Who’s a Pretty Bird? Watercolors Light Up Wally Workman Gallery

Juvenile Blue Jay, 2016. All images by Carol Dawson, courtesy Wally Workman Gallery.

I stopped into Wally Workman Gallery a few days ago after a jaunt through the rain to check out a new show of watercolors by artist and writer Carol Dawson.

I was greeted at the door by Wally herself, an ebullient lady who has presided over her West 6th Street gallery for 38 years.

As I made my way through a parade of Dawson’s painted buntings, owls, and cardinals — even an exotic roseate spoonbil — they cocked their heads at me curiously,  wanting to know what I was doing there. I was both admiring them and taking refuge from a suddenly violent rainstorm.

Female Cardinal IV, 2017.

In some ways, these images are familiar. Dawson is showing us nature. But there’s a twist: The birds, often a riot of color and personality, have been magnified to almost human size. They look you square in the eye, as if to say “this is our world, too.”

Hanging out with these birds made a refreshing change for me. I’ve been viewing a lot of abstract art around town lately. Good stuff, but it makes a nice change of pace to view some art that’s unapologetically representational.

Dawson’s watercolors, which also include some botanical art, are on view through September 29.

Watercolor on homepage is Dawson’s Prowling Blue Grosbeak, 2018.


Published by Rebecca Johnson

Writer and editor covering arts and culture in Austin, Texas and beyond.

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