Jeff Powers’ art exhibit, Ornithurae, is showing at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre until Friday. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer artist highlights the dinosaur connection of Alberta birds

Jeff Powers is fascinated by winged creatures

Dinosaurs still roam the Earth — or rather, fly from treetop to treetop.

The latest scientific theory that birds are actually dinosaurs has inspired Red Deer artist Jeff Powers to create the exhibit Ornithurae: Dinosaurs in Your Backyard, at the Marjorie Wood Gallery in the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

The Texas native, who has lived in central Alberta on and off since middle school, grew up with paleontology books.

As he began reading more about the direct connection between ancient raptors — many of whom sported feathers — and modern-day birds, he became fascinated with all winged creatures and the science behind them.

The behavior of magpies, in particular, piqued Powers’ artistic interest.

“When I see a magpie hopping through the yard, I see the lithe muscles of a hunting dinosaur,” he says in his artistic statement.

While considered pests by some people, magpies are actually highly clever members of the crow and raven family. Powers says he has watched magpies pick up a stick and “weigh” it on their bill. They are determining which is the best part of the stick to hold onto, so an imbalance won’t interfere with flying.

More mundane Alberta species, at least in terms of size and colouring — little chickadees and sparrows — are rendered by Powers in subtle ink washes, while a great blue heron is strikingly captured with traditional paint on canvas.

His osprey and pileated woodpecker portrayals are particularly dinosaur like. The woodpecker holds his head like a Jurassic Park raptor, investigating a rustle in the bushes, while the osprey’s large yellow eyes seemingly reflect an ancient cunning.

Powers discovered surprises through his bird research — such as the male ruddy duck’s bill turns a more brilliant shade of blue during mating season.

Bohemian waxwings have a mating ritual that involves the passing of a berry back and forth between prospective partners, he says. And a social ritual features the passing of a mountain ash berry all the way down a row of birds lined up on a branch.

One of Powers’ digital artworks shows a pair of Banff ravens huddled together like lovebirds in a snowfall.

“They are insanely intelligent and mate for life,” explains the artist.

Since taking visual arts at Red Deer College and receiving a fine arts degree from Lethbridge University, he has illustrated comics and children’s books.

Avian subject matter has been his passion lately, because painting birds “is not only an exploration of the current world around me, but also an exploration of the ancient past of natural history,” states Powers.

He hopes viewers of his exhibit come away with a greater appreciation — especially of the small songbirds so often taken for granted.

The display is on until Friday.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Kerry Wood Nature Centre

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 takes 5 more lives in Alberta

Alberta announced five more deaths related to COVID-19 on Monday, almost doubling… Continue reading

Red Deer grateful to Saskatoon police for helping during 9-1-1 outage

Telus Mobility customers had to dial 9-1-1 from a landline before outage was resolved

Federal wage subsidy plan will help businesses say central Alberta business representatives

Prime minister says businesses losing 30 per cent in revenue eligible for 75 per cent wage subsidy

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Charitable Red Deer-area fundraisers are postponed or ‘re-imagined’ due to COVID-19

Virtual daffodil sales and some online benefits are planned

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Newspapers are safe to touch, World Health Organization confirms

Just make sure to wash your hands, as you would after touching any surface or object

David Marsden: Signs of kindness lift our spirits during COVID-19 pandemic

From teddy bears, to colourful cutouts of hearts, to expressions of support… Continue reading

Parents should respect custody arrangements during COVID-19 pandemic: Ont. courts

Parents should respect custody arrangements during COVID-19 pandemic: Ont. courts

Canadian military ready to mobilize 24,000 troops for COVID-19: Minister

Canadian military ready to mobilize 24,000 troops for COVID-19: Minister

Vancouver Convention Centre picked for off site COVID-19 treatment centre

Vancouver Convention Centre picked for off site COVID-19 treatment centre

Trump defends extending virus guidelines as spread continues

Trump defends extending virus guidelines as spread continues

Most Read