Across from the beautiful river front flowers in Amherstburg, the door to the artist cooperative Mudpuppy Gallery, is invitingly open on this hot summer day, allowing the fresh breeze flowing down Dalhousie street to circulate through the intimate space. The welcoming of the day’s natural climate into the gallery is quite appropriate for the exhibit it is currently housing. The walls are lined with Jeff Snauwaert’s collection of photographs and acrylic on canvas paintings, that has been six years in the making. Entitled Just A Little Nature, the artwork was inspired by the natural biodiversity of our region.
Snauwaert journeyed through the Lambton College fine arts program and the University of Windsor B.F.A. honors program, learning from great artists and professors and honing his own unique skills. For the next twenty-one years to this very day, the artistic journey has continued as Jeff created concert painting backdrops, album covers for bands and continued to show his independent work at small cafés and galleries.
Just A Little Nature celebrates the flowers, birds and insects native to the Carolinian forests, wetlands and savannas of our diverse section of the Earth. Snauwaert enhances the photographs, accentuating particular aspects of their subjects and presenting a fresh perspective from which to consider them.
In Michigan Lilly, the flower appears almost translucent in spots and observing the pattern across the vivid red petals in those places feels like catching a glimpse of the magical cellular dance that lies beneath the exquisite surface and is responsible for the existence of this beautiful organism.
In Marsh Rose, tendrils running off a delicate, softly pink and white marsh flower morph into watery surroundings, blending in its underwater appearance with the submerged leaves; perhaps emphasizing this gentle being’s dependence on the wetlands for its life.
It’s clear that Snauwaert is as good at creating intriguing paintings as he is producing thought-provoking photography. In Common Whitetail, an acrylic on canvas, the dragonfly blends easily with the bold colours of the landscape beneath, so well suited for its habitat that in spots the dragonfly even disappears into it in a feat of natural camouflage. Only the dragonfly’s namesake, its white tail sets it apart from its surroundings. The background in this painting, as with the others in the collection, has an abstract quality to it, allowing for some personal interpretation. In this case, I imagine the dragonfly to be flying low, close to the forest floor, passing over the vibrant plants and dark earthy soil in that strange dim glow of thick forest undergrowth.
You can see and/or purchase these and Snauwaert’s other paintings and photographs at the Mudpuppy Gallery, located at 264 Dalhousie Street in Amherstburg Wednesdays to Sundays from 12p.m.-8p.m. If you want to ask Jeff Snauwaert himself about his creations, join him at the gallery on Saturday June 18th at 12. Just A Little Nature will be on display at the Mudpuppy Gallery until Sunday June 19th.