Karen Ahlgren, Silent Sentinel, Giclée print/2017

“More Beautiful and Amazing” Seton Gallery exhibition 2019-2020

Karen Ahlgren’s mammals and birds appear to have sat (or perched) to have their portraits done. They often show startlingly bright fur or feathers, and in the case of this wolf may compellingly stare out at the viewer as if they want something from us. Maybe respect. Many of us want something from them—a sense of wildness. Even if you don’t have ready access to wolves-in-the-wild, you can visit a wolf sanctuary to experience wolf magnificence.

Karen Ahlgren and her Animal Portraits

At an early age I soon realized that animals were often viewed by humans as something to ‘own’, use, hunt or consume. I became a champion of these beings recognizing their need for a voice in our world. I was working in the film industry for many years when I decided to leap into the abyss and acknowledge their existence, sentience and beauty in the only way I knew how- to paint them.

Using a non-local color palette pleased MY muse and I was pleasantly surprised when these portraits were enthusiastically received.

May we all develop respect for ALL animals living on this planet and recognize their importance for balance and yes, their inherent right to live their wild lives.

Ernest Thompson Seton View of Wolves

Thus I have offered evidence of the courage, the chivalry, the strength, the playfulness, the love loyalty, the fidelity, the friendliness, the kindliness, the heroism, the goodness of the Wolf—completing my attempt to set before you the faithful and fearless portrait of a creature so long maligned; to piece together the little scraps of truth I have found in countless hunter-tales, like gold raked out of garbage bins; to make known the wild one’s true character and his way of life as it really is. Now, with the evidence before me and much more of the same available, and with the story of Lobo in mind (for it is true in the main), can any one wonder that I love the Gray-wolf and credit him with true nobility of character—with the attributes of a splendid animal hero?” (Lives of Game Animals, Vol. 1, pg. 337, 1925)

(Silent Sentinel, copyright Karen Ahlgren, used by permission)

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