Thursday, December 10, 2009

More on David J. Wagner's American Wildlife Art, now Rescheduled for Monday, December 14th, 7 PM

On Tuesday we were supposed to host David J. Wagner to talk about his edited collection American Wildlife Art, which looks at the history of wildlife art, focusing quite a bit on Audubon. I think it would be a very interesting talk for a very beautiful book (which, yes, we have been selling), but ugh, that weather.

The lakefront actually got rain and mush, compared to points north and west of us. But still, it's often just fear that keeps people away. Fear of blizzards. How does Dairy Queen overcome that phobia anyway?

That said, since Wagner is local, we rescheduled to next Monday, December 14th, 7 PM. I asked David to write a bit about how the book came to be. You can read it here.

Shortly after I earned my Ph.D., I was invited by the eminent ornithologist and creator of Houghton Mifflin's enormously successful field guides, Roger Tory Peterson, to conceptualize and orchestrate a world-wide conference about wildlife art at the Chautauqua Institution to inaugurate the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, New York.

The conference took place in the fall of 1992. I specifically designed the conference to follow the chronology and themes of wildlife art history outlined in my Ph.D. dissertation. Thanks to Roger, funds were provided to attract speakers of the highest caliber. In session I, for example, speakers included Professor Roderick Nash (author, Wilderness and the American Mind, and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara).

Attending the conference was Robb Reavill, Science Editor for Cornell University Press. She subsequently recommended my dissertation for publication. To assess what was needed to expand my dissertation into a book and support her recommendation for publication, she retained Professor Nash to read and critique my dissertation and book proposal.

In the meantime, William G. Kerr, founder of the National Wildlife Art Museum in Jackson Hole, WY, asked Carl Rungius historian, Professor Donald E. Crouch, to review them too. The Robert S. and Grayce B. Kerr Foundation consequently funded a postdoctoral fellowship that permitted me to conduct the additional research and writing that was needed to expand my dissertation into a book. The result was:

15 years in the making, and it looks it. Beautiful!
Here's more about the Chautauqua Institution. At one time there were Chautauqua's all over the country, all promoting the arts and learning in pastoral settings. Now I think there are four--I stayed in one in Boulder, Colorado. My mom's friends in New York often go there for programming in the summer.

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