RIYADH: “Maris Shepherd is an American treasure who understands the richness of Saudi culture and what she sees in beautiful life she paints perfectly, so she is the beautiful bridge between Arab culture and American culture,” the CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, Jerry Inzerillo, told Arab News.
He was speaking at the Naila Art Gallery in Riyadh, which is hosting the first public display of paintings by Maris Shepherd of Prince Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud’s farm that were made more than 20 years ago.
Maris Shepherd, an 82-year-old American artist who specializes in painting all things historic, has returned to the Kingdom after a 20-year absence to present some of the works commissioned by Prince Sultan.
“This is the first time anyone has seen these paintings so it is a thrill for me to hear the nice comments. I’m flattered that this many people want to see them,” Shepherd said.
Named after his royal highness’ farm, Al-Athaibat exhibit features more than a dozen paintings of the farm, along with many other paintings of historic sites in the Kingdom.
“Al-Athaibat is the house to me where the revolution of heritage started in Saudi Arabia and I really got connected to heritage and it became a calling, and of course Saudi Arabia is celebrating its heritage today,” Prince Sultan said.
“Maris Shepherd is from New Mexico. She is exceptional. As you see there are so many perspectives here of Bujairi, Madinah, and particularly Al-Athaibat.”
Many friends of Prince Sultan, along with other attendees, gathered to take a first look at the paintings that celebrate what the Kingdom has to offer.
“We are all celebrating Saudi Arabia with its beauty and its heritage and its fantastic nature. We have been telling people about this for so many years and now people think they are discovering it. It’s always been there,” the prince said.
He has one more painting he would like to commission the artist to create.
“I am going to try to get her to paint one more painting of me flying the glider, the no-engine airplane, over the Medina craters. A stunning picture in the book of wings over Arabia,” Prince Sultan said.
“I met the artist one week ago and I was expecting one type of artwork, but it was totally different than my expectations,” Ameera Alzaben, the manager of the gallery, said.
“With all of the details with the traditional elements of Bujair and Al-Athaibat, I was super excited to start installing them,” she said. “We were given instructions from his royal highness to show them for two weeks, which will give allow a wider range of visitors to come to see them.”
Alzaben said that they have students coming to view the art from the American school and other international schools in the city. The art gallery will display the paintings of Al-Athaibat to the public for the next fortnight so that art lovers and families can visit.