Monday, October 14, 2013

Wild at Heart II: Recap

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online. Here are a few more very special pieces from the show that I wanted to share with you. 

Edwin Ushiro "Invitation From A Distant Whisper"

Curiot "Ambystoma Mexicanum"

Diana Beltran Herrera "Hummingbird"

Jolene Lai "Nectar"

Mary Iverson "Sunk"

Mu Pan "An Opossum and Small Opossums"

Ben Strawn "Fermata"

Regan Rosburg "Juste Milieu"

Aron Wiesenfeld "The Settlers"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wild at Heart II: Sharks

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Shark Toof "Seven Shark Show"

There are over 440 species of Sharks in the world’s oceans, many of which are considered the keystone species of their ecosystem, meaning that their removal from the environment causes the entire food chain to collapse. When hunting, sharks are discriminatory predators, culling the oldest and weakest members of their prey species, which ensures healthier fish populations. Many sharks also scavenge the sea floor to dispose of carcasses that could spread disease. Currently, dozens of shark species are listed as vulnerable or endangered, including the Whale Shark, Basking Shark, Great White Shark, Great Hammerhead and the docile bottom-dwelling Zebra Shark.

Sharks mature late and reproduce slowly. Many species take up to 20 years to reach maturity, and once they are adults, some species take almost two years to bear just a few live pups. Their already low birth rate has been adversely impacted by habitat degradation in their shallow coastal breeding grounds. Bottom-dwelling sharks like the zebra shark are often killed as bycatch of bottom trawl fishing, and open-ocean sharks like mako and basking sharks are frequently caught in long-lines, trawls and gillnets intended for tuna. In many fisheries, tuna boats now catch more sharks than tuna.

About 75 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, which are prized for traditional Chinese medicine and in shark fin soup, considered a status symbol in China and Japan. Shark meat is much less valuable than the fins, which can sell for up to $600 a pound, so fishing vessels have no incentive to preserve their meat. Once a shark’s fins have been cut away, the shark is dumped back into the ocean while still alive, and unable to swim, it dies a torturous death by slow suffocation or blood loss. Due to this rapacious demand for shark fins, many sharks never live long enough to reproduce, so their populations have collapsed catastrophically over the past few decades.

Wild at Heart II: Whales and Dolphins

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Ekundayo "Migrations"


Of the 13 great Whale species, 7 are are endangered or vulnerable, even after decades of protection. Whales, dolphins and porpoises are succumbing to new and ever-increasing dangers. Collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing gear threaten the North Atlantic Right Whale with extinction, while the critically endangered Western North Pacific Gray Whale is at serious risk because of intensive oil and gas development in its feeding grounds. There are fears that the widespread use of sonar is causing whales to panic, either beaching themselves or surfacing too rapidly, which leads to potentially fatal decompression sickness. Alarm is also growing over other hazards, including toxic contamination, the effects of climate change and habitat degradation.

Born Free advocates against keeping marine mammals such as dolphins and orcas in marine parks, where they are doomed to a life of confinement and are forced to perform degrading tricks that run counter to their natural instincts. Last year, Born Free completed the rehabilitation of two dolphins rescued from a filthy swimming pool in Turkey. For 20 months, they were cared for and taught to hunt live fish on their own, then returned to the wilds of the Aegean Sea from which they had been taken as babies. To prevent cruelty of this kind from continuing, Born Free is calling for an international ban on the capture of wild dolphins. In the United States, Born Free protests against the dolphin exhibit at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, where more than a dozen dolphins have died in since its opening in 1990.

Wild at Heart II: The Giant Carrion Beetle

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

João Ruas "Necrophagous"


















The American Burying Beetle, also known as the Giant Carrion Beetle, is a thumb-sized black beetle with dramatic orange-red markings. In the spring, the male searches out the carcass of a small animal such as a rat, chipmunk or dove and then tries to attract a mate. Once it has secured the attentions of a female, the two beetles work together to carry the body to a suitable place and bury the carcass several inches below ground, then lay 10-25 eggs in a subterranean chamber nearby. The mated pair stays with the eggs until the larvae hatch several days later, and then both parents tend and feed their young from the stored carrion, a behavior that is unusual amongst beetles.

The burying beetle was once common and widespread in the United States east of the Rockies, but is now rarely found outside of Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska. Scientists speculate that disruptions in the food chain due to the loss of large predators have led to an increase of scavenger species, and consequently the scarcity of small bird and mammal carcasses has limited the burying beetle’s ability to reproduce. The burying beetle is now critically endangered and faces imminent extinction unless captive breeding and reintroduction programs succeed in pulling it back from the brink.

Wild at Heart II: Honeybees

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Esao Andrews "White Bee"


There are 7 species of honeybees in the world, which represent only a small fraction of the over 20,000 known species of bees. They are believed to have evolved in South Asia, where humans have collected wild honey for at least 15,000 years. Honeybees have been domesticated by humans for at least 4,500 years, according to inscriptions in the tombs and temples of ancient Egypt. Prior to European settlement in the early 1600s, there were no true honeybees in the Americas, although a native stingless bee was cultivated for honey by the Maya and many native bees such as Orchard Mason Bees are highly efficient pollinators. It took over 200 years for honeybees to reach the west coast. They were carried over the Rocky Mountains and shipped around Cape Horn by settlers, who needed them to pollinate crops and to produce wax and honey.

Like their relatives, the bumblebees, honeybees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young. Unlike bumblebees, they store honey as a source of food to produce body heat during the winter. It takes the efforts of more than 22,000 bees to make a single jar of honey. In cold weather, honeybees cluster into a ball inside their hive and rotate from the center to the edges so no bee gets too cold. The temperature at the center of the cluster never drops below 80°F, no matter how cold the weather outside. Honeybees are threatened by colony collapse disorder, a mysterious syndrome which has destroyed unprecedented numbers of overwintering hives in recent years. Theories on its causation range the overuse of pesticides to the overharvesting of honey, which is often replaced with high-fructose corn syrup.

However, competition from and diseases spread by commercial honeybees also pose a deadly threat to native bee populations. Dozens of bee species have quietly disappeared over the past 30 years, including the Shrill Carder Bee, Cockerell’s Bumblebee and the Rusty-patched Bumblebee, all of which are on the brink of extinction. Many advocate the local cultivation of native bees such as the Orchard Mason Bee to pollinate crops in order minimize the transportation of commercial hives around the country.

Wild at Heart II: The Malayan Tapir

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Sean Chao "Gentle Swimmers"











 The Malayan Tapir is the largest member of the tapir species, and the only one native to the Eastern Hemisphere. Though tapirs resemble pigs, they are more closely related to horses and rhinoceroses. Their distinctive black-and-white coloring acts as camouflage, breaking up the shape of their body so that predators don’t recognize them as animals in the dappled light of the forest. Baby tapirs have striped and spotted coats that provide even more misdirection to predators. Shy, solitary creatures, tapirs live in dense undergrowth near water, and are excellent swimmers. Like the rhinoceros, they can dive and walk along the bottom of the riverbed, where they graze on aquatic plants. They use their short prehensile trunks to feel for tender shoots and strip young leaves from branches.

Although the Malayan tapir once ranged throughout the tropical lowland forests of Southeast Asia, they can now only be found in small numbers in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. Their numbers have declined rapidly in recent years due to deforestation and the damming of rivers for hydroelectric power. In many areas, they are also hunted for food and sport, as well as for their thick skin, which is used to make high-quality leather for bridles and whips.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wild at Heart II: Endangered Species Benefit

I'm excited to report that Wild at Heart II, the latest installment of the Born Free benefit shows co-curated by myself and Andrew Hosner, will open this Saturday at Beyond Eden, which takes place in the beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Art Park. It will feature new work inspired by the world's endangered species from Erratic Phenomena favorites like Aaron Horkey, Aron Wiesenfeld, Andrew Hem, Allison Sommers, Edwin Ushiro, João Ruas, Kelly Vivanco, Tessar Lo, Mu Pan, Sean Chao, Esao Andrews, Mary Iverson and many more. Check out some sneak peeks below from Esao Andrews, Timothy Karpinski and João Ruas, and come out next weekend to see much, much more!