A fox walked in the front door of Knox Galleries one evening and ran right up to Mark Kihle’s desk while he was working.
The fox put his paws up on the desk, Kihle says, as if to say hello, before playing coy and running around the room. The Beaver Creek gallery director says he tried to catch a picture of the fox playing among some of the sculpture animals and other art in the gallery, but all he managed to get was the fox’s tail, before he ran back out the open door.
You’re not likely to see a fox in Knox Galleries on a busy summer day, but you can still catch the whimsical playfulness of other sculptures in the gallery right now, especially “Burrito,” a seated, 45-inch-high donkey by Martha Pettigrew.
Pettigrew is matter-of-fact about her sculpture subject choices. Her other animal sculptures include a rabbit, “Shima,” and a moose, “Ralph.” There is no “Bullwinkle,” she insists.
“I have a sense of humor, and I love animals,” Pettigrew says.
The sculptress also is known internationally for her Native American-themed women and totem pole sculptures. She has shown and sold her work at Knox for 15 years.
Pettigrew and husband, Del, met gallery owner Deane Knox all of those years ago while they were doing a street art show in the Vail Valley. Knox invited the two to stop by his gallery, and the rest is history.
You see, Del Pettigrew also is a sculptor well-known in the region, mostly for his bear and bird pieces. “Crossing the Tundra,” is a life-like, grizzly bear on the move, for instance; another piece depicting a mother bear and her two cubs is in the gallery at the moment.
Del Pettigrew says his inspiration comes from his time outdoors hunting and fishing. A Wyoming fly-fishing trip once yielded him a glimpse of a bear headed for a fishing hole, for example, he says.
“My goal is to do wildlife we experience in the wild,” he says.
Del Pettigrew also does equine pieces; he and Martha breed thoroughbred race horses.
Right now, Del Pettigrew’s work has taken a new tack — 4-foot-by-6-foot hanging American flags made of red, white and blue beverage cans. Del and Martha have picked up aluminum cans for years while walking their dog in Kearney, Nebraska, where they live, giving Del a prodigious supply to work with, he says. The unique flags will be perfect for the Fourth of July show at the gallery — two others sold quickly at another recent show, he says.
He’s now working on an Edgar Degas-themed impressionistic piece made with pop cans, Pettigrew says.
The couple will work on unfinished pieces at Knox Galleries, on Beaver Creek Plaza, over the Fourth of July weekend.
— beth potter