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Totem of Scrub Jays by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Totem #10: Stacked Jays"
24 x 12"
Acrylic on Cradled Board
Scrub Jays

How to buy
One of my earliest experiences with a bird was with a Scrub Jay. I was five-years-old when my family started raising chickens, and on the very day our chicks arrived, a hungry Jay snatched one of mine right out of my hand and made off with it. Iím always amazed that that experience, traumatic though it was, only made me more fascinated with birds. Over the years, I got to know these birds very well, including their tough and assertive nature. Though I grew up with Scrub Jays, the model for this particular piece came from my first visit to the Grand Canyon. Itís funny how seeing a familiar bird in an unfamiliar context can make you fall in love with it in a way you might not have before. Then again, much of my work is very much about recontextualizing common animals in order to encourage the viewer to evaluate them differently. Case in point!

The Totem series began in 2016, when a lifelong fascination with the totem poles of the American Pacific Northwest met with my new awareness of an unusual natural phenomenon, the ďtotemingĒ of Harris Hawks. For reasons ornithologists still donít understand, these birds will sometimes stand on each otherís backs in stacks up to four birds high. Inspired by the sculptures of Tony Hochstetler and Peter Woytuk, some of whose works evoke totem poles, I had already been ruminating on how I could re-envision the Native American totem pole in a modern context within a series of paintings. The toteming of the Harris Hawks crystalized that idea, and I set to work painting stacked birds and animals. These tension-filled and gravity defying columns of familiar creatures suggest the fragile balance of ecosystems under increasing pressure from man, and they are yet another outlet for my continued obsession with pattern and repetition. The repeated juxtaposition of the same or related animals, and the re-contextualizing of those subjects outside of their natural habitats, encourage viewers to consider what they know (or think they know) about those animals in a new light. Most importantly, these paintings explore the iconic significance with which human beings imbue wildlife. Just as Native Americans did (and still do) use characteristics of various animals as metaphors for our own human qualities and aspirations (the wiliness of a fox, wisdom of an owl, or speed of a puma for instance) so too do even the most technologically distracted among us use, recognize, and relate to animals in our logos, apps, and product branding. In this context, the title, Between the Lines, alludes to this symbolic underpinning.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California Ėbased, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
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