Have you read that New York Times article about the recent United Nations report that we (humans) are transforming our little blue planet so fucking much that over one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction? That, since 1500, at least 680 species have gone totally extinct? That 85 percent of the world's wetlands have vanished since the 18th century? That biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics? It's depressing! These are things we feared, but also kind of knew—that humanity is existentially and actually fucked.
But I learned that only a fraction of living creatures have been cataloged: 1.3 million compared to an estimated 8 million plant and animal species (a lot of them are insects). So, in many respects, we don't even really know what we are losing. But local artist Michael Alm's latest series is a good reminder to appreciate the animals we already have.
The Seattle artist will be presenting his two-year project at Ghost Gallery, The Mammals of Washington, during which he painted all 141 mammals that reside in Washington state. In the press release, he said the series is "a testament to how incredible our state is and a reminder of what we need to conserve." Using watercolor, Alms wanted the paintings to look like something straight out of a field guide or the notebook of a naturalist. Looking at them all together, true Pacific Northwestern colors come out—browns, blacks, and grays. The colors of our skies (and dirt). If you search through them closely, you'll even find a portrait of the artist himself.
A portion of the profits from the show will be donated to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Ghost Gallery will be open from 5-9 p.m. for Capitol Hill Art Walk.