As the human race progresses, our art becomes more and more defining of us. Art is immeasurably appreciable across so many formats and eloquently expresses many thought processes. Without it, we might be unable to move forward properly. With all of its properties, the variance of art tells so many tales. Thus far, we are primarily focused on art made by the species of humankind. But never let it be said that our species is the only one capable of producing art. If you wonder why I’d say that, then ask Picasso…Picasso, the parrot, that is.
Picasso The Feathered Painter
Picasso is a 12-year-old, female, blue & gold macaw who arrived at the Tracy Aviary back in 2009 as a surrendered pet. While, typically, this aviary does not take in abandoned birds, an exception was made for Picasso as space was available. With a previous life as a large bird housed within a small cage and kept in a basement, usually alone, Picasso had developed a shyness and obvious discomfort around large crowds that would take time to rectify. Fortunately, the fine people that make up Tracy Aviary allowed Picasso the time needed to warm up, a rule that they apply to all of their birds. One of the projects applied to Picasso to help her use up time and create a positive approach was painting. What happened afterward became a tale worth recounting.
Picasso — so named after her newfound love — learned to paint by holding a sponge in her beak, dipping the sponge into paint, and then creating her unique art on a canvas. She immediately found the practice to be comforting, and her nervousness around crowds dissipated. Picasso became an ambassador bird and while she does paint in front of crowds at times, it is her ability to easily engage in one-on-one painting events with people that revealed her best side. As a result, Tracy Aviary introduced a new program whereby people were able to book a private session with Picasso for a set fee and keep the finished canvas afterward.
The program is called Paint With Picasso. The event allows for one or two participants to select the colors that they want on the 11” by 14”canvas, and let Picasso do her thing. The unique painting is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, plus the participants get a personal picture of Picasso. Trainers are on hand to provide a richer experience during the session. Picasso has become a happy bird and contributes to not only her own well-being via her painting skills, but also gives an unusual personal perspective of her “thought processes” immortalized on canvas. If you were to view any of the world’s fascination with abstract art, you’d find that the art created by Picasso has something to say…at least from Picasso’s perspective. Currently, Picasso is being worked with to identify the base colors of the paints she uses. This should go a long way in further directing Picasso’s personal brush strokes.
DaVinci’s Parrot Style
Picasso isn’t the only bird at Tracy Aviary that has undertaken the bohemian life of an artist. She’s joined by a great green macaw known as DaVinci. DaVinci is 8 years old and was brought to the Aviary (along with his sister, Dali) to be an ambassador bird. Difficulties with flying encouraged the caretakers to involve DaVinci in painting, something that he took to with relish. Interestingly, the art produced by DaVinci has no comparison to the art created by Picasso, which should tell you something. As it is, Picasso is quite accomplished with precision strokes, while DaVinci utilizes a broader, more intense approach to his artwork. In fact, one of DaVinci’s works now hangs in the Ara Project Visitor Center located in Costa Rica. (Tracy Aviary helps to financially support the efforts of the Ara Project’s Great Green Macaw reintroduction program in Costa Rica. Being Great Green Macaws, DaVinci, and his sister, Dali, help in this effort for the endangered bird species they are a part of.) Tracy Aviary also offers a Paint With DaVinci one-on-one experience.
Should you find yourself in Salt Lake City, and are interested in booking a private session with Picasso, navigate here to their site. Tracy Aviary engages in a wide variety of bird-centric events that allow people of all ages to become more aware and appreciative of the birds they engage with. You can join their Facebook page to keep tabs on things.
Thanks to Helen Dishaw of Tracy Aviary for her contributions to this article.