The fish, the polar bear and the Coke can

One of the pleasures of my Monday mornings is sifting through the weekend email and discovering an utterly intriguing image. Call it a good omen for the week. Reef Madness (above) is such a piece. Dawn Siebel, a painter based in Boulder, CO, sent along this bold, hyperreal painting as an example of a fresh direction in her work.

The brilliant colors belie a subtle, provocative message. The eye travels around the lush fish and coral underworld until it finally rests on a discarded Coke can. Trash amid the beauty. “My new paintings are all rooted with an environmental commentary but it is oblique or even humorous,” Siebel says.

A few months ago Siebel sent an image of a polar bear (Afloat, at right) as one of the very first examples of her new direction—an image that still haunts me. The animal appears to be in shock or hollering in a fashion reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. “Help. My home is melting,” the bear cries.

Siebel says that although her paintings are full of commentary, it is up to the viewer to interpret the meanings. What do you think about the fish, the polar bear and the Coke can paintings? And is it my imagination or are there more and more messages of concern for the environment popping up in artwork these days?

—Bonnie Gangelhoff

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2 thoughts on “The fish, the polar bear and the Coke can

  1. Alan G

    Although our individual underlying reasons for choosing our subjects and presentations may be different, I personally can really relate to this artist’s creation. Although my personal medium is based in photography, it still allows you to make statements in an artistic medium, regardless of your underlying reasons or intent.

    Grace, not for reasons of self-promotion but if you care to see similar presentations in "still-life" settings check out these few I have posted at the link below:

    Even being so bold was I as to coin the name "IconicArt" (not to be confused with Iconic Art) to give a genre to such creations. In my personal case, it is the iconic nature of the subject that is of underlying importance and not the environmental impact.