ARTservancy Artist in Residence
Gallery 224 presents ARTservancy Artist &
Studio 224 Printmaker, Berel Lutsky.
His yearlong residency culminates in drawings, prints & video responding to his time spent at
Kratzsch Conservancy in Trenton, WI.
(a property of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust).
Please join us for one or both events in April:
Friday Evening, April 8th, 6-7:30pm
Printmaking Demonstration & Workshop
Drop-In to Gallery 224
Saturday April 23rd, 10am-1pm
April Gallery Hours:
"When I Asked the Crow to Teach Me to Fly..." Lithograph, Berel Lutsky
Detail from "Lessons from the Crows", ARTservancy piece, 2021.
Borrowed from @berel.lutsky on IG
Berel Lutsky was born in Buffalo, NY and raised in Milwaukee, WI. He earned his BS in studio art with a concentration in printmaking from UW – Madison, and his MFA in studio art with a concentration in printmaking and drawing from UW – Milwaukee. He has taught at several of the former UW Colleges, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Carroll University in Waukesha, and the Avni Institute in Israel.
In addition to his formal education he has worked as a printer at the “Fishy Whale Press” in Milwaukee, WI, the Tel Aviv Artist’s House Printshop, and has presented workshops and done residencies at the Jerusalem Print Workshop.
His work has been exhibited locally, regionally and nationally and is in public and private collections in Israel, Belgium, Japan and the US. He is currently a Professor of Art at UW‐Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus where he teaches drawing, design, photography, printmaking, and painting.
Image borrowed with permission from A Wealth of Nature blog by Eddee Daniels. Click here to visit the blog.
Visiting Kratzsch Conservancy as the seasons change has been a rich visual experience. I have photographed and drawn fall, winter, spring, and summer with interest and appreciation for the mostly unmanaged property, as well as the effects of management—burning the prairie areas, and careful replantings, both to restore prairie and in some places forest. The visual experience turned out to not be enough. Kratzsch is a mostly quiet place; it also became a place to listen. Wind in the trees, the river gurgling gently as you come near, the rustling of small critters in the tall grass, and the crows commenting on my walk through the property. As I became more curious about the crows and began to learn more about what they do and how they do it, the crows became a focal point for my work as this year’s Kratzsch resident.
Lessons from the Crows
There are not a lot of crows at Kratzsch. There are some, but crows, according to the scholars who study them, are known to be social, roosting and feeding in large groups, and often maintaining “family ties” in the same area over several generations. Habitat-wise, the mixed-use nature of the Kratzsch Conservancy and the surrounding area should support a lot more crows than appear to be there. Further research reveals a possible reason for this, and some relevant lessons for us to consider in the time of COVID.
Since 1998 the crow world has been dealing with its own pandemic: The West Nile Virus, by most naturalist’s estimates, has effectively reduced the population of crows in the world by at least 40 percent from their pre-1998 numbers. The worst years for the crow population appear to have been 2005 – 2011.
Researchers, depending upon region, have noticed a stabilization and some small increases in the crow population since then. What is especially urgent for us today is to recognize the relevance of a disease model in a pandemic affecting a population that could do nothing to mitigate its effects. While West Nile affects other birds and other species, including humans—and while it can make people and animals very sick and is occasionally fatal—West Nile Virus is 100 percent fatal to crows that become sick. Because of this the scientists studying West Nile Virus have been able to establish a reliable index of the disease’s presence in an area by counting the dead crows.
The First Time I Wore the Crow's Mask, 2021
The crow’s social habits made it easier for the vector mosquitos to infect a large number of crows in a short period of time. The crows had no vaccine and isolation was opposite to their nature; they really could not do anything to save themselves. The relatively short life span of vector mosquitoes gives the crows a yearly respite from the virus. The natural course of viral mutation, as well as the survival and breeding of virus resistant crows seems to have put them on a path to surviving as a species: but at what cost? Beginning in 2011, the scientists who track the crow population estimate a .09 % per year population increase. It will take a long time to return to the number of crows alive in 1998. Twenty-three years later there are few crows at Kratzsch.
The lesson from the crows of the West Nile virus is a harsh one. In a pandemic situation, we as a species have choices we can make that can facilitate our survival without the loss of 40 percent of the human population (in 2020 world population was 7,800,000,000; 40 percent morbidity would be 3,120,000,000 human beings). If we can choose to follow the science and recognize our responsibility for each other’s wellness—get vaccinated, adjust our habits and behaviors (wear masks, and avoid large crowds, etc)—we will not need to let nature to take its course, or be party to the deaths of 3.12 billion people.
My work, for ARTservancy; prints, drawings and video is both an elegy for, and a celebration of the crow. The West Nile viral pandemic devastated the world population of crows and destroyed their families and communities. If we cannot (will not?) learn from their fate, then we will be responsible (for) needless death and suffering.
Video of Crows' Eye View at Kratzsch Conservatory, Footage by Sean Burkeholder, Edited by Berel Lutsky