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Animalia: Small Paintings and Drawings by Patricia Traub

June 13 - August 29, 2004

(above: Patricia Traub, USA b. 1947. Dancing Goat, 1992, oil on Masonite. The Seymour Mednick Collection)


This exhibition, being held in the Payne Hurd Gallery, features sixteen drawings and paintings of wild and domestic animals by Allentown native Patricia Traub. For decades, Traub has concerned herself with the situation of wild animals living in zoos or in their natural habitat. Ranging near and far in search of subjects, she has sketched at the Philadelphia Zoo as well as journeying to the Florida Everglades, Borneo, and Africa. In 1989, she was artist in residence with the Kuo Tribe in Kenya.

Traub explores the tenuous relationship between humans and animals, who can be loving companions or predator and prey. She paints nude or partly clothed humans in intimate proximity with animals or parts of animal bodies, prompting reflection on issues of wildlife conservation, the food chain, and the close bond between pets and their owners. In her finely rendered drawings, we see tigers, peacocks, and the artist's whippet as beautiful expressions of Nature's creation. These mysterious and sometimes disturbing images profoundly impress us. (right: Patricia Traub, USA b. 1947. Mammalia Touching, 2001-2002, charcoal, conte, and paper. Collection of Mary Landa.)

Traub studied at the York (Pennsylvania) Academy of Arts and at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she has taught for fifteen years. She has exhibited in New York and Philadelphia, where she is represented by Roger La Pelle Galleries. Examples of her work are found in both public and private collections.


Checklist for the exhibition:

Dancing Goat, 1992
Oil on Masonite
The Seymour Mednick Collection
The theme of this painting is a mystery to be solved by the viewer.
Red Hooded Sheep, 1992
Oil on board
The Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women
The meaning of this painting is a mystery to be solved or interpreted by the viewer. (see figure to right)
Study for Woman, Goat, and Tapir, 1997
Charcoal and white chalk on paper
Collection of the artist
This is a study for a large-scale painting of the same title. The sitter's arms and drapery echo the wings of a soaring bird. In the finished canvas, two animals, a goat on the left and tapir on the right, are suspended from the arms.
Woman, Sheep, and Safety Net, 1995
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist
This is one of my earlier paintings associating humans and animals. I have depicted a thin Mother Earth figure in a protective posture and a sheep, an ancient source of food. Both rest on a wooden box lit from within, symbolizing the light of life. The red net protects them from harm.
Peacock Overseeing, Philadelphia Zoological Garden, 1997
Graphite on paper
Collection of Jan Baltzell
One in a series of drawings executed on the spot at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 1997
Charcoal and conté on paper
Collection of the artist
This drawing was made on location in Tanzania from a Land Rover equipped with a roof hatch for game viewing. We stopped in the crater's center to observe flamingos feeding in an alkaline lake, their habitat. We were accompanied by Robert Berghaier, an expert in East African ecology, a good friend, and staff member at the Philadelphia Zoo. I taught animal drawing and landscape painting for the Artists' Safari, which I developed in 1997 for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Bull Elephants, Cape Buffalo, and Egyptian Goose, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 1997
Charcoal and conté on paper
Collection of the artist
This drawing was executed the same day as that of the flamingos, but later in the day. We came across an old resident of the crater, a bull elephant with a tumor on his hind leg. We stopped to observe him and this gave me sufficient time to complete his likeness and to draw the other animals nearby.
Whippet Heads, 2000
Charcoal and white chalk on paper
Collection of Susan Roseman and James Feehan
This is one in a series of drawings of my dog Petunia done from life. Whippets are a sight hound breed, meaning that they hunt by sight rather than smell. An Egyptologist explained to me that the Egyptians had a god named WEP WA WATT meaning "opener of the roads." The Pharaohs used greyhounds to lead the way in their travels. Whippets are part greyhound. The Egyptologist believed that the word "whippet" might derive from the name of the Egyptian god.
Cheetah, 2000
Charcoal and pastel on paper
Collection of the artist
I began this large, highly finished drawing in Kenya from observation and completed it in the studio upon my return. It was directly translated into Mammalia Dependence. (see figure to right)
Mammalia Touching, 2000
Charcoal and conté on paper
Collection of Mary and Michael Landa
Here, I have presented an imaginary situation; a human and animal in close physical contact. The forehead-to-forehead connection symbolizes that both mammals have intelligence, but of different sorts and in different degrees. The goat has been underestimated for hundreds of years. For centuries, goats were associated with witchcraft; hence, Goya's famous painting The Witches' Sabbath, in which an enormous he-goat plays the devil. Today, scientists believe that the goat will help combat world hunger.
Mammalia Dependence, 2000-01
Oil on linen
Collection of Holly James
This is a depiction of a female cheetah posed over a kill. The scene, while surreal in mood and composition, is painted in a realistic manner. The painting recalls an episode that took place in Kenya. I observed a cheetah feeding her cubs with a Thomson's gazelle she had killed earlier that day. The life of one common mammal was sacrificed to nourish the lives of three young cheetahs, members of a highly endangered species.
The Awakening, 2000-01
Oil on linen
Collection of Robert L. Bohrer
A different, playful exploration of our relationship with big cats, of whom we have an inbred fear. In fact, they were our predators in the evolutionary past.
Nubian Goats, 2001
Pen, graphite, and conté on paper
Collection of E. Berntsen and K. Ericson
This drawing was done during a week's observation at a county fair that I have attended for twenty years. There, I fill my sketchbooks with visual information, which I use later in composing larger oil paintings.
Vietnamese Monkeys, Resting, Philadelphia Zoological Garden, 2002
Charcoal, pen, and graphite on paper
Collection of the artist
This is one in a series of drawings executed at the Philadelphia Zoo over the course of one year. The drawings were used in creating several finished paintings. The Vietnamese monkey is a highly endangered species, a situation resulting from habitat destruction during the war in Vietnam.
Adolescent Siberian Tiger, Philadelphia Zoological Garden, 2003
Charcoal and pastel on paper
Collection of the artist
This drawing was completed on the spot at the Philadelphia Zoo. It was executed on the last day of an intensive one-week animal drawing seminar that I taught for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The students studied the drawing for simplicity of line, form, gesture, and color. This was not a class demonstration, but rather a drawing I made for myself and showed to my students later that day.
Lycoan Pictus (African Wild Dog), 2003-04
Oil on linen mounted on Masonite
Collection of the artist
This is a portrait of a female African wild dog that I observed over a two-year period at the Philadelphia Zoo.
One Sleeping Langur, 1992
Oil on board
Collection of Andrew Baker and Alexander Stadler
This is a symbolic interpretation of a tired Atlas resting on the world while reflecting on his primate ancestors. (see figure to right)


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