Santa Fe, NM
LewAllen Galleries, August 1-24
This story was featured in the August 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
A cat strolls among headstones in a historic graveyard. A hawk puts its scrawny claw on a toy rabbit. A cow named Romeo poses before a background of floral wallpaper. Welcome to the world of Tom Palmore—a universe that displays both the artist’s passion for the animal kingdom and his signature brand of humor. This month a show of a dozen new works by the painter opens at LewAllen Galleries with a reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on August 1. As with all of Palmore’s shows, this one presents a variety of animals in portrait-like contexts, says Liane McMillian, the gallery’s marketing and public relations coordinator. “Palmore’s witty and whimsical portraits of animals and birds juxtapose precise technical realism with imaginative and occasionally surreal context,” McMillian says. “Sophisticated, wry, and clever, the work is filled with charming personality, and it seems as though it has been commissioned by the animal subject itself.”
Another trademark of the artist’s works is the fastidious attention he pays to the animal’s eyes. In a Palmore portrait the eyes are compelling windows into the soul of each creature. They also serve the purpose of drawing the viewer into the painting. The artist says that the animal comes to life and communicates to others through its eyes, and as humans, we are programmed to read emotions through these features. Thus, for Palmore, details like the shape of the animal’s eyes and direction of its gaze can communicate various traits and emotions, such as intelligence, ferociousness, fear, calmness, or boredom.
The artist’s body of work features both domestic and wild animals, ranging from pouting canines to grinning gorillas. Palmore is fond of saying his paintings are about “earthlings,” the creatures with whom we share the planet, as well as our relationships to them.
Whether large or small, the creatures always appear proud, a quality that is a result of Palmore’s ultimate respect for his subject matter and models. He depicts them, he says, the way “they would like to be seen.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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