January 11-23 2019. I am excited to be part of a group show organised by the brilliant artists Marti Bein and Joan Arrizabalaga at UNR's Jot Travis gallery called 'Reno's Lost Highway', which features artworks inspired by the history and continuing transformations of this old highway that comes through central Reno from the East.

My piece is a photographic sketch of Inez Casale in the kitchen of her celebrated diner Casale's Halfway Club on Reno's East Fourth Street. I plan to meet Inez again to paint her portrait in the coming months. Here is a detail of my piece, titled 'Fieldnotes for a portrait: in the Casale kitchen'.

January 1 2018. Sending Best Wishes to All.

Every two weeks, I publish a cartoon in the printed edition of the Basque magazine Herria, in my own rubric called 'Zoe Brayren begi kliska' (Zoe Bray's wink). This was my drawing for the first week of January:
The farm animals say: "We wish for a tasteless New Year"

Winter 2018. I am pleased to announce the art courses I shall be teaching in Reno in various locations:

Discovery Museum: Puppets with Recycled Material (December 1)

E.L Cord School of the Nevada Museum of Art: Drawing Fundamentals and Drawing the Female Form (November 26 - 30)

Arts for All Nevada: Still-Life Painting and Dioramas and Shadowboxes (November 17)

September 2018. As I reflect on the latest radical changes my family and I are undergoing at the moment, I recall my meeting of a British convert to Islam outside one of Jerusalem's old city gates a few months ago. He came to pray at Al Aqsa, but was turned away by the guards on the grounds that he didn't "look" Muslim. Together, we lamented on the tragedy of the current political etc situation, but eventually managed to cheer each other up by both remembering what our grandmothers used to do, no matter what, every day: COMPOST.

Indeed, you may not be able to change the world, but at least you can do your bit. And one very easy and simple thing you can do for the earth - and the world - is to compost. I.e. be mindful of what food you throw away and what can be used to give back to our beloved earth which nourishes us.

Realising this has been inspiring and soothing - the simple pleasure of working directly with the earth  reconnects you spiritually.

So my daily mantra is: DO YOUR COMPOST AND ALL IS COMING!!! namaste :-)))

Me happily composting. And a lovely small composting business in Reno: Down to Earth

September 2018. I am proud to announce that anthropologists Stephanie Sadre-Orafai, Jenny Chio and I have received a grant from the Wenner Gren Foundation to fund our international workshop "Theorizing Portraits in the 21st Century: Images of Social Engagement, Cultural Encounters, and Political Recognition", which will take place at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in November 2019.
August - December 2018.

Until Christmas, I am offering private tuition in my studio for the unbeatable price of 60US$ per two hours. Tuition involves one on one teaching of drawing and painting.

Contact me to find out more!

'Bread and water', oil on canvas, 9x9inches

August 1 2018. My article 'Ethnographic Portrait-Painting Today' is published in the academic journal Visual Ethnography. Please contact me if you would like a free copy of the publication!

July 26-28 2018. I will show my portraits of Basques of the American West in progress at the Basque Museum of Boise, Idaho. I will give a presentation on Thursday July 26 at 6.30pm, also at the museum, and, on Friday and Saturday, I will draw a member of the local Basque community in situ. Looking forward to discovering Boise's vibrant Basque Block!
July 19-22 2018. My portraits of Iparraldeko bertsolariak, produced on commission between 2007 and 2009, will be shown in the 2018 edition of Errobiko Festibala.

This year's theme for this very special music festival is Singing, and a special place is reserved to the art of Basque improvised singing, bertsularitza.
The portraits are normally housed in the private collection of Andoni Iturrioz in Larraldea, Sempere.

June 2018. Realizing how quickly my beautiful 5 and 3 year olds are growing up (they now speak English!), I am resolved to capture some of their soft chubbiness in paint.

'Paul, 5 and a half years old', oil on canvas, 11x14 inches

June 30 2018. I am invited to give a demonstration of my live portrait sketching technique at the Nevada Artists Association in Carson City.
June 2018. I am delighted to receive a second Jackpot Grant from the Nevada Arts Council, to help cover the costs of my project to draw the portraits of the various faces of the Basque diaspora of the American West.

I will show some of my latest creations during the San Inazio Basque festival in Boise, Idaho, July 26-29 2018. 

June 9 2018. My little wood and paper diorama "Reno cycling" is part of the fundraising show for the awesome Reno Bike Project "We Heart Bikes". The Reno Bike Project is one of the most amazing places I discovered living in Reno. They got me on wheels on day 2 of my arrival in this wonderful biggest little city in 2011. Now I also have my husband and two kids wheeling around thanks to them.  I'll give them anything to help them get more people on bikes.

"Reno Cycling" paper, watercolor and wood, 15x20cm, 2018

June 5 - July 9 2018. More fun exhibitions with local amazing artists: I show two of my old-style oil paintings, and one of my more recent dioramas in the collective show "Have A Seat" at Reno's Truckee Meadow Community College Main Gallery, organized by the very special artists Marti Bein and Joan Arrizabalaga and The Wedge.
"Untitled". Oil on wood, 20x30xm, 2010

May 7 - May 23 2018. I am honored to have my charcoal drawing "Self-Portrait with Child" included in  the collective show on Self-Portraiture, together with other wonderful and fun regional artists, at the Studio 2035 Gallery, Reno, NV, USA.
"Self-Portrait with Baby" 1mx70cm, charcoal on cardboard, 2004.

May 3 - July 6 2018. I am taking part in the group show 'True Grit' in Carson City's Bristlecone Gallery, where artists will show what they can create with a used deck of cards from some of the local casinos including Casino Fandango, Carson Nugget and Gold Dust West.

April 14 - July 14 2018. I am joining more brilliant local artists in this super fun collective show called "Beverly and Her Stuff" at the Oats Park Art Center, Fallon, NV.

I will contribute with two pieces, inspired by my love for nature, pastoralism, dancing, and Basque and Nevadan humor.
"Ardi Txurria", Local wool on board.
"Ardi Beltza", Fabric on cardboard.
In the Basque language, Euskara, 'ardi beltza' means black sheep, and 'ardi txurria' means white sheep. The costume for 'Ardi Beltza' was inspired by my meeting and drawing the portrait of Kiaya Memeo, Basque Elkoite and founder of the innovative Ruby Mountains Basque dancing group Ardi Baltza.

My two pieces also refer tongue in cheek to Emir Kusturica's wonderfully eccentric and romantic Balkan comedy 'Black Cat, White Cat', and what it means to think outside the box and take the necessary risks of being a black sheep.

Kiaya Memeo posing for me at Elko's Western Folklife Center, February 2018. Photo courtesy of Kiaya Memeo

April 12 2018.  I am part of a group pop-up show "With Water We Thrive" at The Holland Project, in Reno, NV, to bring awareness to water-related issues in the Great Basin area. I will donate 60% of the sale of my small diorama (see below) to this grassroots campaign.
"Defend the Sacred", cardboard and watercolor, 10x7inches.

March 2018. Big thank you to Txomin Laxalt for his article in the magazine Ibilka about my work relating to the Basque diaspora.

I am based in Nevada, USA, until October 2018, to continue my portrait-painting of American Basques.
February 2018. I donate two of my illustrations to the Reno Basque Club Zazpiak Bat, for their fund-raiser during their annual mus tournament.
View of downtown Elisondo. Watercolor on paper
From imagination. Watercolor on paper

January - September 2018. My portraits of Joan Arrizabalaga and Marie-Louise Lekumberry are on show in the Wiegand Gallery, as part of the collective exhibition "Basques and Buckaroos" organized in Elko, NV, USA. My participation was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Western Folklife Center and a Jackpot Grant from the Nevada Arts Council.

January 31 - February 3 2018. I draw the life-size portraits of two very special members of the Basque community in Elko, NV, AnaMari Arbillaga and Kiaya Memeo, during the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. My participation was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Western Folklife Center and a Jackpot Grant from the Nevada Arts Council.
Drawing AnaMari, under the watchful eyes of two local scouts.

January 2018. I am the proud winner of a Jackpot Grant from the Nevada Arts Council. The grant will assist me in covering costs for travelling to and portrait-painting live at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, taking place in Nevada Jan 31 to Feb 3 2018.

December 2017. My latest article "Face to Face: Painting the Basque Diaspora" is published online with BOGA: Basque Studies Journal
Painting Marie-Louise Lekumberry in Nevada, 2011.
November 27 2017 - January 15 2018. I show my dioramas in an exhibition entitled "Life on Paper", with the Jerusalemite artist Sari Wurtman at the Jerusalem International YMCA.

Sari and I work with paper to create very different images and sensations.
Sari's creations, at first glance, appear to be paintings on canvas, but when you look closer you discover that they are made from hundreds of pieces of paper. The paper is glued on its narrow side, so looking straight at the work shows only fine lines. The viewer discovers that, in order to expose the richness, a change is required in the angle of observation. Each angle emphasizes or conceals elements in an apparently objective reality.
My work, on the other hand, gathers discarded paper and cardboard to give them a new life, always relating to the environment in which they were found. In the context of Jerusalem, I draw attention to the irony of the destructive trashing that goes on in this Holy Land at the same time as I call for the celebration of the beauty and power of this extraordinary place.
Below are some of the works on show:

"Arcadia in the Holy Land", watercolor on cardboard. Size approx. 30x15 cms. Sale price 400USDollars. Includes plexiglass frame.

"Rechavia-Katamon, West Jerusalem", watercolor on cardboard. Size approx. 20x20 cms. Sale price 350USDollars. 
"The Valley of the Cross, West Jerusalem", watercolor on cardboard. Size approx. 20x30 cms. Sale price 400USDollars. 

"Artas, Palestinian Territories (West Bank)", watercolor on cardboard. Size approx. 20x30 cms. Sale price 400USDollars. 

"Dura, Palestinian Territories (West Bank)", watercolor on cardboard. Size approx. 20x30 cms. Sale price 400USDollars. 
October 1 - November 26 2017. My show 'Life in the Holy Land' is on at the Jerusalem International YMCA. This exhibition features artworks in different media and styles: traditional realist portraits and still-lives in oil paint, and dioramas – three-dimensional scenes drawn and painted on recycled material. All works depict life in the Holy Land.

My work originally focuses on people, but since I live in Jerusalem, I have turned in addition to the question of the representation of nature, and how we see and interact with it. So I have also been experimenting with new modes of artistic expression that integrate recycled material. My main concern in this exhibit is with modernity and conflict in the Holy Land that are appropriating, re-shaping and often destroying the natural beauty and traditional ways of working with the land.

This is a small detail in one of the dioramas. I invite visitors to look out for these animals indigenous to this land!

November 5 2017. I will give a workshop at the YMCA: "Fresh Eyes on Used Material'. This workshop is conceived to tackle the need to look at our surroundings with new eyes, and to think about our consumption of objects that remain in the environment after we have discarded them. How can we avoid consuming so many things, and how we can use those things that have been discarded in new and creative ways?

August 10-28 2017. I am showing my dioramas of sheepherding in Palestine and the Basque Country in the solo exhibit "Land, Sheep and People" at the Basque restaurant On Egin, in the Berlin neighborhood of Neuk├Âlln, with the support of the Basque Cultural Center of Berlin.

Inspired by the secular tradition of pastoralism, this exhibition shows artworks in small formats, conceived as 'dioramas', which depict pastoral scenes in the Basque Country and Palestine. In these two very different contexts, small-scale sheepherding has undergone great transformations over the course of the last decade, at the same time as remaining a fundamental element in the construction of collective identity.

The dioramas are made with recycled material, coming for example from cereal boxes. Painted in watercolor, the scenes in them evoke the contrast between the bucolic and idealized appearance of this traditional way of life and the reality of life today with all its challenges - political, economic, social and environmental.

12-16 July 2017: I represent the Basque Country at the Heritage Week in Bir Zeit, a beautiful village close to Ramallah (Palestinian West Bank), where I draw fun illustrations of the local people coming to visit. Thank you to Rozana Association for organizing this beautiful annual event, and inviting me to be a part of it.
Cool kids allow me to draw their portraits
Loving curious onlookers

July - September 2017. My still-life paintings of Palestinian crafts and natural objects are on show in the Guesthouse of Saint George's Cathedral in East Jerusalem.

From top clockwise: 'Hebron glass and garlic', 'Hebron glass and East Jerusalemite bread', Hebron glass, ceramics and lemon', and 'Bread, flowers and lemons from East Jerusalem'. Prices range from 750 to 950 US$.

June 2017. My series of dioramas or "ethnographic tableaux" featuring the fauna and flora of Israel and Palestine is growing...

Why do I call these dioramas "ethnographic tableaux'?? Because they are based on my personal observation and participation in these contexts, and are a play on the French term 'tableau vivant' which means the live re-enactment of a scene and thus relates to my original academic training as a realist painter, as well as my work as an ethnographer.

I began this project in earnest in 2016, propelled by several determining states of mind: surrounded in Jerusalem (where I live since 2015) by so many tragic instances of varying forms of violence, it became necessary for me to explore another way of doing art that could re-connect me with the innocence and wide-eyed wonder at the world that we all originally have as children. I made myself re-discover the simple pleasures of playing with small things, making new objects out of used or organic matter. In the process, I re-connected with the concept of 'bricolage' that the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss introduced to describe the human inclination to make sense of one's environment by resorting to material resources at hand. I went back to simple illustrations, and together with bricolage, re-created little worlds in the form of dioramas that speak about the reality around us but in a more light-hearted way. I use recycled and organic material as a way to also bring attention to the excessive production and consumption of things that destroy our natural environment.

One series of dioramas focuses specifically on pastoralism, something I have felt close to since I was a child being with the animals in the Basque Country. Since living in Jerusalem and getting to know  Bedouin shepherd families, I re-discovered the deep affection for something profoundly human and intimate with the natural environment. Sheepherding is a way of life that is undergoing great changes, faced with acute political, economic and environmental challenges. All this I seek to evoke in these dioramas.
'Ploughing, near Dura, Palestine (West Bank)'

'Sheep, donkey and shepherd near Hebron and settlements, Palestine (West Bank)'
'Sheep and shepherd near Hebron and settlements, Palestine (West Bank)'
'Bedouin family and sheep near Har Homa settlement, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem'

'Off to school, near Hebron, Palestine (West Bank)'
'Olive picking, near Bathir, Palestine (West Bank)'

'In the spring, with the activist group Ta'ayush, sheep and Bedouin shepherds in the Jordan Valley, Palestine (West Bank), Israeli army and outpost closeby'