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What Would Audubon Paint Today?


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Kevin Sloan

Kevin Sloan at the opening of his exhibit, The Naturalist's Notebook, at Ironton Gallery in Denver, CO through February 23, 2013.

There’s a fascinating science art exhibit going on at Ironton Gallery in Denver, Colorado through the 23rd of February. It features paintings by Kevin Sloan, whose work explores the tension between the natural world and what most would call the unnatural, highly altered man-made world (I would argue, and perhaps he would too, that it’s quite natural for organisms to alter their environment, but that’s another story). His paintings rival the great natural history artists like John J. Audubon as elegant descriptions of nature, but add confusing elements from our modern lives that feel out of place in such a formal, classical painting.

Kevin Sloan - The Reminders

The Reminders; © Kevin Sloan

It’s brilliant, if you think about it, because just as the painters of the Age of Discovery set about to illustrate and make sense of their world, Sloan sets out to do the same in ours, rightly imposing the artifacts of our everyday existence upon a former world, both simple and elegant. What is more foreign to us, a roseate spoonbill or an extension cord? Which rightly belongs within the borders of a formal picture frame? And which elements will be left to observe in 1000 years? Sloan’s subjects balance awkwardly between these questions, making the best of their situations. And frankly, I think they pull it off with grace and charm.

Kevin Sloan - The Burden of Formality

The Burden of Formality; © Kevin Sloan

Kevin Sloan - Audubon's Pool

Audubon's Pool; © Kevin Sloan

Kevin Sloan - Birds of America

Birds of America; © Kevin Sloan

Kevin Sloan - Roseate Spoonbill in Hiding

Roseate Spoonbill in Hiding; © Kevin Sloan

If anyone is in the Front Range, I highly recommend making a special trip to Ironton Gallery to check it out:

The Naturalist’s Notebook: New Paintings by Kevin Sloan
exhibit through February 23, 2013
Ironton Gallery and Studios
3636 Chestnut Pl
Denver, CO

Kevin Sloan’s portfolio

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at www.kalliopimonoyios.com. Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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