Fine art

Passionate about nature

Artist Dee DiCamillo exhibits landscape paintings to raise environmental awareness

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The landscape paintings of Dolores "Dee" DiCamillo are on view at Centinel Bank of Taos, 512 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, for the month of May.

The show is titled "Eagle Rising." The free, opening reception is Friday (May 11), from 5:30 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

DiCamillo explained that this is an environmental art show. She has been inspired to be a landscape artist through her love for trees, clean streams, wildlife and mountains.

"The mountains of New Mexico brought me here to paint nature. I have lived in Taos County for 10 years. Our family roots are from upstate New York where there are shorter mountains," she said.

The artist has a considerable background. She majored in fine arts at Indiana University and taught full time for decades. In Taos, she teaches drawing and painting classes for one semester a year. For the second semester, she largely focuses on painting while she substitute teaches.

She was inspired to create this show, she said. "I think we're at a critical point in our environment. There are politicians who want to sell off our national forests, our public lands. Our old-growth forests are vital to a healthy ecosystem."

She is hopeful that this show will raise awareness among the people who see it and hear about it. "If each of those people would choose one environmental problem and be an activist, then I think we can turn things around. It has to be individuals who are passionate about nature: wildlife, water, trees and mountains," DiCamillo said.

The works in vary in size, as well as framing. Some are acrylics on canvas; others are batik on one of three kinds of natural material, such as linen, cotton, and silk. Over the span of six months, she created 16 pieces for this show. "What I like about showing at Centinel Bank is the light and the space. Some walls will have one large piece by itself. But if the images are smaller, I may hang them on top of each other or next to each other," DiCamillo said.

The press announcement states that the original landscape paintings and prints will be on sale and a percentage of proceeds will be given to two environmental groups that will be made public at the opening. Without revealing the names of the groups, DiCamillo said, "They will be national groups."

During the opening, DiCamillo will hand out pamphlets that list different nonprofit organizations that people may be interested in joining. The art show will also feature quotations and statistics on various ecosystems from biologists, geophysicists and environmental scientists. She explained, "I'm inspired to do it literally for Mother Earth. Everything's living and we are all connected. I think we've lost that in our culture. The quotes and the statistics will be throughout the show and will be next to all of the paintings."

An excerpt of one quote reads: "Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself." That quote comes from Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe in an 1887 issue of The Seattle Star.

One landscape on display is an acrylic titled "Condor of the Canyon." DiCamillo said, "This was painted en plein air at the Grand Canyon. A huge bird flew over me while I was painting. I researched what kind of bird it was and learned it was a California Condor, which was reintroduced in the 1990s. It is critical to the ecosystem of the Grand Canyon as a predator."

Another piece on display is batik on natural material, titled "Native Dancer and Orange Hill." She said, "Stylistically, this one is different. That's because it's an entirely different medium. Batik is when you draw with hot wax over a pale pencil drawing. The wax holds the colors. The dye will seep from one waxed area to another. I had seen a dancer with this type of native dress. I wanted to make her a spiritual presence in the landscape. The native woman is an integral part of the land."

After this showing in Taos, DiCamillo hopes to move the same show to Santa Fe and then to the Grand Canyon area in Arizona.

"I'm motivated to do something, and since I'm not an environmental scientist nor a politician, I have to do something for the earth through my art," DiCamillo said.

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