg Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM; www.lorisnable.com.
Solo show, Mark Greenberg Fine Art, July.
Featured in February 2010