Have you heard of the book entitled The Birds of North America by a fellow named James John Audubon?
One highly coveted copy was auctioned off in March of 2000 to Qatar’s Sheikh Saud bin Muhammed Al Thani for 8.8 million dollars. The amount seems pretty pricy for any book, let alone one about the feathered and typically flighted.
However, The Birds of North America is perhaps, the most important and most renowned of contributions to nature writing and illustration for any natural history publication to date.
Audubon was not only a preeminent naturalist, but a very distinguished painter and the book may very well warrant a steep sales price! I recently discovered Mr. Audubon has some competition when it comes to painting birds, however, and from right here in Southern California.
I stepped into a gallery on Ventura Boulevard near Studio City the other day and was blown away by a painting of a cassowary, and the, perhaps, peculiar placement of several macaws on the back of the flightless bird. The painting jumped out at me because, I’m very wary of cassowaries, number one, and number two, the attention to detail rendered the image so real, it was unbelievable.
So I introduce some of the bird paintings of Matt Adrian with their accompanying titles, which have been collected in two volumes: “IT IS FOLLY TO ASSUME MY AWESOME LIES DORMANT: The Paintings of The Mincing Mockingbird” and “I HAVE HEARD MY PRAISES SUNG IN SCREAMS: The Paintings of The Mincing Mockingbird Volume II”.
Jordan Schaul: I saw several of your bird paintings, but can you describe the scope of what’s in your portfolio?
Matt Adrian: My work ranges from the delightfully cute to the decidedly sinister, much like nature itself.”
Jordan Schaul: Can you elaborate on the titles?
Matt Adrian: The titles add a dimension to the artwork and are sometimes as important as what’s on the canvas The titles of the paintings sometimes comment on what is pictured, and sometimes the titles are non-sequiturs, and sometimes they deal directly with man’s impact on nature, something that very much underpins my work. The contrast between the more frivolous aspects of modern daily life placed against the very real destruction not only of habitat, but of beautiful, irreplaceable creatures is something I’m always exploring.
Jordan Schaul: Can you tell me a bit about your interest in bird conservation?
Matt Adrian: Bird conservation is extremely important to me. Currently I have a show of paintings up (“Pelagic Paintings”) at the Audubon’s Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland, Maine. Half of the proceeds of painting sales go toward this important program. It means a lot to me to be able to use my artwork to directly help this program dedicated to restoring seabird diversity.