For more than 35 years, Tom Palmore has been painting animals as the
subjects of portraits with characteristic wit, sophistication, refined attention to detail,
and stunning technical prowess. His ultra-real renderings of animals in oil and acrylic
offer a unique and often comical juxtaposition of technical literalism and surreal,
imaginative context, challenging conventions of photography and painting, especially as
seen in the portrait genre. In his new exhibition, at LewAllen Galleries in the Santa Fe
Railyard, Big Cats and Birds, Palmore once again questions the traditions of portraiture
and encourages his viewers to further extend their inclination to personify animals.
These exotic felines and birds, painted with great
reverence and an inherent sense of mystery, almost
appear to have commissioned the portraits
themselves. Palmore’s keen eye for human
idiosyncrasy, coupled with a genuine reverence for
the character of animals, converges in art that glows
with personality. Defined by a sense of nobility,
dignity, and eloquence, Palmore reminds his
audience, through these representations, that these
remarkable creatures should be regarded as partners
alongside their human counterparts.
Capturing the glossy sheen of a jungle cat’s wet nose
or the thousands of tiny, individual down feathers
insulating a barn owl, Palmore’s facility with paint and
singular attention to detail is brilliantly evidenced in
the lifelike details he achieves on canvas. It is not only Palmore’s technical prowess, but also his unique sense of humor, in his unexpected settings, that sets his work apart, and makes the viewer look more closely at the animal and the environment.
Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Palmore’s education in art occurred at several institutions, concluding at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1969. His work appears in numerous corporate collections and in such prominent public collections as the Smithsonian Institution, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art, among others.