Posts Tagged ‘bicentennial’

Audubon's Apotheosis, 6/09

John James Audubon is one luminary that the Commonwealth of Kentucky claims as one of it’s own.  Like Daniel Boone before him and Abraham Lincoln after…Audubon did live in the state before moving on to other locations.  At least the wandering Audubon considered himself a lifelong Kentuckian.  Currently, we are “celebrating” the bicentennial of Audubon in Louisville.  The connection that the famous naturalist has to this area and to the Falls of the Ohio in particular is a linkage I enjoy.  I have created several “Audubons” since I began this project…here’s the latest.

Audubon, bird detail, 6/09

When Audubon lived here, Louisville was a frontier town.  The landscape then is completely different than it is now.  The trees have changed, many of the animals are gone including the famous passenger pigeon that Audubon first drew at the Falls.  Much of my project stands in contrast to what Audubon knew…and is one reason I use the materials I do to construct these little figures.  Reading Audubon’s journals makes me hungry for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.  The challenge is to keep it from degrading further.  Materials I used for this piece include:  various polystyrene foams, wood, plastic, coal, and nuts.  I made this sculpture early in the day, but the light was so bright and harsh, I re-photographed it before sundown.  I still think I can work on this image more.

Audubon's head, detail, 6/09

I found this little hickory nut and split it in half to form the eyes.  The mouth is part of a walnut husk.  Over the years I have portrayed Audubon in various guises.  This one is by far the most “romantic” of the lot, but that’s okay.  My friend Raymond Graf created an official life-size bronze Audubon for the City of Henderson in western Kentucky.  In Audubon’s time the town was known as Red Banks.  Today, there is a state park there that has one of Kentucky’s crown jewels…a museum preserving the largest collection of Audubon art and family heirlooms and worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.  Audubon now lends his name for conservation purposes…hence the apotheosis.  So, let’s look at a few birds I saw today worth protecting…

Rough-winged Swallow, 6/09

This Rough-winged Swallow is far from the most colorful bird, however, it is still interesting.  At the Falls, small groups of these birds build their nests in holes dug into the sides of the riverbank.  Even the most ordinary animals are worthy of consideration and not just the spectacular ones.

Black Vulture, 6/09

We have two vulture species at the Falls.  This one is the Black Vulture…we also have Turkey Vultures.  I have photographed both species many times over the years.  The Black Vultures in particular like to hang out in bigger flocks.  I have seen both species feeding side by side on dead fish.  It is intriguing for me to think that some of the birds I have seen here may be descendents from the species that Audubon saw, recorded, and drew.  I’ll end with two last images.  One is the makeshift studio where I’ve been working and made today’s sculpture.  The other is one of many variations I tried today of placing the figure in some kind of context.

outdoor studio, 6/09

Audubon's Apotheosis, variation, 6/09

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