By Andrea Bloodworth
The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation awards grants to a large number of not-for-profit organizations. In each case, grant making is an effort to fulfill our respective missions. Community Service Funds were not established to meet any specific purpose, but to allow the Foundation’s Board to direct grants to events, projects or programs in the area. Such was the case when the Board approved a recent grant to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.
As a gift to the community, admission to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute will be free during the Labor Day weekend. On display will be a rare exhibit of Peterson’s artwork. This exhibit is in recognition of the anniversary of Roger Tory Peterson’s 100th birthday. The exhibit is made possible, in part, through the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation‘s Community Service Funds.
Visitors to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute are certain to have an experience like no other. On June 22, 2008, the Institute introduced original artwork by Roger Tory Peterson that has seldom or, in some cases, never been viewed by the general public. As a highlight of their yearlong Centennial celebration, this unique exhibit, entitled The Roger Tory Peterson Centennial Exhibit: Original Paintings by the Master Nature Artist, will immerse visitors in the life and work of this incredible artist, educator, naturalist, photographer and filmmaker.
RTPI currently houses and preserves over 1,300 of Peterson’s original works. These pieces consist mainly of original bookplates for the Peterson Field Guides and other books such as Wild America and World of Birds. Many of his originals are held by private collectors, natural history museums or other nature art centers; and it is estimated that as much as 80% of these other works have never been exhibited for public viewing. For months, the staff at RTPI has been corresponding with these private collectors and organizations to include some of these rare pieces in our upcoming exhibit.
Overall, there are over 50 pieces of original artwork on display, which includes both RTPI’s own pieces and those on loan. Besides original paintings, the exhibit will feature other important artifacts from Peterson’s life. Specifically, these artifacts include objects from their Peterson Collection such as cameras, clothing, binoculars, sketchbooks, as well as other equipment used by Peterson in the field. Also on display are early journals, early edition field guides, sketchbooks, photographs and correspondence from our collection. Another important piece of the exhibit is the bird study skins from Peterson’s own collection of skins that he used in his work. Numbering over 1,600 in total, these bird skins played an important role in the accuracy and detail of Peterson’s original paintings.
This exhibition is a compilation of original paintings and artifacts that have never been exhibited together before now. Whether your interest is birding, art, or nature in general, it is hoped that this unique exhibition will inspire visitors to indulge their own passions for art and nature, as Peterson did up until his passing in 1996 at the age of 88. The pieces in this exhibit will reveal a man whose passion and concern for the natural world have never ceased, and are carried on through the work here at the Institute.
These are the type of events which are made possible through the Community Foundation’s Community Service Funds. The public is encouraged to attend the exhibit and view these spectacular pieces from Peterson’s collection! The Roger Tory Peterson Centennial Exhibit: Original Works by the Master Nature Artist is on view from June 22-October 15 and open free to the public on August 30 – September 1.
Ms. Bloodworth is the Director of Development at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History and was invited to be a contributing writer for this article in honor of the Centennial Anniversary of Roger Tory Peterson’s birth.