It’s Not All Sketching at The Fair for Roz

September 4, 2011

See the post for complete details.

Above: My friend Tom (who was traveling without his normal photography gear) nevertheless managed to catch me photographing the taxidermy at a stall in Heritage Square. It was a perfect opportunity for me to test out some of the "modes" on the new camera while gathering useful sketching references—lots of shots showing how a head looks viewed from beneath, you never know what angle you might want to draw at. Photo ©2011 Tom Nelson.

Friday I made my fourth (and possibly final for the year) trip to the Minnesota State Fair. As usual I spent my first 4 hours there sketching live animals in the various barns. Then at 1:30 I met up with my friend Tom (who was just arriving). We checked out the Fine Arts Exhibit, the Minnesota State Fair Museum, the Newspaper Museum, and various other sites in between. On the way out of the Fairgrounds after 5 p.m. we walked through some of the animal barns, but there was no more sketching—my feet needed to get me to my car!

If you're wondering, it was about 75-80 degrees, overcast, with a nice breeze that took all the morning humidity away. (I wore my rain hat and had a small travel umbrella in my fanny pack just in case.) 

I haven't processed any of my own photographs or scanned any of my sketches yet. I thought you would enjoy this photo of me (in my Fair gear) taking photos. (That's the Third Annual Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out button on my fanny pack. The bag hanging from my left wrist contains the box of 65 pieces of salt water taffy I bought for my acupuncturist—always buy things when you past the stand because chances are you won't feel like walking back later! And always plan your route so that you don't have to  carry purchased items until you're on your way out.)

Today and tomorrow are the final days of this year's Fair. Remember that all the barns close at 3 p.m. on Monday so that the remaining animals can depart. Plan accordingly.

  1. Reply

    Love the post, Roz! Taxidermy is such a funny thing, and elicits such conflict. In one sense it symbolizes the rather ugly way in which humans insist on dominating the animal word, then congratulating themselves about the dominance. And yet I also find it fascinating to study the animal heads, and am kind of grateful for the chance to see up close what I wouldn’t otherwise see.

    Looking forward to your fair sketches.

  2. Reply

    Looks like a fun way to spend a day. Also got mixed feelings about taxidermy, but can’t deny that they provide for great reference models and study subjects specially in a museum setting. Just love the Smithsonian museums in DC.

    • Arika
    • September 4, 2011

    Really looking forward to seeing your sketches!

  3. Reply

    Karen and Alberto, as a carnivore my life has multiple daily examples of this human dominating the animal world for protein. And I know a lot of hunters (the careful, law-abiding, respectful kind who don’t get drunk and fall on their own guns). So while I would rather all these animals be alive somewhere else I’ve already dealt with any resultant conflict many times over and I’m going to honor them and use them for reference material.

    Going to places like the Smithsonian and the Field Museum and of course my local Bell Museum of Natural History, I believe that using the animals for sketching is actually a way to honor them.

    Our society’s attitude about collecting specimens has changed over the years; it’s the least I can do, go and study what’s available from a different time and a different attitude.

    A more troubling position for you both might be my near obsession with sketching the live farm animals in the barns at the State Fair. I don’t sketch horses, so most of the animals I sketch are going to be dead within 24 hours of my sketching. (They are the “meat” breeds of pig, sheep, goat, and fowl.)

    Again, it is for a me a way of knowing where my food comes from, and at what cost.

    Every day of the fair I meet hardworking, environmentally conscious farmers who have a deep connection to their land and the animals they raise for market. I think it is also important (if one is going to be a carnivore) to understand the whole process of how we get our food.

    • karen
    • September 4, 2011

    Yes, I think about all the things you mentioned, and I agree about honoring the animals through study, sketching and thinking. As a volunteer at a raptor rehabilitation facility, where we raise mice in order to let healing hawks prove they can hunt and kill before we declare them healthy enough for release, these contradictions occupy my thoughts quite a bit. So does the meat-eating thing (I’m a carnivore, too).

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