Sante Fe artist Kevin Sloan has an abiding respect for nature and the rare and beautiful animals with whom we share this planet. “They’re as important and worthy of the same amount of attention as any king, queen, duke or duchess,” Sloan explained to a room full of collectors and art lovers who’d gathered yesterday afternoon at Gardner Colby Gallery in Naples for Kevin’s Artist Talk lecture.
That was the thought Kevin took with him after spending two weeks last March taking in the portraits of the royals that people London’s venerable museums. And so he decided to do his own series of portraits. “Noble portraits of regal animals.” The rare, the endangered, the extinct.
During his foray through museums like the Tate, Kevin was struck by something else. “As interesting as the artworks were, I kept finding myself distracted by the architectural features and flourishes of the rooms themselves,” Kevin told the crowd. Every surface was treated. Even the ceilings were painted like the Sistine Chapel. “It was art covering art.” Like the ornate and opulent cabinets the Renaissance nobility commissioned for display of the baubles and curiosities they collected from around the globe.
And with that, the theme for his current series of paintings was born: the “Cabinet of Curiosities.”
Kevin introduces each of the subjects in his magically real part-portrait-part-still-life-part-landscapes with a flair of theatricality and drama. You’ll notice instantly when you observe these richly drawn, vivid artworks an alizarin crimson curtain drawn back and tied with a rope, as though you’re seeing them at a play or Greek tragedy. And the color Sloan chooses for the curtain is not random. Alizarin crimson under English Sumptuary Law is the color of royalty and nobility, signifying wealth and social standing.
The animals Kevin has selected to feature in his “Cabinet of Curiosities” exhibition, which officially kicks off tonight at Gardner Colby with a reception for the artist that runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., underscore his earnest concern for birds and other wildlife who find their continued existence threatened by man’s indiscriminate encroachment into their ever-shrinking habitats, like the whooping cranes showcased in The Preserve, whose numbers have dwindled to just 263 and can be found in only two places in the entire world.
This is a thoughtful, carefully-conceived collection of meaningful paintings that you simply must see for yourself.