14 November 2006
Citizen Bird back at CLO!
The Citizen Bird illustrations are back on the walls at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology observatory. Through the tireless work of my friend Charles Eldermire, a selection of these fabulous grayscale paintings have made their way back into the public eye. Come check them out on ths walls of the Macaulay Alcove gallery, just left of the Bartel's theater in the northwest corner of the CLO observatory. Here are two of my favorites to take a look at. Come visit and see them in person if you can!
Illustrating the children's book Citizen Bird was Louis Agassiz Fuertes first major commission. While still a senior at Cornell University he produced 108 illustrations for Citizen Bird in only eight months (1896-1897). Many of the illustrations appearing in this book were later reprinted in Birdcraft, a field guide by Mabel Osgood Wright. I wish I remembered all of the details of the fantastic story of how these original paintings came to the CLO, but the sketch involves their discovery from the trash pile in the basement of a publishing house. A man that worked there, not acting with any knowledge of the artworks importance or relevance rescued them based simply on his fondness for birds.