Arthur Singer: An American Master
Presented by our Mission Support Partner: MID PENN BANK
January 2019-August 2019
By Paul Singer
Arthur Singer’s (1917-1990) career embodied a place where art and science could meet on equal terms and flourish. The timing was right for this American artist who grew up by coincidence on Audubon Avenue in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan in the early 20th century. Singer mastered his skills to describe the reality of nature, but he did not develop his reputation as an artist overnight: that came gradually with a procession of books, prints, and even postage stamps.
From a very young age Arthur was attracted to drawing and painting animals and birds and by the time he was in his teens he had already begun to sell his artwork. A few years after graduating from The Cooper Union, he had his first solo exhibition hosted by The Bronx Zoo’s Heads and Horns Museum – it was 1942 and World War ll was underway. Arthur had met and married Judy (Edith) Goulfine who was a gifted artist studying at The Cooper Union, and then came the day that the U.S. Army came calling…
The concept of camouflage was invented in the first years of the 20th century by another bird artist, Abbot Thayer based on his observations of protective coloration in nature. During World War ll, Arthur Singer joined a battalion of men, later dubbed “The Ghost Army”, and they used camouflage and other methods of deception to deter and mislead our enemy. Toward the later part of World War ll when they were deployed, their efforts proved successful. The men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops included artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, the photographer Art Kane, and fashion designer Bill Blass as well as sound engineers, theatre people and the future bird artist, Arthur Singer.
Once the war was over, Arthur returned to New York to start a family, with a salaried job in an advertising agency, while at night and on weekends he would practice his painting. To succeed with wildlife art it was a necessity to be outdoors and be able to identify the flora and fauna. Singer had studied examples by American wildlife artists Louis Agassiz Fuertes and John James Audubon, and he had also made friends with ornithologists like Roger Tory Peterson, John Bull and Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy who had set standards for the study of birds in the wild. Arthur wanted to paint portraits of all the birds to be found in the United States aware of the plight of some species, like the Ivory Billed Woodpecker that had recently gone extinct. This was an urgent mission made more palpable when Arthur completed his books: “Birds of the World” and “Birds of North America”, published by Golden Press in the early 1960’s.
Arthur worked with ornithologists who checked his artwork for accuracy and he became a member of the AOU or American Ornithologists Union. When he was making paintings of birds he used his considerable skills as a designer to create a beautiful layout of pages for his books bringing into play light and shadow and a strong concept of form for each bird. Arthur studied in the wild, he took his paints along with his camera when he went off on his many trips, to national parks and distant lands. He paid close attention to the environment in which he places his subjects.
Today, if an artist were to paint a picture of a bird in flight, he or she might refer to a video of the bird and freeze the frame to get a better idea of the attitude and placement of feathers and forms. In my Singer’s studio, he relied on his knowledge and his studies made from life to compose his paintings. Visitors to our show will find a good example of this in a painting of a Golden Eagle flying over sage brush in the southwest. Arthur had painted watercolor studies in Utah and Arizona of the background to supplement his artwork.
During the 1960s Arthur Singer produced illustrations for his field guides to the United States, and for Britain and Europe, and they helped to bring about a change to a more naturalistic way of looking at and identifying birds in the wild. “Birds of the World” had been translated into eight languages and was brought out in a second edition. Many of Singer’s illustrations were painted in gouache on paper or board, while his larger paintings on canvas were usually painted in oils or acrylics. The illustrations for books had a certain factual style while the paintings on canvas were more open to the exploration of the medium he chose.
Singer and his wife were both active as artists taking the family to galleries and museums from a very early age. Many family trips were also to national parks with hikes in the Grand Tetons or out along the coast of Maine.
In the early 1980s Singer’s eldest son, Paul, worked with his father on a series of very popular postage stamps that featured the birds and flowers of the fifty states. Arthur painted the birds while Paul was responsible for doing the flowers. They sat next to each other and designed each of the stamps and produced finished art – one for each week that they worked on this project, until they were able to deliver the full set of fifty. Hundreds of millions of these stamps were printed and sold, making their collaborative artwork one of the bestselling series to be issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
Singer passed away in 1990 but never lost his love for art, jazz or birds.
Working Together Through Time: The Game Commission and Ned Smith
October 2018 – January 2019
Throughout his prolific career, Ned Smith enjoyed a collaborative relationship with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. He worked as a staff illustrator for the agency, creating over 120 cover paintings for Pennsylvania Game News magazine. Ned also produced several of the Game Commission’s “Working Together for Wildlife” prints, including the classic “Dutch Country Bluebirds. The Center’s current exhibit, Gone for the Day: Ned Smith and the Pennsylvania Game Commission celebrates the legendary partnership between Ned Smith and the PGC.
This exhibit pairs Ned’s Original works with their finished covers. It also features many artifacts, posters and fliers from the Pennsylvania Game Commission as well. This exhibit is truly a blend of Ned, his work and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
National Geographic’s Photo Ark
April 2018 – August 2018
Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark is a remarkable project attracting global attention, including a three-part television series (“RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark”) that aired last year on PBS. Drawing on more than 25,000 of Sartore’s images of captive animals from around the world — from tiny insects to elephants and great apes — it makes stunningly plain the consequences of the ongoing extinction crisis. Sartore himself will be at the Center for several events during the annual Nature and Arts Festival on Saturday, July 28.
This will be the second time that Sartore, a National Geographic Fellow and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine, has brought himself and his work to the Center. In 2010, his “Fragile Nature” exhibit was featured in the Olewine Gallery, and he addressed a packed auditorium in Harrisburg.
The Photo Ark was born out of a family crisis when Sartore’s wife, Kathy, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Remaining home in Lincoln, Neb., to care for her and their three children, Sartore began photographing animals in the local zoo, using a stark white or black background to force the viewer to focus on the creature — an approach, he quickly realized, that had an incredible visual impact. Kathy fully recovered, and in the more than 10 years since then, Joel has made it his goal to photograph all roughly 12,000 species held in human care, from tiny fish and salamanders to big cats, birds and rare frogs. The Photo Ark now encompasses nearly 8,000 species, and Sartore estimates it will take another 10 or 15 years — a full quarter-century since the start — for him to reach his goal.
In the meantime, the Ark has proven to be a powerful tool for conveying the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Many of the animals in his photographs look straight into the lens — straight into the viewer’s eyes — in a way that all but demands an emotional connection. Photo Ark collections travel the world, not only in gallery rooms but sometimes at the scale of cities; images from the collection have been projected, hundreds of feet high, on the sides of the Empire State Building and the Vatican.
Some of his subjects are already gone. In 2008, Sartore photographed “Bryn,” the last remaining Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, whose death doomed her species to extinction. Likewise for “Toughie,” the last Rabb’s fringe-limbed tree frog from Panama, which died in 2016, seven years after he was photographed for the Photo Ark.
“It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity,” Sartore often says. “When we save species, we’re actually saving ourselves.”
Exhibits from September 2015 to April 2018 coming soon!
Reflections: The Art of Tom Duran, Jr.
March 22 – August 24, 2015
“Reflections: The Art of Tom Duran, Jr.” was a retrospective exhibit of Tom Duran’s work with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission – where he served as staff illustrator for twelve years – and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, where he worked as a taxidermist and artist.
PFBC loaned the Center over thirty of Duran’s illustrations of fish, amphibians and reptiles; and Duran’s legendary carvings of extinct birds of North America are on loan from CMNH, which commissioned them in the early 1990s. This exhibit was the first time the carvings were exhibited outside of CMNH.
In cooperation with the Woodson Art Museum
October 12, 2013 – March 15, 2014
Owls are magnificent creatures with exceptional characteristics. Their distinctive attributes – yellow eyes that enable keen vision used to hunt at dawn and dusk; peculiar facial discs that direct sound to ears on the sides of their heads; unique feather structure that allows nearly silent flight; and more – make them ideal subjects for artistic interpretation.
“Only Owls” brings together artworks in pencil, charcoal, ink, watercolor, and woodcut drawn from the Woodson Art Museum’s collection. Each artwork provides insight into the fascinating world of owls and demonstrates a variety of stylistic approaches by thirty artists, including Leonard Baskin, Arthur Singer, Don Richard Eckelberry, Tony Angell, and Bart Walter.
Bob Hines: National Wildlife Artist
March 16- September 1, 2013
Ohio native Bob Hines became America’s only officially designated “National Wildlife Artist” – the staff artist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose illustrations of birds, game mammals and sport fish graced government publications for decades, and who oversaw the federal Duck Stamp program for more than 30 years.
Hines also illustrated many books, including Rachel Carson’s importable “The Edge of the Sea.”
This exhibit is drawn from the archives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Conservation Training Center, as well as private collections, notably that of Hines biographer John Juriga, whose book “Bob Hines: National Wildlife Artist” will be available in the center’s gift shop.
Wild Places, Wild Life, Wild Art
October 13, 2012 – March 9, 2013
Since the invention of inexpensive color printing in the mid-1800s, posters — that most ubiquitous and inexpensive of media — have been uniquely suited to combine eye-catching art with powerful messages.
By the 1960s and ‘70s, burgeoning public outrage over rampant pollution, and growing concern about the loss of wildlife and wild places, brought the modern environmental movement into being — at the same time that posters were rediscovered as a hugely popular medium.
Starting in the 1960s, posters were embraced by conservation organizations and resource agencies anxious to bring their message of protection, appreciation and preservation to the public. By bringing together stunning photography, gorgeous artwork and a strong conservation theme, posters have for half a century or more inspired and educated the public about wildlife, natural landscapes and environmental themes.
Wild Places, Wild Life, Wild Art assembles for the first time some of the most dramatic and beautiful examples of conservation posters from across the United States and Canada — a breathtaking array whose subjects range from crayfish and butterflies to birds and wildflowers; fungi and minerals to mammals, snakes and entire ecosystems, and selected from hundreds of posters from across North America.
March 24 – September 15, 2012
“11 years old and willing to help” is how Olivia Bouler described herself to the National Audubon Society when she contacted them about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010. An aspiring ornithologist, Olivia wept when she heard about the spill, and was determined to find a way to help the many birds of that region. “I am a decent drawer,” she wrote, “and I was wondering if I could sell some bird paintings and give the profits to your organization.”
Olivia raised over $200,000 for Gulf oil spill relief, and has been recognized as the ASPCA’s 2010 Kid of the Year, Audubon’s 2011 Artist Inspiring Conservation, and a Champion of Change by the White House.
The Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art is proud to partner with the Bouler family to present the first-ever exhibition of Olivia’s original bird paintings in its Olewine Gallery, with hopes of the exhibit traveling to museums and galleries nationwide.
Jerome P. Connolly: Master Muralist
August 20, 2011 – March 17, 2012
Jerome P. Connolly: Master Muralist featured dozens of paintings and drawings by the Shamokin Dam artist, who has created more than 125 diorama murals in 35 museums in the U.S., Canada and Taiwan, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the William Penn Museum in Harrisburg, the Oakes Museum in Grantham, PA, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the George C. Page Museum in Los Angeles, and the Vanderbilt Museum in New York.
Born and educated in Minnesota, he began his career on the staff of the Illinois State Museum in Springfield and the Natural Science for Youth Foundation in Westport, CT, painting diorama backgrounds. He began a freelance career in 1965, working closely with such renowned artists as Francis Lee Jaques, developing a knack for bringing such locales as an Amazonian jungle or a Pennsylvania woodland into museums.
Connolly is also a productive freelancer, having illustrated 16 books and countless magazine covers and articles over the years.
The exhibit includes murals, field studies and sketches, illustrations and many of Connolly’s large easel paintings of landscapes and wildlife. It will also include works by Connolly’s late wife, Elma Troutman Connolly, was his artistic partner for decades (and whom he met when they were both hired in 1973 to paint a mural at the William Penn Museum) as well as their children and grandchildren, who collaborated with them on many murals.
Gone for the Day: Ned Smith and the Pennsylvania Game Commission
January 15 – August 13, 2011
Throughout his prolific career, Ned Smith enjoyed a collaborative relationship with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. He worked as a staff illustrator for the agency, creating over 120 cover paintings for Pennsylvania Game News magazine. In the 1960s he began a monthly column he dubbed “Gone for the Day” that proved to be enduringly popular. The column ran for four years, and in 1971 was republished in book form, and is currently in its eleventh printing. Ned also produced several of the Game Commission’s “Working Together for Wildlife” prints, including the classic “Dutch Country Bluebirds.”
The Center’s current exhibit, Gone for the Day: Ned Smith and the Pennsylvania Game Commission celebrates the legendary partnership between Ned Smith and the PGC. Many rarely-exhibited pieces from the Center’s own collection are on display, as well as loans from a wide variety of sources.
Some of the exhibit’s most exciting loans come from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where Ned Smith’s widow, Marie, donated all of his field journals and thousands of field sketches shortly after Smith’s death in 1985. Most of these items have never been displayed publicly until this exhibition!
Featuring loans from:
Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
Bill and Rosemary Buffington
Frank Felbaum and Jim Benson
Pennsylvania Game Commission
Blair and Candis Trogner
Exhibit proudly sponsored by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Andy Goldsworthy: Moments in Time
June 19, 2010 – January 8, 2011
Andy Goldsworthy carves, melts, or otherwise shapes various natural elements into impressive, often temporary works of art around the globe in what is known as “land art.” This Scottish visionary uses only snow, stone, wood, water, mud, flower petals, and other natural materials to construct his works, which have ranged from frozen arches at the North Pole to a seven-foot-long chain of red poppy petals.
Moments in Time features loans from art collectors Joel and Sherry Mallin of New York City, who have earned a place in ARTnews magazine’s “200 Top Collectors” list for their magnificent collections of contemporary art. Other items were graciously loaned by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; and Galerie Lelong in New York City.
The exhibit also features an ongoing screening of the documentary “Rivers and Tides.” The film, directed by German director Thomas Riedelscheimer, chronicles Goldsworthy’s creative process over a year-long period. “Rivers and Tides” is shown with permission from Roxie Releasing.
White clay and seawater / poured over rock / turned grey / after high tide / remade with red clay / Martha’s Vineyard / August 2005
(c) Andy Goldsworthy, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York NY
Joel Sartore’s Fragile Nature
January 30 – June 13, 2010
In over a dozen years taking pictures for National Geographic Magazine, Joel Sartore has seen the world’s most beautiful and threatened places and animals. Fragile Nature showcases the rare and wild from the far reaches of South America to the back yards of Lincoln, Nebraska.
In Sartore’s words:
“First we had a need to tame the wilderness. Now we need to conserve it.
The frontiers are mostly gone now, and so is our connection to the land. No generation has ever been as far removed from the natural world as we are today. Many of us live in air conditioning and sit at computers all day. We see wildlife only on TV and in zoos. For some of us, Mother Nature is no more important than the need for an umbrella on a rainy day.
But we are all in this together. We’re just now realizing that what’s good for nature is good for humanity. In contrast, we live in a society that values competition so highly that the ‘us vs. them’ mentality is hard to ignore. It’s time to think of nature as a benefactor, not an adversary.”
Ned Smith: Winter Colors
December 22, 2009 – January 23, 2010
The Ned Smith Center proudly returned to its roots for this Olewine Gallery exhibit, Ned Smith: Winter Colors.
African Game Trails
June 27 – December 19, 2009
In March 1909, barely more than a week after stepping down as president, Theodore Roosevelt embarked on a grueling, nine-month expedition to Africa. Roosevelt chronicled the experience in his bestseller, African Game Trails, which ignited American interest in Africa and the romance of the safari.
A lifelong hunter and naturalist, Roosevelt had all but created the notion of a federal conservation program. He established the national wildlife refuge system; created the U.S. Forest Service and set aside 150 national forests; and preserved dozens of national parks and monuments. He also helped found the Boone and Crockett Club to preserve dwindling game herds.
The 1909 African expedition was also a way for Roosevelt to avoid the temptation to meddle in politics after he left office. Although he considered expeditions to Alaska and Newfoundland, a conversation with famed explorer and museum specialist Carl Akeley convinced him that Africa should be his destination.
The expedition traversed British East Africa, the Belgian Congo and Sudan, making a sweeping collection of the wildlife of the region for Akeley’s American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Smithsonian Institution. Roosevelt’s porters carried more than four tons of salt with which to treat the hides.
T.R. also took enormous risks in the process, facing down charging elephants, or rhinos like one wounded bull that fell just 13 paces from Roosevelt. In all, the expedition collected more than 11,000 animals, including more than 500 big-game mammals, which when mounted filled the dioramas of the Smithsonian and the American Museum.
This exhibit, made possible with cooperation from the American Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian Institution and the Roosevelt family, captures the spirit of Roosevelt’s expedition, and features mounts of African big game from the Oakes Museum of Natural History at Messiah College.
Several works by our namesake, the celebrated Ned Smith (see “African Elephant” image above) have been incorporated into the exhibit as well, including several small pen-and-ink drawings of African animals Smith created for National Geographic magazine in the early 1980s.
The Wild and the Tame: A Celebration of Form
February 28 – June 20, 2009
Two midstate artists bring their very different views of the world to the Olewine Gallery of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, beginning Feb. 28.
“The Wild and the Tame: A Celebration of Form” highlights more than 70 works by artists Gerry Putt and Elaine Howe, ranging from Putt’s nationally recognized paintings of waterfowl and other wildlife, to Howe’s watercolors, collages and drawings, which bring her eye to bear on subjects as diverse as landscapes, still lifes and the human form.
Putt is marking his 30th year as a fulltime nature artist, and has won state duck stamp competitions 16 times in four states, including winning the Pennsylvania competition a record eight times. He grew up in Boiling Springs, teaching himself to paint wildlife by watching the ducks on the nearby lake, close to where his gallery is today.
Howe, who lives in Perry County, studied art at American University, at the Art League of Alexandria, Virginia, and in private instruction with a number of nationally known artists. Her works, which range across a wide variety of media and subjects, have been shown in solo, group and juried exhibits in the midstate and in Washington, D.C., and have won numerous awards.
Ned Smith: Hidden Stories
August 16, 2008 – February 21, 2009
Dozens of never-before-seen paintings and drawings by Ned Smith are on display through February 2009 in the Olewine Gallery. Many of the pieces were gifts from Ned to personal friends and colleagues from as far away as Alaska. Don’t miss this unique exhibit!
Among the works featured are many drawings, sketches and paintings that Smith created specifically for certain people. One such piece is 1978’s “Grouse Eyeing Greenbrier Berries,” lent to the Center from the collection of Jean and Joseph McMillan of Worthington, Ohio. The McMillans knew Smith through their mutual membership in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers’ Association. The exhibit will feature the finished painting, as well as several of Smith’s precise, full-scale pencil drawings that he used when planning the piece.
The Faye Arleen and Lawrence Joseph Kopp Collection of Butterflies and Moths
March 15 – August 2, 2008
This extensive collection features over 30,000 worldwide exotic species of butterflies and moths. With multiple mounting capabilities and mobiles this show is a beautiful work of art for all to enjoy.
Starting in 1950, siblings Faye Arleen and Lawrence Joseph Kopp started their collection and passion. While growing up, and living all their lives on their 125 acre family farm in rural Pennsylvania, they were able to focus their passion for collecting the most beautiful species of butterflies and moths. Their love of art and nature, her creative eye, and her meticulously creative hands would eventually produce forms of art to be revered with awe.
John Laskowski, (also know as “The Mothman”) said, “One of my highlights as an amateur entomologist has been to curate the Kopp’s World Class Collections.”
This world class exhibit will also be complimented with the digitally enhanced artwork from local artist Stephen R. Rannels. His unique, colorful, and modern way of showing different species of insects will give you real optical treat.
Julie Zickefoose: Letters From Eden
October 20, 2007 – February 16, 2008
The work of nationally renowned author, illustrator and NPR commentator Julie Zickefoose was exhibited in the Olewine Gallery in the brand-new exhibit “Letters From Eden,” the artist’s first one-woman show since 1993.
“I’m still agog that this will happen, and immensely flattered,” Julie said. “Where shows are concerned, I’m a bit of a recluse.” Zickefoose’s credits include more than 40 articles and 19 cover paintings for Bird Watcher’s Digest, as well as cover art for such prestigious publications as The Auk, the journal of the American Ornithologists’ Union. She was one of the lead illustrators of the 19-volume Birds of North America, which is considered the most authoritative work on American birds.
“My work is getting way less detailed, less fussy. I’m trying to show what’s intangible. I’m after feeling and light. Detail bores me. If you wanted to kill me, make me sit down and paint the Great American Field Guide. I’ve lost any desire to paint a bird to show all its salient features.”
The Mysterious John James Audubon
April 17, 2007 – September 30, 2007
The Center was proud to host “The Mysterious John James Audubon,” a collection of Audubon’s original works. This exhibit was the first time that any large scale exhibition of Audubon’s work was exhibited in Central Pennsylvania.
Appearing for the first time in public was an intriguing, previously unknown Audubon original painting, unearthed in a private collection. It depicts a tree sparrow, and is inscribed, “Drawn from life, J.J. Audubon, April 1812, Henderson, Kentucky.” This never before seen painting was found by the current owner’s grandfather in the 1920’s slipped between the pages of a large old book in a secondhand store in Florence, Italy. Another rare treat is an original portrait of Audubon, which is on loan from the National Audubon Society.
The exhibit’s centerpieces were the four volumes of Audubon’s famous Birds of America, known as the “Elephant Folios,” because of the enormous paintings depicting birds large as wild turkeys and whooping cranes at life-size. The $8.5 million set is on loan from National Audubon and the Smithsonian Institute.
Another exhibit highlight was a huge oil painting which consumed an entire wall of the Olewine Gallery. This dramatic oil painting, 1828’s The Eagle and the Lamb, which he painted in London in 1828, is seven and a half feet wide.
Audubon tackled an exhaustive account of the continents mammals later in his life known as The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Among the species illustrated was “Pennant’s marten,” as the fisher was then known, painted from one captured on Peter’s Mountain in Dauphin County, just south of the Center, and sent alive to Audubon.
The show will also include an original life mask, bust, original drawings, manuscripts, specimen skins and other objects that will tell the story of a man who had a deep connection with Pennsylvania, and whose legacy remains vibrant today.