Wonders of Nature Illuminate Vargas Gallery with Marie Cameron’s “Fade”

Story and Photos by Cynthia Cheng

Showing a brilliant contrast between darks and lights, the paintings from artist Marie Cameron’s “Fade to White” series were done in oil and encaustic (beeswax) on panel. According to Cameron, all the wildlife she painted for this series—which include a moose, porcupine, rabbit, skunk and prairie dog—were inspired by albino (lacking all pigmentation) and leucistic (lacking some pigmentation) animals. Many of these works are currently part of “Fade,” a solo exhibit at Mission College’s Vargas Gallery. An artist reception for this exhibit will take place on Dec. 6 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Vargas Gallery. The exhibit will run through Dec. 14.

“Lynne Todaro, the director of Vargas Gallery, had seen my ‘Fade to White’ series at the Sanchez Art Center and thought they would make a good holiday show,”  said Cameron, who lives in Los Gatos where her art studio resides. “I supplemented those with earlier paintings, some of which I had to borrow back from collectors.”

Not all of Cameron’s exhibited paintings are from the “Fade to White” series. For example, “Blooming Deadwood,” an oil on canvas depicted on a triptych (art on three panels), shows a fading but resilient cherry tree.

“I would drive by [a cherry tree] every year thinking it was dead and thinking that it was not going to bloom in the spring, but every year it did,” Cameron said. “Once I pulled over my car and took a picture and made the painting of it. That following spring, it didn’t bloom. And then it was cut down. The beautiful mystery of the dormant forest with the old trees was wiped out.”

Making steady eye contact is the winged girl performing ballet poses portrayed in “Feathers,” mounted side by side with its companion painting “Flourish.” In these oil on canvas paintings, Cameron depicted her daughter with one foot in childhood and the other foot dancing toward adulthood.

“Behind her is an antique screen of a bacchanal, which is a wild drunken party celebrating the Roman god of wine,” Cameron said. “Some elements, like the feathers floating through the air, represent childhood while the screen in the background foreshadows adulthood. These portraits were done in ‘chiaroscuro’—the literal translation means ‘light dark’—but it’s creating a dramatic three dimensional form with strong highlights and shadows.”

The Vargas Gallery is located inside the Gillmor Center at Mission College at 3000 Mission College Blvd.