Friday, October 23, 2009


"On October 24th, Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians will gather around the Dead Sea to form giant human numbers: Israelis will form a 3, Palestinians a 5, and Jordanians a 0. An aerial photograph will link them together to form the number 350."
Cynics and "realists" will dismiss some of the international events taking place tomorrow as naive, idealistic flights of fancy. I suggest that we instead celebrate them as exactly that!

Human imagination is a marvelous adaptive development, one that grants us "flights of fancy" that can, in fact, change the world. The naive, idealistic innovation of one age is the accepted reality of the following age.

This morning, I repeat yesterday's appeal. Get involved, however and wherever you can!

Photo credit: Photo ripped from the Flickr photostream

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Acting Out (Peacefully) Against the Culture of Competition

Shizuishan Industrial district in Ningxia. Residents cover themselves against the falling dust when going outside.
April 22, 2006

This Saturday, October 24th, I'll join a mob of peaceful activists and march across the Brooklyn Bridge, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, in hopes of further raising public awareness about the reality of climate change and the need for a comprehensive international climate treaty. The march is associated with's Day of Action.
" is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand. Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet. Our focus is on the number 350--as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number--it's a symbol of where we need to head as a planet. [...] This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn't meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn't pass the 350 test. In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we're harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009. We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world - from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community - and clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis." was founded by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben and, although some legitimate philosophical criticisms of the project have been raised, I feel strongly that the organization's mission is vital.

Due to long-term consumption of water contaminated by industrial waste, 50 people have cancer and cerebral thrombosis in Kang village of Linfen City, Shanxi Province..
64-year-old Wang Baosheng has fester wounds all over his body, and must sleep sitting, face down on the edge of the bed each day.
July 10, 2005

Should you doubt the urgent need for an international climate treaty that demands accountability and systemic change, or should you remain skeptical of the human influence on atmospheric carbon levels, I encourage you to take a look at the distressing pictures that ChinaHush recently published. Photographer Lu Guang's series "Pollution in China" is a testament to the cruel realities of the international, industrial market.

In his book-length essay Life Is A Miracle, the author, poet, essayist, and critic Wendell Berry describes the global, capitalist world view as,
"one culture of division and dislocation, opposition and competition, which is to say the culture of colonialism and industrialism. This culture has steadily increased the dependence of individuals, regions, and nations upon larger and larger collective economies at the same time that is has thrown individuals, regions, and nations into a competitiveness with one another that is limitlessly destructive and demeaning."
The "collateral damage" caused by this monstrous steam engine is not limited to elevated carbon levels, and its poisons don't just affect the dispossessed or the politically and economically powerless.

Nicholas Kristoff reminds us, in a recent New York Times OpEd piece, that the staggering number of "deformed frogs and intersex fish [found in or near United States' waters] — not to mention the growing number of deformities in newborn boys — should jolt us."
"In the Potomac watershed near Washington, male smallmouth bass have rapidly transformed into 'intersex fish' that display female characteristics. This was discovered only in 2003, but the latest survey found that more than 80 percent of the male smallmouth bass in the Potomac are producing eggs. Now scientists are connecting the dots with evidence of increasing abnormalities among humans, particularly large increases in numbers of genital deformities among newborn boys. [...] Apprehension is growing among many scientists that the cause of all this may be a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors. They are very widely used in agriculture, industry and consumer products. Some also enter the water supply when estrogens in human urine — compounded when a woman is on the pill — pass through sewage systems and then through water treatment plants."
Herpetologists have been sounding the alarm for years, but the policy makers are warm in the pockets of the immoral corporations and the populace, by and large, prefers to escape in celebrity pregnancy updates and corporate-owned sporting events. Amphibians were the ignored canary in the coal mine. Now many animal families (ours included) are paying a terrible price, one that we can not yet fully appreciate.

Henan Anyang iron and steel plant’s sewage flowed into Anyang River. March 25, 2008

Still, it's not too late to stand up to the "culture of colonialism and industrialism." Visit Find out how to get involved in the effort. If global warming isn't appealing to your still, small voice, get involved with political activism, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, pledge financial support to non-profit activist organizations working for causes that you feel strongly about; it doesn't matter what you do, but it does matter that you do something. Turn off the television, put down the tabloid. I beg this of you.

Breathing large amounts of dust into their lungs, people become sick after working here for 1-2 years. Most of these migrant workers come from area of poverty.
April 10, 2005

Photo credits: all photographs, Lu Guang; ripped from ChinaHush

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beth Cavener Stichter's "On Tender Hooks"

Beth Cavener Stichter
"your eyes have their silence"
Stoneware, sticks, whiskers
13 x 12 x 8 inches

In December 2006, I reviewed Beth Cavener Stichter's New York City solo exhibition "A Modest Proposal."
"There isn't anything extraordinary or even distinguished about Stichter's subject matter; she presents us with animals cowering, lounging, squirming, fucking, scowling. [...] Stichter's sculptures are strong because she is confident enough to tiptoe in cliche. As Wallace Stegner writes in his novel, All The Little Live Things, 'it's only the literary, hot for novelty, who fear cliche, and I am no longer of that tribe'; his point being that, unfashionable though they may be, cliches are usually more evocative than so much 'original' content.

Stichter's menagerie is familiar because it is family. We know these animals (and their foibles) because we know ourselves. Until we stop scratching the itch, then, the honest animals (rare among the self-styled avant garde) will continue to respond to work of this ilk. I look forward to following Stichter's work for years to come."

Beth Cavener Stichter
Stoneware, cast iron bolt, and washer
32 x 11 x 6 inches

Not surprisingly, then, I'm looking forward to Stichter's upcoming New York solo outing, "On Tender Hooks." The exhibition opens this Thursday, October 22nd, at Claire Oliver Gallery.

Beth Cavener Stichter
Stoneware, wooden peg
21 x 18 x 8 inches

Image credits: courtesy Beth Cavener Stichter

Carel Brest van Kempen

I felt certain that I'd highlighted Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen's paintings in earlier HH posts, but, after some archival digging, I've discovered that I did not. Below, I've "embedded" two of Carel's terrific time-lapse documents of his process.

Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen
"Riparian Rashomon Diptych:
Agami Heron (Agamia agami) and Brilliant Forest Frog (Rana warszewitschii)"
Acrylic on illustration board
15 x 20 inches; 15 x 20 inches

Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen
"Wilson's Bird of Paradise Portrait (Cicinnurus respublica)"
Acrylic on illustration board
6 x 9 inches

Carel also has an excellent blog devoted to his artwork and to musings on natural history, politics, and miscellany.

Image credits: both videos, copyright Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen, 2009, 2008

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Birds and Birding

View of Manhattan skyline from Central Park, Manhattan

On my way to the gym Tuesday morning, on the corner of 64th Street and 1st Avenue, I discovered a dead American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis). Feathers askew, a pink wound was visible on the head of the small, yellow bird. The injury was likely sustained when the goldfinch crashed into a window of one of the nearby apartment towers. I said a quiet goodbye to the bird, and continued on my way. An hour-and-a-half later, while running a work errand, I came upon a dead red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), crumpled on the corner of 68th Street and York Avenue. People gave the bird's body little attention.

It's the time of year when our avian brethren fall from the sky above Manhattan and land, sometimes dead, sometimes injured, sometimes merely confused, on the city's sidewalks. It is the time of autumn migration and restlessness. Neither the goldfinch nor the woodpecker are properly migratory species, but both birds will sometimes fly a short distance south when the temperature drops.

I can't say whether or not the individuals that I found on Tuesday morning were on the move when they met their respective ends. Still, their fate is a common one during New York City's autumn. As the NYC Audubon Society's Project Safe Flight mission statement explains,
"Located at the nexus of hundreds of bird species’ migratory routes, New York City’s tall buildings and reflective glass pose a serious threat to over 100 species of migratory birds, some of which are experiencing long-term population declines."
Resident species are also vulnerable, of course. Since Project Safe Flight's inception, in 1997, "over 4,000 dead and injured birds have been collected and documented in [Audubon's] database." That number is a fraction of the total bird deaths that Manhattan's buildings cause.

What can each of us do to help curb the buildings' toll? The easiest action involves turning off your office or apartment lights at night. Many office towers leave the lights on, needlessly wasting electricity and killing birds. As Project Safe Flight’s Lights Out New York initiative explains,
"Lights can distract birds from their migration path and cause them to collide with buildings during bad weather. Turning off the lights and drawing the blinds can help save thousands of birds from over 100 different species every year."
Let's help our feathered friends fly safely, folks.


Watching a Winter Wren on the wall of Belevedere Castle; Central Park, Manhattan

I rose earlier than usual on Wednesday morning, so that I could be at Central Park's Loeb Boathouse by 7:30 AM, where I met five other Nature Conservancy bird watchers. The six of us spent a very pleasant two and a quarter hours birding.

I love being outdoors in the early morning, and I greatly enjoyed observing even the familiar species as they foraged, fought, and flitted about. House finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) and European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are species taken for granted by most birders, but, illuminated by the morning sunlight, each is a marvel.

I was especially excited to see several Eastern phoebes, a relatively common species that, courtesy of Edward Hoagland, I associate with my beloved notion of reconstitution, and a winter wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), a dark, small relative of the more familiar Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), a bird for which I was almost named. (Wren Reiger would have been a hard sell on the grade school playground, and I'm thankful that my parents elected to shelve the name.)

Belvedere Castle; Central Park, Manhattan

Photo credits: All images, Hungry Hyaena, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An(other) Approach?

Regular visitors to Hungry Hyaena will have noticed a marked decline in my posting frequency. Since returning from Nebraska City, Nebraska, I've had little inclination to write essays. I'm as pensive as ever, but I lack the impulse to compose my thoughts. When I'm afforded a quiet interval at my day job, I read or I contemplate the high-flying progress of ring-billed gulls above the East River. Even this short post is something of a chore to formulate. Interestingly, I have been writing long letters to friends and family. Perhaps letter writing is, for the time being, a more intimate replacement of HH? I don't know.

Whatever the case, I will try to provide more regular content. But, because I will not force myself to write (the desire will return in due time), I've decided to take a more conventional approach to blogging. This isn't the first time that I've made such a declaration. As I wrote in June 2007,
"The longer posts and short essays that regular readers are accustomed to may go the way of the dodo or at least become exceedingly rare. The 'more conventional approach' I have in mind? Content comprised of tidbits - arty links, random thoughts, poetry and the like - punctuated by the familiar 'Gallery Reports.' I’ll reserve any essay efforts for publications and online journals."
Don't hold me to this plan; the approach didn't last long in '07, and I'm guessing that it won't last long in '09.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NURTUREart Benefit

Tomorrow night, Claire Oliver Gallery hosts this year's NURTUREart annual benefit and sale. One of my drawings, "Ri Hokkai," will be available for purchase.

All of the benefit's sales support the non-profit's mission to nurture "new contemporary art by providing exhibition opportunities and resources for both emerging artists and curators." It's a worthy cause, and the artwork is very affordable. Come on down (and say 'Hi.')

Christopher Reiger
"Ri Hokkai"
Pen and ink on Arches paper
9 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches

Image credit: copyright Christopher Reiger, 2007

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"Some Species of Song" Announcement

Christopher Reiger
"turned, to a transparent fire"
Watercolor, gouache, acrylic, sumi ink and marker on Arches paper
22 x 22 inches

My solo exhibition, "Some Species of Song," opens this Thursday, October 8th, at the Denise Bibro Platform Gallery.

I'm very excited about this exhibition; if you're in New York City, I'd love to see you on Thursday evening, at the opening reception. "Some Species of Song" is the first gallery outing connected to my charitable sales model. 10% of all exhibition sales will benefit The Wildlands Network.

Please find all the pertinent details and the exhibition press release below.

Christopher Reiger
"breaking off and starting again, again"
Gouache, watercolor and marker on Arches paper
15 x 19 3/8 inches


Christopher Reiger
"Some Species of Song"
October 8 - November 7, 2009
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 8, 6-9pm

Denise Bibro Platform Gallery
529 West 20th Street, 4W
Chelsea, NYC

Denise Bibro Fine Art presents Christopher Reiger: Some Species of Song, on view in our Platform project space October 8 through November 7, 2009. Reiger's muses are ecology, natural history, philosophy, and theology. His elegant and exquisitely executed mixed media paintings and drawings explore the interconnectedness and interdependency of human, plant, and animal life. The artist notes that "Every creature's song is at once insignificant and grand." In the case of this exhibition, the artwork sings a melody woven by the delicate balance of our life on earth.

Prior to Some Species of Song, Reiger mounted a solo show at AG Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. His work has been included in group exhibitions at Denise Bibro Fine Art, Jeff Bailey Gallery, Dieu Donné, Archibald Arts, Winkleman Gallery, AHL Foundation, Visual Arts Gallery, and Mushroom Arts, all in New York City; NURTUREart and Plus Ultra Gallery, in Brooklyn, NY; Cerasoli Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Rocket Projects Gallery, Miami, FL; Digging Pitt Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA; Exit and SPACES, in Cleveland, OH; and Biblioteca Nacional de la Republica Argentina in Buenos Aires. He holds an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts and a B.A. in studio art from the College of William & Mary.

A portion of sales proceeds from the exhibition will benefit The Wildlands Network, whose mission is to ensure a healthy future for nature and people in North America by scientifically and strategically connecting networks of people protecting networks of wildlands. To learn more visit

For more information, or high resolution images, please contact the gallery.

Christopher Reiger
"the gardener's recurring dream"
Pencil, watercolor, gouache, sumi ink and marker on Arches paper
32 x 32 inches

Image credit: all images, copyright Christopher Reiger, 2009