2003 September 5th: Santa Fe New Mexican – Abiquiu Artists

Article by Lynn Cline

Once you visit artist Lori Faye Bock’s 260-year-old adobe farmhouse and meet the 53 sheep, six dogs and six indoor cats she tends with her husband, Richard Bock, then you understand why she loves to paint animals.

The paintings are everywhere. Cats paired with dogs riding in trucks or sunning on towels, relaxing in sinks or peering over tabletops. The sheep are there, too, standing in groups or posed alone, along with bunnies perched in easy chairs, surrounded by a wallpaper of vegetable images — carrots, radishes and lettuce.

“I’ve always had animals,” Bock said, sipping fragrant tea from one of the ceramic cups she made with images of fish and cats while relaxing in the kitchen of her farmhouse, nestled along the Rio Chama in the agricultural community of Los Silvestres. “The animals I paint are probably a conglomeration of every animal I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

Take A Few of My Favorite Things, an acrylic on birch punnet painting of Bock’s cat Miranda, curled up in the bathroom sink. Behind her are an unplugged iron on a fold-up ironing board, a bird, a fish and a row of piano keys. “Miranda loves to sit in the sink with the water dripping from the faucet,” Bock said. “She loves fish, walking on the piano and playing with the iron cord. She goes crazy looking at birds in the window.”

Bock exhibits about 15 of her new paintings in Dreams & Narratives, a show also featuring work by Diane Haddon and Beverley Ashe, which opens with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 at La Galeria Arriba in the Abiquiu Inn.

Ashe, an Abiquiu artist originally from New York City, creates images in acrylic and marble dust on canvas and wood. Her work is saturated in color and draws on imagery from her dreams and surroundings. She paints animals as well as mythical creatures – mermaids and angels – and women in ill-fitting swimsuits.

“When I paint, I’m in search of duende,” Ashe said in her artist’s statement. “That place of dark mystery and exaltation, where the wild voice sings.”

Haddon, an Abiquiu artist formerly from the Pacific Northwest, works in graphite and colored pencil to create imaginative images that flow with energy and movement. “Drawing is an extension of what I absorb in the activities of everyday life and an expression of the spiritual aspects of my experiences,” Haddon wrote in her artist’s statement.

Lori Faye Bock and the Wonders of Los Silvestres

Lori Faye Bock and the Wonders of Los Silvestres

Bock grew up in Detroit and started working with clay as a kid, in school and as a member of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. She became a ceramist but, in order to make a living, decided to be a teacher, taking a job teaching first grade in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. After she met and married her husband, she moved to Corona del Mar in California and began to make her art full-time, creating platters, dinnerware, teapots and figurative sculpture.

“I started making these wild women with wild hair, pearls flying and breasts falling out of their dresses,” the artist said with a smile. “People just loved them. I loved them. I had such a ball. Then I started doing more whimsical, humorous, off the wall sorts of things.”

The progression from clay to paint seems natural to Bock. “Toward the end of my clay work, I started creating animals’ images in clay. I just transferred the color to painting. It was actually a very easy transition. I’m still using colorful paint.”

Indeed, Bock’s work explodes with color – turquoise cats, orange fish, green skies, red backgrounds. “I guess you could say I’m a colorist,” she said. “I’ve always had a love for color. People who like animals like color, and so do I.”

Bock moved to Santa Fe in 1989 and opened a studio/gallery on Gypsy Alley just off Canyon Road to showcase her work as well as work by other artists, including her father’s watercolors. In 1994 she and her husband founded the first Abiquiu Studio Tour.

Bock works mostly at night in an airy studio connected to the main house. The walls are filled with her framed paintings of dogs and cats, rabbits and sheep. Much of her work has gone to benefit animals, becoming posters, greeting cards and prints used by the American Humane, PETsMART Charities and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, which chose a piece by Bock to grace its 2004 calendar.

She also accepts commissions to paint portraits of people’s pets.
“Dog people really want a picture of their dog or their dog’s breed,” Bock said. “But cat people will take anything with cats.”

Recently Bock began experimenting with landscapes, a natural progression since most of her animal paintings have rich backgrounds, such as trees or wallpaper.

Fall, for example, is a sweet image of a tree shedding its autumn leaves as a redbird sits in one of its holes and an egg tumbles out of her nest. But these landscapes still contain animals. Approaching Curfew features a twilit nightscape as a cat and a dog take their separate paths home. “My landscapes still have animals,” Bock said. “They’re just not the focus.”

Dreams & Narratives: paintings, drawings & prints by Beverley Ashe, Lori Faye Bock & Diane Haddon

Opening artists’ reception 4-6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6; exhibit through September