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Artist draws inspiration from natural world

A sad collision between modern life and the natural world inspired artist Todd Horton’s latest exhibit at the Whatcom Museum of History & Art.

“It started off with hitting a fox with my van in upstate New York, so I painted a memorial,” recalls Horton, a Bellingham resident. “I went out there to see how it was, and he was still alive, but not for too long. Just looking in his eyes, there was a connection, a ‘you are me and I am you.’ ”

The next day he found a full deer skeleton on a hike. And out of death a collection was born. His exhibit, “Love, Murder, Magic: Paintings by Todd Horton” will open Sunday at the museum and will feature a menagerie of life-size animal images immortalized in thick, textured paint. Some are solo, some are in conflict and some are in the crosshairs.

“It’s touching on all of our different relationships with animals: as food, as spirit guides, as trophies,” he says.To create the appearance of motion for foxes and crows, Horton swipes at his canvases with a tool usually reserved for window-washers: a Squeegee. For other pieces, he uses a palette knife to lend depth and dimension to goats, bears and deer.

Horton hopes that visitors at his exhibit will come away with a bit of an appreciation for the natural world around them.

“There’s more to it than you see,” he says. “There’s this magic and mystery to it all.”

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