Come enjoy the exhibit “Familiar Spark” by Dallas based artists and friends, Heather Griffin, formerly of El Dorado, and Abigail Syltie. An opening reception honoring the two artists will be held on Monday, May 30 at 2:00pm at the SAAC.
Together, Griffin and Syltie have embarked on a growth-centric series specifically for this show which is represented by small forms in nature–from vines and vegetation to insects and other small creatures. Griffin’s works display themes of family, relationships, journeys, identity, and gender roles in child-rearing. Syltie’s pet portraits capture the beloved spirit of the four-legged friends we invite into our lives and call family. Embracing the familiar and pursuing the unknown, these artworks spark a sense of nostalgia mingled with excitement. This collaboration showcases a variety of domestic and feral subject matter. The viewer can peruse canvases covered with quirky family pets, portraits of beloved relatives, and glimpses into painted memories in south Arkansas and Texas. Amongst the familiar, one can discover the spark of the unknown: wildlife sightings from across the country, portraits of exotic birds, captured flights of butterflies, and the untouched beauty of raw green nature.
Heather Griffin loves nature and spent most of her time outdoors in the woods of South Arkansas when she was a child. “When I wasn’t outside, I was often following the artistic footsteps of my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother before me– both sides of my family–all of whom also painted from nature as well as portraiture. I usually work with oil paints, acrylics, or pencil, but photography is the first step. Art is a way I pay tribute to nature and the master creator, God, so I look to the elaborate details in nature to guide my art. Thus photography allows me to steal a slice of reality, or a treasured memory, to use as reference to translate via paint later,” she explained.
“When I was a kid, I visited the art center with my mom on a regular basis. After showing my art across many venues in Dallas, I have a newfound appreciation for the beautiful South Arkansas Arts Center. I’ve found that SAAC actually surpasses and rivals many “big city” art spaces! I feel honored to exhibit my art here.”
Abigail Syltie’s artwork is bright, flat and stylized in a unique way that creates curiosity in each piece. She uses acrylic paint on a gallery canvas to showcase each pet’s personality. The combination of the colors and presentation mimics pop art with underlying hints of a traditional style. Syltie gets inspiration from her personal relationships and wants to bring joy and peace to others.
From a very young age Abigail has been painting and drawing. In high school she started earning extra income through commissioned charcoal portraits. After getting her associate degree in art in east Texas she moved to Denton to receive a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design at the University of North Texas. While Abigail was interning with Dallas fashion designer Michael Faircloth she was offered a job at Redstone Kitchens in Dallas designing kitchens and bathrooms. She was able to earn a degree in interior design while she worked and kept selling her artwork.
Syltie said, “It all started when I decided to paint my older sister Stephanie’s Chihuahua Eli for a Thanksgiving gift in 2013. I then painted a piece for my other sister and then started gifting my friends with paintings of their cats and dogs for their Birthday’s and special occasions. Others started asking for them and now I have a list of people waiting for them,” Syltie said. “I love to see my clients faces when I give them a painting of their beloved pet. Bringing joy to others is one of the main reasons I am an artist.”
Syltie added, “A big part of what I do is giving back to others. I donate 10% of my earnings to Paws In the City, a local shelter that helps place dogs and cats in the Dallas area. I hope to get more involved with more shelters and organizations in Dallas in the future.”