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A mainstay on Santa Fe’s historic Canyon Road since 1997, Abiquiú artist Lori Faye Bock will join Sharon Markwardt for the duo’s first joint exhibition at Waxlander Gallery. The fruits of their labor will appear under the title, “The Eyes Have It!” reflecting their subjects’ carefully crafted eyes — and both artists’ eye for detail.
The exhibit runs through Oct. 14. A reception for the artists is from 5-7 p.m. on Friday.
Markwardt and Bock, who had never met before, thought it would be ideal to lunch together in order to discuss a title for their upcoming show. “We realized we had a great deal in common with respects to our love of animals and the desire to communicate that passion to people through our paintings,” said Bock. “In addition, we discovered we were both fixated with whimsy, bright colors and attention to detail.”
Markwardt is a fourth generation Texan who always lived in the Metroplex until her daughter took an interest in horses. The family acquired two mares and relocated to the countryside south of Fort Worth in 2005, a fateful transition, which inspired her to take her lifelong painting career in a new direction.
One day while riding, she didn’t have her saddle tightened sufficiently and it spun her off. She said, “I hit my face and broke my collar bone, but they always tell you to get back on or you never will.”
After that experience, Markwardt realized she would have to be more of a leader with her animals.
“When I get more assertive with the horse, I become more assertive with my colors,” she said. Markwardt switched from watercolors to oils and now paints the animals which surround her in the Texas countryside including, longhorns, horses, pigs, roosters and wolves with a bright, expressionistic palette.
“I think that by showing the animals as worthy subjects, I give them a little bit of a voice, and let people see them with a little more respect,” Markwardt said. That’s something that I find rewarding in the work that I do.”
Many people are familiar with Bock’s artistic contributions to national humane organizations as well as scores of local rescue groups, animal shelters and humane societies across the country.
In 2000, then Gov. Gary Johnson issued a proclamation declaring the first Saturday in April as Tag Day after both houses of the legislature passed unamious memorials, urging New Mexico pet guardians to use traditional tagging, as well as microchip implants or tatoos to indentify their animals so the pets could be returned if lost. Bock created and donated a painting to the American Humane Association to launch the national campaign that year and for the next seven years.
Bock states, “When painting an animal, I modify and tweak the eyes until I fall in love with the expression and face.I want the viewer to fall in love too ... and maybe go to the nearest shelter and adopt a dog, cat, or both!”
Bock has been cloistered on a farm in northern New Mexico along the Chama River for nearly 25 years where she creates whimsical endearing paintings of her numerous companion pets. She has a symbiotic relationship with the land and a bevy of indoor only cats, dogs, flock of sheep, and many fine-feathered friends creating heavenly harmony who visit strategically placed feeders for the enjoyment of her cats.
“I fully embrace the tranquility of country living and enjoy the freedom to pursue my creative instincts where I can totally immerse myself in nature,” Bock said.
The joy she experiences is evident in her acrylic on Baltic birch panel paintings. Charming and quirky facial expressions, variegated textures, colorful palette, intricate detail and the addition of text via a 1924 red Underwood typewriter and vintage metal and wooden letterpress sets are components in her current body of work.