Friday, August 18, 2017

Show & Tell

The University Gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology
Arthur Singer, The Wildlife Art of An American Master

(Show and is probably that basic...)  This is not kindergarten, but I do have the urge to speak and write about something and it is a natural outgrowth for all of the forethought that I have given the subject.  I am thinking about the book we have just published and the show that is currently on view at the University Gallery at RIT.  This urge hits close to home for me because what my brother Paul and I have been doing is writing a book about my father and then planning this exhibition for his artwork.  The stars have come into alignment and we have had the idea to write this book, get it published, and then try to show the artwork that engenders all this effort.  My brother and I also consider the recent history of a naturalist at work in the field and we would like to see Arthur Singer's artwork find its rightful place.

Arthur Singer on Audubon Avenue

Arthur Singer ( 1917-1990 ) had a prodigious output during an illustrious career, and in our new book and in our exhibition we give some space to his early drawings made at The Bronx Zoo when he was still a teenager.  Was it fate for a boy who was born on Audubon Avenue in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan?  What caught his eye at the zoo were the big animals and the tropical ( colorful ) birds, and his attention was riveted.  Arthur had the skills at a very young age to capture an image of nature that was full of detail, with a nod towards design that always kept things in balance.  Arthur also had the luck of capturing an audience during his teenage years attracting the attention of curators at The American Museum of Natural History where he would visit to see the dioramas which were just being installed.

Arthur Singer's drawing of a leopard at the Bronx Zoo

Arthur Singer, or Artie as his friends would call him, was a jazz fan and he also played handball on the streets with the other kids.  His artistic skills earned him a place in the School of Art at The Cooper Union which was then tuition free for those who could pass the entrance exam.  "Artie" had already published some of his animals in national newspapers, so he felt confident.  Some of his friends from college later became world class designers like Herb Lubalin and Lou Dorfsman.  Judy Goulfine was my father's favorite, and they later got married and started a family.

Arthur Singer's portrait of Judy, circa 1942
in watercolor on paper

During World War ll Arthur Singer was drafted, and later served with a battalion dedicated to deception - later dubbed "The Ghost Army".  World War ll was underway and Arthur brought his paints and paper with him when the men that travelled by sea departed along the shores of Normandy.  Arthur also brought with him a knowledge of camouflage which was actually discovered by another bird artist Abbott Thayer in the early years of the 20th century.  During our exhibition we will have as a guest speaker - Rick Beyer who produced a PBS special documentary on "The Ghost Army" and he will present this film on October 5th, 2017, at 5 pm, in the University Gallery.

Arthur Singer in the 1950's

After the war there was a long period of readjustment to civilian life. My mother had worked during the war as a draftsperson for Emerson Radio and she looked forward to starting a family.  My father went to work during the day as an advertising art director, and at night he practiced his painting in our attic studio where everyone in the family gathered after dinner.  As the 1950's progressed my father  received assignments from publications like Sports Illustrated, the World Book Encyclopedia, and Readers Digest, but the event that changed the course of his career was the publication of a series of eight prints that he made for The American Home Magazine, and they enabled him to have a stable income and busy schedule meeting the demand for his artwork.

If you want to know more about our book, and how to order it, take a look at this link:

If you want to come to our opening in Rochester, see this link: