As you can tell, I'm pretty passionate about birds!
As a boy, I maintained an arsenal of feeders in the back yard, made notes about the species who visited, and drew them. I wanted to be an ornithologist.
One thing led to another and I eventually earned my MFA in painting and spent 32 years as an art educator, while also maintaining my studio practice and professional gallery career. I have shown my work in galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest and in New York.
Birds have played a dominant role in my painting exhibitions over the past twenty-plus years.
My paintings are not field guide illustrations, rather they are bird-centric fine art works and portraits of birds in which I hope to engender emotion, memory, and empathy. I am deeply concerned for our planet’s ecological health and future. Through my muted color palette, my use of taxidermy specimens, my quotations of past eras of bird illustration, my nods to art historical periods, and my suggestions of historical architecture, I hope these pieces evoke moods and associations, harken bygone epochs and Zeitgeist. Depicting endangered and extinct birds alongside common birds with my brand of mark-making and surface effects, I aim to portray my avian subjects as somewhat vulnerable and fragile.
“Portland’s ‘put a bird on it’ mentality, receives a firm rebuke in the hands of painter Christopher Shotola-Hardt, whose avian imagery is the product of careful observation, deep appreciation and empathy. Never mere decoration, birds are both muse and indicator species for Shotola-Hardt, whose paintings combine complex visual references to art history, religion, architecture, decorative arts, and ecology.”
— Merridawn Duckler
My work is included in local, national, and international private collections, and regional public collections, including the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (Salem, OR), Evergreen Air & Space Museum (McMinnville, OR), City of Wilsonville (OR), Center for Research in Environmental Sciences & Technologies (CREST) in Wilsonville, OR, and West Linn-Wilsonville School District (OR). I have been commissioned to do illustrations for books and album covers, graphic design for nonprofits and music groups, and web design.
I am represented by Blackfish Gallery in Portland, OR. (www.blackfish.com)
Awards for my teaching include Pacific Region Secondary Art Educator of the Year (2018), Oregon Art Educator of the Year (2009), Oregon Secondary Art Educator of the Year (2005).
I have performed in music groups, non-stop, since
I was a little kid, performing in my parents’ church music groups, then going on to years of private studies in piano, cello, voice, guitar, and Irish bouzouki. I played cello in the Portland Youth Philharmonic, sang in the Oregon Repertory Singers, and have been in numerous chamber music ensembles, pit ochestras, a folk duo, and rock bands.
The deepest, most gratifying musical experience has been my good fortune playing with the musicians in the world-influenced progressive folk ensemble Bug Toast. My classical training, diverse musical background, and broad listening tendencies prepared me for the technically complex, original, genre-bending music we create together.