The Roger Tory Peterson Institute is currently housing the works of three of the greatest outdoor painters of all time.
On Friday, RTPI opened its doors free of charge to launch its new exhibition featuring the works of Roger Tory Peterson, Arthur Singer and Stanley Meltzoff. Additionally, Friday served as the official welcoming ceremony of Twan Leenders as RTPI's new president.
"Is anyone here interested in wildlife art?" joked Mark Baldwin, director of education for RTPI. "This is your lucky day. You're in the middle of the largest concentration of world-class wildlife art this side of the Milky Way galaxy. We have, in this building, the work of Roger Tory Peterson, the great naturalist of the 20th century ... as well as the beginning of a major retrospective exhibition of the art of Arthur Singer and Stanley Meltzoff. This is also an opportunity for us to publicly welcome Twan Leenders, who is assuming the role of (president) left by the retirement of Jim Berry."
On Friday, RTPI opened its doors free of charge to launch its new exhibition featuring the works of Roger Tory Peterson, Arthur Singer and Stanley Meltzoff. Above, Madeleine Leenders admires Singer’s work.
P-J photos by Remington Whitcomb
Following Baldwin's announcement, Leenders gave a short address to the crowd to acknowledge them, however he insisted that he did not want to detract anyone's attention from the artwork by speaking for too long.
"I don't really know what to say because it's been five weeks of welcomes already," joked Leenders. "It's an honor to have all of you here to see this magnificent exhibition we currently have on display. I'd like to thank (everyone who helped to make this exhibition possible) as well as all of you for joining us tonight. Everything that has happened to make this possible tonight has been a team effort. This is just a start right now. We're putting together the educational programs that go with the exhibits, so come back and come back often."
With regards to the art on display, RTPI has been afforded the opportunity to display the works of two artists who were very kindred to Peterson. Stanley Meltzoff, who died in 2006, is considered to be the greatest painter of aquatic life of all time. Arthur Singer, who was considered by Peterson to be his "friendly rival," was an extremely talented naturalist painter. Singer might be most well-known for his collaboration with the USPS to create 50 postage stamps featuring state birds in the 1980s.
However, Leenders said that notwithstanding the extraordinary art displayed in RTPI, the greatest honor of the night was having Alan Singer, Arthur Singer's son who also helped occasionally with his father's art, present to speak at the ceremony.
"Thank you all for coming out tonight," said Singer. "I love these types of events where I get a chance to talk about what usually happens in the quiet of the studio when you're all alone. ... My father was not only interested in nature and wildlife, but he loved jazz. Very early on in his life he was commissioned to do portraits of artists like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Both of these entertainers became lifelong friends with my father and both were usual guests at our home.
"When my father started out, all I can say is that it's a very small world," Singer continued. "I want to start with a quote from Peterson that he wrote about my father's work. Roger said, 'bird artists are drawn to New York because of the galleries, museums and the zoo, but Arthur Singer had the good judgment to be born here.'"
Singer concluded his speech by thanking everyone for coming and encouraging them to return to further study his father's works as well as Peterson's and Meltzoff's.
The Singer exhibition will remain open through Dec. 2, the Meltzoff through Dec. 31. Visitor hours for RTPI are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Admission for the exhibition is $6 for adults, $4 for children and students and no admission for members and students of JCC.
For more information on RTPI, call 1-800-758-6841.