Sunday, August 12, 2018

Local Art Seen: Sandbeck and Villiard Explore Issues Surrounding Endangered Species and Endangered Lifestyles Portrayed

Ellen Sandbeck (left) with Moira Villiard
Friday evening the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) paired two disparate artists in what might appear to be disparate themes under the single heading, Endangered. Upon deeper inspection the two bodies of work share the same root, an exploration of our impact as people on the lifestyles of Native peoples and our impact on the more vulnerable creatures of the animal kingdom.

Both artists have been making an positive impact with their art, and I was intrigued when I learned they were doing a joint show. Moira Villiard's paintings captured my eye from the first time I encountered them at a PROVE Gallery show a few years back. She's an emerging artist worth watching with a lot of future ahead of her. I've been following Ellen Sandbeck's work since the 1980's and the paper-cutting technique she's developed produces work that is jaw-dropping in its ornateness and beauty.

"Niu Ox" -- Conservation status: Vulnerable
Few people realize that Ellen at one time produced books of stencil patterns for Dover Books when she was younger. Her skills and interests have been diverse as have been the directions in which she focuses her creative energies. An author of several books on topics as varied as Green Housekeeping, worm wrangling and horticulture, her special skill producing paper cutouts is most noteworthy. One can see that although making stencil patterns fell to the background, the skillsets involved never went away.

"Interconnected" -- Moira Villiard 
Like any polymath, her wide-ranging interests intersect and produce permutations such as the incorporation of animalia from the Chinese zodiac. A couple years ago her worm business (worms assist in composting and produce organic food for plants) brought her to Southeast Asia on a business trip. Similarly, her daughter currently lives in China, and these influences have been absorbed by the ever-developing artist. Her own natural ability to focus and her attention to detail make the work she is now producing quite striking. And she's shows no signs of slowing down.

It was fun overhearing a few people making comments indicating their awe at the detail in Sandbeck's pieces. But both artists have this as their primary aim: to make people think about what we as a culture have been doing, how we are endangering animal species and lifestyles.

Endangered opened Friday in the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center. One side of the room feature Ellen's paper cut depictions of endangered species. On the other side, Moira's illustrations depict the history of wild ricing and delve into what’s at stake in terms of a way of life in the face of sulfide mining. The exhibit will be on display through the end of August.
"Waterways" by Moira Villiard
"The Chaos of Ghost Fish" -- Moira Villiard
"Protect Water" by Ellen Sandbeck
Giclee reproductions also available for both artists' work.
Ellen Sandbeck pieces displayed here. 

Related Links
Getting Real: New Work by Moira Villiard
An Introduction to Painter Moira Villiard
Ellen Sandbeck's Buddha-A-Day Project (2013)
Ten Minutes with Ellen Sandbeck (2008)

Meantime art goes on all around you. Get into it.

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