By Sam Chalekian
On September 13, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art will unveil “A Contemporary Bestiary,” an art exhibit dedicated to displaying animal themed artwork created by several prominent Pacific Northwest artists.
From the exhibit’s inception, museum director John Olbrantz wanted to display how animals unite people from all walks of life.
“From antiquity all the way to the present, artists have always focused on animals,” Olbrantz said.
In doing so, he found work with a focus on diversity and animal imagery.
“I wanted to make sure that we had a good distribution of young and old artists, men and women, and a sense of ethnic diversity,” Olbrantz said.
Olbrantz and his team considered many factors while choosing the artworkfor the exhibit, including geography, themes, styles, mediums and the animals themselves.
“I wanted to make sure there was a nice range of animal imagery. So we have bears, crows, frogs, dogs, fish, horses, cattle, octopus and snakes, to name a few,” Olbrantz said.
To help viewers glean a new perspective, many of the 22 artists whose artwork is displayed in the exhibit submitted a statement describing why they focus on animal imagery in their artwork.
“Sometimes [artists] use animals just because they like them,” said Olbrantz. “Other times they address broader global issues, social or cultural issues [through their art].”
In addition to the artwork and artist statements, the exhibit will also display terms or words for groups of animals. Common examples include a murder of crows or a flock of sheep.
In the end, “A Contemporary Bestiary” will display a total of 56 works in a myriad of forms. The exhibit will be on display in the Maribeth Collins lobby and the Melvin Henderson-Rubio galleryuntil December 21.
I think it’s a well balanced exhibition,” Olbrantz said. “I hope that people come away with a sense of history and continuity, of animals as a theme.”
Visitors to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art are also encouraged to see John James Audubon’s exhibit, displaying works from the 19th century ornithologist painter and naturalist who created the book on “The Birds of America.”