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RALEIGH — As one of the most prominent married art couples in the area, Keith Norval and Anna Podris will bring their individual visions of unique explorations of paint to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in their newest exhibition, “Distant Relatives,” March 7 through March 30. There will be an opening reception for the artists on First Friday, March 7 at the Nature Art Gallery  from 6 to 8 p.m.
For this exhibit, the two artists decided to explore different subject matter. Norval focused on dinosaurs painted with oil on canvas – large and small –with thick paint, bright color and plenty of attitude. “I wanted to make the work really cartoony, bright and loud to emphasize the size and scale of the dinos,” Norval commented. Influenced by Pop Art and underground comics, Norval’s work is a hybrid of fine art, comic, street art and illustration. “These paintings are impossible to ignore — I want the dinosaurs to look like they could walk right off the canvas into the museum.”
Podris’ work features an aviary theme based on birds found in nature. “I am influenced by surrealism, classic literature, and expressionist painters,” Podris said. “When I paint, I enter into a dream state — the hours just fly by.” Since taking up encaustic, a technique that involves wax colors fixed with heat, or any process in which colors are burned in, Podris has found herself attracted to the unpredictable qualities of the medium. Abstract passages mix with fine detailed line work. “I found myself reworking passages to get the right amount of detail on these paintings.
The building up of layers of wax, scraping, incising and fusing are all very meditative activities. There is a sense with these paintings that you can look though them to see the layers buried underneath.”
To prepare for the show, the artists spent hours at the Museum, perusing their selection of real-life references for the show. “I filled up one entire sketchbook with sketches just for this show,” said Norval. “I had to burn half of the sketches because it was just too overwhelming — dealing with that much information.”
The Nature Art Gallery is located on the top floor of the Museum Store, main building. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.; and open until 9 p.m. on First Fridays. All exhibited art is for sale. For more information about the Nature Art Gallery, call 919.707.9854.
First Friday is a free, family-friendly, social event held the first Friday of each month at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Visitors can enjoy exhibits, shopping, food and spirits until 9 p.m. The Natural Horror Picture Show (a vintage, sci-fi flick of 'B' movie caliber) begins at 7 p.m. Arrive early for live music and a film short from the A/V Geek archives. For information, call 919.707.9800.