“Hear the Rhythm of the Birds” opens at Brushwood Gallery this weekend

Two important qualities unite very different artistic approaches in “Hear the Rhythm of the Birds,” the exciting new Brushwood exhibition of paintings and sculpture. Painter Kimberly Beck and sculptor Don Rambadt, are both passionate and knowledgeable about birds and they are also both extremely skillful in their chosen medium. Nature lovers and art lovers equally will find much to appreciate in this major exhibit of new work inspired by birds.

The concept for the exhibit was the brainchild of Beck. “Birds connect us to the rhythms of nature. They help us understand the changing seasons by their comings and goings. They soar above us and around us and live amongst us in our backyards. We learn about beauty, grace, persistence, hope and ourselves when we take notice of the rhythm of the birds.” Beck spent the twelve months of 2014 creating the thirty paintings in this show, preferring to work in the field from life to directly experience the changes in the landscape and light as the birds moved through their year.

“I have observed them through the four seasons, taken note of their daily behaviors, routines and habits. I watched them nest and faithfully care for their offspring, I learned about their preferred trees and perches…I listened and learned to recognize their song…I missed those that departed in the winter, and rejoiced at their return.” This intimacy is conveyed in her paintings through a deep knowledge of her materials and is supported by her past experience as a professional illustrator. “I want the paint to participate,” she says with strong conviction.

Beck describes her creative process as beginning with an internal dialog based on an experience. That experience grows into a concept and then, through the artist’s rendering, tells a story. For example, the concept for her painting titled Graziozo (the musical term for gracefully) emerged from her emotional response when a great blue heron rose up languorously and flew off as she approached it. Musical terms provide titles for many of her paintings as befits art exploring rhythm.

Don Rambadt is also exhibiting almost entirely new work. Rambadt’s personal statement declares “I sculpt because I enjoy the challenge of manipulating space. I choose birds as my subject matter because they fascinate me to no end.” A birdwatcher, falconer and former taxidermist he knows birds extremely well, but his work is more stylized than Beck’s. The species are recognizable, but the forms are “distilled like a haiku”, a liberty that is only possible when an artist is completely familiar with the natural form.

Rambadt expresses delight at being a returning artist to Brushwood and to provide sculptural support to Beck’s theme of Rhythm. About Rambadt, Beck says “He’s fabulous! We are fortunate to have a nationally recognized sculptor whose work adds so much to the show.”

It should be noted that the leadership role for the art program at Brushwood Center has recently changed. This is the final exhibit curated by former Executive Director Sophie Twichell. Long time Brushwood staff member Julia Kemerer was promoted to the position of Director of Arts and Administration last fall and is looking ahead to creating other exhibits to fulfill the mission of Brushwood.

“We will continue to focus on art that explores the themes of nature and the environment. It’s a great way to make people think about their relationship with the natural world.”

An opening reception will be held from 1-3pm on Sunday, January 11. Exhibition runs January 11 – February 26, 2015.​​For more information visit www.brushwoodcenter.org.

Ryerson Reads celebrates 10 years

Ryerson Reads 1491

New season starts September 10

For 10 years, book lovers with an interest in ecology have enjoyed lively discourse at a unique book club held at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. The 11th season starts this fall.

Longtime participant Dick Ettlinger of Highland Park said the leader Ben Goluboff guides the group in a thought-provoking way that stimulates fascinating discussions. Goluboff is a professor of English at Lake Forest College.

“He asks questions and invites responses,” Ettlinger said. “He gets the discussion going. He doesn’t want to make a lecture out of it.”

Goluboff said that’s his intent: To invite comments and encourage readers to delve into issues and themselves.

“I really try to make it a dialogue, like a good literature class,” he said.

One of Goluboff’s selections this season is Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert Pogue Harrison.

Ben Goluboff - Ryerson Reads
Ben Goluboff, a professor of English at Lake Forest College, leads the Ryerson Reads book discussions.

“This is a powerful book, a delightful, challenging wonderful book, “Goluboff said. Participants will likely discuss whether the author is truly talking about gardens or something else, he said.

Over the years, Goluboff has been fascinated and excited about what participants say and observe about themselves and the environment.

“One book, The Creation by E.O. Wilson, elicited a wide-ranging discussion,” he said. “One participant talked about how Wilson’s writing caused her to re-examine her faith,” he said.

“I thought that was extraordinary. It makes people around the table recognize the power of the writer. It’s been one of the many experiences in my life that reminds me how literature can make a big difference in peoples’ lives.”

Brushwood Center Executive Director Sophie Twichell said, “We are thrilled Ryerson Reads has thrived for 10 years. This is a truly wonderful way to discuss literature in a beautiful setting with a thoughtful, knowledgeable and well-read leader.”

Copies of the books chosen for the 2014/15 season of Ryerson Reads will be set aside and available at the Deerfield Public Library, 920 Waukegan Road as well as the Vernon Area Public Library, 300 Olde Half Day Road, Lincolnshire. Books are also available for purchase at the Lake Forest Book Store. Limited copies are on hand at Brushwood Center. The fee is $15 per session, $10 for Brushwood Center members. The entire series is $45 or $30 for members. Discussions are held from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on the dates below.

Ryerson_Reads_Fall_2014_final_frontSept. 10, 2014:            When the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle
Nov. 12, 2014:             The Paradise of Bombs by Scott Russell Sanders
Jan. 14, 2015:              The Last Animal by Abby Geni
Mar. 11, 2015:             Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert                                                                Pogue Harrison

To register for Ryerson Reads or for more information, call 847.968.3308 or visit http://www.brushwoodcenter.org/Programs/Discovery/RyersonReads.html.

Brushwood Center is located at: 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods, IL 60015.  www.brushwoodcenter.org.

 

Ryerson Reads is partially sponsored by a grant from:

Rosborough

 

 

 

Views from Brushwood Farm

Morton B Ryerson_at_the_Des_Plaines
Des Plaines River at Ryerson cabin. Brushwood Farm, 1938. Photo by Edward L. Ryerson.

VIEWS FROM BRUSHWOOD FARM

The Photographs of Edward L. Ryerson

and Edward Ranney, 1937 – 1974

 

 OPENING:  Sunday, September 7 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

RUNS:  September 7 – October 30, 2014

Nationally renowned photographer Edward Ranney, known for his artistry depicting the remains of ancient Peruvian cultures, spent many happy days during his youth at his grandparents’ summer home called Brushwood, at what is now Ryerson Woods.  Back then, his grandfather, Edward L. Ryerson, who donated much of his property to the Lake County Forest Preserves, took black-and-white photographs of family gatherings inside the house and nearby outdoors.  The landscape familiar to us as Ryerson Woods was known to its owners then as “Brushwood Farm.”

When Brushwood Center’s executive director Sophie Twichell asked Ranney to show his own works at an art exhibition at Brushwood Center, Ranney thought of another idea. Why not create an exhibit showing his grandfather’s and his own photos of the family’s times spent at the property?

The result: Views from Brushwood Farm: The Photographs of Edward L. Ryerson & Edward Ranney, 1937-1974, which opens Sunday, September 7 and runs through October 30.

Ranney recalls watching his grandfather take black-and-white photographs and then go into the dark room to print them and create albums still in the family’s possession today. After recently pouring through some several thousand negatives and family albums, Ranney selected some 30 photographs his grandfather took, and then selected 14 he himself took in 1972, the year after both his grandfather and grandmother, Nora Ryerson, died.

Edward Ryerson Ranney
Edward Ryerson Ranney

By then, Ranney had become a well-known photographer who had photographed extensively in Peru. But Ranney said he wanted to get back to Brushwood to take some photographs.  “It was clear to me that the house would be changed, and the furniture would be distributed. So I wanted to make a record for the family of how it looked,” he said.

“I had spent so much time there. Evoking it photographically came rather easily. I knew what elements I wanted to pick out and emphasize – the big parlor room, the sitting room used for gatherings and lectures, the relationship of the house to the surrounding landscape and the woods.  These photos convey what this place meant to us and my grandparents. The photographs show the human context of that period in life – which is very much worthy of preservation. It will help the public know the personal side of Edward Ryerson, Sr.”

Brushwood Farm, 1972. Photo by Edward Ranney.
Brushwood Farm, 1972. Photo by Edward Ranney.

Twichell said the exhibition will serve as a reminder of the Ryersons who donated their land to the forest preserve districts.  “Because of the Ryerson family, we have this beautiful space where we can present programs including art exhibitions and musical performances, as well as the outdoors where visitors can enjoy the protected native landscape and wildlife.”

Brushwood served as the Ryerson family’s summer house from the 1942 until 1972, when 279 acres of the Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area were dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve.

Celebrating_30_years_logo_final - cropped

“Brushwood Center is celebrating 30 years, and it is a fitting time to reflect back on the Ryerson family’s relationship with this special landscape. Without visionaries like the Ryersons who valued the protection of this incredible high quality woodland, Ryerson Woods might not be here today for all of us to enjoy.  We are delighted to feature historic photographs taken by conservation leaders of the past,” Twichell said.

Edward Ranney has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe and other museums.  Books of his photographs include Monuments of the Incas, Prairie Passage (about the Illinois and Michigan Canal), and The Lines (about the Nazca Lines in South America), just published by the Yale University Press.

Ranney will join Brushwood Center for the opening reception of the exhibition from 1 – 3 p.m., Sept. 7. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.brushwoodcenter.org.  Brushwood Center is located at: 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods, IL 60015.

 

Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods
Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

About Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

Through innovative programs presented against a backdrop of stately woods where pre-settlement flora and fauna still linger, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods seeks to build an environmental ethic in our region by offering multiple points of entry for the public to connect with nature. Brushwood Center is a nonprofit organization.

 

BRUSHWOOD HOURS:

Monday to Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Or by appointment, 847.968.3308.

 

Views from Brushwood Farm is partially sponsored by a grant from:

FinalIAClogo

 

 

 

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

"Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing" by William Blake.  c.1786.  Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night's_Dream.
“Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing” by William Blake. c.1786. Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night’s_Dream.

 

Shakespeare comes to Brushwood Center:

A performance in the woods with Citadel Theatre

Shakespeare aficionados and neophytes alike can relax among the lush vegetation and sound of crickets at Ryerson Woods on August 1, 2 and 3 when Citadel Theatre performs “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” outdoors.

“The hour-long performance is perfect for those who already know and love Shakespeare as well as those who want to enjoy theater in a beautiful setting,” said Heather Meyers, the show’s production manager. “It’s a great introduction to Shakespeare, and we’re making it accessible to a modern audience.”

All the audience needs is a blanket or lawn chair, and a picnic if they like, as they watch a fully costumed production of Shakespeare’s bewitching tale of fairies, enchanted forests, and of course, lost lovers.

“The show has a little bit of everything: comedy, love and romance, mistaken identity, chase scenes, the magic of the fairies. It will be fun to watch,” said Meyers.

Sophie Twichell, Executive Director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, said she encourages families to attend. “Because it’s only an hour long, and because of all the fun characters in the play, it is a wonderful introduction to magic of theater,” said Twichell. “Attendees will revel in the outdoor experience, which ends just before sunset.”

Brushwood Center, along with the Lake County Forest Preserves, is partnering with Citadel Theatre (based in Lake Forest) for the first time to present outdoor theater at Ryerson Woods.

“This is our first outdoor Shakespeare theater ever, and we’re happy to be doing it at Ryerson Woods,” Meyers said. Meyers said the actors are being directed by one of the best: Frank Farrell, a Chicago director and actor.

“Bringing Shakespeare to Brushwood Center furthers our mission of nurturing art, nature and discovery,” Twichell said. “We are thrilled to be partnering with a theater company based right here in Lake County.”

Tickets are available for three shows beginning at 6:30 p.m., August 1, 2 and 3. Pre-registration is recommended. Registration deadline is July 31. In the case of inclement weather, the production will be held indoors, with limited seating available.

For more information and to obtain tickets, call 847.968.3321 or visit www.brushwoodcenter.org. Brushwood Center is located at: 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods, IL 60015.

 

About Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

Through innovative arts programs presented against a backdrop of stately woods where pre-settlement flora and fauna still linger, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods seeks to build an environmental ethic in our region by offering multiple points of entry for the public to connect with nature. Brushwood Center is a nonprofit organization.

WHAT TO READ: Identifying Plants

Glenn Adelson, PhD, leading an Introduction to Botany class at Ryerson Woods in the spring of 2014.
Glenn Adelson, PhD, leading an Introduction to Botany class at Ryerson Woods in the spring of 2014.

We recently invited our friend and frequent nature seminar instructor Glenn Adelson, chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Lake Forest College, to share his favorite books for identifying plants in our region.  Here are four books he recommends you have on your bookshelf and with you in the field to get familiar with our region’s flora.

 

PCRjacket_blowupFloyd Swink and Gerould Wilhelm, Plants of the Chicago Region, 4 ed.

We are very lucky to have a book like this dedicated to our region. The habitat and plant associates information is essential. It will be frustrating for a beginner to try to key plants out, but it is well worth the effort to learn. Make ample use of the glossary while learning.

 

Sunflower-FamilyThomas Antonio and Susanne Masi, The Sunflower Family in the Upper Midwest

The Compositae (also correctly called the Asteraceae) is the flowering plant family with the most species in flower in our area in the summer and fall. This book provides an easy to use set of symbols, based upon inflorescence color and presence or absence of disc and ray flowers to get you to the species you’re trying to figure out. Excellent photographs and nice natural history essays.

 

wildflowers_of_wisconsin_and_the_great_lakes_region_by_merel_black_emmet_judziewicz_0299230538Merel Black and and Emmet Judziewicz, Wildflowers of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region

A very good companion to Swink and Wilhelm, as you can often talk yourself into believing you have the right plant when using a key. I often check the pictures and descriptions in Black and Judziewicz immediately after keying out a plant in Swink and Wilhelm, because it’s far more difficult to talk yourself into a mistaken identification when you have a picture in front of you.

 

Carol Gracie - Spring WildflowersCarol Gracie, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast

An astonishingly beautiful and deeply researched book treating many of our woodland spring wildflowers. Its strength is the amount of depth given to each species it treats, which leads, of course to its weakness, which is how few species are accommodated. The macro photography is the best I’ve ever seen in a botany book.

 

IMG_8376Glenn will be teaching “Flora of the Autumn Prairie” this fall.  Classes will meet three consecutive Tuesday evenings (5:30-7:30pm) starting September 9. Participants will explore the profusion of yellow and purple wildflowers dominating the late summer prairie. We’ll learn plant biology, as we investigate the wide range of aster, goldenrod, mint and sunflower species, as well as the prairie grasses.  We’ll also explore the relationship between plants and their environments. Includes field trips to other preserves.  To register, click here (scroll down to Sept. 9).  Glenn will also be teaching a nature seminar on “Endangered Species & Endangered Languages” in October.

 

 

Glenn Adelson leading a Summer Flora class in summer 2014.
Glenn Adelson leading a Summer Flora class for Brushwood Center in summer 2014.

Glenn Adelson is the chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Lake Forest College, Chicago’s national liberal arts college. He teaches several field botany courses, as well as Evolution, Ecology, and Environment; Endangered Species and Endangered Languages; The Environmental Connections between Chicago and New Orleans; Introduction to Environmental Studies; Troubled World Geography; Botanical Imperialism; and Poetry and Nature. Glenn taught for fifteen years at Harvard University, where he became the only Harvard teacher to twice win the campus-wide Levenson Award for teaching. Glenn has a Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.

Avian Spirits

Thrasher 1 © Julie Meridian | Image courtesy Julie Meridian
Thrasher 1 © Julie Meridian | Image courtesy Julie Meridian

Group Art Exhibition Contemplates Bird Imagery

as Metaphors for the Human Spirit

 AVIAN SPIRITS

OPENING:  Sunday, July 13 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

RUNS:  July 13 – August 31, 2014

 

Curator Franck Mercurio hanging fabulous bird portraits by artist Marlene McCauley.
Curator Franck Mercurio hanging fabulous bird portraits by artist Marlene McCauley.

To curate Brushwood Center’s latest art exhibition Avian Spirits, Franck Mercurio began with a famous Emily Dickinson quote: “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers.”

“I used that as a starting point, how artists have been inspired by birds,” said Mercurio. He has gathered more than 40 pieces created by 14 artists, which include paintings, sculptures and photography for the exhibition that opens July 13.

The works will not only grace the walls of Brushwood Center in Riverwoods, but the scenic forested outdoors as well. Painted directly on the front lawn with environmentally safe products will be a work reflecting bird migration by the collaborative DOEprojekts. On the back lawn, visitors can view an unusual installation by Annette Barbier of waterfowl, feeding as they do with their bottoms up.

Visitation B © Steph Roberts | Image courtesy Addington Gallery
Visitation B © Steph Roberts | Image courtesy Addington Gallery

“I wanted to create something whimsical and explore why we give human characteristics to birds,” said Mercurio. “I chose artists who use bird imagery as metaphors for the human spirit.”

The Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods creates a theme each year used to unite its programs. This year, the theme is Extinction/Survival. Mercurio curated an art exhibition at Brushwood Center in spring entitled, Facing Extinction. “It was all about artists who respond to human-caused extinction and what people are trying to do to ensure survival,” he said.

Avian Spirits is intended to be lighter, more whimsical, more hopeful,” he said. “I want to have some accessible works for the audience as well as some challenging works, and strike a balance.”

One artist he chose is Molly Cranch, who creates colorful oil paintings of birds. “The imagery is really accessible. You can tell what types of birds they are, but there’s an anthropomorphic quality to the birds. They are almost human-like in their expressions,” Mercurio said.

The outdoor lawn painting might need a bit more explanation, he said. Labels will be placed with the installation to explain the symbols that relate to bird migration.

Passenger Pigeon wearable sculpture © Julia Kemerer | Image courtesy Helen Maurene Cooper
Passenger Pigeon wearable sculpture © Julia Kemerer | Image courtesy Helen Maurene Cooper

In addition, artist and Brushwood Center staffer Julia Kemerer created a series of wearable sculptures featuring extinct and endangered species. She collaborated with photographer Helen Maurene Cooper to showcase them being worn.

What brings all these art works together is how the artists have responded to “our affinities with birds in different ways, but often with whimsy, humor, and joy,” Mercurio said. “Avian Spirits aims to celebrate our relationships with birds.”

Avian Spirits opens July 13 and runs through August 31. The show is free and open to the public during regular Brushwood Center hours. A free opening reception will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. July 13. Mercurio will present a tour of the exhibition on August 23, preceding the 2014 Film Festival in the Woods, an annual outdoor film festival hosted by Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.

Participating artists include:

  • Annette Barbier
  • Sarah Belknap and Joseph Belknap
  • Cosmo Campoli
  • Helen Maurene Cooper
  • Molly Cranch
  • DOEprojekts (Deborah & Glenn Doering)
  • Julia Kemerer
  • Barbara Koenen
  • Marlene McCauley
  • Julie Meridian
  • Steph Roberts
  • Dan Streeting

For more information, visit www.brushwoodcenter.org.  Brushwood Center is located at: 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods, IL 60015.

 

Extinction-Survival_logo_final_OL_grey-orange-blue

The exhibition is part of the extinction |survival series of public programs being offered by Brushwood Center over the course of 2014. The series seeks to promote a broader understanding of extinction and species survival.  We’re exploring why extinction happened in the past and why it continues today, as well as celebrating success stories. Programs include book talks, art exhibitions, lectures and film screenings that will run throughout 2014.

 

Brushwood_Logo.smallAbout Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

Through innovative programs presented against a backdrop of stately woods where pre-settlement flora and fauna still linger, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods seeks to build an environmental ethic in our region by offering multiple points of entry for the public to connect with nature. Brushwood Center is a nonprofit organization.

 

BRUSHWOOD CENTER HOURS:

Monday to Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Sunday: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Or by appointment: 847.968.3308.

 

Avian Spirits is partially sponsored by a grant from:

FinalIAClogo

 

Party on the Prairie

middlefork_savanna_2
Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve. Photo by Nick Bothfeld.

 

PARTY ON THE PRAIRIE

Saturday, June 21

6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Join us for a celebration of the Summer Solstice. Watch the sun set over beautiful Middlefork Savanna while mingling with like-minded nature lovers on the patio of a private Lake Forest home with a truly breathtaking view. The evening will include a presentation by Jim Anderson, manager of the Natural Resources Division of the Lake County Forest Preserves. He’ll share information on the extensive work being done to restore this incredibly rare and beautiful tallgrass savanna – a gem in our community! Beer, wine, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

$50 per person. Only 50 tickets will be sold. Visit www.brushwoodcenter.org to register, or call 847.968.3346. 

Joel Oppenheimer to present new “The Birds of America” by John James Audubon at Ryerson Woods

oppenheimer gallery-portrait-10x6x300dpi - small
Joel Oppenheimer in his Chicago gallery with an original double-elephant folio edition of Audubon’s “The Birds of America.”

Wednesday, June 18

7:30 – 8:30 p.m.         

BOOK TALK

The Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition

 

When Joel Oppenheimer recognizes a bird, it’s not because he’s a birder, but rather because the renowned art dealer has been intimately acquainted with the quintessential avian paintings of John James Audubon for decades.

Now, Oppenheimer, one of the country’s foremost authorities on Audubon, has produced and written “The Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition.” Oppenheimer has written text to complement the first complete reproduction of the Bien chromolithographs: 150 full-color illustrations in facsimile form of “The Birds of America,” which Audubon painted more than 150 years ago.

Oppenheimer, a Chicago-based art dealer and art conservator, will give a free talk about this seminal project at 7:30 p.m., June 18 at Brushwood Center, 21850 Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods, Illinois.

"Pileated Woodpecker" by John James Audubon.
“Pileated Woodpecker” by John James Audubon.

Through his seven years of research and working with publisher, W.W. Norton and Co., Oppenheimer discovered some intriguing information, not so much about John James Audubon himself, but about his wife, Lucy, and their son, John Woodhouse Audubon.

After Audubon’s death, his son commissioned Julius Bien in 1858 to produce a new edition of his father’s works with a revolutionary chromolithographic process that omitted the painstaking steps of hand coloring each piece as had been done previously.

The family still owned the original paintings and all the original copper plates.

“The family put everything into this,” Oppenheimer said. “Lucy Audubon mortgaged their estate to finance the project. When the Civil War came, however, the project could not be completed and the family suffered a devastating bankruptcy.” Audubon’s original watercolors were sold to the New-York Historical Society in 1863.

Only 150 plates were produced in the Bien collection. They are among the rarest and most sought-after Audubon prints. When Oppenheimer secured a complete folio of the Bien collection about eight years ago, he was inspired to produce the new book.

book_image_-_the_birds_of_america_-_the_bien_chromolithographic_edition“There was something about the quality of this printing that captured my imagination,” he said. “In previous writings, the Bien edition had been cast aside and much maligned as being a poor quality reproduction. I bought this set and it was an exquisite example of chromolithography and Audubon’s work.”

Oppenheimer said his new book “is a very specific treatment of one particular edition of Audubon’s work that had never been examined in depth at a scholarly level. There’s a lot of new information in the book, a lot of discovery from original research.”

The June 18 event is presented through a partnership between Brushwood Center and Lake County Forest Preserves. A limited number of books will be available for purchase ($350) and signing. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Brushwood Center. To reserve your copy in advance, call 847.968.3308. Registration is required. To register, call 847.968.3321.

WHEN:     7:30pm, Wednesday, June 18

WHERE:   Brushwood Center, 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods, IL

COST:       Free

Registration required.  To register, call 847.968.3321.

 

Folklore of the Forest Floor: Part 2

bird girl in spring
The Bird Girl, the 1938 work by sculptor Sylvia Shaw Judson, oversees the arrival of spring at Ryerson Woods.

by Luke Buckardt

The emergence of Wild Leeks in early April provides some of the first signs of green at Ryerson Woods in spring.
The emergence of Wild Leeks (Allium tricoccum) in early April provides some of the first signs of green at Ryerson Woods in spring.

After some rain and a few warm days, the forest floor began its push to beat the leaves.    Spring ephemerals must take advantage of the slim margin of time between when it is warm enough to flower and when the leaves pop, cutting off light to the forest floor.  This two to three week period is perhaps the most active time of year for the forest floor, where hundreds of species quickly take advantage of sunlight in order to reproduce.  The leaf litter is suddenly changed from decay into a vivid carpet of green.  The flowering species have a very short time to reproduce and take advantage of pollinators.  Historically, this brief period every year was essential for Native Americans and early settlers.  The plants that grew were harvested for food and medicine, as well as many other resources.  Following the phenology of bloom is something scientists are fascinated by, and in recognizing these patterns, can determine the many uses of these spring ephemerals.

Perhaps the most common plant in Ryerson right now is the Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum), which can be seen in many of the wet areas of the preserve.   The Wild Leek, a type of onion, is a member of the lily family.  It, however, is unusual in the sense that it does not flower during this crucial time before trees leaf out.  The leek flowers in late June.   Leek is touted as a savory flavor, perhaps the most delicious of all of the native wild onions.  Settlers used the strong odor of the leek to cover the taste of spoiled food.  They have been used for centuries for food, but they were also thought to have some medicinal properties.   Chippewa tribes used it as a cure for the common cold, and also as an emetic, or something that forces vomiting.

Trout Lily (Erythromium albidum) is currently in bloom at Ryerson Woods.
Trout Lily (Erythromium albidum) is currently in bloom at Ryerson Woods.

Another common plant right now at Ryerson is the Trout Lily.  Trout lily (Erythromium albidum) is an abundant plant on throughout the floor, and can be seen flowering right now.  The flower opens downward, so to get a good look at it one must get low to the ground.  Trout lilies are fascinating flowers for a few reasons.  Most surprisingly, they are colonial.  A large swath of these flowers may actually be one individual plant.  The bulbs extent stems throughout the soil, and each year add growth from one initial bulb.  The flower gets its name due to the leaf spots present, which look very similar to the spots on a trout.  The flowers are open until they are fertilized by insects, and then whither away within a few days.  The trout lily is very interesting in that the flower is very sensitive to temperature.  In order to maximize the potential for pollination, it will not open until the air temperature is 55 degrees. This, according to the plant, is the right temperature for insect activity to be abundant, and therefore giving it a better chance at pollination.  Historically, this plant has been used for food as well as medicine.  Sioux tribes ate the bulbs, as they are high in nutrients.  Some of the first botanical literature cited the medical uses of the plant as a cure for gout, as well as a treatment for boils upon the skin.  Trout lilies are beautiful, and their colonies in some parts of the forest take up much of the current forest floor.

Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) blanket the forest floor at Ryerson Woods.
In spring, Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) blanket the forest floor at Ryerson Woods.

Perhaps one of the most well known spring ephemerals in the eastern forests is the Mayapple.  The Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) grows in every section of Ryerson Woods and can be easily located by their large, umbrella-like leaves.  The Latin name comes from the Greek word “podos”, or foot and “phyllon”, or leaf.  Early taxonomists believed the leaf resembled the webbed foot of a duck.  Mayapples are also colonial, and reproduced via rhizomes underground.  This is the reason you will see large “stands” of Mayapple in different parts of the forest.  The plant blooms in early to mid May, and has a large white flower attached to the stalk under the large leaf.  The flower is quickly pollinated, and the plant stays on the forest floor for up to three months while the fruit ripens.  The unripe fruit has a toxic resinoid in it called Podophyllum, and can be lethal to children or adults if consumed in large quantities.  However, these are no longer present once the fruit ripens and can be eaten.  It is said that they taste like strawberries.  The fruit was consumed by many woodland tribes, but also used in the unripe state as a purgative or emetic.  The Delaware tribe also used the unripe fruit to treat arthritis.

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This blog post was written by Luke Buckardt, who assists Brushwood Center with social media.  Luke graduated from Northland College in 2012 with a degree in biology.  He grew up in Riverwoods and has roamed Ryerson Woods since he was young, knowing the preserve intimately.

Moving Targets

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Art exhibition linking passenger pigeon and Jewish heritage comes to Ryerson Woods

MOVING TARGETS

OPENING: Sunday, May 4 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

RUNS: May 4 – July 3, 2014

Artists and friends Steffi Domike and Ann T. Rosenthal often focus on environmental issues in their work, sometimes weaving bird imagery into their pieces. Both also have traced the history of their Jewish ancestors from Ukraine. Now the artists have created a unique exhibition that links their heritage and environmental ethics. Moving Targets will open May 4 at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. A free reception will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Using digital media, painting and layering techniques, the artists will install collages, wood box paintings, maps and photos to tell the story of migration, loss and survival.

The exhibition weaves the story of their ancestors’ migration from Ukraine to Canada with the migration of the now extinct passenger pigeons in the United States. With help from historian Ruth Fichman, the artists learned about their ancestors who left the Ukraine circa 1910 to escape anti-Semitism and pogroms (organized massacres, especially of Jews). “As part of Moving Targets, Steffi and I are each creating a visual journal that will interpret the story of our mothers’ families, along with the migration of passenger pigeons in the United States,” said Rosenthal.

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Steffi Domike and Ann Rosenthal at Ryerson Woods.

This year marks the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird in North America. The species was hunted to extinction within 40 years. “Both the birds and the people made tremendous voyages to survive,” Domike said. “On the one hand, our families obviously did survive. Yet the birds did not ultimately make it. Some of our interest is in the commonalities of this flight to survival. Some of it is about differences.” Rosenthal said they use maps as backdrops, with mixed media pieces hung on the maps. “There are two maps. One represents the pigeon. One represents our family.” The maps will be presented in sections, each telling a part of the story.

In addition to exhibiting their own work, the artists have invited 14 artists from states where the passenger pigeon formerly lived to create a portrait gallery in Brushwood. Each artist is using wooden birch boxes upon which they will create their work whether it be through collage, photography or painting. “One of our submissions is the ghost of the passenger pigeon, another is a formal portrait, another one is a half dozen birds flying madly as though in a large flock,” Domike said. “They are absolutely beautiful.”

They said their inspiration for creating the exhibition came from Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction. Greenberg will receive a conservation award at the Smith Nature Symposium to be held May 17 at Ryerson Woods. Symposium attendees will be able to browse the Moving Targets exhibition during the Symposium.

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Ann Rosenthal shares her family’s journey from the Ukraine to Canada to California in the “Moving Targets” exhibition.

The Smith Nature Symposium is an annual benefit event for Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. This year will mark the Symposium’s 31st year of bringing luminaries in the fields of science and conservation to the citizens of Lake County. The 2014 Symposium is part of a year- long exploration of the theme extinction | survival. Key sponsors are Abbott and Bartlett Tree Experts. For more information on the Symposium, visit www.brushwoodcenter.org/smith-nature-symposium.html.

Greenberg’s book and Rosenthal and Domike’s exhibition are part of an international effort to familiarize as many people as possible with the history of the passenger pigeon and its extinction as well as to raise awareness of how the issue of extinction is ecologically, culturally, and morally relevant to the 21st Century.

Domike and Rosenthal have been collaborating on environmentally themed artworks for more than a decade, exhibiting throughout the U.S., Japan and Germany. The exhibition runs through July 3, 2014.

For more information, call 847.968.3344 or visit www.brushwoodcenter.org.

The exhibition is part of the extinction | survival series of public programs being offered by Brushwood Center over the course of 2014. The series seeks to promote a broader understanding of extinction and species survival. We’re exploring why extinction happened in the past and why it continues today, as well as celebrating stories of species survival. Programs include book talks, art exhibitions, lectures and film screenings that will run throughout 2014.

 

About Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

Through innovative nature and arts programs presented against a backdrop of stately woods where pre-settlement flora and fauna still linger, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods seeks to build an environmental ethic in our region by offering multiple points of entry for the public to connect with nature. Brushwood Center is a nonprofit organization.

BRUSHWOOD CENTER PUBLIC HOURS:
Monday to Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Sunday, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Or by appointment, 847.968.3308.

Brushwood Center is located at: 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods, IL 60015.