Opening Reception: Thursday, March 7, 6 – 8 pm
High Line Nine, 507 West 27th Street, Gallery 8, New York, NY 10001
Octavia Art Gallery presents Enrique Alférez | Carmen Almon | Alex Beard, a three-person exhibition of sculptures, drawings, and paintings.
Artist Enrique Alférez (1903 – 1999) was born in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico and lived nearly the entire 20th century. After service in the Mexican Revolution as a youth, he emigrated to Texas, studied sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 1929 first made his way to Louisiana. For almost 70 years, he worked in New Orleans and his lasting imprint is seen among Art Deco figurative sculptures, monuments, fountains, and architectural details in prominent locations around the city.
Enrique Alférez’s career has followed the historical development of sculpture in America in the 20th century. He has survived the critical preoccupation with sculptural abstraction and minimalism to see a renewed interest in the human figure in contemporary art.
Alférez's sculpture was most frequently based on the human form, primarily the female figure. He was a modernist who leaned on realism and drew extensively from classical sculpture, with careful attention to the revelation of character through physical features. He strove to better define the human figure and to capture emotion, individuality, and relationships between his subjects. Alférez also infused some of his figurative sculptures, bas-reliefs, and wood carvings with metaphor, allegory, and myth.
- Katie Bowler Young, author of Enrique Alférez: Sculptor
Alférez's work can be found in numerous private collections around the world, Chicago, Memphis, Baton Rouge and in New Orleans at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, the Audubon Zoo, Poydras Street Corridor, and Charity Hospital, among others. The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden, at City Park in the New Orleans Botanical Garden, is a fitting tribute to an artist who contributed substantially to the aesthetic environment. Also, within the park, Alférez's work can be seen on many of the iconic bridges and benches, Popp Fountain, and the gates of Tad Gormley Stadium.
Inspired by classic 17th and 18th century botanical illustration, Carmen Almon endeavors to represent the fragility of a moment in time, creating not botanical replicas of nature but rather her personal interpretation of her memory of a particular plant, flower, branch, or bud, from its roots to its fruits.
Almon uses copper sheeting, brass tubing, steel wire and enamel paint to create her exquisite botanical sculptures. “These botanical compositions seem to defy their sheet-metal origins to come alive. Branches bend, vines loop, leaves twist, and a few surprising bugs, from butterflies to beetles, drop in to colonize her plants.”  Each sculpture takes up to twelve weeks to complete, therefore, few are realized each year making them rare treasures.
In reference to our human connection to flowers, Carmen states, “Romance, marriage, funerals. Subconsciously, they represent so many things, innocent beauty, courage in the face of obstacles and continuity in the cycle of life and death. When I work on a plant, I am often thinking of this.”
Almon grew up in Barcelona and Washington DC and resides in San Miguel de Allende, MX. Her works have been exhibited at the Chinese Porcelain Gallery, NY, Octavia Art Gallery, TX, and LA, and at art fairs worldwide. She has been featured in publications including Plant: Exploring the Botanical World, Phaidon Editors, 2016; In Bloom: Creating and Living with Flowers, Ngoc Minh Ngo, 2016; and Evergreen: Living with Plants, Gestalten, 2016. Almon’s works have also been highlighted in the following articles: Faux-Laige, The World of Interiors UK, July 2022; Carmen Almon Creates Beguiling Floral Sculptures with Nail Scissors and Pliers, Architectural Digest, May 2018; The Magical World of Carmen Almon, House & Garden, December 2016; Floral Inspirations, Martha Stewart Living, October 2016; Poetic and Lifelike Botanical Sculptures, T Magazine, October 2015 and Carmen Almon, The Naturalist, T Magazine, August 2013.
American painter and author Alex Beard is best known for his elaborate wildlife compositions created in his signature style of gestural painting, which he has coined “Abstract Naturalism.” He was raised in a family that fostered philanthropy, creativity, and exploration; Beard has traveled extensively around the world. The diverse cultures, colors, and climates of Africa, India, China, Australia, and the Americas have profoundly influenced both his professional and artistic practice. Fueled by curiosity about the cultures and wildlife he had been exposed to in his early years, Beard's time in nature enables him to continually hone his style – creating complex compositions in which abstraction and figuration collide, while exploring themes of cultural and environmental interconnectivity.
Birds have been a major part of Beard’s subject matter, emulating their fluidity, whimsy, color, and movement in his paintings and drawings. Many of the birds he renders are recognizable as the species they’re intended to be. Still others lean towards the fantastical, to what he calls “Gestural Birds.” These are done as singles, in pairs, and as roiling abstractions of multiples derived from and intertwined with sweeping gestures intended to mimic the way a bird in nature might intrinsically move. It is in this movement, that these bird artworks find their dynamism. For the Birds is a book that includes these various kinds of artworks, which will be published in Spring 2025 by Glitterati.
Beard received his BA from Tufts University in conjunction with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His work figures prominently in several private and public collections and he has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and abroad, including solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Hong Kong.
 New York Times, Carmen Almon, The Nautralist. Aug 21, 2013