In wildlife painter Bonnie Marris’ new show, she walks right up to iconic North American wildlife. And then takes another step forward. “I have always had this passionate need to ‘get close and then closer‘ to animals, dogs, horses…the brain just intrigues me. When studying a particular wild animal you reach that point where you want to share the exhilaration of getting that close to it with other people, to allow them a connection,” she says. “I thought it would be fun to totally zoom in on the animals I know so well, feel the fur and textures and be held
captive by their eyes.”
Marris’ show, Up Close & Personal, opens September 9 at Trailside Galleries in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Animals in the show include foxes, mountain lions, wolves, horses and, famously, bison. “Every animal has a very definite personality. Sometimes, as with people we all know, that personality may be almost undetectable! But in spending time with wild animals it is such a joy to see how some are very brave, some very shy but trusting. Some have great senses of humor, some are just plain crabby,” Marris says. “It’s just like your dog, cat or horse…the more time you spend one on one with them, the more you appreciate their quirks and moods.”
Works in the show include A Farewell to Summer, a scene of a fox in a lush growth of forest. Though the scene looks peaceful and serene, it marks the passing of the season for the artist. “A Farewell to Summer is a depiction of something I go through every year. You begin seeing the signs of summer passing,” she says. “The fox begins getting a longer, redder, more luxurious coat. The bluebirds here flock as do the geese, hawks and herons. The monarch
butterflies are going to leave, too. Kind of sad.”
Included with these larger scenes are the close-up paintings that zoom way down onto an animal’s eyes. In The Hypnotist and Oracle, viewers will see the tiny waves of color in the animals’ eyes, individual hairs in their coats and tiny muscles that form the shape of their faces. “All animals ‘communicate’ with their bodies, particularly their eyes. Some will hold a staring contest with me. Some will seem to look inside me all the way to my soul. Others glance and look away quickly,” Marris says. “Deer will stare you down but wolves never look you in the eye. They’re aloof, in their own world and tend to disregard or pretend we don’t exist. Yes, the eyes tell us so many many things: fear, admiration, trust, pain...”
Marris’ show runs through September 21, with an open house on September 14, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Farewell to Summer, oil on canvas, 24 x 36"
Winter Buffalo, oil on canvas, 24 x 12"
The Hypnotist, oil on canvas, 24 x 48"
Palomino Filly, oil on canvas, 24 x 30"