Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Idyll-Beast

This extract from last week's Town Crier includes images taken by staff photographer Jay Pentrack, documenting the startling encounter between Town Hall recreation kids and a surprise guest. The top image depicts the Idyll-Beast distributing Beaster Eggs, those brightly colored fur covered harbingers of spring, to the the assembled children.

The second image has been identified as Hannah Johnson displaying her portrait of the "guest." A critical examination of the image shows parallels between the artist and the image; the coloration, the hair, the rosy cheeks and bright smile are all eerily similar. Whether this is a coincidence, conscious artistic device, or an expression of the beast's message of relatedness, it invites a re-examination of the portraits posted below. Perhaps they are all self portraits. In any case the artists and the Idyll-Beast represent the best of our local charismatic mega-fauna.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Children's Hour

Outreach is a crucial part of our mission at the Idyll-Beast Research Center. We are always pleased to present our work to the scientific community or to any one who will listen. It was my privilege to address the little researchers attending the Town Hall after-school recreation program last Monday. Spring break week was apparently full of excitement; Smokey the Bear, the Easter Bunny, a real Fire Truck, and a lecture from a cryptozoologist.

I gave a slide show presentation similar to the one I have given to a number of scientific groups. I also handed out a useful "Idyll-Beast Do's and Don't's" page, helping the children prepare for a safe encounter.

Young people are full of curiosity, and this crew was brimming with curiosity. My Q and A session was unfortunately interrupted by an urgent text message informing me that an Idyll-Beast had been spotted Down Town. I hurried out of the building leaving the children a little bewildered. The call turned out to a be a false alarm (Mike Pearson again.) 

During my absence it seems that the Idyll-Beast took up where I left off.  Within minutes of my departure Idy was passing out "Beaster Eggs," and, after asking permission from Wendy, offered the kids a snack. Presented with the choice of "crickets" or "ice-cream," most votes were for ice-cream, which was lucky as the bag full of crickets had a hole in it and was now empty.

Apparently photos from this episode have made their way into the Town Crier, and I will have to evaluate that evidence separately. Fortunately, children are natural artists, and this group really came through. The following portraits display not only the talent of our young people but the variety of ways in which we witness the incredible.

The hairless or "goateed" face of this Idy contrasts to his shaggy coat. Anthropomorphizing animals is a common artistic device.

This specimen exhibits attitude. The energy of the lines delineating his furry body, the determined half-smile or smirk,  the sense of weight distributed mostly on one leg work, all together to give the viewer a sense of dynamism. I'm not sure what the "thumbs down" thing is about. 

This next piece is gripping in its wildness. The outstretched arms, the loopiness of the outlines, the crossed eyes and out-stuck tongue suggest wild abandon. Concentrated spirit of fun.

This vision transfixes us in its electrifying furriness. Within the fur a spirit, at once alien and familiar, smiles broadly and calmly. This one gives me goosebumps.

This Ursine (Bear-like)  Idy seems content in his fur. The large feet are typical, but the ears are an unusual feature. The artist actually told me this was a bear. Maybe an anticipation of Smokey's appearance?

This last image in particular seems to capture the beast's soul. The artist was at first reluctant to allow it to be published. "It's not my best work," demurred the youngster. Given the limitation of the media available (two crayons and a paper place mat) and the elusive quality of the model ("he wouldn't stand still") I think you will agree it is both promising and provocative. The Beast seems to be thinking, or at least chewing on his paw. Extremely life-like.

Thank you Wendy, and thank you artists!