introducing readers to writers since 1995

December 21, 2004

Robert Winkler's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

winkler.JPGRobert Winkler combines his passions for birding and nature writing in Going Wild, which describes just a few of the experiences he's had watching birds in New England, where he makes his home. While I was looking for information about him, I found this essay about Hollywood orinthology he wrote for Salon; I hope you'll find it as entertaining as I did. Then you should read another piece he wrote for Earth Day 2002 about his pursuits. Now, his holiday gift idea is the biggest splurge yet mentioned by Beatrice's guest authors, but for somebody who loves birds and/or art, it sure sounds perfect.

A painting titled "Cranes Flying by Mount Fuji" graces the cover of a book I own. I was curious about the artist, Nagasawa Rosetsu, so I looked him up in the Dictionary of Bird Artists of the World by Christine E. Jackson. I learned that he was born in Japan circa 1754 into a family of Samurai; that he was eccentric; and that his training with a master painter ended when he was expelled for violent behavior.

  Such are the nuggets to be gleaned from this sumptuous (and expensive) compilation. There are alphabetically arranged entries on 4,000 artists, with almost 400 examples of their work, 250 in color. The basic criteria for inclusion: artists cannot be living and must have conveyed birds two-dimensionally. Jackson's style takes some getting used to, but one soon appreciates her economy with words, insights into the artists' temperaments, and often blunt assessments of their accomplishments.

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