Who was Charley Harper? Ben says: “Charley Harper was this incredible artist from Cincinnati. He did all sorts of nature screen prints and basically took nature’s organic forms and made them into very basic geometric forms. He saw the complexity of nature and explained it in the simplest of forms. Charley did a lot of art in science books for elementary school children and you might even recognize his stuff from way back then. He also wrote some really beautiful thoughts on man and nature. In his book Birds and Words he has a whole chapter on birds that were either going extinct or were already. On the Eskimo Curlew, across from his beautiful depiction, he wrote:
In Autumn the Eskimo Curlew fueled up on berries and snails and flew the Atlantic non-stop, from the New England Coast to South America; in spring the breeding instinct drew him back to the Barren Grounds of Canada via the Mississippi Flyway, where he fueled on insect pests. Both ways he ran the gauntlet of a hunter army, which stalked him from state to state to provision meat counters by the wagonload. One hunter downed 28 Curlews with a single blast to become the 20th Century’s Man of Extinction.
“Charley Harper passed away on June 10, 2007.”
The Ballad of Charley Harper appears on Luminous Night, the new Six Organs of Admittance album out August 18 through the good people of Drag City — more info here.
Chasny has been featured in Arthur many times over the last five years, including a profile by Tony Rettman in Arthur No. 7, a cover feature in Arthur No. 15 and in a special dialogue with Al Cisneros (Om, Shrinebuilder, Sleep) in Arthur No. 27. All issues are available from the Arthur Magazine Store.