ABOVE: Leslie Hudson-Tolles works on a horse painting.
INSET: Two of her works, which are inspired by her life on the farm and love of animals.
For the Love of Animals
BY HALEY JONES
The Animal Hospital of Statesville will host a reception for artist Leslie Hudson-Tolles, whose artistic talent and love for animals are on display in the clinic's lobby area, on Friday, November 10.
A portion of proceeds from all artwork purchased during the “Companions and Encounters” event will raise money to help pets in need during a medical emergency.Hudson-Tolles is a long-time artist, teacher and Iredell County resident.
First commissioned as an artist in the seventh grade, she took as many art courses as she could and graduated from a public arts program in New York State. Afterwards, she studied pre-med and art in college. She completed an undergraduate concentration in drawing, a graduate concentration in painting, and postgraduate work in printmaking.
Her passion has never waned.
“I had to follow what was a part of me,” said Hudson-Tolles, who has been teaching art for 43 years.
So how did she find her way to the Animal Hospital of Statesville?
Hudson-Tolles moved to North Carolina in 2006 and began teaching at Erwin Middle School in East Rowan. She now teaches at Sacred Heart School in Salisbury, in addition to teaching out of her home studio by appointment and on the weekends.
Hudson-Tolles is also a client of the animal hospital.
“Actually my dogs, an English Setter, Logan, (and) my lab/Aussie/terrier mix, Rosie, and my cat, Winnie, are the clients,” she said, adding that all three animals are rescues. “I just drive them and pay the bills.”
Hudson-Tolles has been a client of the Animal Hospital of Statesville for five years. Her horses are also patients there.
The idea for “The Gallery” at the Animal Hospital of Statesville, which opened in November 2010, was created after Dr. Chip Cooney, the owner and veterinarian, was inspired by a consultant when the front lobby was constructed in 2009.
To date, the lobby of the Animal Hospital of Statesville has showcased the work of 40 different artists.
“We love it being different and adding a fresh look throughout the year,” said Laura Baker, business administrator at the veterinary clinic.
The lobby has a museum-quality hanging system with safe lighting to spotlight the pieces on display.
“We have hundreds of visitors come through our clinic each month, so this is a great opportunity for local artists to display their work and also open to the public at the same time,” Baker added.
Hudson-Tolles uses various mediums to express feelings but her conveyance of expression is most centrally focused around the accurate rendering of her subjects’ eyes.
“Her work is beautiful, very detailed and it has a real-life look to it,” Baker said.
Hudson-Tolles is particularly fond of painting horses. She has owned horses in Newtown, Connecticut, for over 30 years, and she participates in trail riding and Hunter pacing. Her daughters also both grew up in the saddle, and went to school on equine scholarships.
“I have loved horses all my life and owned them for many years,” said Hudson-Tolles. “For the last four years, I have been privileged to spend part of July in Wyoming and Montana in the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Range teaching workshops in their center and photographing the wild horses.”
There will be several paintings of the wild horses in the show, most of which have never been shown. One of these paintings was juried in the Women Artists of the Southeast 2017 show.
Last year, Hudson-Tolles was honored to be awarded a signature membership in the International Institute of Equine Artists.
But Hudson-Tolles is not just an equine artist. She also gathers inspiration from her place of residence, a farm located at the corner of Iredell and Rowan County.
“You will see dogs and cats, an alpaca, a bighorn sheep, some cows, a chicken, and a bison in the show,” she said. “And you will see some landscapes and sunsets of this area that you may recognize.”
Hudson-Tolles’ art show, which will be composed of 25 new pieces, will be her first one-woman show in North Carolina.
“The show is truly a labor of love (as) I am giving back to the animals in need at the Animal Hospital of Statesville,” said Hudson-Tolles. “I have been rescuing for the past 15 years. We have also never let a stray dog or cat leave. The doctors and staff at the Animal Hospital of Statesville have been beyond wonderful with the various rescues we’ve had with their multitudes of medical issues.”
As far as the price range, Hudson-Tolles has tried to create something for everyone.
Reception & Show Info
The Companions and Encounters opening reception will be held Friday, Nov. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Animal Hospital of Statesville, located at 181 Mocksville Highway, Statesville.
Hudson-Tolles’ artwork will be on display for public viewing during regular business hours through Jan. 6.
The Animal Hospital of Statesville is open Monday - Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.