Herb Smith paints birds in such detail, they seem physically present on the page—like you could touch their wings and feel individual feathers brush your fingertips. “I will use just about anything to get texture,” Smith says. “I start off with a simple drawing and then from there I will do light washes of paint, almost like a watercolor instead of an oil painting; the paint will get thicker and more oily, so you hope to create depth with it, after a while at least.”
A native of Staten Island, New York City, Smith tells SFR he sees more birds than you might suspect in the city at the center of the world. "One would think that, in Manhattan, you wouldn't see a lot of nature. But for a lot of birds in a migratory pattern, when they fly south, their line is pretty much over Manhattan," he says. Due to coastal migration routes, "we actually do get a large amount of species in the area."
Smith has painted for much of his life, though he grew more formal once his grandmother started paying for art lessons when he was about 11 years old. He says the portrait-like portrayal found in his avian series is inspired by the masters of the Renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age. "I was always fascinated by the portraits of Dutch painters, like Rembrandt and Jan Van Eyck—the guys from, like, the 1400s to 1600s," Smith explains. "With most of my work, and with this show, I wanted the birds to be the portraits, to be the paintings and the main focal point, kind of using a normal portrait painting composition, but replacing it with a bird instead of a person."
Reference comes to Smith in many forms, including taxidermy, birds he owns or photographs he takes out in nature. Expect snowy owls and giant hawks in his upcoming show at the Beals & Co. Showroom, but he says his favorite piece is a blackpoll warbler. "That one seems to jump out at me the most," Smith says. (Maria Egolf-Romero)
Herb Smith: Inhabitants
5 pm Friday Feb. 17. Free.
Beals & Co. Showroom,
830 Canyon Road,
Hot Hot Heat
There are those legendary Santa Fe bands that everyone just kind of knows and loves because they’ve practically carved their names into the concrete of our shared culture. Clumsy metaphors aside, Sol Fire is one such band. With a high-energy mix of poppy rock and jazz fused with dancey Latin rhythms—and no small amount of institutional cachet—Sol Fire knows what the fine people of this town want, and they deliver. Hell, that’s how they’ve been around since the dawn of time and how they continue to pack ‘em in at places like El Farol; you want to go to there. (Alex De Vore)
8:30 pm Thursday Feb. 16. Free.
808 Canyon Road,
OK, so we’re gonna talk about Seattle-based indie-pop act Tacocat, and we know what you’re thinking: Probably something like, “Yeah, yeah—another Meow Wolf pick of the week. Jeez!” But in our defense, you guys, they’re kind of doing the best shows right now, and Tacocat is every bit as infectious as they are a palindrome. They’re hip, they’re poppy and they’re all super-cute—these things together equal fun, so our hands are kind of tied. Think Quasi meets Mates of State, but a little more forward-thinking and totally not serious. See? You understand. (ADV)
7 pm Monday Feb. 20. $10.
1352 Rufina Circle,
Ooh La La
An offshoot of the so-totally-famous and beloved Cirque du Soleil,
Les 7 Doigts
(that’s The 7 Fingers for you non-French speakers) take the concept of circus performance to a whole new level with
Cuisine and Confessions
, a dizzying array of sights, sounds and smells meant to pique all your senses. We’re talking death-defying feats of acrobatics, narrative elements and musically based movement pieces, but also live cooking—which, as far as we know, is a pretty original component. It also sounds delicious. (ADV)
Cirque! The 7 Fingers: Cuisine and Confessions:
7:30 pm Tuesday Feb. 21. $19-$85.
Lensic Performing Arts Center,
211 W San Francisco St.,