Show Preview | Flock

Santa Fe, NM
Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art, May 23-June 8

Camille Engel, Touch and Go, oil, 9 x 12.

Camille Engel, Touch and Go, oil, 9 x 12.

This story was featured in the May 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Spring is in full bloom at Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art, where the show Flock celebrates the beauty of birds. “We have lots of bird watchers in New Mexico,” says gallery director Palin Wiltshire. “Spring is a wonderful season to honor birds. This is the time of the year when they find mates and bear young.” Opening on May 23 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. and running through June 8, Flock features multiple oil paintings by Camille Engel and multiple watercolor-and-encaustic paintings by Mary Alayne Thomas, as well as one work each from artists Connie Dillman, Mark Gould, Deb Kaylor, and Craig Kosak.

Birds are an integral part of Engel’s life and work. Around her Tennessee home are several birdfeeders that attract a menagerie of wildlife. “What I love about birds is their freedom to fly and that they’re survivors,” Engel explains. “Usually, I paint a single bird and hone in on its features. My invitation to participate in Flock became an opportunity to 
paint a flock of birds, which is something I’d wanted to do for a while but hadn’t done yet.” Among the eight paintings Engel exhibits in the show are several pieces that feature a lone mountain 
bluebird or a solo hummingbird and at least three works that portray flocks of birds. “One of the flock paintings, a triptych, has the black outline of birds against a silhouette of trees and a background of clouds,” she says. “Instead of focusing on a single bird’s attributes, 
I’m capturing the feeling of birds and the beauty of the clouds around them.”

Thomas has a passion for birds that’s rooted in her Santa Fe childhood. “Both of my parents had gardens at our house, and I spent a lot of time in them,” she explains. “I developed relationships with the critters who came to the gardens. A one-legged robin often came to drink from our garden hose.” Although she didn’t paint an American robin for the show, one piece includes an English robin. “They are kind of goofy,” Thomas says, “but they’re also delicate and have a lot of variation in color in them.”

As a way of celebrating her relationship with birds, Thomas paints women and birds together. In one of the eight paintings she’s created for the show, a woman puts her hand to her mouth as she whispers to a nearby barn owl. Another work features two long-eared owls sitting on branches surrounded by poppies. “Each bird has its own personality,” Thomas says. “I look for their soulful qualities.” In addition to owls and robins, Thomas exhibits paintings of ravens and magpies. While most of her work is intimate in size, there are a few large pieces in the show. Inserted into these sizable works are forms that are difficult to see at a distance. And, since one of Thomas’ joys in creating encaustic paintings is hiding images in them, viewers should keep an eye out for insects, seed pods, and other natural elements embedded into the 
wax. —Emily Van Cleve

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Featured in the May 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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