Santa Fe, NM
This story was featured in the July 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art July 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art July 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
Animals are ever-present in the work of Santa Fe artist Rebecca Tobey. For years the artist has celebrated buffalo, bears, horses, elk, bighorn sheep, and a menagerie of birds through her bronze and ceramic sculpture and silver jewelry. And in her solo show at Beals & Abbate Fine Art this month, Tobey’s animals have a new medium through which to shine: glass.
“I took five different courses in kiln-fired glass and bought two kilns, so I could do all the work myself,” says Tobey, who ventured into the world of glass last fall and has created dozens of functional art plates since then. “Many of the plates have birds on them, including hummingbirds, cranes, and peacocks,” she says. “I’ve been playing with bird imagery a lot this year.” Tobey’s foray into glass yielded a surprising evolution in her other artwork as well. “Colors took on a new dimension for me,” she explains. “All of my colors have become more vibrant than ever before.”
The show, entitled A Story Within a Story, opens on July 2 with an artist’s reception on Friday, July 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. It offers visitors a cross section of many of the media Tobey commands, from bronze sculpture to a wide selection of silver jewelry, often inlaid with turquoise and other semiprecious stones. And although it’s been many years since Tobey last produced watercolor paintings, with encouragement from gallery co-owner Bobby Beals, she decided to make 15 watercolor works especially for this show. Again her animal imagery is notable, with whitetail deer, bears, and birds painted on white or charcoal handmade embossed papers.
For the past two years Tobey has been exploring animal transformations in her work, but it wasn’t until this year that she began to feel completely at home with this new artistic direction. New bronzes in the Beals & Abbate show include ROOSTER, a buffalo that transforms into—has been carved to look like—a rooster.
Among the show’s 12 ceramic offerings is a new bobcat sculpture that Tobey is dedicating to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Tobey compares the bobcat’s acuity to the troops’ missions and their constant surveillance work. “The bobcat, like our military men and women, is stealthy,” she says, “and it can be here one minute and gone the next.”
Each of Tobey’s works has its own tale to tell, and by titling the show A Story Within a Story, the artist encourages viewers to dig deep into her imagery to find their own narratives. “Her work tells a story, and I am instantly captivated by its tale,” adds Beals. —Emily Van Cleve
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