Kimberly Santini said her painting titled “She Used to Be Mine”  is all about letting go.

Kimberly Santini said her painting titled “She Used to Be Mine” is all about letting go.

Image provided by the Paint Creek Center for the Arts

New PCCA exhibit explores ‘Creatures Great & Small’

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 19, 2020

 “Lion Hearted Girl,” by Kendra Riley.

“Lion Hearted Girl,” by Kendra Riley.

Image provided by the Paint Creek Center for the Arts


ROCHESTER — The Paint Creek Center for the Arts is kicking off the new decade with an exhibition that animal and art enthusiasts are sure to enjoy.

“Creatures Great & Small,” on display through March 14, explores the connection artists have with the animal kingdom.

PCCA Exhibition Manager Jennifer Creech said the art center put out a call to artists of all ages across Michigan, and over 120 works were submitted, including many from artists and creators who haven’t been involved with the PCCA before.

She said the 64 works that were selected for the show paint a beautiful picture of the relationships and inspirations that embody the theme.

“I just think it’s a really touching show to see how broad the different emotional relationships are with animals,” she said. “It’s been really interesting for me to read the artists’ statements and hear people telling their stories as they drop off the work on why they were so excited to participate.”

Kim Santini, of Lake Orion, has always felt a connection to horses that she could never quite explain.

“I have always been fascinated with horses, since I was a toddler even,” she said. “My parents never quite understood it, because we didn’t live near horses or know anybody who rode or anything like that … but they’ve always factored into my life in some capacity, even though I have never actually been logistically close to them.”

Santini, a full-time artist for over 20 years and the official artist of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, said she was finishing up a series of paintings that were about female figures — in particular, her daughter going off to college and starting her own life — and wanted to turn inward and look at herself and her own relationships.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to start with the horse,’ so that was where the series of paintings came from,” she said.

One of the pieces in the show, “She Used to Be Mine,” was inspired directly by Santini’s last child going off to college, but as it took shape at her easel, she realized it was also about her grandmother and the bond they shared until she passed away a few years ago.

“While the horses themselves are the main subject matter in the two pieces that are in the show, there is a lot of symbolic content too that leaves a story. The imagery means a lot to me personally, because it represents my own story or the thoughts that I had when I was working on the pieces,” she said. “In my experience, other viewers will read an entirely different story into it. It’s really fascinating to me how everyone looks at the same piece, but they walk away with a different understanding of what it was about.”

The show’s youngest artist, 11-year-old Greta Lyons, said in a statement that she is excited about her work being featured in the show because her great-grandpa has been teaching her clay since she was 2 — and because her mom said she might be in the newspaper.

“The Sleeping Bear Dunes inspired my work. Sleeping Bear, I like the dunes, especially walking along the ridge and feeling the sand pelting my ankles,” she said in a statement.

Richard Wojciechowski, of Addison Township, created “Great-Tatanka,” a painting of a bison, after taking a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons with his wife a few years ago.

“We observed the free-roaming bison in such spectacular surroundings. (It) was awe-inspiring, and I wanted to capture the grandeur of the wildlife,” he said. “All wildlife has always been a love of mine.”

Wojciechowski’s painting of his daughter and son-in-law’s black poodle, Lord Vader, is also featured in the show.

Even if you are not necessarily an animal lover, Creech said there are many pieces in the show that were inspired by people’s connections to their families or memories of growing up.

“It runs the whole gamut of personal relationships,” she said.

Santini encouraged members of the public to come to the show because she said everyone needs more beauty in their lives.

“They need to come and experience the art and have moments of peace with pieces,” she said.

The PCCA is located at 407 Pine St. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit