Flocks of meticulously rendered owls, hawks, spoonbills, and birds of all descriptions swoop and soar across the fifteen large paintings that comprise the new exhibition, Morgan Bulkeley: Bird Story.
The show of work by the Berkshire native will be on view at Berkshire Museum in the Ellen Crane Memorial Room from January 21 through March 4, 2012. An artist’s reception will be held Saturday, February 11, 2012, from 5 to 7 p.m.; the event will be free and open to the public.
Morgan Bulkeley is a visual storyteller whose vivid, busy landscapes are rendered in deft, staccato brushstrokes. Bulkeley’s art is strongly influenced by his Berkshire upbringing; his family has deep roots in the area going back several generations. Bulkeley’s wry humor, bold and brilliant palette, and unfettered imagination are expressed in his depictions of animated, cartoonlike humans who interact with one another and in relationship to detailed birds and wildlife, grounded in an awareness of the landscape and the environment and the creatures that inhabit it.
In Beak Morphology (2000), oil on canvas, part of Berkshire Museum’s permanent collection since 2008, Bulkeley depicts beautifully detailed, naturalistic owls and spoonbills swooping over a cluttered meadow populated by cartoon birds—Woody Woodpecker and Tweety—and four humans who have strapped beak-like protuberances to their faces: a boot, a corn cob, a telephone, and a stick.
Morgan Bulkeley was born in the Berkshires in 1944 and raised on a small farm in the town of Mount Washington, where his parents, both naturalists, raised many wild, orphaned animals. He graduated from Yale University in 1966 with a B.A. in English literature, and after a stint in the Coast Guard, spent a year in Newark, New Jersey, drawing, and working with VISTA programs. The next 14 years were spent in Cambridge, Massachusetts, painting and sculpting, until, in 1985, he returned to his childhood home, where he lives with his wife, environmentalist Eleanor Tillinghast: the two of them co-founded the environmental organization Green Berkshires.
Beak Morphology, 2000, oil on canvas