Santa Fe Artists Collaborate to Create Art Piece for Thunderbird Bar & Grill

Editor | - January 7, 2013

...blending hand-drawn illustrations, computer generated designs and hand-painted images to create a late 19th century-style map depicting a buffalo hunt.

From a Thunderbird Bar & Grill press release...

On November 19, 2012 a large-scale mixed media art piece measuring 4’x12’ was unveiled to the public.  Designed by Santa Fe artists Lisa Flynn of Milagro Design and Kevin Brown of Kevin Brown Studio, blending hand-drawn illustrations, computer generated designs and hand-painted images to create a late 19th century-style map depicting a buffalo hunt.  It is now on permanent display in the banquet room of the Thunderbird Bar & Grill, located on the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

"We have to thank the vision of Thunderbird Bar & Grill owner Armand Ortega for making this possible," said Flynn, lead artist on the project.

It all started when Ortega was presented with interior design concepts illustrated by Flynn on behalf of Eric Enfield with Architectural Alliance and Julie Westenskow of DesignAssist, the lead renovation team.  In one of the drawings, Ortega saw something that inspired him.  "Lisa's sketch reminded me of a Native American buffalo hunt and many of the historic maps that I had seen from that era, including the large scale map at the historic El Rancho Hotel in Gallup," said  Ortega.  "It also reminded me of Mary Colter's architecture and design in the Southwest style.  I asked Lisa if she could paint her rendering to hang as a show piece on the restaurant wall.  Lisa accepted."

As work commenced Flynn, who holds a degree in architecture and is a world-class visualization artist and painter, realized to complete the painting she would require the support of a talented graphic artist.  She recruited top Santa Fe illustrator and friend Brown, who also holds a degree in architecture and is an accomplished computer-based graphic designer.  Brown was excited to be a part of this collaboration.

"I was intrigued with Armand's vision to create a show piece for his new restaurant and Lisa's approach to complete the project." said Brown.  "It's not often you are commissioned to create a work of art that will be on permanent display for locals and visitors to see."

The artistic process started with Flynn's initial design concept of the map and buffalo hunt for client approval.  From that image, Brown researched Native American territories, pueblos, geography, and landmarks and translated theses elements into a graphic map that included text, geography, border and design elements.  The digital image was printed on canvas and mounted by Santa Fe-based Artisans. Flynn completed the map by hand-painting the details of the buffalo hunt, mountain ranges and rivers, and all border design elements.  She gave the map an antique look using a faux-finish.  The painting was framed using a classic Southwest-style red thunderbird wooden frame.

"Wow.  It is stunning and better than I ever imagined," said Ortega at the unveiling.  "Hopefully decades from now generations will have seen, learned and remembered through your bold, wondrous art the mythical and yet historical mysteries of the Southwest and its great Native Tribes."