SAN ANTONIO
BOTANICAL GARDEN

In my many years as a professional artist, I have always taken delight in sharing my reverence for the natural world through my artwork. There is a divine healing power in nature, and through studying its abundance and perfection in my daily painting practice, I find ever evolving beauty and meaning. My love and deeply-felt connection for the animal realm is a source of constant inspiration for my work.  

The Huntopia experience has been something I’ve wanted to bring fourth for decades: From an early age, I have had a deep connection with the animal world. Through my prolific world travels, I’ve had many memorable experiences in nature that have served as powerful influences in what I make. I’m endlessly fascinated with nature—the more I paint it, the closer I feel to its divine oneness.

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Installations

The Butterfly realm is a constant source of inspiration for my work. As a young exchange student in Nicaragua years ago, I witnessed a Morpho migration for the first time and I nearly passed out from the experience. It was transcendent. The vivid experience of intense color, everywhere, made such an impression on me. That overwhelming sense of awe fills me with a deeply felt connection to the Butterfly and I experience that sentiment every time I revisit this magical form.
I first started painting bunnies in the 1970s by including them in my saint paintings I was making at the time. The rabbit form quickly took on its own interest for me and, over the years, they have taken me places I could never have been otherwise. They have huge personalities and are all so different. My mosaic bunny sculptures, shown here as a Fluffle, convey the same power and spirit of my beloved muses.
I love working in the mosaic form because of the painterly effect I can create with many thousands of pieces of brightly colored or reflective glass. Creating mosaic works in mirrored glass for this exhibition allows the viewer to witness both the powerful and playful spirit of my rabbit muses; the reflective glass mirroring back the sky, the earth, the flora and fauna to the viewer creates such an interesting dynamic. The Muses inspire, and, in this instance, create an intimate interaction with their environment.
Color always serves as a significant facet of my work. Color has meaning and symbolism and, depending on what culture and geographic location you come from, color can mean something very different to you than to someone else. After my many travels to India, I fell in love with the deep blue color of Indigo. I’ve created many series referencing this particular hue. Forget Me Not’s deep blue rippled and mirrored texture was bourne out of reference to the vitality and rawness of the Indian monsoons I’ve witnessed over the years.
Any time I create something, be it a small warm up painting or completely renovating massive historical homes (a long-time passion of mine) I always feel a sense of pure joy. The act of creation is a gift—it bestows on the creator a direct line to the divine. This ascendancy is premised on something so simple-the small act of making, and repeating that act over and over, like a prayer or a mantra. Much like the butterfly ascends to the heavens on its migratory journey, I find that pure joy also rises up.
I’ve lived with birds since I was a little kid and I’ve chosen parrots as companions because they live for so long. I’ve had one of my pet parrots for over 40 years. Parrots are extremely intelligent and emotionally complicated beings...I just love them. The Toco Toucan is based on a mosaic sculpture of toucans I created back in the 1990’s and I consider this sculpture to be one of the most significant works in this exhibition as it served as an early impetus for pursuing an outdoor exhibition. When it was complete, I just knew it needed to be experienced in a lush garden setting.
Working on an illuminated substrate allows me to play with light and lumens as a medium, I treat it like paint. It gives color and compositions a new state of existing. As a painter, that’s intriguing.
I began creating bronze sculptures during the pandemic. Based on blown glass sculptures I created from the same time period, I realized quickly I wanted to work on a much larger scale. I’ve created paintings that are monolithic in scale—compositions that fill an entire exhibition hall. I wanted to work on that scale in sculpture. To play large. Because it’s all play at the end of the day.
I collect things. I’m a prolific collector. Antique gazing balls have long been of interest to me, given the Gilded Age they refer to and the association with the mystical and spiritual experiences they were purported to contain. Because of my own deep ties to the metaphysical and spiritual realms, I like to surround myself with objects that hold power and meaning. How lovely, then, to experience these magical orbs in a magical, natural setting? The reflective qualities of water are also fascinating to me as an artist. Reflecting the earth and heavens above, Water Wings is a meditation.
I’ve always loved formal gardens, natural environments with a curated sense of place. Seeing classical sculptures, in situ, in grand old gardens have always fascinated me. That interaction of the natural world and a very intentional art experience is a long-held convention of the old world. I repeat forms a lot in my artwork. It’s a way of meditating. Gazing Butterfly II is a synthesis, an amalgam of those old-world references and a playful nod to the formal convention of bearing witness to beauty.
I knew from the beginning of first putting this exhibition together I wanted to compose something in the Grand Palm Conservatory that incorporated my toucans. The architectural forms of this gorgeous glass house immediately related to the compositional elements I often paint—the backdrop of my bird’s cages. In the 1980s, I went through a period of creating a print series that was a significant departure from the neo-expressionist gestures my work is known for. I created a new lexicon of simplified botanical forms and shapes paired down to their essence and those same shapes and forms are now repeated within the backdrop of a lush jungle-like setting. A single toucan or an individual flower or leaf is like a little prayer, and when composed together in small or large groupings, they turn into a song.
When I paint, I am often in a deeply meditative state. I often say mantras as I repeat forms, as though painting each butterfly or bird is touching a prayer bead. Experiencing these forms on a large scale and in a natural setting allows one to feel as though they are walking through a mediative experience, almost like walking through a painting. Maybe even better than that because nature is the single most perfect canvas.
I’m a Maximalist at heart, and in my world, more is usually better. More bunnies, more birds, more butterflies. The natural world is inherently maximalist—with its unending diversity, endless colors, shapes and textures. My artwork channels that energy as it passes through. In the deliberate visual joining of sculpture and nature, how lovely to reverse the frame and let the lush setting speak for itself?
I’ve been painting turtles and tortoises since the 1970’s. Their shapes fascinate me, each one being so distinct and unique unto itself. Much like a paint stroke of a painting, working with mosaic glass as my medium creates an inherent repetition I find endlessly fascinating. In a sculptural context, I loved the concept of creating unique turtle shells out of mosaic because few other mediums would allow me to control the visual experience in such a distinct method; It’s not the single paint stroke or single piece of glass that makes the work—it’s repeating the shape, the process, over and over—like saying a prayer or doing the rosary—the process is as important to me as the finished work.

VISIT

San Antonio Botanical Garden