deFineArtsLA: Stuff It!

BREWER_frick_N_frackGrowing up on a farm in South Carolina affords memories of a childhood of which few could dream—the apple orchard where barefoot we would run, yes. The chorus of cicadas droning in the sunset, yes. And the wood-paneled living-rooms adorned with the stuffed heads of dear, oh yes, sweet Carolina.

I know most of you probably think taxidermy is a little abnormal. Creepy.  Backwoods. It both fascinated and terrified me as a child. I’d look up at the buck head mounted above my grandfather’s fireplace and imagine how it got there—the old Quasimodo-type hunched over a pile of loose skin, a long needle and thread pinched in his thick fingers haunted my imagination.

Taxidermy is much more than a backwoods craft, though. It’s an art whose roots stem back to the 18th Century, when hunters began to have the skins of prized hunts mounted to preserve them as trophies. It wasn’t long before taxidermists were getting creative—take the work of Walter Potter, who constructed whimsical dioramas with mounted animals mimicking human life.

A recent trend in the field is rogue taxidermy, the fabrication of mounted animals which do not have live counterparts. If ever you visit Wyoming, you may see a jackalope, the famous horned jackrabbit so fast that it can’t be seen by the human eye.  If this Friday you visit La Luz de Jesus in Los Feliz, you can see even more. Robert Marbury will curate the “Rogue Taxidermy Show” with his partners Scott Bibus and Sarina Brewer of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists—the organization who coined the term in 2004. Taxidermists working in the field use “recycled” animals—from roadkill to discarded livestock—to create a bizarre and fantastic body of work. The show runs from May 7th through the 30th, and promises to deliver high art, in both concept and craftsmanship. They even will have a live demonstration on the 8th! If you’re an animal lover, don’t worry—no animals were killed for the sake of a mount—all the sources are recycled. It’s nice to know that 3000 miles from home, taxidermy is alive and well.

By Helen Kearns

“The Rogue Taxidermy Show” opens on Friday, May 7th and runs until May 30th at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Feliz. Reception begins at 8 PM on the 7th and ends at 11 PM.  For more information, please visit www.laluzdejesus.com, or call 323-666-7667.

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