New museum acquisition

The Whitney Western Art Museum, Cody, Wyoming, has acquired The Measure of a Wingbeat (2023).

abstract oil painting

2023, oil on canvas, 48 x 52 inches.


Notes on The Measure of a Wingbeat

My ongoing body of abstract paintings, Avian Witness, developed in part as a response to the growing divide between the natural world and the manmade environment. As wild habitats diminish, I turn to primeval forces—animal migration, magnetic pull, and wind—for inspiration. My work evokes natural patterns as they intersect with the human-modified landscape. Birds still migrate, yet often over vast built-up expanses of large cities.

Between and above gestural swooshes of color, the initial layers of my paintings are created by silkscreening facsimiles of 19th-century handwriting fragments. These bits of historical letterforms signal human culture. The layering is akin to archeological strata, the literal “ground” of the earth, the landscape. The paintings gradually become representations of historical time; the deepest buried layers feel ancient. On upper surfaces of the paintings, angular patterning represents road grids, agricultural fields, wind turbines, electric transmission lines, and other modern manmade infrastructure.

My pen and ink drawings of Western birds are the basis for large curvilinear traceries on the uppermost layer of the paintings. In The Measure of a Wingbeat, bird forms are not obvious; instead, it is the movement of flight that is transmitted.

In making these paintings, I envision how opposing systems of human development and natural forces might coexist in a harmonious ecosystem.

The title of this work suggests the impossibility of quantifying the wonder of watching wild birds migrate through our built environment.

What the Nighthawk Knows @Echo Arts

April 1–May 13, 2023
Bozeman, Montana

The common nighthawk “often seen high in the air, flies with easy strokes, ‘changing gear’ to quicker erratic strokes….Often seen in the air over cities, towns.”
— Roger Tory Peterson, Western Birds

Catherine Courtenaye’s ongoing body of abstract paintings, Avian Witness (since 2017), developed, in part, as a response to the growing divide between the natural world and the manmade environment; likewise, informs this newest series: What the Nighthawk Knows. While the artist feels that these opposing systems of human development and natural forces might coexist in a harmonious ecosystem, this latest series commands our attention, almost as a warning of what may happen if it does not.

Catherine Courtenaye, born in Madrid, Spain, received her BA from Colby College in English and completed her MFA at the University of Iowa in 1984. She has exhibited internationally and nationally and most recently received the Montana Artist’s Innovation Award in 2017.

A special thanks to Julie Gustafson and Gallatin River Gallery, in Big Sky, MT for encouraging this exhibition of Courtenaye’s work in Bozeman. For further information about Catherine and her work, please reach out to Echo Arts or Gallatin River Gallery.

Reception for the artist Friday, April 21st, from 5 to 8pm.

abstract oil painting

The Measure of a Wingbeat  2023, oil on canvas, 48 x 52 inches. Photo: Rob Wilke





“Avian Witness” opens at Gallatin River Gallery

Gallatin River Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new abstract paintings by Bozeman-based artist Catherine Courtenaye. The artist’s “Avian Witness” series references the movement of birds overlaid onto geometric fields. The accompanying catalogue features an essay by Yellowstone Art Museum Curator Susan Floyd Barnett. “Courtenaye thinks of these paintings as aerial landscapes, fully aware that any nod to landscape painting today is complicated by the fraught relationship between natural and human habitat,” Barnett writes. “Inspired by the mapping of movement, natural and cultural history, and the romantic beauty of flight, Courtenaye’s images chart the intersection of nature and culture, knowing and the unknown.”

August 1—September 26, 2020
Gallatin River Gallery, 114 Ousel Falls Rd, Big Sky, Montana.
Contact: Julie Gustafson, 406-995-2909

Opening reception: Saturday, August 1, 4 pm to 6 pm. Social distancing protocols will be observed; masks are welcome.

abstract oil painting

Edgeland of the Sora Rail, 2020, oil on panel, 30 x 30 inches. Photo: Rob Wilke

“Bird, Nest, Nature” at Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts


From the Eye of the Bird, 2018, oil on canvas, 45 x 45 inches.

“Bird, Nest, Nature,” juried by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator, ICA Boston and Rebecca Lowery, Assistant Curator, MOCA Los Angeles, includes over 150 local, national and international artists inspired by the exquisite beauty of creatures of flight.

July 12 – October 18, 2020

Bird, Nest, Nature Press Release

Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, California



Hover, 2020, oil on panel, 12 x 36 inches


All the work in the auction is on the KALA ARTSY PAGE, and absentee bids are welcome. The prices listed are the “BUY-IT-NOW” prices, but if you click on “ABOUT THE WORK” you will see the starting bid and the bid increments. Prices are updated as bids come in. This makes it easy for anyone to participate in the auction from afar—all you have to do is email KALA about the work you want to bid on.

KALA Gallery, 2990 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

Art Market, San Francisco 2019

“Tending our Fragile Earth,” Art Market San Francisco, Michelle Bello Fine Art, 2019

Tending Our Fragile Earth showcases work that honors and conserves the splendors of our natural world or brings attention to the significant challenges facing our earth today.
Our roster of talented artists includes David Kimball Anderson, Miya Ando, Catherine Courtenaye, Diane DallasKidd, Randal Ford, Marc Katano, Eric Powell, and Mark Seely.

Catherine Courtenaye, Crossbeat, 2018, oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Art Miami 2018

View paintings by Catherine Courtenaye at this year’s Art Miami, December 4–9, 2018. Presented by Zolla Lieberman Gallery.

bright colored rectilinear marks with curvilinear drawing in off-white painting

Cartesian Coordinates: East, 2017, oil on panel. 24 x 18 inches



The Montana Triennial 2018

Catherine Courtenaye is one of 40 artists selected for the Montana Triennial: 2018.

Specimens (with Ibis), 2015, oil on panel, 44 x 68 inches
July 26–October 14, 2018

Reception: 5–8 pm, Thursday, July 26, 2018
Yellowstone Art Museum