Like a fox
Margot Boutté Chottco
When most people try to recount a particular dream, they often find that words and language fail miserably in properly portraying their REM visions, which is likely why as soon as anybody says, “I had this weird dream last night,” your eyes immediately glaze over and you stop listening out of sheer self-preservation. “I was in this room, only it was a really weird room, but I wasn’t really there, I was in this other room …”
Perhaps Pittsburgh native Margot Boutté Chottco has found a technique to better convey dreamscapes and vivid reveries—namely, in bright hues the color of filtered sunshine and archetypal images that are both pleasing to look at and seem to draw the viewer in and tell an ancient story.
Painting means a lot more to Chottco since she began prioritizing her need to express herself in her art, and discovering that like riding the proverbial bike, she still has it in her to first visualize a piece and then render it into reality.
“It’s more intense and rewarding than just going off a still life,” she says. “Reno is saturated with a lot of artists. I think it’s an art-friendly town. It’s highly scattered, not sophisticated. There’s everything from tattoo shops to graffiti to all the galleries.”
Chottco finds similarities between the Biggest Little City and her native Pittsburgh. “Both cities come with a lot of baggage—they both have these reputations that they have to live down to and I don’t think either place quite lives down to them.”
She counts Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha as an influence, if not literally, but definitely in Mucha’s stance that painting exists primarily to communicate a spiritual message.
Chottco’s world is a place of both magical realism and whimsical, like a dark German fairytale. It’s a work-in-progress made of the bones of self-discovery and adventure. Most of the work in Deciduous features a blue fox.
Chottco, an unassuming and pleasant artist, sees the blue fox as “a powerful animal.”
In Jungian archetypes, a fox is guile incarnate.
The fox is a shape of the human psyche. It’s a timeless symbol portrayed in many cultures as a cunning trickster full of smooth wit. He’s a charmer. But he plays by his own rules. He can sometimes act foolish. He is the hero-trickster.
What the blue fox actually represents Chottco leaves up to the viewer. But it’s a very familiar image—as if her paintings allow a fundamental, universal peek into the psyche of the human condition without attempting to psychoanalyze the artist. It almost feels like trespassing onto somebody’s property who you don’t know. It’s like viewing somebody’s personal dreamscape.
“Painting is still rather new to me,” she says. Chottco studied anthropology and nautical archaeology in college and became adept at creating images with a charcoal pencil. Now, she’s taking on the world of acrylics. Color opens up entire new dimensions. Especially, she notes, while raising two kids who in their own way, seem to have freed her up to paint, their learning about art inspiring Chottco to retrace her own interest in the visual arts.
Chottco had less than a month to prepare for the show, but she says she understands the importance of having deadlines, having something due not at that nebulous future date when we all will finish our masterpieces, but something due now. Expectations fulfilled.
Deciduous is a temporary change that allows regrowth, says Chottco. For a tree losing its leaves, it allows room for next year’s growth.
“It’s a new beginning,” she says.