Manatee in the Mangroves


4’ x 6’. Hand-tufted wool. Made in India.


Once upon a pristine time (before 1492) existed the magical, natural kingdom of Foreverglades. In this tropical Eden we now call Everglades lived a droll and lovable marine mammal—the ten-foot, half-ton manatee. Manatees to the max. Enter man. Man and manatee: a monstrous mismatch. Any manatees left in Florida? A few hundred, seriously endangered by their principal predator, the motorboat. Motorboats to the max. Welcome to the tragical, man-made kingdom of Nevermoreglades.
-Charley Harper

Charley Harper had an alternative way of looking at nature. His serigraphs were large expanses of rich color, which gave the viewer a very different perspective on the animal kingdom. A conservationist, as well as an artist, Harper revealed the unique aspects of his wildlife subjects through highly stylized geometric reduction which he coined “minimal realism.” There was a rare and delightful playfulness in Harper’s artwork. There was also a graphic genius. Harper said, “When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see feathers, fur, scapulars, or tail coverts—none of that. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior, and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of painting: in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe. Wildlife art has been dominated by realism, but I have chosen to do it differently because I think flat, hard-edged, and simple.” Charley Harper’s unique minimalist approach is unmistakable.