Artist ‘Radeaux’ and Biologist Wickersham to be Featured at Crane Festival

By Ruthanne Johnson

The Pueblo-based artist Radeaux has been visiting Colorado’s San Luis Valley since the late 1960’s to see the sandhill crane migration in spring. He’s seen it all: cranes jumping and flapping their wings in courtship, hundreds of cranes suddenly taking flight and cranes flying against the full moon.

Cranes have inspired many of his stylized bird paintings, including one piece with two cranes, a dragonfly and leopard frog that is the official poster for the 2017 Monte Vista Crane Festival. “A lot of people don’t know these cranes are omnivores,” says Radeaux. “That’s why I included the leopard frogs and dragonfly, which are animals the cranes would eat.”

Radeaux. Purple Martins, Flying Swallows, acrylic on canvas

Radeaux is also the crane festival’s keynote speaker and will be discussing his 40-year journey as a nature artist and bird imagery in human culture. For example, he often uses sandhill cranes in his work that are similar to depictions on pottery from the ancient Mimbres culture of the North American southwest.

Lynn E. Wickersham, senior avian biologist for Animas Biological Studies in Durango, is another festival speaker. She and Radeaux worked together on the Second Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas, a project 10 years in the making. Wickersham edited the book, which gives information on the natural history of Colorado’s breeding bird species and maps with documented nesting areas. Radeaux created 275 color bird illustrations for the project.

The atlas is being used by professionals to help identify bird breeding and nesting locations and minimize impacts caused by human activities. But the information is also great for folks just wanting to learn more about Colorado’s breeding birds, says Wickersham. The maps and other details can help birders find species, including rare ones.

Wickersham will be speaking at 2pm on Saturday, March 11 at the Vali 3 Theater in Monte Vista. Radeaux’s presentation, 40 Years Painting Colorado’s Fauna, is at 7:30pm on Saturday in the theater.

The Second Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas will be available for purchase and signing.

For festival information, visit mvcranefest.org

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