Lord Of The Forest

So, I finally photographed the piece I finished about 3 weeks ago.  I made the mistake of using this matte fixative to try and make it a little more resistant to scratches and fingerprints and it gave the whole thing a cloudy light reflective quality that made it impossible to photograph inside using lamp light and my work schedule made it hard to photograph during sunlit hours.
Anyyyyyyyhow this was done as a donation for the Countdown to (En)danger group show this weekend. All proceeds benefit the World Wildlife Fund.  The focus is on endangered and threatened animals and ecosystems.  I decided to continue my focus on animals who are often overlooked in conservation and maybe seem less sympathetic because they are considered frightening or undesirable (snakes, bats, arachnids, insects, assorted wonderful creepies and crawlies, predatory animals etc).  I should probably note that I personally don't have an aversion or phobia of any animal beyond natural common sense fear when confronted with something frightened that could hurt me but I do have a few friends who can barely stand to look at snakes.  I asked a friend of mine who's into reptiles and amphibians to recommend some snakes to research and my favorite out of all of the ones he sent me was the Eastern Indigo.  They're absolutely beautiful all black snakes with a deep blue iridescent sheen. They also happen to be the longest North American Snakes and are completely non venomous BUT because of their immunity to Rattlesnake venom kill and eat Rattlesnakes (note: while researching this I learned that there is a word for this and it is "Ophiophagy"). There are some pretty amazing videos of it.

In Florida and Georgia they're threatened and in Alabama they're considered extirpated.  They're threatened for a number of reasons, first of which is a pretty much universal concern; loss of habitat.  They also have to travel as the seasons change to maintain the level of cover they need and with the expansion of human development they no longer have safe or clear paths to travel to get there.  Because of their attractive appearance and relatively docile demeanor they are commercially collected for the pet trade as well.  In winter months they also live in gopher tortoise burrows.  Because of human development resulting in loss of habitat and the truly disgusting practice of "gassing" to flush out rattlesnakes which involves rattlesnake hunters literally spraying gasoline vapor into burrows, many other animals who use these burrows are killed and the burrows are rendered toxic.  Among these animals is the Eastern Indigo.  The Gopher Tortoise is very threatened and as it dies off and loses habitat all of the other animals who depend on its burrows for shelter, breeding, and raising young will decline as well.  I thought this nicely illustrated the focus of the show and the ways in which every member of an ecosystem flourishes or perishes with the rest.  The coffin box with the symbolism of the egg is just a basic reflection on the natural cycle that's being interrupted all over the world.  A little bit of hope to cling to in the face of a whole lot of doom.

This was painted on a wooden box and it's about a 11 inches tall.  It'll be available at the opening along with a few prints of my 2009 painting of a Juvenile Bearded Vulture since it's one of the animals WWF focuses on.  It's rare for me to look at something I did a few years ago and still like it enough to put it in a show but I'm pretty fond of this one (though there are still things I'd do differently now). 
Come to the opening! And if you can't make it the show will be up all month!

October 13 6:00-8:00

B2 Cafe 1500 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

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