The Lost Bird Project at George Eastman House

Posted by on Jul 24 2012 | Exhibitions, House & Gardens, Motion Pictures

We are excited to present the regional premiere of the Lost Bird Project at the Dryden Theatre Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m. & Sunday, July 29, 2 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the film, followed by a walk through the gardens to view the exhibit, all five bird sculptures. Use the map and explore all five lost bird sculptures on the property and in the gardens. Advance tickets available now.

A Few Minutes with Sculptor, Todd McGrain

The passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, Labrador duck, great auk, and the heath hen — diverse species of North American birds with one thing in common — modern extinction.
Sculptor Todd McGrain has memorialized these birds in a series of large-scale bronze sculptures that will be on view in the Eastman House gardens July 3 through September 30. We recently talked with McGrain about the project and its import.
How did you come to do this project?
Reaching into a bucket of clay and forming the shape of a small preening duck was the beginning moment of this project. While I was working on this first sculpture, I came across Chris Cokinos’ book Hope Is the Thing with Feathers. Chris thoughtfully tells the stories, describing the decline of extinct North American birds — and the sculpture took on new meaning. It became a memorial.

How did you select which birds to memorialize?
The birds memorialized in this project were driven to extinction in modern times. I became interested in these particular birds because of the beauty of their form. However, their stories of habitat loss and overhunting, bringing once abundant species to an end, propelled the project and gave it meaning. I found each of these birds and their individual stories thoroughly compelling.

What is the goal for the project?
By keeping the memory of these birds alive, we hope to contribute to the efforts by naturalists, scientists, ornithologists, environmentalists, teachers, and others attempting to raise awareness
about the current loss of plant and animal species. Our deteriorating environment puts fragile species under stress.

How did you decide on scale and use of materials for the sculptures?
The sculptures are as large as humans and that parity encourages a sympathy as people approach them — they are undeniable. The sculptures were created to be displayed in the birds’ natural
habitats, which demanded bronze for durability. The tactility of bronze makes people wish to touch them, deepening the viewer’s sympathy for, and understanding of, the birds’ loss.

This project is the subject of a documentary film. How did the film evolve?
Andy Stern, the producer, and I began researching possibilities for placing the sculptures in locations most closely related to each bird’s decline. We soon realized that the people and places
we were finding would be invaluable in telling the story of each bird and approached Middlemarch Films to join forces to produce the documentary. Through the generosity of the entire
Middlemarch crew, we were welcomed into the world of documentary filmmaking. We are particularly grateful to director Deborah Dickson for her talent and persistent vision.

Saturday, July 28, 8 p.m. & Sunday, July 29, 2 p.m. (Deborah Dickson, US 2012, 60 min., Digital Projection)
Following the July 28 screening, join us for a panel discussion with director Deborah Dickson, sculptor Todd McGrain, producer Muffie Meyer, cinematographer Scott Anger, and executive producer Andy
Stern. Following the July 29 screening join sculptor Todd McGrain for a walking tour of the grounds to discuss his work. Advance tickets available now.

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Cop Movies of the 1970s

Posted by on May 08 2012 | Motion Pictures

(Don Siegel, US 1971, 102 min.)

Perhaps no genre of filmmaking changed more drastically during the 1970s than the police drama. While the pre-Dragnet procedurals of the late ’40s frequently took advantage of real-life locations, and cynicism and punchy action had long colored the genre thanks to film noir, the cop flicks of the 1970s looked — and felt — different. The urban landscape had acquired an extra layer of grime, and Hollywood had changed to fit: location shooting was the norm, action was more visceral, scores were funkier, and the line between heroes and villains was thinner than ever. The result was a cycle of exciting, visually striking, and morally complex films that quickly established themselves as modern classics. On Thursdays in May, we’ll be crisscrossing the country to high Cop Movies of the 1970s light some of the best of these films, making stops in San Francisco (Dirty Harry), Los Angeles (The New Centurions), Arizona (Electra Glide in Blue), and, of course, New York City (Across 110th Street and Serpico).
— Lori Donnelly, Film Programmer
Films and Screenings

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