Art that Re-enchants the World
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Antlers: From Fairy Tales to the Spirit World

Belinda Recio

From Saturday, November 15, 2014 until Wednesday, December 31, 2014, True North Gallery presents “Antlers: From Fairy Tales to the Spirit World.” Opening Reception: Saturday, November 15, 2014, from 2 to 6 PM

“Listen Hard, Walk Softly” by Ellen Woodbury

For our 2014 winter show, we are having a group exhibition of art inspired by deer—from the white-tailed deer of our local New England landscape to the arctic reindeer of Lapland. The show presents work by over twenty-five local, national, and international artists, and includes paintings, etchings, mixed media, ceramics, bronzes, carvings, and more.

“Elk” by Delbert Charging-Crow

Deer have played significant roles in human culture for thousands of years. Not only have they provided meat, milk, hides, antlers, and labor, but deer have also captured the human imagination since prehistory. Some of the oldest cave paintings depict antlered animals, and many early cultures considered the deer to be a spirit guide that could move between worlds and help people find their way. In fact, the widespread folk belief that deer have magical powers inspired the story of the flying reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh.

One of the most unusual pieces in the show is “Transience,” an experimental oil painting of a leaping deer by Timothy Neill, a Hamilton artist. Neill, who owns Allied Conservation, an art restoration studio in Hamilton, is currently working on a body of work called “Ethereals.” Departing from his more traditional Boston School style of oil painting, the Ethereals are lighter, less structured, and have an ephemeral feel that struck Neill as perfectly suited to the subject of deer. “Transience” is created with four transparent layers of painted glazing that, when combined, create an otherworldly deer that feels only fleetingly present.

“Fawn” by Sarah Seabury Ward

Gloucester artist Mike Foley has a minimalist marble carving of an antler in the show, and Newbury, MA is the home of artists Michael Updike and Sarah Seabury Ward. Updike is known for his larger stone memorials, and his work in the show includes a carving of a stag on vintage roofing slate. Ward has several sculptures in the show, including a regal pair of micaceous clay stags with bronze antlers and a sleeping fawn cast in bronze with an exquisite patina. Ward’s lifelong love of the natural world—which inspired her to found the Nature Connection in Concord, MA—is evident in her work.

“Sea Dance” by Terri Talas

New Hampshire artist Terri Talas specializes in carving fossilized mammoth ivory and antler. Her sculpture, “Sea Dance,” is a stunningly detailed carving in a shed fallow deer antler, depicting swimming whales, turtles, and fish, and flying gulls. Lenny Novak, also from New Hampshire, is an Abenaki and Algonquin artist who works with shed antlers in his interpretation of dream catchers. Unlike traditional dream catchers in which the web is loose and open, Novak’s webs are so finely woven that some people mistake them for fabric. Novak has several pieces in the show, including “Swept Wave” and “To Catch a Star,” both spectacular examples of his extraordinary work.

“Deer Moon” by Marla Fasano

Marla Fasano, an artist from New York, paints modern day nature-based illuminated icons. She has a small icon painting called “Deer Moon” in the show. Fasano created this spiritually imbued portrait of a deer against a silver moon using traditional icon materials, such as hand-made pigments, natural inks, and silver leaf. Several artists from the Midwest are participating. Brenda Dewald from Oklahoma has contributed two stunning art baskets, “Fallow” and “Woodsman,” both created with gourds, pine needles, and antlers. “Christmas Deer in Snow” a watercolor by Katrina Pete, from Minnesota, has a soft, narrative feel, reminiscent of storybook illustrations. A whimsical wire sculpture from Bud Bullivant, also from Minnesota, is included. Bullivant makes compelling use of negative space in his three-dimensional “drawing” of an alert, yet self-assured buck resting against a log.

“Christmas Fawns” by Katrina Pete

“Listen Hard, Walk Softly,” a bronze by Ellen Woodbury from Colorado, depicts an elegant deer, stepping gracefully, yet cautiously, forward. Woodbury grew up in a woodland setting and had memorable encounters with white-tailed deer as a child. Her sculpture was inspired by her own experiences, as well as the experiences we all can have when we “listen hard and walk softly” in nature. Also from the west is artist Sam Uttecht Heltibridle, from South Dakota, who has a mixed media painting called “The Golden Stag,” created with colored pencils and acrylic paint on reclaimed pine butcher block.

“His Majesty, the Elk” by Travis Mullen

California artist Travis Mullen captures the power and dignity that male deer can possess in “His Majesty, the Elk,” a mixed media painting in which he combines graphite, charcoal, acrylic, spray-paint/stencil, encaustic, wheat-paste, and oil pastels. Mullen’s portrait merges the physicality and distress found in street art with the sensitivity found in traditional wildlife art.

“Snow Fawns” by Sally Banfill

Sally Banfill, from Washington, has two photographs in the show, including “Snow Fawns,” which has a faded, vintage palate and a nostalgic feel. Chantelle Pellerin, from British Columbia, contributes “Cover Up and Say Goodnight,” a striking acrylic painting depicting a buck haunted by the loss of its fawn and doe. Pellerin, who considers herself a modern surrealist, juxtaposes precisely rendered imagery to remind us of the delicate balance of life and the need to take responsibility for our actions. “Moonlit Fawn,” a serigraph by Allie High, an Aleut and Tsimshian artist from Alaska, presents a reclining fawn encircled by an embracing crescent moon.

“Cover Up and Say Goodnight” by Chantelle Pellerin

As with most shows at True North, artists from the circumpolar north are participating. There are stone and antler carvings by Inuit artists Amauja Noah, David Nibgoarski, Simionie Sivuarapik, Sangani Osuitok, and Harry Turqtuq from Iglookik, Arviat, Iqualuit, and other Canadian Arctic communities. The stone carvings depict caribou, an animal of profound importance to arctic peoples in Canada and Alaska. The antler carvings embody aspects of traditional life and spiritual beliefs in Inuit culture.

The show includes deer fetish carvings by Cochiti Pueblo artist Salvador Romero from New Mexico and elk fetish carvings by Delbert Charging Crow, an Oglala Lakota Sioux artist from South Dakota. “Fetishes” are animal forms—usually carved from stone—that are imbued with symbolic attributes by the person or culture that uses them. Each fetish animal has qualities that one might admire and desire, such as the deer’s gentleness, sensitivity, swiftness, and virility.

“Into the Velvet Darkness” by Catherine Hyde

Romero carves his deer from natural fieldstones collected from the Pueblo grounds. His minimalist approach—in which he lets the original shape of the stone remain visible and tactile in the carving—gives his deer an ancient, talismanic feel. Charging Crow’s elks, in contrast, are strikingly modern in form, and are carved from pipestone, which is sacred to the Plains tribes. Within the Lakota tradition, “Elk Medicine,” carries the power to attract love and brings luck in the hunt.

Participating artists from the UK include Cornwall artist Catherine Hyde, known for her symbolic and atmospheric paintings in which she uses the archetypical stag as an emblem of the interconnectedness of life and landscape. Daisy Maude, from Nottinghamshire, combines watercolor and ink in “Cobweb Deer,” and Tom Symonds from Bristol created “Stag,” a portrait of a bugling buck, in charcoal and oil.

There’s much more to explore in the show, including a large selection of Lapland reindeer leather bracelets, prints by Diana Sudyka, etchings by Julia Lucey, watercolors by Nakisha VanderHoeven, Raquel Somatra, and Juan Bosco, color-block antlers by Cassandra Smith, lights by Amit Sturlesi, and ceramics by Danielle Armbruster, Ken Goldstrom, and others. True North also has a wonderful assortment of holiday items and its usual collection of art and gifts inspired by the north, nature, and native traditions.

The show runs from Saturday, November 15, 2014 until Wednesday, December 31, 2014, with an opening reception on Saturday, November 15, 2014, from 2 to 6 PM. All work is for sale. True North Gallery, 25 Woodbury Street, in South Hamilton, MA 01982. (978) 468-1962 Directions and further info:

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