Done With the Dunes (for now)
Today was my last day “on exhibit”. It was quite eventful because I had a visit from Harry McChesney who painted dioramas at the NY State Museum in Albany. Harry is the only diorama painter other than Sean Murtha who has ever tried out JP Wilson’s gridding ideas. He gave me a copy of his grid drawings for the Mastodon diorama many years ago. They are unlike anything I’ve seen of Wilson’s, but they clearly grid the background the same way. I have been interested in these drawings because in many cases, Wilson would produce his grids on paper. He was absolutely conversant in architectural methods using plans and elevations on an architect’s drawing table to find the measurements and bring them to the museum.
Harry told me that he started this diorama in 1973 and wanted to grid it because the background was an irregular curve. He produced the drawings and was ready to start, but the administration thought he was taking too long, so they hired Jan Vriessen from Canada to paint the background. Vriessen projected slides onto the background and painted what was projected. Harry assisted Vriessen. How many things are wrong with this picture! I’ll ask my friend Nat Chard to submit something to the blog about why projecting slides is a bad idea. Harry said if Wilson were there he would have walked off the job.
On Monday, the diorama (with it’s new foreground) will be wrapped in plastic and a wall built around it right in the exhibit gallery. It will “sleep” behind the wall while the next exhibit is running. After that exhibit closes in three months, the construction shop will have time to build the presentation case for the diorama. It will include a 54″X54″ window on a slant and a light box on top. Then it will be installed permanently in the CT. Bird Hall. During the next 3-4 months while the diorama is walled up, I will work on the taxidermy mounts and the plants to get them ready for installation-in the prep lab down in the basement of the Peabody. It was great to be “on display” and I met a lot of interesting people and some awesome kids, but I am ready to not have to be “ON” all the time and work quietly by myself or with my volunteers in my shop. Look for the diorama in the Bird Hall this fall.