Something Wild in My Garden

Jun 25, 2017

As the summer heat descends—a bit early, mind you; Mother Nature, where’s our “June Gloom”?—and our gardens need attending, Cactus Gallery brings some levity, truth, poignancy, and whimsy into our days with its new exhibit “Something Wild in My Garden.”

The show’s featured artist is Olga Ponomarenko:

In this series of paintings, I chose wild animals as subjects; I purposely avoided any direct references to people. I believe it is useful to remind our selves that humans are not the center of the universe. The only things that would defer to us are the plants that we grow in our gardens, along the walls and fences that separate us from the wilderness.



Booming urbanization and industrial development of (the) wilderness are stripping animals of their natural habitat, and in turn, animals are looking for alternative “residential” places in search for essentials for survival, water, and food.

I was inspired by the Facebook videos and pictures that usually show funny situations that occur when wild animals invade “civilized” places. In my paintings, wild animals were depicted cute purposely, not only for viewers entertainment, but also to highlight their vulnerability. Being cute also means being non-harmful, and that’s how we like them.


Olga Ponomarenko, Smart Alec, oil on canvas.


Olga Ponomarenko, Peculiar Rabbit, oil on canvas.


Olga Ponomarenko, Garden Party Animal, oil on canvas.


Artist Holly Wood: The show on urban wildlife was total serendipity. I did this grisaille work of Raccoons on a coin-op horse as a study….. The image of the coin-op mechanical horse is meaningful to me for nostalgic memories of an American childhood, and when presented as the abandoned toy in a scene of urban decay, is faintly sad, but also humorous and a bit hopeful, because someone else has discovered the horse and is enjoying it.


Holly Wood, Now We Ride, acrylic gouache on archival paper.


Artist Nancy Cintron contributed No Dumping Allowed (top, right) and Bar Hopping.

These are the original city dwellers that at one time hid from humans and were forced out of their homes, but now they have revolted and have taken over.


Nancy Cintron, Bar Hopping, oil on canvas.


Joshua Coffy, Homeward Bound, mixed media on wood.


Nichol Norman, The Elephant on the Roof, gouache and ink on paper.


Patrick Haemmerlein, A Love Dream, mixed media.


Lea Barozzi, Impermanence, oil on cradled wood.


Something Wild in My Garden
Through Saturday, July 15
Cactus Gallery, 3001 N. Coolidge Ave., Frogtown 90039
Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
By appointment: call 1.310.801.8669
See works online at


Ivonne Carley, Going Home, hand cut paper and vellum, framed.


Ivonne Carley, Going Home (detail).


Artist Yuki Toy: My work focuses on the existence of mirages that can be seen in the scorching desert. The mirage that appears over an extended road engages people in another world for a short time. This experience transports people into the realm of imagination, where an unexpected gap lives between life and death. When these forces pull against each other in the desert, a vibrant nothingness forms in the heated friction. Just like a vanishing point in the distance; it cannot be seen, yet we know that it exists.


Yuki Toy, Hare, pencil and oil on paper.


Artist Lacey Bryant: Dive was actually inspired by the falcons that roost on top of San Jose City Hall. They have their own webcam! I was interested in Falcons as they are actually adapting very well in city environments, taking out pigeons and rodents attracted by humans. I wanted to capture the moment of capture, as a falcon dives for its prey, separated from the flock. It’s a powerful moment to reflect on I think. The building in the image is across the street from city hall, I included it because I liked the wizard statue looking on as a witness to the scene, and the bit of blood red from the flag above, foreshadowing the pigeons end. The shadow going across the building is another symbol of doom.


Lacey Bryant, Dive, oil on wood.


In addition to being about urban wildlife, Kelly says this piece is a shout out to all working class women in history and to the factory girls from whom she descended


Kelly Vetter, Duchess of Tin Can Alley, watercolor on vintage photo.


Andrea Bogdan, Baby Bird in High Heels on Hope Street, acrylic on canvas.


Malathip, Leap, acrylic and gouache on wood.


Artist Corina St. Martin: I adore animals and feel that they have just as much right to their homes as we have to ours. Unfortunately, they don’t usually get a say in whether or not they get displaced. This painting is a small commentary on how we often times live in what should be their wild space.


Corina St. Martin, Feathered Nest, oils on masonite panel.


Jen Raven, Bee Squared, acrylic on canvas.


Artist Jon Ching: I hope this makes folks think about our consumption and waste and the impact it has on wildlife—the creatures whose habitat we’ve already taken for our own. They are trying to make it work with us, so let’s use CAUTION and keep them in mind as we live our lives.


Jon Ching, Refuge, oil on wood.


Participating artists:
Jaclyn Alderete, Douglas Alvarez, Ulla Anobile, Julie B, Lea Barozzi, Skye Becker-Yamakawa, Terri Berman, Denise Bledsoe, Andrea Bogdan, Debra Broz, Lacey Bryant, Ivonne Carley, Joe Carrion, Gigi Chen, Jon Ching, Nancy Cintron, Joshua Coffy, Rosie Garcia, Valency Genis, Corrie Gregory, Patrick Haemmerlein, Annette Hassell, Anita Inverarity, Brooke Kent, Lydia Moon Hee Kim, Patricia Krebs, Mavis Leahy, Malathip, Nichol Norman, Janet Olenik, Sarah Polzin, Olga Ponomarenko, Myriam Powell, Johnny Quintanilla, Jen Raven, Meghan Ritchey, Bobby Rojas, Joshua Roman, Lena Sayadian, Corina St. Martin, Kelly Thompson, Yuki Toy, Juliette Vaissiere, Kelly Vetter, Joe Vollan, Michelle Waters, Emily Wenner, and Holly Wood.


All images, italicized text, and artist statements thanks to Cactus Gallery.


Cactus Gallery


Annette Hassell, Seeing Red, acrylic and ink on linen.


Terri Berman, Wild Cat, acrylic on wood.


Janet Olenik, … When Goldilocks say, “This House Is Just Right”, acrylic on birch board.





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