In 1959, Don Richard Eckelberry (1921-2001) made the first of many trips to Trinidad's lush Arima Valley, which he called his “approximation of paradise.” There, under the steamy canopy, he worked en plein air, capturing birds in mist nets and painting from life a prodigious number of meticulously rendered bird portraits.
The Museum of American Bird Art presents A Naturalist’s Eden, an exhibition of these rarely-seen watercolors by one of the legendary American bird artists of the 20th century.
The names of the birds are as exotic and romantic as the locale: blue-chinned sapphire, green honeycreeper, turquoise tanager, and rufous-browed peppershrike. Eckelberry's watercolors are vivid and exacting, clearly demonstrating his deep knowledge of the subjects.
His charcoal study drawings are equally brilliant. Simple lines and a range of shades, from off-white to ebony-black, fully characterize each subject's beauty.
In addition to Eckelberry’s remarkable artworks, visitors will have the opportunity to view a compelling digital display of photographs of Trinidadian birds by the British photographer Ray Cooper, an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. Cooper’s photographs and Eckelberry’s paintings reveal the stunning colors, textures and forms of these exotic birds seen in their native habitat.
A Naturalist’s Eden is open to the public May 23-September 7, Tuesday–Sunday from 1 to 5 pm.
The exhibition was organized by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin.