All great art possesses a sort of timeless quality that simply will not allow it to disappear completely from the public consciousness, regardless of the passage of time. Whether it be some unique visual appeal, some revolutionary social comment, or a brazen disregard for a time-honored convention, each masterpiece has its own hook that sinks deeply into the viewer and simply will not let go. Seeing as how the wolf is the “piece de resistance” of the animal kingdom, it is only fitting that this project has received several artistic mash-ups that feature lupine subjects being inserted into famous paintings. None of these submissions have been more soul-stirring than Hannah’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Thanks, Hannah. This piece is an instant classic.
From Kelsey in Nine Mile Falls, Washington
Today’s Link: Wolves and Humans (UK)
“The Wolves and Humans Foundation is a UK based charity dedicated to the conservation of Europe’s large carnivores – wolves, bears and lynx. On this website you can find information about these animals and the threats to their survival. You can also learn about the problems encountered when these predators live alongside people, the work Wolves and Humans is doing to ensure their future in the wild, and how YOU can help.”
From Debbie (facebook page here)
Today’s Link: The Dire Wolf Project
“The Dire Wolf Project was started in 1988 in order to bring back the look of the large prehistoric Dire Wolf in a domesticated dog breed. The National American Alsatian Breeder’s Club governs the project and standardizes breeding practices for this unique large companion dog. Health and temperament remain the highest priority over the look of the Dire Wolf, so this project is slow and methodical. Join us on a historical journey of Dire Wolf memories and watch as we domesticate history one generation at a time.”
From David in Lithuania
Today’s Link: Living With Wolves
Mission: “Living with Wolves is dedicated to raising broad public awareness of the truth about wolves, their social nature, their importance to healthy ecosystems, and the threats to their survival. We build tolerance that can lead to coexistence between people and wolves sharing the same land.
The work of Living with Wolves is based on the Emmy Award-winning documentary films, photographs and books produced by Jim and Jamie Dutcher. The Dutchers, determined to show the hidden life of wolves, lived for six years with a pack of wolves in the wilderness of Idaho. These wolves became known as The Sawtooth Pack.
Recognizing the need to expand their educational outreach efforts, the Dutchers formed the nonprofit Living with Wolves in 2006. Through public outreach, they work to protect wolves by raising knowledge about the social characteristics of wolves and their role in maintaining healthy ecosystems.”
From Kelsey in Nine Miles Falls, Washington
Today’s link for Wolf Awareness Month is wolfcountry.net. I found this site somewhat randomly, but when I stumbled across it, I found it to be a great resource for everything from factual information to myths and tales to shopping. Check out the site and enjoy!
WolfCountry.net: dedicated to promoting wolf education.
From Hannah in Chattanooga, Tennessee
“The California Wolf Center is a one-of-a-kind education, conservation, and research center located 50 miles east of San Diego, near the town of Julian, California. Founded in 1977 to educate the public about wildlife and ecology, the Center is currently home to several packs of gray wolves, some of which are exhibited for educational purposes. Our wolves serve as ambassadors representing wolves in the wild. We also host highly endangered Mexican gray wolves, now being reintroduced into the southwestern United States. A visit to the Center provides a unique experience involving one of the most charismatic and controversial species in North American history. Our goal is to provide the best, most natural environment for all wolves living at the California Wolf Center and to provide complete and balanced information about gray wolves and the environment to the public so that people can make informed decisions about the issues that affect us all.”
From Nick, a wandering drifter…
It is not uncommon for discoverers of this project to label it with a wide variety of terms. Words ranging from “awesome” to “weird” are commonly attributed to this social experiment of sorts, and to be honest, I find just about all of these classifications to be fairly accurate. To the modern wolf enthusiast, there are no doubt certain aspects of WBS that would inspire awe, but to those without a proper appreciation for the lobo, I can also understand that this project would seem very bizarre.
Of all the assessments and descriptions of this website that I have ever experienced, however, I would have to say that the words of Nick in a recent email are the most unique and definitely the most perplexing. Here is what this lupine-loving vagabond had to say:
“Wolves by strangers is the beginning of the Post-post modernist art movement and will be remembered as the grandfather of Dadaism in the digital era.”
I’ll be honest, I was floored when I read this description, but not necessarily because I disagreed with it. I was simply unaware that someone might read so deeply into this project that they would define it with these somewhat ambitious terms. Also, I was a bit taken back because although Dadaism and Post-post modern art are movements that I am familiar with, I wasn’t quite sure if these classifications were totally accurate. I felt that I must either validate or deny these claims, and in order to do so, I would have to become strangely introspective.
As far as the reference to Dadaism is concerned, I agree with this analysis in some respects and disagree in others. Unlike Dadaism, I do believe that this project is (to a certain degree) concerned with aesthetics. But then again, aesthetics are largely in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s sense of beauty can be vastly different than that of another. Also, I don’t necessary believe that this project rejects logic or the idea of the bourgeois and their controlling power, but I do believe that the artwork displayed here often does embrace chaos and irrationality and that very often the prevailing ideas of what is traditionally considered to be “art” are cast by the wayside.
Whether or not this project adheres to any of the prevalent ideas of Post-post modernism may be even more difficult to analyze, particularly because we are currently living in the early developmental stages of this growing epoch. However, if we look at the major theme of Post-post modernism as being closely tied to the idea that faith, trust, dialogue, performance and sincerity can work to transcend postmodern irony, then I believe we may be on to something.
So, what conclusion have we reached in the end? I believe it is the one that we knew would be waiting for us all this time: the wolf is all things to all people. It is undefinable and magically transcendent. Whether your work is marvelously minimal (such as the piece that Nick has so graciously bestowed upon us) or is deeply intricate and complex, the spirit of the wolf lies within them all. And in the end this is really all that matters.
But we can’t leave the discussion without tipping our hats to Nick who started this whole ball rolling. Thanks, Nick, for turning on our thinking caps. We certainly need it from time to time. Also, as I compose these final sentences, I am reminded of the words of the famous British playwright George Bernard Shaw who wrote, “All good art is didactic.” If that’s all we know, then for now I think that is enough, and one more thing’s for sure: Nick’s work here today has certainly been more didactic than I think any of us anticipated.
Thanks again, Nick.
When I first received Amuro’s email asking if I would consider displaying some of the wolf portraits that she had posted on deviantart.com, I must say that my expectations were, well, nonexistent in a way. I was excited to be contacted and was thrilled that another artistic soul had discovered the WBS project and was interested in participating, but I must admit that I didn’t really give the viewing of the artwork much thought at first. I would put it on my “to do” list, and when time allowed, I would take a glance at what she had to offer. You see, even though I find this project to be rewarding and fulfilling (and I truly love every submission), in some ways the continual viewing of art and then posting of it can easily become all just a part of the job.
When I clicked on that first link, however, the situation quickly changed. My heart and mind were swiftly transported into a realm of creative wonder beyond description. Simply put, I wasn’t prepared for the lupine greatness that greeted my somewhat jaded eyes, and I was instantly thankful for the exquisite awakening that was washing down upon me like a deluge of color in a black and white world. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no other way to say it: the times that I have experienced lupine artwork of this caliber are few and far between.
There is a grace and an elegance found in Amuro’s works that is profound that it is somewhat difficult to describe. Her work produces a sense of euphoria and a unique feeling like unto a warm but pleasant darkness. Some of the works are bustling with frenzied hues and manic shades, but they are precise and calming at the same time. When gazing upon these pieces, the viewer experiences an unfamiliar but gratifying sense of being ferried lightly from the familiar to the enchanted. There is a gentle but significant ushering from the common to the mystical. In short, these pieces fill the eyes (and thus the heart and mind) with wondrous lupine magic.
I believe that one of the most significant aspects of these pieces that grant them such an unearthly power over the viewer is the ethereal nature of the background of each portrait. The lack of a clear and decisive setting allows us as viewers to be taken more readily into the mysterious world of the wolf. We are floating in space with it, spinning at dizzying heights with the majestic king of all creatures. In addition to this, there is also a universal sense of loneliness and almost an inherent sadness that is displayed in some of these pieces that creates a bittersweet catharsis for the viewer as he ponders the connection of the wolf to his own life and personal sense of beauty. It almost appears that the wolf is both a source of sadness and a haven from it as well. But perhaps more than anything else, there is a striking yet unexplainable sense of honesty that permeates these works. The wolf is presented as beautiful and elegant and fantastically lifelike. It is delicate yet hardy, peaceful yet proud. In short, these works display everything I thought this project would bring me and much more.
Thanks, Amuro. Never stop following your passion, and always let your talented heart and mind lead the way.
(Check out more of Amuro’s work here)
From Maggie in Chattanooga, Tennessee
While this illustration might not accurately represent the sweeping landscapes and lush mountain vistas that the late Bob Ross depicted in many of his powerful paintings, I do feel that the overall sentiment here is very comparable to much of Ross’ work. As an artist, Bob was as well known for his kind demeanor and soft, soothing voice as he was for his artistic talent. A phrase that constantly found its way into his playfully innocent lexicon was “happy little trees.” Bob loved nature. He loved its wildness and its wonder, and the magnificence of the natural world never ceased to amaze him. As a man he simultaneously gave impressions of a wizened sage as well as a wide-eyed, innocent boy. And I believe this is where much of his appeal came from. He was so captivating in his disarming temperament that he wasn’t entirely relatable, but at the same time he captured the attention of young and old alike, and to this day, I’ve never heard anyone utter one negative statement about the man. He was a strange sort of “everyman” character that simply made you want to be a better person. He made you want to breath fresh air and live life to the fullest. He made you want to smile.
While looking upon the grinning, beaming sun and “M” shaped birds in the above piece, I can’t help but think that Bob would be proud of Maggie and her efforts to portray the beauty and “friendliness” of nature. And there on the left side of the page sits a her own “happy little tree.” Nature can often be brutal and savage, but it always has the capability to be remarkably charming and delightful as well, and personally, I am forever grateful for artists such as Bob and Maggie who remind us of this fact through their inspiring work. After all, there’s always room for more beauty, more tenderness, more compassion, and more wonder.
Check out the video below for your daily dose of “Ross.”
I received this illustration from Johanna several days ago, and ever since that time, my mind has been reeling with the possibilities of what to say about this very unique picture. In her email, Johanna informed me that this mutant wolf and small anthropomorphic kitten are characters from a roleplaying game called Mutant: Undergångens Arvtagare. So, I know that these creatures exist in a world that is outside of our reality, and as a result, I’m not necessarily surprised to see a 4-armed wolf with regenerative powers playing catch with a kitten wearing a dress and a cardigan. I accept these elements of this picture without question.
However, beyond these obviously strange and intriguing elements, there is still something about this picture that sends chills down my spine. This scene is very artfully rendered and displays a great deal of skill, but… there is something unsettling here. Something unnerving that causes my heartbeat to quicken ever so slightly and the small hairs on the back of my neck to stand at attention. In the end I can’t quite put my finger on this mysterious element that has evoked such an intense reaction from me, but I believe it is related to the physical environment in which these creatures are portrayed. Here we have these two being playing together, but the landscape that I can see appears somewhat dark and almost barren. On the one side of the illustration is a lone hill, darkened with overhanging clouds. And to the left there appears to be a city, but the feeling it gives me is a cold and impersonal one, almost as if it exists in some post-apocalyptic world. And where are the characters in relation to these other elements of setting? I’m not sure… but they appear to be in some gray, ashen field. And yet there are smiles upon their faces.
Perhaps this is where the strange feeling inside me arises from: in a world that appears so dark and foreign, so scary and mysterious, so filled with creatures beyond my understanding, there is still a sense of joy and even innocence. Perhaps the juxtaposition of these elements is simply too much for my brain to comprehend.
Thank you Johanna for this wonderful illustration. It is both beautiful as well as intriguing and it certainly set my mind to work.
To see more Johanna’s skilled artwork, visit her deviantart page here.
From Emily in Chattanooga.
It’s often a wondrous experience to sit back and examine the path that the stream of one’s life has taken and to speculate what further twists and turns lie just beyond the next bend. Who can predict the track that a stream takes on its journey to the sea? Each of us must sail the river of his own existence; the eddies that pull us back and the rapids that tumultuously present life’s problems are unique and individual. Even so, at times our separate waters may overlap and become one; and thus we may become a part of waterways vast and deep and then a short while later branch off into tributaries both narrow and shallow and drift back into our own individual existences once again.
Just recently my path crossed serendipitously with a young woman in my own community known as Emily who just happens to be the illustrator of today’s post. In an accompanying letter, Emily described how she found an orange Easter egg that I had hidden in downtown Chattanooga and opened it to discover a miniature WBS flier inside. She said that she had made immediate plans to draw a wolf and send it in, but for whatever reason her intentions never came to fruition until she happened to be walking along on one of Chattanooga’s many bridges and came upon one of my fliers. It was then that she knew that fate was calling her to produce this masterpiece of “A Midsummer Night’s Wolf” and contribute it to the Wolves by Strangers project.
How stranger and funny life can be sometimes. In a community in which some people have not ever heard of this project, this young lady just happened to come into contact with my pleas in two different ways and at two different times, months apart. And then, when she did comply with the request, she did so in a way that could not be better suited to my personal interests. How could she have known that I am an ardent fan of classic literature and have studied the work of Shakespeare quite extensively? And on top of this, how could she have known of my love for unusual modern poetry when she included the poem below?
I’m not sure. I guess life is just funny sometimes.
“There are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves”
by James Kavanaugh
There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.
There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.
There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.
There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world,
Unless they have a gentle one to love.
From Tim in Tennessee
As much as I love receiving the weird, the wild, and the outrageous, nothing can compare to the joy that fills my soul when a truly classic wolf illustration is bestowed upon me by a thoughtful and talented stranger. Take the work that is on display for example. This picture may not be the wackiest or the craziest piece that I have ever received, but nevertheless, it accurately represents everything that I have come to know and love about the wolf and everything that inspired me to embark upon this epic lupine-inspired journey in the first place.
Notice the pride that fills those piercing eyes. Notice the calmness, the coolness, the collected demeanor and the self-assured posturing. Examine the natural beauty of the soft and welcoming fur and the fearful symmetry of the lupine countenance. Whether you believe that this marvelous creature is the result of millions of years of evolutionary progress or the pinnacle of all predators produced by the artful hand of the Almighty, no one can deny the power and the strength that lies within that stare. Nothing can detract from the beauty that is present here today. Take a moment. Look into the eyes of this classic wolf. Become inspired. And never forget that although we may be bound by physical frames much different than those of the lobos, we can still strive to take on his features of strength, loyalty, oneness with nature, pride and wisdom.
Make the decision today. Live life like the wolf.
Like most people, I’m not necessarily an “art scholar,” per se, but I know what I like; and the one artistic movement or style that has always captivated me the most is Impressionism. I’m not sure exactly what it is about this particular style intrigues me, but I believe it has something to do with the idea of transforming seemingly random or chaotic strokes of a brush into an artistic masterpiece that inevitably presents itself as calm and soothing. There is a method to the madness of Impressionism that is gentle and sets the viewer at ease. Of course, I am really only familiar with the most famous artists of the school of Impressionism: Van Gogh, Renoir, and Monet, but I have been blessed to have been able to see several works by these creative geniuses in person, and I have found them to be astounding and worthy of hours of study. Recently, though, I was introduced to a new Impressionistic prodigy by the name of Abigael, and it is her work that is on display today.
When I first observed this piece, my mind was drawn to recall Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It’ funny how the mind makes the connections it does. Some people may not find it easy to draw similarities between these two works, but essentially, if you were to examine some of the most traditional features of Impressionistic paintings, you would no doubt find that this work by Abigael is classically Impressionistic: the play of natural light is emphasized here, and even though the picture clearly depicts the nighttime, the color black is avoided; also, short strokes are used to capture the “essence” of the subject as opposed to the specifc details.
In the end there are some who might argue that such a classic depiction of the wolf (howling at a moon hovering in the nighttime sky) is too clichéd to be considered a great work of art. I, however, resoundilngly rail against this narrow interpretation. If there is such a thing as a modern classic, I believe we have found it. The noble wolf with his head raised calling out his plaintive nighttime cry may be an image that we are well familiar with, but that does not mean we have fully explored its power or the extent of the beauty of its artistic rendering. In fact, I only just received this work yesterday, but I was so moved by it that I simply had to display it today.
Thank you, Abigael. I know this wolf has certainly made an impression on me…