"Lots of people talk to animals... Not very many
listen, though... That's the problem."
-- Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
Like her portraits of horse-headed knights and owls with human hands clasped in prayer, Sharon Eisley's background is a study in contrasts. Her first decade as a painter was spent as a watercolorist before learning Chinese brush painting in Taipei and oils at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Not prone to compromise, Eisley has brought together these myriad mediums in the collection of portraits presented in A Suitable Chimera.
Mischievously adding animals to commissioned portraits and character studies, Eisley was surprised to discover that her models already had personal connections to the beasts selected. She dubbed her combinations "animeoples," and has more recently integrated them into reinterpretations of famous works, her way of paying sly homage to the history of art.
"I will never know if my intuition was accurate with this year's group of animal-headed portraits, since almost every painting here is, in part, borrowed from portraits of people who lived a hundred or more years ago," Eisley explains. "But because you and I won't meet them on the street, we can instead look at how we are like certain animals, and how alike they are to us, no matter what foppery we drape upon ourselves or what age we live in."
"A Studio for the Imagination," Castle in the Air's shop and classroom have inspired local and visiting artists since 2001. Since its opening in 2009, the gallery in our upstairs loft has quite literally taken the inspiration to new heights and provided a venue to showcase current and historical works.