Anyone who knows Cindy Coleman or her work knows the Bayfield artist is an animal lover; she operates under the auspices of Duck Girl Art, after all.
But ducks don’t quite make the cut for Coleman’s new show that opens Saturday at the Sideshow Emporium & Gallery in Dolores. “Spectacular Zoo” delivers what it promises; in this case about 25 paintings of animals that most of us have only seen through the bars of a cage.
“I’m a huge fan of the St. Louis Zoo, so every time that I’m home I come up with an excuse to go,” the Missouri native said.
“Last fall when I was there I took almost 400 pictures, and we actually made it around to every exhibit. When Heather (Narwid) asked me to do a show at Sideshow, it was obvious that it would involve my zoo animals.”
Coleman’s zoo is a collection of very realistic animals set against brightly colored backgrounds with odd, fun little accoutrements thrown in here and there.
Her unique process involves gluing scrapbook paper to masonite and glazing it three times so the paper won’t soak up the paint. Then she draws the animal’s image in charcoal and transfers it to the paper and paints the animal using acrylic paint. and finishes it with a gloss.
“The whole time I’m painting, I’m thinking of objects or paper that I can add to the finished piece – stamps, wine labels, jewelry, rocks ... I’ve collected ‘things’ since birth I think, so I’ve got this huge box that I sort through to find things,” she said.
For example, in creating “Wolf Played by Jed,” which is a painting of a wolf inspired by the film “The Journey of Natty Gann,” Coleman found that the piece needed just a bit more.
“I kept singing ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ when I was painting it, and this wolf didn’t appear at all menacing to me, so I threw the song on there,” she said, alluding to the added line “Who’s afraid.....” at the bottom of the painting.
Saturday’s opening reception also will include a poetry performance by Laura Hawes Thomas, who will read from her “Girls Encyclopedia of Sensuality” series.
“Spectacular Zoo” will remain on display through Aug. 25.