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An Open Letter to Carl Akeley

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Joe Kish, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. KatieC

    KatieC Active Member

    Heck, I would love to train with Amy on small mammals! Don't really feel qualified to teach anyone anything other than maybe a little design and composition, but I'm not very good at articulating it. Most of the stuff we got into in college was the very strange contemporary and conceptual art. I like taxidermy and wildlife art because it's a bit more down to earth, even if there are floating piglets. :)
  2. Rick Carter

    Rick Carter Administrator

    Allow me to pop the bubble in which taxidermists are living. Carl Akeley may be our hero but he was not famous and never will be. His name will never be recognized on a world level, national level, in New York city or not even his own hometown in Clarendon, NY. And yes, I was one of the first people to send a donation to build a monument in his honor. Carl Akeley's work is displayed at the AMNH. It's right across the street from Central Park and there are employees at the park as well as at the museum who don't even know who Carl Akeley is. Taxidermy is a very tiny industry and none of our work will ever be appreciated on any scale of magnitude. We hold our competitive events and proclaim our peers as champions while hardly anyone is watching. We even made a stab at a Taxidermy Hall of Fame. If our Hall of Fame ever gains tremendous momentum it can be built beside the garbage man's Hall of Fame, ever where that is. I'm sure they have a large gold cup passed on every year with the name and date of the fastest receptacle collector. Our most famous taxidermist by far was President Theodore Roosevelt. The problem here is that hardly anyone knows he tinkered with taxidermy. Out of 100,000 taxidermists in the USA I would bet that less than 10% of them have ever even heard of Carl. If you are a taxidermist and your work is 100X better than Carl Akeley ever dreamed you will probably still not ever be as significant as Carl was himself so where does that leave you? On a realistic standard it leaves you nowhere. So what is my point? Quit worrying and struggling. Mount your flying pigs and deer heads with Ferrari spoilers on their backs. Be proud of your screaming bass on sticks. Keep up those ducks on springs and newborn animals fighting off werewolves. It just doesn't matter. Do your best and try to win and get better. Anyone who faults you will never be famous enough to get the word out about how bad you suck anyway. Incidentally, Did you know that around 20,000 people go see the Mona Lisa every day?

  3. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Damn Rick. I think I love you. If that beautiful woman ever ditches you, will you marry me? ROTFLMAO, damn how refreshing it is to hear unvarnished truth.
  4. Skywalker

    Skywalker Well-Known Member

  5. Ditto Rick.

    Taxidermist are all famous, in their own minds.
  6. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    I think there are enough posts now that I can respond.

    It is surprising how many posters failed to comprehend that the ‘Letter to..’ was in fact an EDITORIAL and not an ad hominem attack on James Newport. ( an accomplished taxidermist in his own right… a pro… that fine jokester)

    It is the nature and purpose of editorials to speak to issues and matters of general concern to particular audiences. Since current taxidermy magazines avoid editorializing, Ken’s forum is the only available venue since the end of Taxidermy Review (circa 1985) where taxidermists can speak to matters of wide interest and vital concern. Today’s magazine editors want nothing to do with anything that might be construed as controversial in the slightest. It would be bad for advertising business. Can’t blame them.

    It was shocking to learn how many undereducated posters of low reading comprehension made a presumption that it was Carl Akeley expressing the opinion that they had read. Readers like Ryan R. in particular could only benefit by reading at least one book, ANY book before he dies.

    As for Michael p.’s suggestion that you follow the money I’ll leave it to him to show a connection between some unknown compensation and me and the source of it. The rest of his post is an inchoherent mix of twaddle and braggadocio.

    Only a minority of posters responded mainly to the content of the first paragraph. Competitions do dominate association activities and are drifting solely toward impressing judges just to win ribbons and trophies.

    Posters critical of the editorial and/or its writer made valid points about the content and style of the piece itself. In my final draft the phrase slicker’n pig snot was severely pejorative. I can’t claim the devil made me write it. I alone am responsible. Connotations of slick and snot can never be associated with James Newport or his work. Saying the piece had no artistic merit whatever is where I must eat my own words. I’d rather eat crow. It won in the gamehead category. For that I apologize to you James Newport and to your friends and supporters.

    Postings in support of James Newport and his entry unequivocally reinforce the high esteem the posters hold for the man and his work. As far as praise goes for the superb mouth work on that little pig, good clean mouth work is commonplace at every show. Responses unfavorable to the pig scene itself focus on the entry and do not question the impeccable character and integrity of the man himself.

    While this editorial was initially shocking or wounding to James (or his pride), he suffered no injury at all. His fine reputation remains untarnished. I only hope that he will peek at the other side of this coin. There’s a great opportunity lurking there for him alone to exploit. I dropped it at his feet. I hope he’ll pick it up.

    As for my opinion of the Akeley awards so coveted by all, the criteria is so ambiguous it forces judges to consider PUBLIC OPINION as a major criterion in how they make their decisions. Plausible natural history and accurate animal behavior is secondary. Winning is all that matters regardless of how ridiculous or illogical or mechanically unsound an entry might be. Pieces of exceptional merit are often passed over in favor of eye catching displays of mechanically engineered fantastical scenes of imaginary animal behavior that would make a naturalist cringe and Mother Nature cry. Where’s the honor and pride in winning any trophy in that arena? It begs the question - what would Akeley say?

    There’s no question that this editorial provoked thought and brought out some intelligent and reasoned responses on a subject important to all. And I’m not alone in saying that I gained a new respect for the knowledge, intellect and reasoning powers of George Roof. I may be coming late to that conclusion but now I understand why he has such a large following. His first post to the ‘Open Letter to…’ was a good example of an editorial in itself.

    As for how I might communicate with Carl Akeley? That’s a secret I have no intention of revealing.

    In conclusion, again I thank Dan Allen for setting the tone of responses and I apologize to Catman for temporarily drawing attention away from his thought provoking musings and discussion on ‘Looking ahead’. I’m going back there myself. I’m confident that I just might learn a thing or two!
  7. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    Rick has just said more correctly in one post than all of us have combined in this entire thread.

    That little bugar dropped the mic, walked off and left us all standing there looking stupid :)
  8. Carolin Brak-Dolny

    Carolin Brak-Dolny Active Member

    Joe, In your last post you said the judging criteria was ambiguous. How would you propose that change? And maybe you should post an example of a good criteria that judges should go by. We now have an existing score sheet but there is not section on animal behaviour .....correctness of and probability of that particular pose being natural..

    In the past someone mounted a lamb laying with a wolf......some bible reference..... so in actual animal behaviour the wolf would kill the lamb, they certainly would not be laying together. (my apologies to who ever mounted it, I believe the taxidermy on it was quite nice)
  9. Duckslayr

    Duckslayr Active Member

    Yep! I was thinking about how offensive the "no artistic merit" comment would have been had I been in James' shoes. Then I re-read Rick's post, and reminded myself that if we are getting our validation in life from a taxidermy competition, we have much bigger fish to fry! Thanks for the perspective adjustment Rick!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. ryan rhodes

    ryan rhodes Well-Known Member

    It's funny you think I haven't read books on Carl akekley, or any other books for that matter... Thanks for the laugh!
  11. Doug Motgomery

    Doug Motgomery Active Member

    Joe I knew you would come on here and backpedal when you seen most of the post was not going your way. If I was James I still would not have any thing to do with you. Rick you the man.....on this one
  12. ryan rhodes

    ryan rhodes Well-Known Member

    Forgive me for being "uneducated" and all, but regardless of your societal experiment, editorial, or whatever you want to call it... I would say the same thing to any taxidermist who was blatantly calling someone out unprovoked on a piece they did. If Mr. Newport posted a pic of his mount and asked for opinions and critiques, than that's fine. I guess I don't see the point in giving your opinion on a issue at someone else's expense. Then you back pedal/apologize to James, while insulting other taxidermists in the same breath... I've never met you Mr. Kish, and I'm well aware of who you are and what you've done in this industry over many decades. Am I supposed to be star struck? Am I disrespectful for calling out behavior I feel is unnecessary? I don't think so. Now that you've revealed your post was "tongue in cheek" so to speak, and was just to open a dialogue about where our industry is going in a comepetitve sense, where does that leave the people caught in the "fallout"? I chose to stand up for someone, so in turn I'm uneducated? I guess all taxidermists who don't have a fine arts degree should just hang it up....
  13. Doug Motgomery

    Doug Motgomery Active Member

    Hey Rick Mona Lisa has no legs how dare Leonardo da Vinci to paint something like that and call it art. And 20000 thousand people look at it everyday? Hummmmm
  14. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    (Psssssst! George!)

    You warned off that pigeon Ryan no less than twice but he’s still making sweeps past this shooting lane.
    I used the word ‘UNDEReducated’ and he still read “UNeducated!” It’s approaching hopeless for him.

    Like I said, he’s not a reader. One can tell he never read anything like Language In Thought and Action by Samuel I. Hayakawa, or The Art of Clear Thinking by Rudolf Flesch.

    Might as well just dust him off him off. Put him out of his misery. Use low brass so you don’t tear him up. I’d like something left for the cat.
  15. Rick Carter

    Rick Carter Administrator

    . Between 8 and 9 million people visit the Louvre in Paris, France every year. Do the math. It is a small painting in a room that can hold about 200 people and they are always packed in like sardines. The Chinese visitors will push and shove their way to the front of the line like they we looking for a pot of gold. If Leonardo DaVinci were a modern taxidermist, Mona Lisa would drive 50 miles away from his studio to save $75
  16. Doug Motgomery

    Doug Motgomery Active Member

    O I believe you Rick I was just making a joke. You can still have art with out legs.. just saying.
  17. Rick Carter

    Rick Carter Administrator

    all that and DaVinci didn't even paint the back side.
  18. Ken Edwards

    Ken Edwards Taxidermy.Net Administrator Staff Member

    Rick Carter likes this.
  19. R.J. Meyer II

    R.J. Meyer II Member

    An open letter to Leonardo Da Vinci.............I know you would be outraged that some artists are now painting whole people, yes....legs and all............the nerve..... PS say Hi to Salvador Dali for me and tell him that some artists are now using symmetry......geez
  20. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    the saga continues......................................