Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Artist Installs New Penguin Sculpture at St. Louis Zoo

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Artist Installs New Penguin Sculpture at St. Louis Zoo

Article excerpt

Sculptor A.J. "Buddy" Obara has been in town to install a life- size bronze sculpture of an emperor penguin outside Penguin & Puffin Coast at the St. Louis Zoo. The sculpture is a gift of the Explorers Club of St. Louis, which also is presenting Obara with the Marlin Perkins/Jim Fowler Lifetime Artist-in-Residence Award. We talked to the artist about penguins, vanishing nature and how his early experiments in taxidermy led to a career as one of the nation's foremost wildlife sculptors.

Q * How did you decided to be a sculptor?

A * I grew up in Chester County, Pa., on the Brandywine River. Andy Wyeth lived down river from me. He was the rage, and everyone wanted to be him and I decided, "You know, I don't really want to do this." I was just tired of doing watercolors and landscapes. So one day when I was about 20, I did a sculpture of a falcon. And I was like, "Wow. Three dimensions. This is great." I had a background in taxidermy as a kid, which means anytime I do anything I know the taxonomy. I always had a talent as an artist, but that experience in taxidermy was really important.

Q * Taxidermy seems like a strange hobby for a kid.

A * I was a 12-year-old kid, and I wanted to see how things work. Let's cut it open and see why that leg hangs like that.

Q * You grew up in an area rich in wildlife, but you also have explored the globe observing animals in their natural habitat. …

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