’s close-to-life-size cougar sculptures outside Manitou Galleries have become celebrities all their own.
Depicted in a resting position, sultry and inviting, the figures have provided visitors many a Kodak moment. People get up close and personal with the sculptures, oftentimes caressing them and wondering about their construction. Wood? Perhaps papier mâché?
Nope. The answer is bronze. The beasts’ texture comes, York tells SFR, from a special patina treatment. “Any bronze that you see has some patina of sorts—in other words, color that is brought out of the bronze by using heat and chemicals,” she says—chemicals like iron ferric and cupric acetate.
She elaborates on the process: “Bronze patinas naturally. If you take raw bronze and throw it out in the yard, the chemicals in our hands and atmosphere will transform it.”
Not quite black and white (or in this case, shiny bronze or green), York likes experimenting with the alloy’s many intermediary shades.
“Oftentimes, bronze statues you see are greenish—that’s because of the reaction bronze has to pollution,” she explains. “I like to add color figuratively as well as literally—it brings the pieces alive.”
So much so, that York’s wilderness-inspired works look as if it they might turn and bite you at any time.
Along with the nature theme, York’s body of work reflects the Southwest’s history and cultural diversity. Mythology and the mysteries of sacred sites also infuse her catalogue, as evidenced by new pieces she exhibits this Friday alongside painter BC Nowlin.
York intends to use the show to preview pieces from her Rock Art series, inspired by ancient cave drawings.
“They’re very stylized, and it’s a different approach to the sculpture process,” she says of the Paleolithic period-inspired pieces.
A bronze portrait of pueblo potter Maria Martinez titled “The Art Spirit” will also be at hand.
“She really put pueblo pottery on the map as a true art form,” York says. “What I tried to capture in her expression is the joy of creation.” She achieved this by going through archival photographs of Martinez and scoping out shots that “gave a candid look into her personality.”
5-7 pm Friday, Aug. 2. Free.
123 W Palace Ave.,