Large, colorful paintings of legendary animals by Walton Ford are currently on view in Chelsea in a show titled Watercolors. For this show, Ford focuses on connections between human culture and the natural world, drawing upon inspiration from folklore and historical studies. One work called Rhyndacus features a 10-foot tall snake and a flock of colorful birds heading toward its wide-open mouth. Rhyndacus is based on Aelian’s De Natura Animalium that tells the story of a snake believed to magically lure prey by opening its jaw.
Another painting called The Tigress, illustrates a large tiger surrounded by giant bubbles coming from the grass. She raises one of her paws as she stares at the bubbles with excitement and wonder.
A piece titled The Graf Zeppelin tells the story of Susie, the first female gorilla who came to New York in 1929. Ford portrays Susie sitting comfortably in a first-class cabin of a German ship, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A similar painting titled Windsor, May 1829, is based on a gorilla known as “Happy Jerry” who lived in Edward Cross’ menagerie in London in the early 1800s. Ford illustrates “Happy Jerry” sitting at King George IV’s dining table smoking a long, thin, clay pipe. The image is based on a scene from Heads and Tails, an 1870 book by Adam White.
Walton Ford: Watercolors/ On view: May 1 – June 21
293 Tenth Ave., through Jun. 21.
The gallery is open Tues.—Sat. from 10 a.m.—6 p.m.
Article by: Alison Martin
Photos provided by the Gallery and the Artist