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Collected by everyone from major museums to musicians, gracing festival posters and album covers, Tony Fitzpatrick’s boisterous art has the wide reach so few contemporary artists achieve. This Chicago son—variously described as a poet, actor, and Catholic school troublemaker—also has a deep history with birds, his first subjects.
One of eight children in a frugal, Catholic family, Fitzpatrick (b. 1958) was taught that throwing away food was a sin, that around the world there were people starving for the lack of it. He therefore couldn’t understand how his grandmother could toast slices of bread each day, break them into bits, and toss them into the backyard for the birds.
And I said, “Grandma, why are you giving our bread to the birds?”
She’d look out the window and she’d hold her finger to her lips and just [say] “Shut up and listen.” . . . And I began to hear it. . . . I learned that a blackbird song is different from the song of the house finch. A mourning dove had a low, mournful coo; sparrows and chickadees, just high, trill-y kind of songs.
But you put all of it together and you have this music. And my grandmother said to me, “You see, for a piece of bread, you can hear God sing.”
Fitzpatrick intertwines symbolism, poetry, ephemera, and a love for music and birds in The Secret Birds, a collection of small, avian-inspired collages absolutely bursting with color.
Contains five each of the following notecards:
- The Mysteries of Chicago (Winter Cardinal)
- Lunch Drawing #55: The Plover
- Rio Oriole
- Blue Jay for the First Day of Autumn