Santa Fe, NM
The Longworth Gallery, April 1
This story was featured in the May 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
The effects at play in Sandi Lear’s watercolors might be called loose, free, colorful, or ethereal. Lear herself, however, uses the phrase “essential allegorical representationalism” when discussing her aesthetic. “I choose my subject as it strikes an allegorical chord, then I capture its essence and paint it in a representational style,” says the Australian artist. “I always include a hidden message in my work—something that holds the viewer’s attention, asking, why is it there? What is the story here? I merely suggest, inviting the viewer to form an emotional connection, to imagine his or her own story.”
Approximately 20 of Lear’s thought-provoking watercolors are on view in an ongoing exhibition at The Longworth Gallery on Canyon Road beginning April 1. A reception takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 27.
Lisa Rodgers, gallery owner, says Lear’s compassion spills out onto her paintings. “Her deep connection with nature, the ocean, and water is obvious in her work, and also with endangered species,” she says. Lear, who contributes to conservation efforts, reveals that certain subjects evoke an “upswell of emotion” in her. “When I select a subject, such as HOPE, it is because there is something there that needs to be said,” the artist says. “We had the death of Cecil [the lion], which to me was diagnostic of all that is going wrong in the world. The allegory is twofold: celebrating the incredible royalty of his bearing and mastery of all he surveys—while in an invisible enclosure—but gazing up to the heavens as if in plea for mankind to save him.”
One of the other thrills for the artist is experimenting with the medium of watercolor. “Allowing it to do its thing means that temperature, humidity, angle and characteristics of the paper, pigment, and water have to be considered,” she says. “FLARE represents the passion I have for watercolor, and the relationship I have with these organic substances—water and earth (pigment and paper), air (which influences drying time) and fire—the passion for the piece.” —Jessica Canterbury
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