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Smith House Galleries announces virtual exhibition to open Oct. 1

Arts Council of the ValleyArts Council of the Valley announces a virtual Smith House Galleries exhibition in October, Animal Instincts, featuring paintings by Dietrich Maune and Julia Merkel, with photography by AJ Morey.

Animal Instincts opens Thursday, Oct 1 at The exhibition features artist talk videos and a Facebook album (showing works and detailing how they can be purchased), with visits encouraged during First Fridays Downtown, 5-8 p.m. on Oct 2.

ACV’s Lead Sponsors are Atlantic Union Bank (First Fridays Downtown) and Kathy Moran Wealth Group (Smith House Galleries 2020 Art Series).

Maune explains that his animal subjects “carry meaning to which we can connect through our lives and our relationships with them.

“The compositions are about relationships,” he continued. “Our relationships with others and the world around us, and relationships which exist within the animal world which we observe from a distance.”

Merkel began painting cattle, eventually turning to horses, which she describes as her “real love.”

When her children were young, Merkel began exploring mares and foals as subjects. “The overlap and intersection of legs and bodies parallels the metaphysical relationship between mother and child,” she noted. “Where does the mare stop? Where does the foal begin? And whose legs are whose?”

Rounding out the Animal Instincts trio, photographer Morey has been drawn to images of animals since childhood, although she began working with a camera only after she retired.

“What I love about photography is its accidental capacity,” Morey said. “I don’t want posed or policed pictures. I want real creatures in an unstaged moment. I want that moment to be the first sentence in a story that invites more story, and a photograph that shows me more than I first saw.”

The online Animal Instincts exhibition will be available through Friday, Oct 30.

To inquire about purchasing exhibited works, email