“Art Echo” – this concept was first introduced to me by artist Jon Larson in a talk here in the gallery last year. It is the idea that something can have an “echo” and impact your life long after the actual experience. A good art exhibit has this effect. The echo still resounds from my visit last weekend to the Wiegand Gallery and the Windhover Contemplative Center at Stanford.
Windhover Contemplative Center at Stanford was built specifically in response to the proposal of artist Nathan Oliveira. He died before he was able to see the project finished. He saw the site but not the building. The building came 20 years later. It is home to 4 XLarge scale paintings by Nathan Oliveira.
Nathan Oliveira was entranced and inspired by Kestrels flying above his home and neighborhoods. So strong was his fascination, he responded with a body of work that spanned over 20 years. Wings, feathers, horizon, space, time marking, flight, and all the emotions and contemplations they bring forth, are part of these paintings.
The Windhover at Stanford is a sacred space charged with spirit, light and consciousness. As if artist Nathan Oliveira is sitting next to you, all corporeal angst and pain diminished. The only feeling left is freedom. Standing in front of the XL diptych, one is moved beyond words. The eye travels into the future, past all earthly weight. This place is placid and yet full of possibility, curiosity and excitement.
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
– EXCERPT FROM THE WINDHOVER BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS
The actual environment, physical material, light and nature of the site is part of the fabric of the art within the space.
Nathan Oliveira’s son, Joe was on hand last weekend to a small group of folks and supporters of the Wiegand Gallery at Notre Dame de Namur University. He recounted the 20 year process of financing, planning and patrons, architectural awards and the actual construction that his father never had the privilege to see.
See The Kestrel, and Windhover Related Works now at the Wiegand Gallery at the Notre Dame De Namur University.
The Wiegand Gallery opened a beautiful exhibit of Nathan Oliveira’s Windhover and Kestrel paintings this weekend. Captivating and sublime with an earthy palette of umbers and ochres. One can sense the wing, feather and flight that inspired the artist. The metaphor of a bird in flight is overwhelming in this body of work. It left this viewer feeling light and open, free and grateful to connect with nature.
Free docent-led tours are offered every week at Windhover. Tours are offered on Saturdays at 11:00 am.
Please meet at Windhover’s entrance door. Tours are open to the public. No reservations are required, but space is limited. Private tours are not available.