As an artist and a long-distance runner, Tara Esperanza became fascinated with the many succulent gardens she passed on sprints through her East Bay neighborhood. The fleshy, undulating leaves and soothing, soft gradations of color presented their strange (and sometimes surreal) allure, and made her stop and look. The runner slowed down in order to get to know these plants and the artist responded to something deeply significant that passed between them. In a similar way, viewers of Tara’s current exhibition, “A Bee’s Perspective,” can take the opportunity to slow down and find a convergence with nature through art.
In this series of paintings, Tara imagines herself as a bee, a charming and fruitful experiment in subverting habitual ways of seeing and knowing. She chooses to enlarge and closely crop her succulent subjects, transforming them into intimate, transitional images buzzing between abstraction and representation. These new images capture and transmit the connection that the artist has with what has attracted her. The magnified view extends itself beyond the boundaries of the canvas to suggest what the bee knows, the immensity and importance of nature and our terrestrial ecosystems.
Tara has developed a painting style that builds up transparent layers of color to create surfaces that shimmer with the enchantment of the natural world. In the painting “A Family Portrait,” tightly packed rosettes generate offshoots like children, sharing space and living in community. “Hello Darling” and “I Feel You” focus on the efflorescence, the flower, with its delicate tones and breathtaking colors that soothe and delight. But don’t forget that the plants have sharp little thorns.
The diversity, beauty and resiliency of succulents have made them an admirable plant for our times. Notable for their boundless variations in pattern, ornament, texture and color, they number some ten thousand species. They have the ability to adapt and survive in the driest of conditions and yet they display elegant, radiant, spectacular forms and flowers. Tara’s paintings share the knowledge of the bee. Our natural resources are both material and spiritual, and their destruction is our destruction because we too are part of this immanent nature.