Relaunched for a little over a year now, the SHARP (Snug Harbor Artist Residency Program) series keeps topping itself.
This on-the-grounds working fellowship plants young artists on the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden for six weeks, and then shows the public what they’ve grown during their stay.
What’s with all the horticultural imagery? Both of the current SHARP awardees are interested in living/growing things. It’s a smart choice for the Harbor, which has a two-acre working farm, a restored wetland, botanical garden and acres and acres of trees and lawn.
The place is alive.
But for painter Anna Souvorov, a recent Cooper Union and School of Visual Arts graduate, the Harbor really shines after sunset, by moonlight. Her representational approach is naturalistic but stylized and there’s a whiff of Rousseau in the graphic curves of her fronds and foliage.
A narrative, partly drawn from literature and partly from the life and time of local naturalist William T. Davis (1862-1945) underlies some of these elegant oil-on-linen paintings. The artist actually hired an actor to strike poses in the gardens after dark.
In a day-lit tribute, she reproduces a signature Davis moment from a famous photograph in which he is trying to net a butterfly. He was notoriously fond of them and cicadas (and was the source of the Staten Island museum’s huge cicada and insect collections.
In the painter’s revised version, a self-possessed rabbit is sitting quietly nearby, ignoring the proceedings.