coyote in the hood means coyote in the studio

In pre-Columbian timelessness, the coyote inhabited only the west-central portion of North and Central America. With the advancing tide of European settlement across the continent, the coyote and its cousin, the wolf, were seen as a threat to livestock, crops, and human life, and were summarily persecuted, with bullets, traps, clubs, poison, and bad press. The wolf declined, and eventually required “re-introduction” to his old haunts. But the coyote increased, spreading his joyful song beyond the old possibilities, right into the noise of the urban world.
Joy Martin


And in the urban world – he thrives.

Photos on social media show (urban) coyotes across the city of Phoenix Neighbors photos places one in our general neighborhood and eventually one sitting in the yard of someone on our street. That’s close.

Coyote strolls by as Issa watches from lower corner, left side, on the sidewalk.

My husband and I catch the coyote on video (stills↑). We watch it meander across our front yard, while our cat Issa, sits in the patio. Issa sees the animal, gets up quickly, hides in the shadow of a small bush (2nd photo, lower left, on sidewalk) and looks at it. She’s territorial, I’ve seen her charge dogs. I suspect she senses this guy is different.

I have mixed emotions about a coyote in my hood. I understand neighbor’s concerns. But my curiosity and respect for wild-life does not subside.

Three days later, on a morning run, I cross paths with the creature.

Tall. Lean. Ears, face, body – angular. I decide he’s male. As he passes me, I watch his shoulder-blades ride up and down his back. Photos have me thinking he’s blonde. And while he is tan, close up I see the gray and light brown. His bushy tail hangs low to the ground, reminding me of a German Shepard’s.

This predator is beautiful.

I finish my run and return to the studio to work on my painting. I have seen the coyote.

I read about the 4 chambered heart and 2 lungs. Recently I’d studied the human diaphragm, now I want to know how the coyote’s lays out. I identify  both diaphragm and windpipe. I note spleen, stomach, large and small intestines, kidney and bladder. The coyote in my drawing assumes maleness, as I add the sexual organs.

I look at the teeth, the glands in its nose, and the tiny bones in its ear and
wonder about his senses.

Excellent eye-sight (sees limited color).
Acute hearing (detect prey and avoid danger).
Movement and position of ears communicate mood and rank.
Keen sense of smell – Jacobson’s organ (detects prey).

I rework the area until satisfied.

Feet: are quick!
Five digits on the forefeet, including the dewclaw (a fifth digit similar to a human thumb) and four digits on the hind feet. As a coyote walks, only the toes touch the earth (digitigrade).

Coyote’s scientific name Canis Latrans. Canis is Latin for barking dog. Member of the Canidae family. Average lifespan is ten years (Is this is also true of the urban coyotes).

In myth:
The name coyote originates from the Mexican Spanish word, coyote.
Nahuatl: coyotl. Mayan: koyotl.
Aztec name and associations:  Huehuecóyotl (Old Man coyote).

In the latter mythology he is the god of music, dance, song (the howl!), and mischief (the cunning and playful trickster). Coyotes also symbolize wisdom and pragmatism.

In American Indian symbolism the coyote is the shape shifter, animal magician, miracle worker, and totemic ancestor associated with the moon. He is the opener of the way.
To the Crow tribe he is the Creator of the World and all that it holds. He is the First Artist, the First worker.

According to the Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, he assisted in the creation of the human race by scratching open the hide of Mother Earth to release the first people from her womb. 

The coyote: Sacred and extraordinary, adaptable and resilient, intelligent and tenacious.

I don’t like the label urban coyote. But the coyote is here and he is living in our city (cities). They endure.

Can we adapt? Will we coexist? And how do I explain all this to the cat.

Sources:
My random note taking.
Song Dogs of my Soul by Joy Martin
The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects

As I complete this post, I find a useful website. It’s informative and includes wonderful photography and I will be forwarding it to my neighbors.  → The Urban Coyote Initiative.


Five years ago I completed my first animal anatomy study – An Homage to the Cat (Issa-Cup of Tea). Inspired by daily walks with our cat.

Issa too, moves on my street. And while the coyote and the cat are very different animals, there is some sort of wild I know they share.

nosce te ipsum (know thyself)

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The area I complete this week is a long 45 x 7″ strip that sits across a lower part of my current composition. The study is of my father. I said earlier that he’s always had strong physical presence. I imply this by including details of basic tissue like muscle and adipose.

I want to include bone tissue. He broke few bones, the wrist in particular, while riding a motorcycle. I recall he cut the cast of himself. His wrist healed slightly crooked. I think he liked that. I drew bone tissue in my mothers image. I want to do something different – connective tissue feels right here instead.

There are 3 types of muscle tissue in the human body so I study and draw out each. And the adipose tissue I finished yesterday, is the first detail below.

IMG_7393Adipose tissue ↑, better known as body fat, located beneath the skin, around the organs, in the bone marrow and in breast tissue. The small composition includes the 2 types: white (WAT) and brown (BAT). Its main role is to store energy, it also cushion and insulates the body. I have a tendency to run cold, even here in Phoenix. I’ll think of my BAT next time I’m shivering.

IMG_7394

This second study ↑ is Cardiac Muscle, unique in that it relies on blood and electrical supply to deliver oxygen and nutrients and remove waste product. It is almost completely reliant on oxygen to function.

This next study below is of cartilage ↓.

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And the last image is smooth muscle tissue.

IMG_7391While researching I learn general information about muscles and connective tissues is relatively lacking in ancient and medieval anatomy. We don’t see any real study occur until the Renaissance.

Enter Leonardo, who combines observation of the living with dissections of the dead. And Versalius, who publishes a book titled On the Fabric of the Human Being. Valverde combines images of muscles with the adage Nosce te ipsum (Know thyself). Later on muscles are studied in connection to motion, not only in the body, but in the world. Descartes describes muscles and tendons as devices and springs which seem to set nerves in motion , giving the body machine like association. And I find Blavatsky’s words, that basically usher us into the 20th century – Man is a little world-a microcosm inside the great universe…in the matrix of the macrocosmos…He is in it as it is in him…

I teach college level drawing. Sometimes I think I’d like to teach anatomy class. I would have students draw out parts and relate them to systems, and then to themselves. It would not be a science class. I am not sure it would even be an art class. It would be a class for the lay person wanting to know themselves more fully.