For some artists, the isolation of the pandemic transformed into an ironic blessing. Its gifts came through time to work, experiment and learn new techniques.
Nearly 20 emerging and mid-career artists are showcasing that flowering at Gallery with a Cause.
Located within the New Mexico Cancer Center, the exhibition features artists whose chosen mediums range from acrylic to oil, watercolor, wood, metal and mixed-media. Forty percent of each sale goes to the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation. The organization raises funds for the non-medical needs of cancer patients.
Annie Onderdonk, whose work has ranged from jewelry to abstract expressions, learned about watercolor during the shutdown.
“I had taken an online class during COVID,” she said. “That class taught me that rules don’t matter in painting. It’s your piece of paper; it’s your art. It showed me I didn’t have to be perfect.”
Onderdonk created a series of fictional, almost surreal, portraits of women, including “Monique.”
“They are out of my imagination,” the artist said. “I was a child of the ’60s and did ’60s drugs and that may be where these come from.”
Onderdonk spent a year studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, later working as a legal and an advertising secretary. She began painting in an abstract style before moving on to create her own jewelry line. An inveterate learner, she took a metal working class at the University of New Mexico and studied enameling.
“When COVID hit, I knew I’d be nuts if I didn’t do anything,” she said. “So I did some watercolor. COVID was really a blessing to me because I didn’t know anything about watercolor.”
For “Monique,” she began with an acrylic ink wash, dropping the yellow and purple colors first for the background. Next, she drew on the face and painted it. She added accessories.
“I just thought she needed pearls,” Onderdonk said . “She just looked like a lady who lunched.”
Jeannette Williams continued her series of dogs and cats.
“I started painting dogs and cats in old cars and trucks about two years ago,” she said. “They have such personalities.”
Her whimsical approach caught on and she was inundated with commissions. Some customers sent pictures of their own pets for her to duplicate.
“When (animals) are sitting in the car waiting for their owners to come back, they look like they’re driving,” she said.
Williams composes her pictures on Photoshop in a collage-like fashion before turning to her acrylics and canvas.
“It kind of helped break the stress up by keeping a sense of humor about everything,” she added.
After earning her master’s degree at UNM, Williams spent 31 years teaching art, both at La Cueva and Highland high schools.
“Even when I was teaching, I always had a studio, but now I have more free time.”
She’s also working on a series of portraits from her world travels.
“I was kind of laughing that George Bush (now an amateur painter) stole my style.”
The exhibition includes works by Mila Bakhirev, Kathie Brillhart, Chris Bull, Cecily Colbert, Lauri Dickinson, Mary Dornacker, Peter Fitzpatrick, K.D. Fullerton, Jonna James, Greg Lujan, Joani Murphy, Santiago Pérez, Catalina Salinas, Larry Smith, Carol Sparks, Jeff Warren and Penny Winn.