Paula Zima’s show of works on paper and oil paintings that opens at Hat Ranch Gallery on February 24 gives viewers a peek into some of the informal and personal sketches that Zima has created through the years.
“These works arose from my sketchbook and swift drawings that appear as I observe this captivating world,” explains Zima, who often draws while visiting with friends and family. “They’re like short stories or poems. They talk about beings with hearts and souls and attempt to express the spiritual unity of all forms of life.”
Some of the pieces in the show were inspired by Zima’s 2004 horseback riding experience in Portugal. A few of them contain images of horses.
“I’ve had horses since I was a little girl,” says Zima, who trained in dressage in Portugal. “Right now, I only have one horse. It’s a rescue from the Navajo reservation.”
People are the subject of most of Zima’s works. A practitioner of meditation for many years, Zima strives to express the love, joy and tenderness of the human condition. Angst and conflict are never brought to the studio.
“I strive for a healing quality and a sense of rightness with the world,” she adds. “My work has been to discover my own true way of speaking with images.”
A student of fine and graphic arts during her youth, Zima served as an apprentice to Native American sculptor Allan Houser in 1993. She became a full-time Santa Fe area resident in 2006.
One of the artists she connected with once settled into her home south of town off Highway 14 is Jim Alford. “I first met Jim when I was in college in California,” she says. “It was great to see him again and discover that he’s my neighbor.”
Zima credits Alford for inspiring her to enlarge tiny images in her sketchbooks, which are small enough to fit in her purse or a pocket.
“After I showed Jim my sketchbooks, he sent me home with huge pieces of paper,” she recalls. “That was the beginning of some of the works in the show.”