Its been a year and a week since Sarah Steppelman last had her own night in her own gallery, and even then she had to share the space. But Studio & is all hers tonight.
Ive been painting incessantly and going on Google safaris for reference, Steppelman said of Menagerie, her one-woman show tonight at &, the arts collaborative that she shares with four others.
Why Google safaris? One look at Steppelmans unique creations should answer the question. She loves animals and paints them with striking realism to a point. The animals look like animals, but Steppelman has a way of morphing and putting them in surreal situations: an owl in a Marie Antoinette-style wig; a ram, horse and swan tied together with red twine; weasels investigating a flower; and the untitled piece that has been the advance display choice of Menagerie, a pair of deer whose legs have been replaced with octopus tentacles.
Some of these are deeply personal, but others are images I think of while Im running, Steppelman said of her inspiration, which she swears has almost nothing to do with any mind-altering substances.
Some may be tequila-induced, but no drugs, she said.
Steppelmans paintings are popular with local collectors. With 12 new paintings ready for tonights show, the merchandise could move quickly. But such prolific production is tough to sustain, which is why she only does this once a year.
Everybody takes a month to do whatever we want, and Ive never done a solo show so that sounded fun, she said.