Arts & CultureArts Features

Lark & Key Hops to Dilworth, Holds Bunny-Themed Exhibit

Last fall, Lark & Key art gallery owners Sandy Snead and Duy Huynh were ready to take their gallery and boutique in a different direction. The husband-and-wife duo have since found that direction through a partnership with artist and friend Charlotte Foust.

On Feb. 1, Lark & Key will move from its South End location to a shared space with Foust in Dilworth located at 700 East Blvd., Suite 1. They’ll celebrate the short hop over to a new gallery less than a mile from their current location with a new exhibition, titled Rabbit Rabbit.

The new exhibit, which will run from Feb. 1-March 31, is meant to reflect the fresh start for Lark & Key. While many associate the rabbit with fertility and procreation, they’ve also long been used in the arts to represent rebirth and resurrection, prosperity, the changing of the seasons and new life. Artists including Katrina Berg, Kim Ferreira, Diane Hoeptner, Carl Linstrum, Vicki Sawyer, Mary Alayne Thomas, Kristin Keiffer, Justin Rothshank, Luba Sharapan, Paula Smith and Huynh will be showing pieces that tie in with the above themes.

“We were initially inspired by the superstition of repeating the word ‘rabbit’ on the first day of the month to bring good luck,” Snead and Huynh said in a press release. “An abundance of rabbit symbolism and mythology from various cultures also provides a wealth of inspiration.”

For Ferreira, a painter living in New Hampshire, Rabbit Rabbit was an opportunity to add pieces to her current collection of anthropomorphic woodland creatures and wild animals.

“This series started about a year ago when I had a little girl,” Ferreira says. Looking at children’s books and designing her daughter’s nursery with a “woodland critter theme” inspired her to shift from figurative work and transition to her current classic storybook aesthetic.

(Artwork by Kim Ferreira)

A skunk reading a book, a sloth holding a teacup and a frog listening to an old-school record player are just a few of the paintings that make up Ferreira’s portfolio, and for Rabbit Rabbit, she’ll contribute a series of four paintings inspired by a previous work depicting a jackalope jumping over a skiing rabbit. This time, the rabbit jumps over a squirrel.

“I just sort of wanted to revisit that idea. So for this show, it’s the four seasons. So I have the same rabbit, and the squirrel is doing something different to represent the four seasons,” Ferreira says. “So in winter, he’s skiing. In summer, he’s eating an ice cream come. And in the spring, he’s about to fly a kite. And it’s the same landscape, but it just kind of changes with different flowers that bloom in different times of year and stuff like that.”

Like Ferreira, Paula Smith’s ceramic art carries a whimsical, playful vibe while drawing inspiration from the natural world. A ceramics teacher at Central Piedmont Community College, Smith says she often encourages her students to use nature as an inspiration.

“It’s so beautiful, and there’s so many interesting aspects to it,” she says. “So nature is a big part of my work.”

Smith has been showing her work at Lark & Key for nine years and says her relationship with Snead and Huynh has given her an opportunity to explore the functional, rather than sculptural, side of her ceramic work.

“Whenever [Sandy] has a show, I really get excited about kind of interpreting the name of the show or the title of the show,” Smith says. “I also use a lot of the objects around my house as inspiration, so I just walked around my house and pulled different rabbit forms from my home and brought them to my studio outside. [I] just started thinking about, ‘OK, rabbits. What can I do with the rabbit?’”

Smith will showcase a variety of works in Rabbit Rabbit, including an addition to her “ani-bowls” series.

“There’ll be a bowl with a rabbit head attached to it, and the body is the bowl,” she says. “Of course, there’s legs and tail attached.”

One of Paula Smith’s ani-bowls.

Other Smith pieces include those inspired by Tibetan prayer boxes, small vases and what she calls “wall pockets.”

“The wall pockets will look like a basket, and then they’ll have a decal of rabbits on the surface behind, so on the wall,” she says. “So I’ve kind of interpreted [the theme] in functional and nonfunctional ways.”

For Smith, the imagery of the rabbit has been an enjoyable one to work with, as she has a personal childhood connection with the animal.

“I love all animals, period, but I have fondness for my rabbit, my first pet. And I named him Winnie Pooh Thumper Bumper,” she says with a chuckle. “I look back and just laugh, because obviously that was a very long name for a rabbit. … But Rabbit Rabbit just excited me, because it brings back a lot of memories.”

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