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Botanical Sensations Opening
July 9 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Bihl Haus Arts celebrates the reopening of the gallery to the public with an artist reception for “Botanical Sensations” from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, July 9. The exhibition, which features the works of mother-daughter artists Carmen Oliver and Daniela Oliver de Portillo, continues through August 14. It is also a celebration of thriving and surviving through the pandemic and coming through it stronger and better than ever.
“We’re excited to reopen the gallery space again with our first post-COVID exhibition,” said Kellen McIntyre, Bihl Haus Arts executive director. “And this exhibition is really special. It is the first in a series of five exhibitions over th4e next year that celebrate our professional teaching artists who have been incredible during the pandemic and learned new skills to keep our virtual arts education program going for our seniors and veterans.”
The opening reception for “Botanical Sensations’ includes live music by Lucero Villa, poolside food and libations and paletas to keep you cool. For more information call (210) 383-9723.
“Botanical Sensations” is truly a family affair featuring the work of mother and daughter Carmen Oliver and Daniela Oliver de Portillo. During the pandemic, both artists used their studio practice to heal and distill the intense emotions brought on by uncertainty and solitude.
Without realizing it or discussing it, both artists –whose work had always been markedly different—turned to the botanical and natural world as inspiration and a point of departure for creating two distinctly unique emotional manifestations. Their simultaneously and unintentional use of plants as subject matter is a reflection on family ties, intuitive connections, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters.
The paintings in Carmen Oliver’s most recent body of work are a nostalgic reflection on the artist’s childhood and home country, Mexico. From a young age, Oliver was overcome with emotion when visiting markets and taking in the bright bold colors of the flowers and produce.
“I used to go to the market with my dad when I was a little girl, and I fell in love with all the color of the fruit and flowers,” she said. “All my life I’ve felt a strong connection to flowers.”
Since childhood and through her life, Oliver has had intense love for art and for nature, especially flowers. As a young adult, she owned a successful flower shop with her sister and mother where she created intricate and bright flower arrangements. Oliver’s recent work “For the Love of Flowers,” reflects on the natural world and takes a nostalgic look at the course of the artist’s life.
“I love my relationship with art because art is food for the soul,” she said, “and during the difficult year of the pandemic, art saved me.”
She has a degree in restoration and museography from Manuel del Castillo Negrete National School in Mexico City (1985), and a certificate in painting conservation from the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City (1990). She credits artist Louise Nishizawa in Toluca Mexico, and Alberto Mijangos from San Antonio as her most influential mentors. Carmen moved to San Antonio in 2002 after studying at the Academia San Carols in Mexico. Five years later she established El Estudio in her home where she currently teaches private lessons in art mixed media
Daniela Oliver de Portillo
The drawings in Oliver de Portillo’s “Invasive Species: A Collaboration with Toddlers” is a spontaneous and unassuming collaboration with the artist’s preschool children. Born out of an accident where a botanical line drawing was left unattended and scribbled on by Oliver’s 2-year-old son, the series reflects on the difficulty caretakers have in maintaining a sense of self or individuality, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than resist the invasive and curious nature of young children and their constant desire to participate in the artist’s work, Oliver created daily botanical line drawings with journal like entries and left them unattended for her children to explore with diverse art materials. The resulting works from this collaborative exercise is a symbol of the unique symbiosis between young children and their parents, all of which has been heightened by isolation and home-bound nature of the pandemic.
“Allowing my children to take over my work and make their own marks on top of mine was a way to work out my feelings during the pandemic and especially the lockdown,” Daniela said. “These intense months were a time in which many caretakers felt they lost control of their own lives and had to set everything aside in order to provide emotional stability and daily order for their loved ones. The chaotic and colorful markings over my own structured and simple drawings reflect on my own feelings of being overtaken by the pandemic … “
For her presentation at Bihl Haus Arts, Oliver presents the opportunity for visitors to become invasive species themselves and help create a collaborative work on canvas on site. This component of the exhibition reflects on our collective anxiety over beginning to share our time and space with others after more than a year of isolation.
Oliver de Portillo recently returned to a studio practice after a decade-long hiatus. In her work, she reflects on the domestic, child rearing, and self-imposed standards of female perfection influenced by society, social media and contemporary women.All events are free and open to the public.
Related programming during the run of the exhibition includes:
- Saturday, July 31, 2 pm: Gallery Talk by Carmen Oliver and Daniela Oliver de Portillo
- Saturday, Aug. 7, 2 pm: Family Art Workshop with Carmen Oliver and Daniela de Portillo