Theodore Payne Gallery
Margaret Gallagher | LOOK FOR ME WHERE THE POORWILL SINGS
On view now through March 2, 2024
Look for Me Where the Poorwill Sings is a series of ink and watercolor illustrations celebrating a vibrant ecosystem in the Verdugo Mountains that is facing an existential threat from a luxury development.
In the far northern corner of the city of Los Angeles, 300 acres of open space nestle between the 210 freeway and the community of Tujunga, carpeted with lush coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and riparian woodland. As the sun sets golden over the hills, a toad emerges from a burrow, and a poorwill calls from the brush. This is the place that has come to be known as “No Canyon Hills,” the rallying cry of a network of residents, naturalists, and conservation organizations that have raised their voices in strident defense of this handful of rugged mountains.
The series of illustrations explores the nonhuman communities woven throughout the open space, ranging from the iconic: La Tuna Puma and the old growth holly-leaf cherry tree known as the Heritage Prunus, to the easily overlooked: the moths and beetles teeming in the sage. The scenes are woven together from the artist’s own observations at the site and the iNaturalist observations of the many dedicated naturalists who have joined the No Canyon Hills cause, depicted with detailed delicacy in ink and watercolor. The works incorporate pigments made from invasive plants harvested on site by the artist, weaving a tangible thread from the open space into the gallery space.
About the artist
Margaret Gallagher is an artist and naturalist based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Her detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations highlight the beauty of California’s ecosystems. Long, quiet walks in LA’s often-overlooked wild spaces – Griffith Park, the LA River, the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains – provide inspiration for her drawings, which depict the hidden worlds of plants, animals, fungi, and invertebrates that teem around us. Margaret was raised in rural Oregon, surrounded by gardens, fields, forests, and rivers. She studied art at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She also works as a field botanist, conducting plant surveys throughout California, and volunteers on the board of her local California Native Plant Society chapter.