Santa Fe, NM
Nedra Matteucci Galleries, June 25-July 16
This story was featured in the June 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
The splendor of flora and fauna unites Chris Morel’s paintings and Dan Ostermiller’s bronze sculptures. This month the artists present more than 30 works in a two-person show at Nedra Matteucci Galleries, opening with an artists’ reception on Saturday, June 25, from 2 to 4 p.m.
“Chris and Dan share a devotion to the natural world that inspires honest beauty and spontaneity in their work,” says gallery owner Nedra Matteucci. “Their ease and familiarity with nature allows them to freely express and create work with an ever-changing perspective of its timeless beauty. Dan has a keen awareness and focus on expressive, lively animals, and his larger bronzes seem to readily belong in the outdoors. Chris happily follows the back roads, seeking the subtle visual power of southwestern sunlight and color.”
Colorado-based Ostermiller draws upon his travels throughout the West and Africa for the 10 new works he presents in this show. The surface patterns and patinas of the sculptures enhance the natural movement and personalities of his subjects, which range from backyard chickens to Antarctic fur seals. “Seals are the most unique subject I’m adding to my menagerie. They have incredibly sculptural forms naturally,” Ostermiller says. The artist brings both tabletop and life-size pieces, including frolicking bears, a raven on a fencepost, and an impressive five-and-a-half-foot-tall hen.
Sometimes even Ostermiller is caught off guard when an animal encounter sparks his interest. “It’s really important to get something out of it, even if you’re not planning on finding an animal to be a subject. Often, there’s no time to even get a photograph. It’s something you have to etch in your mind and get back to the studio to explore,” he says.
These sculptures, particularly the North American animals, perfectly complement Morel’s light-filled, high-desert landscapes. For the two dozen pieces he brings to the show, the painter draws upon what he considers to be his “neighborhood,” the High Road to Taos and southern Colorado. On those back roads, Morel searches for a scene that surprises him. Even if it’s one he’s passed and painted numerous times, when the sunlight changes, so does the scene, he says. “It’s whatever stops me as I drive through the country. Then I try to boil it down to light and dark, to pattern,” he says. His focus on the interplay between color, light, and mood makes his landscapes feel simultaneously grand and intimate.
Although each artist presents a few new subjects, for the most part, the pieces in this show are classic examples of their work. “Both artists continue to deepen their relationships with their chosen subject and medium,” says Matteucci. “Chris’ large-format oil paintings reflect confident, deliberate brushwork. Dan, forever enthralled by the personality of animals, brings us his familiar menagerie, yet his unparalleled perspective brings new elements of design to his work.” —Ashley M. Biggers
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