Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Friday, June 12, 2009


Today, Saturday, June 13th, The Bennington Center for the Arts will host the opening of their annual exhibition of animal art, Art of the Animal Kingdom. This year's Special Guest Artist is the newly-Canadianized Terry Isaac who will give a presentation at 11 in the morning. It promises to be entertaining and enlightening, but that's just too early for me. The exhibition,which is accompanied by a full-colored catalog, runs through July 26th.
illustration: RUFFED LEMUR & PANTHER CHAMELEON (2007) acrylic 18" x 24"


Back in 1988, when I decided to try to make it as an animal painter, my work had never been shown in public and I was as ignorant of the outside world of wildlife art as it was of me. The task of changing that reality seemed daunting, but I had a secret weapon at my disposal. Wildlife Art News was a bi-monthly periodical that featured articles about artists, exhibitions and the natural world. Like most of its ilk, it was almost offensively shy about being offensively denigrating, but I couldn't have asked for a better window through which to peer and plan my attack. New clues to understanding this world were offered with each issue and myriad opportunities for the aspiring wildlife artist were enumerated before me. Before long, the whole staff became good friends, both professionally and personally. Without the nice coverage they gave my work, I would likely be scrubbing urinals instead of typing this post. In the early oughts, the publisher, Bob Koenke, retired and sold the magazine, which moved from being a labor of love to one of commerce, and ultimately mailed out its final issue in the summer of '07.

After nearly two years of absence, frequent Wildlife Art News contributor Todd Wilkinson has launched an online journal to fill its vacant niche. Todd, whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, etc., and has published a number of books, including Science Under Siege, expects this new publication, WILDLIFE ART JOURNAL, to be broader in scope than was its predecessor. He hopes to showcase more iconoclastic artwork from artists working in every part of the globe. So far, it appears to be off to a nice start.
illustration: LANJAK DAWN (2009) acrylic 20" x 30"