Join us on Saturday March 10, 2018 at 3 pm for a free illustrated lecture and book signing by Paul and Alan Singer on their new book Arthur Singer: The Wildlife Art of an American Master. Arthur Singer emerged in the 1950’s as one of the world’s finest illustrators and painters of birds and helped redefine the concept of the bird guide with his 1966 release, The Golden Field Guide to Birds of North America. The lecture will be followed by a book signing. Light refreshments will be served. Before and after the event visitors can enjoy an exhibit of 11 selected works of art and field guide illustrations by Arthur Singer on display at the museum.
We are thrilled to have a guest post by the amazingly talented artist Sherrie York. She will be visiting the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon between July 28 to July 30 to display her art, lead several programs, and give an illustrated talk about her printmaking. She will be doing a workshop with our summer camp on July 28th, giving an illustrated talk and reception for her artwork on July 29th, and giving an all day printmaking workshop on July 30th.
Home and Away by Sherrie York
Travel and art-making have often gone hand-in-hand. (Or perhaps that’s brush-in-hand.) John Singer Sargent’s watercolors of Morocco revealed an intriguing faraway culture. John James Audubon’s journeys recorded North America’s flora and fauna and Albert Bierstadt’s romantic western landscapes helped inspire the first national parks.
I enjoy travel, too, and will be traveling from my Colorado stomping grounds to MABA this summer. In July I will exhibit some of my linoleum block prints in the estate house and present both a printmaking workshop and presentation about my work. Of course it doesn’t always take a passport, a suitcase, or a new frontier to find subject matter. Familiar places close to home are inspiring, too.
This is Sands Lake. It’s a scruffy little body of water next to the Arkansas River in the town of Salida, where I live. They call it a lake, but it’s really a settling pond for the fish hatchery upstream. Water flows from hatchery to lake via underground culverts, then spills out the far bank in to the river.
During the day the trail around the lake is filled with fishing enthusiasts, dog-walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and birders. More than one elicit teenager party has taken place there after dark. Pristine, exotic wilderness it’s not.
But for me this humble corner provides a wealth of inspiration and stories year-round, and no small number of linocuts, too.
Pas de Ducks: All year
At the upriver end of the lake, next to the inflow culvert, is a concrete fishing pier. The remains of cliff swallow nests were still attached when it was installed, a good indicator of its provenance as repurposed bridge. Hopeful mallards congregate below the pier looking for handouts, and from my elevated vantage point I enjoy watching the tracery they create in the reflection of the railing.
Forget the robin as a harbinger of spring! Local birders know that spring migrants begin to appear weeks before the pelicans turn up at the lake, but their sheer size and brilliant whiteness assure that even the most bird-ambivalent will notice this sign of winter’s demise.
Three species of bluebird are present in the area around the lake, but the mountain bluebird’s cobalt shimmer and soft call is the most common. Bluebird enthusiasts abound, too, as evidenced by nest boxes peppering the edges of yards, pastures, and the municipal golf course. Of course tree swallows don’t know they aren’t the intended occupants…
Coot du Jour: Autumn through Spring
Like mushrooms after rain, American coots sprout on the surface of the lake in early autumn. The antics of 70 or 80 over-wintering birds amuse me until spring, but before the trees have finished leafing out they are gone. I never see them arrive, and I never see them leave.
No Time Like the Present: Winter
Winter is the time for waterfowl on Sands Lake. Because so much water moves through from the hatchery the lake remains open even in the coldest days of winter. Common and Barrow’s goldeneye, buffleheads, scaup, wigeon, and more fill the lake with noise and motion and offer consolation for the absence of warblers and swallows.
On Saturday, October 24th at 3pm at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, Barry Van Dusen will give an illustrated lecture on his latest and most ambitious Artist-in-Residency project yet: during a 22-month period, Barry will visit at least 45 Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries, producing drawings and paintings at each location.
Barry is currently about halfway through the project, having visited 23 properties and produced over 50 watercolors, traveling more than 1,000 miles around the state from the foothills of the Berkshires to the Upper Cape.
In this one-hour illustrated talk, Barry will share stories and paintings from his previous residencies, and describe his Artist-in-Residency project at Mass Audubon.
You’ll hear about his adventures exploring Mass Audubon properties all around the state, and learn more about the approach Barry uses to meet the demands and challenges of working on location. A selection of the original watercolors he has produced for the project will be on temporary display. Learn more about the lecture
Barry has a long association with Mass Audubon as an illustrator for our publications for nearly 30 years. Beyond his remarkable illustration work, he has established himself as an internationally recognized fine artist focusing on the natural world and most often birds.
Barry brings this rich experience to the task of capturing compelling natural history moments at Mass Audubon’s treasured sanctuaries. Fellow artist James Coe says, “Barry Van Dusen’s paintings are among the most original works being created today. Every perfect
gesture; each lively glint in a bird’s eye is there because Barry observed that in nature.”
The Museum of American Bird Art is excited to announce a free lecture by Deborah Cramer, author of A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey on Saturday, October 17th at 3:00 pm in our gallery. Book signing to follow the lecture. Click here for directions.
The Museum of the American Bird has on display (a generous loan from the estate of Dix Campbell) two beautiful and rare decoys of the red knot, a sandpiper that once frequented the southern coast of Massachusetts. Ornithologists once described this bird as representing “an untrammeled wildness and freedom that equaled by few and surpassed by none.”
In her new book, The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey, Deborah Cramer follows the knot along its extraordinary 19,000 mile annual migration, tracking birds on remote windswept beaches along the Strait of Magellan, and into the icy tundra where it nests.
She follows them in Delaware Bay, where at the new and full moon of spring’s highest tides, she finds the world’s greatest concentration of horseshoe crabs, whose eggs fuel shorebird migration and whose blue blood safeguards human health. The red knot, newly listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, its existence threatened by global warming, has become the twenty-first century’s “canary in the coal mine.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer-winning author of The Sixth Extinction, wrote that The Narrow Edge is “at once an intimate portrait of the small red knot and a much larger exploration of our wondrous, imperiled world.” National Geographic Conservation Fellow Tom Lovejoy wrote that Cramer’s account is “more thrilling than the Kentucky Derby.”
Join Cramer to follow the birds’ odyssey, and to explore what’s at stake for millions of shorebirds.