Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Zoos are wonderful resources for wildlife artists, and my job would be a lot tougher without a few of them around. We have a pretty decent zoo here in Salt Lake called Hogle Zoo—in recent years they've taken to calling themselves “Utah's Hogle Zoo,” for the benefit of amnesiacs and escaped interstate kidnappees. I used to hitchhike down there as a kid about once a week and hop the fence, and I still spend lots of time there each year, observing and sketching the inmates. The highlight of the place for me is the Small Animals Building, which houses a good collection of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. There is a central tropical atrium that houses numerous species of free-flight birds, where I led hordes of kids from the City School District in a wildlife art instruction program last fall (below).

For the past dozen years, Hogle Zoo has organized an exhibition of animal art called World of the Wild, that features about 100 pieces of sculpture and flatwork, much of it very good. This year, the director, Jameson Weston, decided to spotlight a featured artist, and I'm happy to report that the honor has fallen to me. If you're in the Salt Lake area, consider dropping by for the opening reception tomorrow (Friday), February 9th, from 7 until 9pm. (UPDATE: Oops!! I've just been notified that you need an invitation to get into the reception tomorrow--sorry!) The zoo won't even charge admission that evening (though I may jump the fence just for old-time's sake). In addition to the work by other Utah artists, ten paintings of mine will be on display, including the original of the poster image shown above, depicting a Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata) and Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis). Incidentally, both animals represent the forms of their species found on the little island of Nosy Mangabé, off the northeast coast of Madagascar. I'll also have a few copies of my book on hand. Come by tomorrow and have me sign one for you...or at least have me sign a poster. I might even spike your lemonade for you. The exhibit will continue through April 1, and can be viewed during regular zoo hours.
upper: poster featuring BLACK & WHITE RUFFED LEMUR & PANTHER CHAMELEON (2007) acrylic 18" x 24"
lower: photograph by Suzanne Grow


Blogger naturegirl said...

Wish I could come and see you!! Have a good time.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ROAD TRIP! Damn, I wish I could be there with you. Some day it will happen, but I'm afraid for now all I can say is congratulations and have a great time. Beautiful painting on the poster. The attitude and curiosity of the lemur are wonderfully drawn and nobody does reptiles like you.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Neil said...

Congrats on the well-deserved recognition Carel! That bottom photo reminds me that I have to send along some scanned copies of Rigor Vitae inspired work some of my students made last summer. "Gripping Tail" and "Call of the Monsoon" were especially popular. One neer-do-well even tried to rip out one of the day gecko pages when I wasn't looking!

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This crap is the best they can do for a featured artist? How pathetic.
A real artist

7:51 PM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

Naturegirl: Thanks, Vikki! i fully intend to.
Carl: Thanks, Carl. It's a real honor to get praise from such a master.
Neil: Thanks to you. I'd love to see those drawings!
Mystery commenter: Well, what do you expect? The real artists were apparently all busy pouting.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Kudos to the zoo for a wonderful exhibit idea and for selecting you as the featured artist this year. I wish I could have made it over there today (from Boise) - I will try to make it before the exhibit closes in April. Congratulations.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Wonderful poster. Also nice to hear about the wildlife art program that you led last fall.

6:53 PM  

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