Paintings in the Series: Urban Habitat (Big Animals in the Big City)
I began a series of very large abstract work (using recycled doors as “canvases”) in 2002. These tended to have a hard-edged, urban “tone” although there were no cities, buildings or cars as such. The next year I painted a large piece for the Burlington airport which actually depicted animals as well as buildings and cars. That painting, titled “Field Trip” was the progenitor for the recent series of paintings that is entitled: “Expect Delays”.
The paintings in this series depict wild animals in urban environments -- a lion in a traffic jam, etc. The situation is absurd of course. It is equally absurd, I think, to believe I that the minuscule islands of habitat that remain available for wild animals are adequate homes for them.
I am particularly shocked by the impossible demands on migrating animals that. Where can they land? Where can they find refuge?
The gorillas, lions, rhinos, narwhals, warthogs - are passing through the “urban jungle”. They show up as very unusual pedestrians on very busy streets or perhaps they are stranded on a bit of grass or water in an otherwise completely hardened, urban situation. Sure, there are animals that can thrive in cities with humans – the pigeons, the rats, the dogs and the cats. And of course there is the stray moose or two that wanders down Main Street. And recently the famous hawk and his mate who have settled into NYC’s Central Park. Then there are the release programs for wolves, condors and falcons in hopes they can survive in a habitat shared by humans. Most wild animals, though, have crawled far away from humans to find some peace and refuge in remnants of forests and swamp s. On these canvases I depict my fantasies of animals appearing in cities , pushed there as their natural habitats are invaded by humans. Cities will be what is all that is left for them…so they had just better adapt...and there they are -- calmly crossing the downtown streets. So I guess we had better expect a few traffic jams and a few delays!
The rhinos, elephants and gorillas that inhabit my paintings can be easily identified but I’m not sure most people will recognize the blue birds flying high above the city traffic. They are Spix's macaws - circling just above the jaws of extinction. There are only a few left and all remain in captivity. One male survived for 10 years in a remote portion of the Brazilian rainforest. There were several attempts to release willing female Spix's macaws in his vicinity but he never mated with them. So, except for those in the zoos, Spix’s macaws have departed this world.