This is the third part in a series profiling Naples’ Call of Africa’s Native Visions Gallery on trendy Fifth Avenue South. Click here for part one and here for part two of the series.
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Representative Artists. Native Visions represents a wide array of outstanding artists including David Langmead, Kim Donaldson, Loet Vanderveen, Judy Dy’ans, James Stroud, Jaco Van Schalkwyk, George Bucquet, Mopho Gonde, James Tandi, Claire Naylor, Matthew Lovein, Geoffrey Smith, Margaret Gradwell, William Sykes, Judy Dy’Ans, Dimitry Nikashin and Peter Gray. Most, but not all, are from southern Africa, like 90-year-old Loet Vanderveen, considered the number 1 wildlife sculptor in the world. His contemporary, stylized bronzes look good in any home. David Langmead is one of South Africa’s foremost landscape artists. And Zimbabwean Peter Gray is known worldwide for his portraits of waterfowl and birds from the Lake Michelle, Noordhoek area.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the artists in New Vision’s talented stable is 42-year-old sculptor Mopho Gonde. Gonde’s material of choice is leadwood, an extremely dense, heavy hardwood that Gonde harvests from the ground where they lie and petrify after being felled by large, free-ranging elephants who use the trees as leaning and scratching posts. Not only is leadwood dangerous to gather, it is unforgiving. It is as hard as marble and requires the skill of a Michelangelo to carve, but Gonde handles the medium with equanimity and is considered today the preeminent wildlife sculptor in all of southern Africa. “One of my collectors told me just the other day,” reports owner Ross Parker, “that of all the works in his collection, he’s gotten the most praise and comments for his Mopho Gonde sculpture of an elephant. People just can’t get over how anatomically correct it is or the detail in the piece.”
Representative Collectors. Native Visions Gallery is not just for people who collect wildlife art or early tribal artifacts. In fact, few of the gallery’s patrons have African themed homes or native American, pre-Columbian or other native art. “Most have never been to Africa,” owner Ross Parker observes, “although they do typically watch Animal Planet and read National Geographic and books on Africa.” What his collectors do have in common is an abiding respect for the environment and a love of animals.
“We all have passion for wild animals,” Parker maintains, basing his conclusion on a quarter of a century in dealing with ecologically-minded people. “They captivate us and possess a longevity greater than just about any other type of art.” Native Visions sculptor Loet Vanderveen goes deeper. “Since man’s primordial existence, he has conveyed an abstract desire to portray his idealistic virtues in the animal form.”
In any case, the paintings and sculpture found in Native Visions will accommodate any eclectic collection. “Our homes are our sanctuary and there’s nothing better than wildlife to include in that sanctuary. All it takes is a dimmer switch to recreate a sunset on the African veldt or a safari theme in your own home.”
Hours. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Telephone Number and Website. You can reach the gallery by telephone at 239-643-3785, visit it online at http://www.nativevisions.com and follow it on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/nativevisionsgalleries?sk=info. “I use all available technology,” owner Ross Parker states. “A state-of-the-art website, Facebook, Twitter.”