Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Friday, August 29, 2008


Tomorrow afternoon will see the opening of wildlife art's premiere annual event. Art and the Animal is the main touring exhibition of the NYC-based Society of Animal Artists, an organization dedicated to promoting excellence in the field of animal art. This year, the juried show will open at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Doors open at 1:30pm, and David Wagner, PhD will give a lecture at 2pm, and will be available to hawk his fine new book. I was actually scheduled to speak (an activity I find terrifying) at a Lawrence University symposium in conjunction with the show, but got a last-minute reprieve. The opening night dinner will be held at the KI Convention Center (wherever that is) beginning at 5pm, where the awards, including the society's highest honor, the Award of Excellence, will be announced.

The show runs at the Neville through November 2nd. The tour itinerary goes something like this:
- November 22, 2008 - February 15, 2009: The Wildlife Experience, Parker, CO
- March 15 to April or May 15, 2009: Dunnegan Gallery Of Art, Bolivar, MO
- May 30 - July 5, 2009: Cultural Arts Council Of Estes Park Fine Art Gallery, Estes Park, CO
- July 18 - August 30, 2009: San Angelo Museum Of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas
illustration: CRASH-BARRIER WALTZER (2005) acrylic 30" x 22"

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Now that I'm back from the reptile expo in Florida, I offer a few photographic highlights. Fay made her way through Daytona before I arrived, and the weather over all was quite nice. I saw lots of old friends and made a number of new ones. Especially nice were my first-time meetings with the wonderful British artist Tell Hicks and the well-known India-based herpetologist Romulus Whitaker. Special thanks to Wayne Hill, the expo director, for making the event what it is and for just being a deeply gracious guy, and to Fred Ryder for his hard work organizing the art show. The work of eight different artists was represented there, including one of my favorites, the Québécoise Patricia Pepin. Also on hand was Ron, a sand sculptor from Orlando, who, despite knowing very little about reptiles, managed to create a sharp-looking Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) during the show (bottom). I was able to sell out of books and posters and even stay fairly sober during the weekend.

All photos taken by CPBvK in Daytona, FL 8-2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Well, I'm off for the National Reptile Breeders' Expo. I'll post a few photographs here next week, unless the rains sweep me out to sea, in which case you can say that Fay Done away with me.
illustration: FLY RIVER TURTLE (2006) acrylic 18" x 24"

Monday, August 18, 2008


Among the hoi polloi, Daytona Beach is famous as a playground for well-heeled undergrads--but this time of year the August sands can sear those heels beyond recognition, and Daytona is better suited as a gathering-place for ectotherms. This weekend, Daytona Beach will host the annual National Reptile Breeders' Expo, the world's largest reptile meeting. As usual, there will be scads of unusual captive-bred reptiles and amphibians being bought, sold and traded, and it promises to be a good opportunity to see some of the latest bizarre mutants as well as the latest technology for breeding herps and keeping them in good health, not to mention plenty of interesting tattoos and piercings. This year's symposia will cover the topics of Turtles and Tortoises (with Wayne Hill, Russ Gurley, Oliver Roempp and Ray Ashton) and Blood and Carpet Pythons (with Dave & Tracy Barker, Kamuran Tepedelen, Anthony Caponetto, Ryan Norris, Kara Glasgow and Will Bird).
Cold-Blooded Creations, an exhibition of herp-oriented fine art, has been held in conjunction with the expo for several years now, and this year is no exception. I'll have several pieces there, and will be painting on-site and signing books, so if you're in the neighborhood, stop by and say hi.
illustration: BLACK-HEADED PYTHON & BEARDED DRAGON (1994) acrylic 18" x 24"

Friday, August 08, 2008


Department of Defense spokesman Buck Turgidson announced this morning that the popular “enhanced interrogation” method of waterboarding® will be abandoned in favor of forcing detainees to carry midgets for prolonged periods (above). “We're sorry to lose waterboarding from our toolbox,” Turgidson said, “it was cheap, effective, and didn't require any fancy training to apply. We were really proud of the term, too. It tested well with focus groups. It's happy and light; it sounds like something the Beach Boys would sing about. Sadly, though, it's become misunderstood to the point of being counter-productive. We've worked hard to find an equally persuasive method, and I think this one may work even better for us.” Responding to suggestions that testimony from tortured individuals might be unreliable, Turgidson said, “We're not worried about learning the truth, we know that already. It's confirmation that's the key. Without enhanced interrogation we could never have seen the spectacular war crimes conviction earlier this week of Salim Hamden. It was on the questioning rack that we confirmed his participation in elite Al-Qaeda training camps, studying advanced methods of double-clutching and parallel parking.”

Turgidson feels confident that midget-carrying will become an important part of America's War on Terror®. “We're testing new jargon already. Among the favorite proposals are 'Lilliput Loading®' and 'The Dwarf Derby®'.”

photograph by David Guttenfelder, AP swiped from the LA Times