Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

This ArtWorks mural designed by John A. Ruthven commemorates the life of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, a once-numerous bird species that is now extinct. It covers a large wall on Vine St. between 7th and 8th Sts. in downtown Cincinnati.

The lifelike, detailed work of artist John A. Ruthven has been compared to Audubon, and project manager Tim Parsley and his team of teen apprentices did a great job of reproducing Ruthven’s original image at this large scale without losing Ruthven’s fine detail and shading.

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

Here’s Martha leading her flock over the historic Bird Run at the Cincinnati Zoo:

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

Martha, named after George Washington’s wife, passed away in 1914 and was donated to the National Museum of Natural History. Her species was driven to extinction in merely 40 years, its population having been in the several billions in the mid-19th century.

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

This time-lapse from the summer of 2013 shows the mural’s progress:

Martha has become a symbol of extinction and, on the 100-year anniversary of her death, Project Passenger Pigeon commemorates her life with the aim of promoting biodiversity and preventing human-caused extinctions.

John A. Ruthven has been an artist and naturalist for 70 years. Born in Cincinnati in 1927 and now living in nearby Georgetown, OH, he is devoted to preserving wildlife through art.

Tim Parsley is a Cincinnati-area artist with several other murals under his belt.

6 thoughts on “Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon by John A. Ruthven

  1. The saddest story I’ll ever hear; Martha outlasted George, her only companion, by four years. As news spread of her species’ imminent extinction, Martha became a minor tourist attraction. In her final years, whether depressed or just old, she barely moved. Underwhelmed zoo visitors threw fistfuls of sand at her to elicit a reaction.

    The last Carolina Parakeet, “Incus,” also died in this same aviary in 1918, four years after Martha. That makes this place a uniquely bad spot in the history of bird extermination.

  2. I think Martha captured a moment in time and that maybe the essence of art – to reflect the times/events in our history.
    Leslie

  3. Pingback: Still Life #60 by Tom Wesselmann | Visualingual

  4. Pingback: City Cellars by Tim Parsley | Visualingual

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s