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Looking at Audubon

Friday, September 23, 2011

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled nothingness (in which you wait until Sunday morning for the next post while I eat bonbons on the couch) for a full-on Zick Alert. Perhaps you'll recall last September when I went to visit the New-York Historical Society to view some original watercolors by John James Audubon. I did a bunch of posts (here's one on the wood ducks, and a cool one on the red-tailed hawks) on the marvels revealed there, and expounded on what Audubon's art has meant to me.

 Dale Zickefoose, 58, and a 12-year-old Zick looking at a sheaf of Audubon prints he got for me, ca. 1970. 
Photo by Dan Kemp.

This post's to let you know that there's a 6-minute video expertly produced by Richard Hendrick for WNET-13, which shows curator Roberta Olson hauling out Audubon's watercolor paintings for an astonished and delighted Zick. I'm beside myself to see our segment used as the lead for this wonderful series, in which important and iconic American paintings are explored in depth by experts in the field. Click here for the video.

Audubon's amazing immature red-shouldered hawk, hitting a covey of bobwhite. Yikes! Hope you enjoy the video!


Awesome video! I loved your reaction when she first opened or uncovered one of the paintings.

I've always been amazed at the sheer number of Audubon biographies to come out in recent times. Thanks for a vivid reminder of why, even with all the incredible naturalists and bird artists who followed, he still remains such an iconic figure.

Loved the video. Thanks for including the link in your blog entry.

Julie, I had always wondered why Audubon chose that odd posture for the flamingo - now I understand!

This may be a question with an obvious answer to some, but if you were to recommend a book with his paintings reproduced, what would that be?
I just love these paintings. Really liked the video also.

That was wonderful.
I'm so glad your dad infected you with those prints as a kid.
We are all the richer for it.

Very much enjoyed the video. Thank you for sharing it. Question: Has seeing the original Audubon artworks had any effect on your watercolors in the last year?

Posted by Debra Lloyd September 23, 2011 at 1:00 PM

OMG, OMG!!! How cool was that!! You must be thrilled!!! Can I use any more exclamation marks??!!

Seriously, incredible video. The photo of you in your studio with Charlie actually made me tear up a bit...

When I was teaching I was fortunate to have those prints to teach with. So much fun to see you reacting to the originals. What a privilege for us to see you and the prints as I remember you talking about them.

Wow! Thanks for sharing. That is awesome. I had the opportunity to visit Blakley Plantation in St. Francisville, La. where he produced about 32 of these paintings. He was there approx. 4 months and according to records taught the daughter Eliza Gray to draw.
I remember the bed he supposedly slept in while there was very small. The woods around there are magnificient. Most folks in La. have Audubon reproductions in them homes.
Loved your reactions to the colors and the works.
tammy in Al.

That was so cool! I remember studying about him in grade school. At the time we lived in a bird sactuary in willoughby Hills, Ohio. (The name escapes me...) It still is a sanctuary. I was fascinated with him.

I wonder if you (or others reading here) have read Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. It is a book (in part) about the influence of Audubon's art on a young person.

Really enjoyed the video. Can't believe how the brilliant colors have survived after all these years. I'm gaining a new appreciation for Audubon. Thank you.

What a delight. Thank you for sharing this and for your work in general. I've been following your blog for a few months now and as a bird photographer and aspiring naturalist, I find your insights to be inspiring and often revelatory.

Even at 12 you knew, didn't you?

Had to watch. So very cool to watch you, as both birder and artist, appreciating his work. Loved the clip.

About to go check that video, but want to say already how great is that picture of you with your father looking at the Audubon.

-- Nick

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