Portfolio Naples March 2017 - Page 88

“to the bushmen, leadwood have al- ways been known as rubbing posts, where many different animals come to scent-mark their territories. Standing leadwood trees represent a crossroads,” says ross Parker. “you can only imagine the kinds of things this ancient giant bore witness to.” Epic animal migrations. generations of predators and prey. Warriors and other humans passing through. and the ex- traordinary passage of time, Parker adds, that brought africa of yore into this newer age of profound uncertainty. But one day when the big tree reached the end of its life, he said it isn’t beyond reason to believe an elephant might have pushed it over hundreds of years ago while scratching its side. So the pillar tumbled and lay there, slowly working its way into the earth, like a relic whose natural history had reached its end. at is, Parker says, until Mopho gonde, a carver hailed as “the Michelan- gelo of native african sculptors,” found it and gave it new life. Petrified and hard as rock today, the hulking leadwood alone could make for a mesmerizing conversa- tion piece in someone’s den. yet in gonde’s hands, it’s been meticulously chis- eled into something breathtaking. titled “call of the Matriarch,” the com- position appropriately portrays a mother elephant (the sculpture stands five feet tall and almost eight feet wide) and alongside of her, two young calves. given the excel- lence of its design and the fact that it was created by a Matabele artisan, “call of the Matriarch” is of a caliber one might find at a museum. “is is, without question, Mopho’s greatest masterpiece among hundreds of big game pieces he’s created and that are collected around the world,” Parker says. “last year we brought “call of the Matri- arch” to our naples gallery so that people could get a sneak preview of the unfinished work. now, as part of our 30th anniversary celebration, Mopho has applied the finish- ing touches, including addition of tusks carved from kudu horn, and it will serve as the centerpiece of our gallery for the 2017 winter season.” against long odds, call of africa’s na- tive Visions galleries itself has endured the test of time. a demonstration of its high 86 PORTFOLIO MAGAZINE profile is the magnificent 71 X 50-inch ele- phant painting by the Master david lang- mead, “carmine chaos” featured on the current cover of Safari Magazine. When Parker built his first gallery in Boca raton in 1986, the life-expectancy of a fine art gallery was less than that of a bird dog. Most galleries went out of business in the first five years. But call of africa has had staying power, “because quality mat- ters, because being on the cutting edge of bringing new talent to the forefront matters and because having great clients who rec- ognize value matters,” Parker says. Parker readily admits there are easier ways to make a living than selling paint-