Since before we became modern human beings, we have interpreted the natural world in our art. Nature in art is ubiquitous, and the new series of exhibits at The Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma City office aims to draw that into sharp focus.
The Nature Conservancy recently moved their offices to Midtown to be more connected to the community.
“We decided to go streetside and become part of the local community, and here in Midtown is a perfect opportunity for us,” Katie Hawk, director of communications at the conservancy, said.
Being in the heart of H&8th Night Market, the state’s most popular food truck event, doesn’t hurt either. The market and street festival takes place on the last Friday evening of the month at the intersection of Hudson and NW 8th Street from March through September. Last year, the festival held a bison-inspired art show featuring 12 local artists.
“We decided we wanted to take things a step further with this one,” Hawk said, “so we expanded the concept.”
The Art in Nature Series features five local artists (one each month) who find their inspiration in the world around them. There will be an opening reception mid-month and a closing reception during H&8th for each of the artists. Their art will be on display in the conservancy’s offices and will be up for auction from the opening reception to the end of the night market, with 30 percent of the proceeds going to the nonprofit.
“This is a great opportunity for us to network, not only with our supporters and people who love nature but also reach out to the art community and be an integral part of the H&8th event,” Hawk said.
The artist featured in May is Paul Snyder, whose work will be available through May 30. He creates portraits of wild animals, so his work is big, bold and in-your-face. His piece portraying the steely gaze of a water buffalo, titled “Back Off,” conveys the immediacy of the animal’s power and grace as well as its formidable presence.
“In some instances, the inspiration comes from a texture of the fur or skin,” Snyder said. “I always try to create a certain mood with each piece.”
You get the impression that he has met these animals up close. His regard for them comes through in his brushstrokes.
“Growing up in Colorado afforded me many opportunities to experience the wonder of the nature firsthand,” he said.
Some of his first experiments were the tinfoil sculptures of animals he would bring to preschool show-and-tell. He half jokes that some of the kids probably thought he was weird, but it’s a theme that started early and has never stopped.
“My appreciation for animals never ceased,” he said. “I use them as the focal points in my paintings, drawings and sculptures.”