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In a small, quiet corner of Union Street and Arroyo Parkway, sits an eccentric art shop that showcases works as placid as the almost unnoticeable venue yet as powerful in meaning as the images they depict.

The Flower Pepper Gallery recently featured an exhibit called “Wild Heart,” where 16 Pasadena familiars came together in order to compile a compelling, dynamic collection of art inspired by nature, animals, and the artists’ imagination. From tiny felt puppies to ferocious images of black panthers, the gallery offers local artists the opportunity to share and sell expressions of their own connection to nature and what it means for them.

The “Wild Heart” exhibit opened on Feb. 4, around a time the gallery call fitting because it is “one of the most romantic times of the year.” The artists were asked to each paint an animal, using that unifying theme to delve off of and express their personal experiences through that symbol.

Some works were more straightforward, regarding the theme more subtly in their art, such as “Forever & Always,” by Los Angeles native Emiko Woods. In her portrait, no animals could be concretely seen, but the emphasis on nature was displayed by the intricate floral design surrounding the words, “You will forever be my always.” Some artists including Po Yan Leung and Heather Gross took to cotton creatures in order to express themselves, creating colorful plushes of foxes and rabbits and tiny felt pups and rabbits, respectively.

Other artworks used the animals to symbolize memories and depict raw feelings, such as Pasadena resident Valerie Pobjoy in her work, “Valley of Flowers.” The portrait features a dog in vivid realism; unlike the straightforward message Woods showcased, Pobjoy chose to express her feelings in the somber grey sky and a sad dog looking down among bright red roses.

The texture and beauty of this piece is remarkable as she elevates a simple mundane moment to something filled with nostalgia and idealism,” the official press release of Flower Pepper Gallery stated. “This piece all at once captures the hope and melancholy of love and portrays it in a way that is endearing and timeless.”

The Flower Pepper Gallery supports these local artists by advertising their work and putting them on sale. Not only are the artists’ original work for sale, so are books, some ceramic pieces, pens, and postcards done by individual artists.

“Most of our products are from individual artists themselves, and some are consignments,” director of the gallery Huan Gu said. “We are non-profit; when an item sells we give the artist their share.”

Despite having different mediums, from realistic drawings to interpretations and plush felt animals to abstract wooden models, the unifying theme of expressing intimate feelings through the connection with nature could be felt everywhere one looked. Some portraits were powerful in color, intimidating in image, or cute in form, but they all conveyed the passion and technique each artist possesses.

The “Wild Heart” exhibit is open until March 6. The Flower Pepper Gallery regularly showcases artwork from recurring and new artists in different exhibits.

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