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September 16 - October 31, 2009 at M. Hanks Gallery, Santa Monica

by Kathy Zimmerer

Watercolors by William Pajaud and George Evans complement each other perfectly in this lyrical exhibition. Pajaud is a native of New Orleans and explores themes and scenes from his native city, including Hurricane Katrina. Evans supplements this view in a series of watercolors imbued with the fluid rhythms of dance and music.

Pajaud jumps directly into the music filled streets of New Orleans in his brilliant watercolor, “Remembering Willie,” perhaps an homage to his father, who was an expert coronet player and a mainstay at New Orleans’ funeral celebrations. Verging on abstraction in his watercolors, Pajaud walks a thin line between the dissolving forms of his father and the background of the scene. However, his father’s figure embodies the intensity and poetry of the music. A master of the watercolor technique wherein he applies wet watercolor to wet paper, Pajaud creates a series of circles that radiate from the figure with great skill and dexterity. Using these abstract marks, Pajaud connects personal admiration for his father with love for his ancestral home.

A masterful eye illuminates the work on view here. Pajaud is known as the former curator of the fabulous Golden State Mutual Insurance Company collection of African American Artists, which was recently auctioned off, a great loss to the Los Angeles cultural community.  With almost no budget, Pajaud built an exceptional collection by cobbling together amazing works of art by his fellow artists to adorn the offices of the first African American insurance company in Los Angeles.

William Pajaud, Dreaming of
Willie,” watercolor, 29" x 35".

William Pajaud,
“In June's Garden,”
watercolor, 25 1/2" x 21".

William Pajaud,
“Hazel's Lake,"
watercolor, 30" x 35 1/2".


George Evans, “Conga Drummer,” watercolor, 20" x 14".

George Evand,
“Gesture of
Dance III,” watercolor, 20" x 14"

George Evans,
“Woman with
a Pole,” watercolor, 12" x 9".

The series of still lifes/nature studies included here are a revelation. “In June’s Garden” is a jazzy botanical illustration, featuring a beetle dressed in a shimmering rainbow of iridescent colors that move and change continuously. In “Good Friday Dinner at John’s and Hazel’s,” the fish is faceted with layers of silver, gold, orange and blue. Although the fish is someone’s meal, the form from which it is built is charged with electricity and animation. Another nature study reveals grace in action as cranes lift off in a vortex of swirling blue sky, their silhouettes stylized into a frieze of elegant motion. “Hazel’s Lake” captures something of the essence of nature in the two figures that walk through a radiant landscape. Again, Pajaud deftly delineates the landscape with swirling gestures as trees, a pond and the two figures become part of a whirlwind of poetic scenery.

Evans’ work captures the core of the jazz world, infusing dancers and musicians with light and color that moves across the white swath of paper. Spare and elegant, a “Conga Drummer” is pared down to his shadowy face, drums and hands as they fly in rhythm to the music. Evans, too, is a master of working a wet line of watercolor into wet paper as colors and shapes merge and materialize into rich, jazzy images. In “Gesture of Dance III” a nude cavorts over the white ground in a searing pirouette in a manner as elegant as it is straightforward. Like Pajaud, Evans flirts with abstraction on every level as his forms dissolve and reappear with unrelenting energy. “Descarga” sums up Evans’ masterful skill with the brush. A woman dressed in vivid crimson dances through space accompanied by other shadowy figures that join her in a luminous ode to motion.

Pajaud and Evans are a wonderful pairing for watercolor fans. They both bring verve and genius to this difficult medium.