26"h x 29"w; 2022
Having grown up in one of America’s richest migratory bird flyways, I became familiar with many of our common, and some less common water birds, but a few years ago I lost any aspirations I might have had of ever being awarded my “junior ornithologist” badge. Upon encountering my first anhinga, in my most professorial manner, I confidently pointed, and said, “Cormorant!”.
I saw these birds on a very interesting trip to the alligator-infested Silver River near Ocala, Florida. In my defense, the anhinga is a southern cousin of the cormorant. Like the cormorant, the anhinga’s feathers do not repel water, which seems like an odd feature for a water bird. The anhinga will dive for fish and frogs, darting hither and yon with great underwater agility to catch their prey. Then, sopping wet, they emerge from the depths to perch upon their preferred roosting branch in a nearby
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tree. There, they spread their wings like a “tar angel” that has gone through a carwash, until such time as they have dripped themselves dry. It is really quite a marvelous bird, and it truly looks like a creature of the black lagoon.
I suppose it could be debated as to whether I captured the creature as anyone else might have seen it, but that is the beauty of being an artist. You don’t have to be in sync with everybody else about much of anything. In fact, if you are really creating an image that is accurate in every particular detail when making a piece of art, is it even art, or is it just a facsimile of the real thing?
My incorporation of what are obviously human-made structural elements in this piece surely comes from that Orville Wright gene I got from my great-grandmother, Lily Wright. It shows up in everything I make. (Okay, maybe not Orville. Perhaps Wilbur. I’m no genealogist. My Wrights could be all wrong. But that is all right. Like I said earlier, artists retain the right to be wrong! I just made what I saw. All right?)