For a few years in the late ’70s through the mid 80’s I started and operated a mail-order bookshop. The Naturalist Bookshop. In 1984 I attended the American Booksellers Association’s annual convention in Washington DC. It was a brand new experience for me, though I had been in the book-selling business for several years. I started the bookshop with zero experience in selling books or selling anything through the mail. My main goal was to make books on the Natural Sciences available to as many people as possible. To share my love of science and nature.
Photo credit: Wild Wings est. 1968
The story of the bookshop is for another time, another blog. I learned many things by figuring out what and how to do things with the bookshop that have helped me throughout my life. But, as I said, those stories are for another time.
Right now I want to talk about Owen Gromme. A renowned wildlife artist and absolutely my favorite wildlife artist. Referred to as the “Dean of American Wildlife Artists during his lifetime,” he was also a devout environmentalist. At a commencement address in 1978, Gromme pointed out that “We owe a great deal to those who came before us, and it is our duty to pass on to prosperity a world morally and physically as good or better than the one we live in … it is our duty to oppose those who, out of greed and avarice, or for selfish or other reasons, would pollute, defile, or destroy that which means life itself to every living being.”
So when I came upon the Stanton & Lee Publishers booth at the convention and looked through their featured work: The World of Owen Gromme I was blown away. What a masterpiece of Wildlife illustrations! Well, I am proud to say I sold several copies of Owen’s book and of course I have my copy that I look through with great enjoyment on a regular basis. My favorite illustration is that of the “Virginia Deer with Fawns.”
Photo credit: Leigh Yawkey Woodsen Art Museum
“One day I very carefully observed this doe and her two fawns as they approached the water for a drink. The sun shone behind the animals, causing the light to filter delicately through their ears, making the ears seem almost translucent. The mother is a scrawny doe, with her ribs and loins showing; most does are quite lean this time of year since the nursing fawns keep their mother’s weight down and she has a few scars on her skin where she has been tangled in barbed wire fences. But she makes a beautiful picture with her new fawns.”
I don’t have nearly the time in a blog to begin to give justice to the book and works of art presented in it. Each illustration is accompanied by Owen’s story of how that painting came to be. The illustrations show the wildlife in an active state.
So, if you feel inclined, get your own copy of “The World of Owen Gromme” or check out some of his illustrations online. While you enjoy his beautiful art remember what he wants us all to do: To protect and preserve our wondrous planet for “every living being.”
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