The Flagler County Art League is going to the dogs.
Both live greyhounds and a photographed greyhound will be on hand when FCAL opens its new exhibit, “Oh! These Glorious Creatures,” on Saturday at its gallery at City Marketplace in Palm Coast.
And even those hounds have – ahem – gone to the dogs, so to speak.
As its title implies, “Oh! These Glorious Creatures” is an animal-themed exhibit that features paintings, photography, sculpture, stained glass and mixed media works by FCAL members. A forlorn racing greyhound, other dogs, frogs, cats, crows, dolphins, seabirds, bears, a rhino and even a cicada are showcased in the 68-piece exhibit.
Oh, and a few imaginary creatures too, such as dragons and even an M&M candy.
A poetry contest, featuring works by local poets written in response to the exhibit’s works, will be held during the March 12 opening reception. Patrons will vote to select the winner.
Tony, Shondra and Honey – three retired greyhound racing dogs currently living in foster homes in Palm Coast — will be at the reception courtesy of the Daytona Beach chapter of Greyhound Pets of America.
That organization works to prepare greyhounds for life as pets after being retired from the track. Greyhounds typically are raced from the age of about 18 months to two or three years, then are put up for adoption, an FCAL press release said.
While an animal-themed exhibit might seem to be a prescription for an overdose of cuteness and the whimsical, that’s not the case with “Creatures.” Though it’s a cliché, the exhibit bears out the adage that we humans can learn much about ourselves by gazing at animals.
“It’s a fun exhibit but it also touches on environmentalism – let’s save our creatures,” said FCAL president Ann DeLucia. The exhibit features “some creatures who might be endangered. There’s always some artist who has a painting or a photograph of something that might not be here years from now. It’s about protecting our creatures too, and appreciating our creatures.”
Ironically, it’s domesticated animals – those greyhounds – that most poignantly drive home that point.
While the three live canines will showcase the work of Greyhound Pets of America, and the fact that the hounds themselves are available for adoption, it’s an arresting photo by David Bowers that depicts what those dogs came from. (See above.)
Tellingly titled “I’ve Had Enough,” Bowers’ photo shows a black greyhound with snout bound in a muzzle, reducing the beast to some sort of sad-sack, impotent . . . well, not Hannibal Lecter, because the hound looks too timid and defeated. At the risk of anthropomorphizing, the canine’s forlorn, expressive eyes seem to be saying not so much “I’ve had enough” as “Get me out of here – please!”
Horses get their due in two striking works.
“First Chukker,” an oil painting of a polo match by Palm Coast artist Crickett Pierce, is – whether intentional or not – a spirited homage to renown sports artist Leroy Neiman. Like Neiman, Pierce – who once lived near the polo grounds in Tampa — uses color and her expressionist technique to capture the jittery and jolting rhythms of sport in motion.
“Mary’s Team,” a black and white photo by Alice Gipson, depicts three horses clad in heavy harness gear. The lack of color demonstrates once again that the absence of some “information” can convey more – a color photo of these same horses would be far less compelling. As is, these beasts of burden seem to be echoing the donkey Benjamin in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”: “Horses live a long time,” their stoic faces appear to say.
Birds, not surprisingly, are plentiful in “Creatures.”
Judi Wormeck’s “Morning Watch” is as clever and quietly majestic as the solitary crow it depicts. Wormeck, who knows her crow lore and the surprising intelligence and social behaviors displayed by these creatures, chose to create her bird via mixed media. Thus only an extremely close viewing will reveal the surprising fabrics and textures she used for her piece.
Dora Wacker’s acrylic “Glorious Birds at the Beach” is surprising at first glance, given its Jackson Pollock-like white splashes of chaos. But then one is reminded that wildlife and nature, indeed, are wild and chaotic.
Conversely, another David Bowers photograph, “Another Child, Heaven Sent,” is captivating for the exact opposite reason: Its depiction of birds in flight hints at the ordered geometry inherent in life and nature, as the winged creatures spiral about in shapes that recall the double helix of DNA, the chambered nautilus, fractals or the Moskstraumen whirlpool off the Norwegian coast.
“Oh! These Glorious Creatures” does have its lighter moments.
“Cicada,” a digitally enhanced photo by Joe de Figueiredo, amps up its colors to neon level, the better to visually mimic the pulsing, sitar-like sounds of the insect.
And youngsters and adults will have great fun scouting the exhibit to find Stephanie Salkin’s photo of a “Shy M&M.” Here’s a clue: That red M&M really is shy.
For the poetry contest, area poets were invited to view the exhibit prior to its opening and “use a work that inspires them and write a poem about it,” DeLucia said. “We will post the poetry before the show and then it’s a people’s choice award — people will vote on the poetry at the reception.”
–Rick de Yampert for FlaglerLive
“Oh! These Glorious Creatures,” an art and poetry show, will be presented March 12 through April 5 at the Flagler County Art League in City Marketplace, 160 Cypress Point Parkway, Suite 207C, Palm Coast. An opening reception will be 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday March 12. Regular gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 386-986-4668 or at the league’s website.