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Totem of Gambel's Quail by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Totem #11: Stacked Quail"
24 x 12"
Acrylic on Cradled Board
Gambel's Quail

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When I was a kid in California, my family would take a walk around the block after dinner every evening, and almost every one of those walks would include multiple sightings of whole families of California Quail running across the road in neat single file lines. Sadly the proliferation of feral cats and voracious non-native turkeys took their toll, and the Quail population plummeted. Only in the last few years have I begun to see Quail there again on a regular basis, but hardly in the numbers I remember. As such, I was incredibly excited to discover that the very similar Gambel’s Quail exists in great profusion in my new stomping grounds in Arizona. It is a great joy to see these beautiful and personality-filled birds around every corner and to hear their strange cries on a regular basis. It should come as no surprise that this totem follows.

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 “toteming” of Harris Hawks. For reasons ornithologists still don’t understand, these birds will sometimes stand on each other’s 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 –based, 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.
All artwork and text featured on this page and throughout this website is protected by international copyright laws. Use of these images or text is prohibited without the express written permission of Andrew Denman.