Inside the Watercolor World of WALTON FORD
by Meg Linton
At first glance, Walton Ford’s precise watercolor portraits evoke the muted palette of Audubon, but upon closer examination, the myriad levels of meaning and allegorical complexity begin to reveal themselves to the dedicated viewer. Meg Linton takes a closer look at why the caged bird sings.
IN THE LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY, a gentleman by the name of Eugene Schieffelin had a grand vision. He wanted New York’s Central Park to be filled with all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s literary works. In 1890, he actually released a number of non-native species into the park, including 100 European starlings. Most of the birds died, but the starlings thrived. By 1910, this pretty, nasty, little bird had invaded the Midwest and by 1940 had infiltrated California.
“I guess the starlings finally made it to Alaska in the fifties. They must be in South America by now. It’s an extremely aggressive species, and it drives other birds from their nests. The starlings practice polygamy—in fact, there isn’t a sin the starling doesn’t embrace. But aside from this, they can be really beautiful. Their song can be interesting but also quite shrill and garbled. Like Anglo-Saxons, they’ve gone everywhere we’ve gone and displaced the native species…”
(read more: Juxtapoz Magazine)