Local artist

The Tiger, 1929, Charles Livingston Bull, for Barnum and Bailey.
I was trying to locate a show by a friend last week. Google came up with a number of references to her paired with the phrase “local artist.” It’s a funny term, and one I dislike.

There are local movements in art communities (such as the Northern California Tonalists or the Bay Area Figurative Movement) but in general most of us are working within the broader movement of our age. This is particularly true in today’s world, where boundaries are blurred by the internet.

Even worse is the term, “well-known local artist.” It’s amazing how many artists are unknown in their home towns and well-known elsewhere.

Saturday Evening Postcover art, March 6 1918, by Charles Livingston Bull
Consider the wildlife artist Charles Livingston Bull. Born in West Walworth, New York, he demonstrated an aptitude for drawing at a very young age. He enrolled at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (now Rochester Institute of Technology) to study drafting, and took a taxidermy apprenticeship at the Ward Museum of Natural History.

Professor Ward sent the young man to the 1893 Chicago World Exposition to design a bird display for the government of Guatemala. His work there garnered him the job of Chief Taxidermist at the National Museum in Washington. Bull took night classes at the Corcoran Gallery of Art for seven years, until he felt ready to pursue a freelance animal illustration career.

Boys’ Life cover art, Apr 1932, by Charles Livingston Bull
He illustrated more than 135 books and numerous articles for magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Collier's, American Boy, and Country Gentleman. As exquisite as his drawings are, he’s pretty much an unknown here, in his hometown.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!

No comments:

Post a Comment