For the birds: TMA celebrates Biggest Week in American BirdingWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Birds become the stars each spring in Northwest Ohio during the Biggest Week in American Birding, an annual migration of birdwatchers who flock to the area to witness the annual migration of warblers.
Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) will put out a welcome mat for visitors and area residents alike with two free bird-themed exhibits.
“In Fine Feather: Birds, Art & Science,” on display April 25 through July 6 in TMA’s Gallery 18, will explore the intersection of natural science and art, featuring illustrations by John James Audubon, John Gould, Roger Tory Peterson, David Allen Sibley and more.
“Venetian Glass Birds: Lino Tagliapietra,” which opened March 28 at the Glass Pavilion and runs through June 22, features blown-glass birds in the distinctive style of the Italian master artist.
The Biggest Week in American Birding is set for May 6-15. For more information, visit biggestweekinamericanbirding.com.
In Fine Feather
“In Fine Feather” will feature 45 works, including hand-colored engravings, etchings, lithographs, watercolors and books. The oldest is a reproduction of a 13th–century manuscript on falconry often cited as the earliest illustrated book about birds, said curator Paula Reich, TMA’s head of interpretative projects and managing editor. There are also illustrations from the late Renaissance and the 17th and 18th centuries as well as field guides produced in the 19th century.
“The exhibit shows the importance of art to the field of ornithology,” Reich said. “The artwork was created so people could see what these birds looked like, but they’ve really kind of transcended that scientific purpose to become these beautiful works of art.”
Seven of the pieces are from TMA’s collection. The rest are loans from local collectors, libraries and organizations, including The Toledo Club, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Bowling Green State University and the Ohio Historical Society.
Five watercolors by Peterson recently acquired by TMA will be on display for the first time. Peterson is widely considered “the father of the modern field guide” and has had a major influence on the fields of ornithology and ecology, Reich said. Also featured will be three watercolors on loan from Sibley, author of “The Sibley Guide to Birds.”
The exhibit will also include a videotaped interview with internationally renowned birding expert Kenn Kaufman, who lives in Northwest Ohio, talking about Peterson’s impact on the study of birds and his influence on Kaufman’s own life.
The sole overlap between “In Fine Feather” and TMA’s last bird exhibit, 2012’s “For the Birds,” will be Audubon’s illustration “The Passenger Pigeon,” Reich said.
“The first one was largely from the museum’s collection and it was more of a general celebration of images of birds,” Reich said. “This one is taking a little more historical approach, looking at the study of birds and images made with a purpose in mind.”
Venetian Glass Birds
The 21 pieces featured in “Venetian Glass Birds” showcase examples from three of Tagliapietra’s recent bird-themed series, said Jutta-Annette Page, TMA’s curator of glass and decorative arts.
A large installation in the center of the gallery called “Ala” explores the stylized shapes of birds in flight. “Petra” depicts birds perching or roosting while “Fenice” showcases the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes, symbolizing rebirth.
“The birds are very abstract, very beautiful and very colorful,” Page said. “The techniques he’s using are centuries old.”
Tagliapietra, 80, who grew up in Venice and still lives there, began learning the traditional Venetian method when he was 11. He was one of the first artists to bring the technique to the United States, where he has been influential to generations of artists, Page said.
“He’s very much adored as a master of art. There are very elaborate techniques only he knows how to do,” she said. “He’s really unsurpassed in his ability.”
The idea for the show came last fall when Page noticed one of Tagliapietra’s glass birds in the back room of a Chicago gallery.
“He’s working now more intently on the theme of birds, which fit very nicely with our celebration of the songbird migration in our area,” Page said. “It was a great opportunity and the timing was just right.”
Visitors don’t need to be bird lovers or glass artists to enjoy the exhibition, Page said.
“They are inherently beautiful, each one,” she said. “But of course the artists in the studio are mesmerized by the sheer craftsmanship and tremendous skill that goes into making each one of these.”
TMA has also partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Ohio to offer a free Inside/Outside Birding and Nature Tour at 1 p.m. May 18. Participants will explore birds seen in the exhibition with Kaufman and then explore the plants and birdlife in TMA’s sculpture garden with Terry Seidel, director of land acquisition for the Nature Conservancy. The tour is free, but space is limited and registration is required. Register by calling (419) 255-8000, ext. 7432.
The museum is located at 2445 Monroe St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and closed Monday and major holidays. Admission is free. Parking is free for members and $5 for nonmembers.
For more information, call (419) 255-8000 or visit toledomuseum.org.
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