i am jaguar

I am Jaguar, Panthera onca. Consider me the largest cat of the Americas.

My species once thrived as far north as California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In the last decade you can find a few of us in the mountains of southern Arizona.

I wonder (I wander) if, like my ancestors, I can make a life here? The terrain of the Sonoran Desert sustains me. I travel back and forth, north and south, exploring the remote area. Can I return?

Can it work? Yes, it can. Will it work? That’s another question.

You want to know why I roar? I have, like you, a hyoid bone ↑ (highlighted in blue).  I vibrate my larynx causing the twig-like hyoid bones to resonate. Cats purr, I roar.

My large powerful jaw, canines, and retracting claws allow me to get through thick reptilian skin and turtle shells. I eat birds, mammals and fish too. The Sonoran desert provides plenty of javelina, a favorite.

Upper claws – tendons and muscles relaxed. Lower claws – tendons and muscles tightened.

Because my jaws and cheeks are larger, they say my brain is smaller.
I am intelligent.

I am a carnivore, not a popular thing to be, I understand. I need meat to sustain a lean body and lean muscle.

I run long distance, though I admit I am not fast. I am powerful. I pounce prey, give a direct bite to the neck or the back of the skull. I’m quick, I suffocate. Remember, I have  powerful jaw and canines.

Communication channels are visual, acoustic and chemical.
Perception channels are visual, tactile, acoustic and chemical

I am top predator. Though more important, I am a keystone species. I take on the critical role of maintaining structure and balance an eco system.

My status is NT, near threatened.  Humans are my primary predator.  They see me as a threat to livestock. They kill me for my fur and body parts. And they threaten my habitat.

 

I am Jaguar,  Mixed media on Canvas,  35×45″

NOTE:
A border wall can affect all life in general, and will affect wild-life in particular.
If the wall goes up between the United States and Mexico, the jaguar cannot make a home where it’s ancestors once did.
#Panthera onca arizonensis


AZ Central / Video / AZ Jaguars →

//www.azcentral.com/videos/embed/105143752/?fullsite=true

mark making – on the fly

Mid-June: I drive through the streets of El Paso, TX, my home-town, with my brother. He takes me through the warehouse district to look at murals and graffiti walls. Returning to Phoenix, I regret not taking photos.

End of July:  For years I noted street art. El Paso nudges me. I’m curious enough to mess with it now.

Though not complicated, I admit, I don’t know what I’m doing. I cut out
stencils and pick up black aerosol spray paint. I cover my mouth and nose with a light-weight face mask. Quickly I learn I love (love) the graphic image. No delay of gratification with this medium. The experience is intoxicating to say the least.

And it’s toxic. It doesn’t help that it’s summer in Phoenix. I am just about done with it when someone gives me color aerosol spray paint. Before the weekend is over I pull out a high-quality mask with mouth, nose and eye protection and I wear long sleeves and gloves.

And so it goes…

I don’t have the language down. Is it a tag? A stencil? Because I am a printmaker at heart, my preference connects to mark-making.

No title, no signature, no sense of permanence, less is more.

Marking space, on the fly.


Afterthought…
Perhaps things begin with wanting to take the jaguar I am painting in studio, out of studio. One early morning, a few weeks ago, I go outside to photograph the painting. The shadow of the tree animates the composition in such a way, I naturally want to see the big cat outdoors.

He roams.

Today: back to painting in the studio with the plan to finish my jaguar in August.  I feel  satisfaction with last week’s roll.

Though I feel I should give it one more try…and play with the political. It’s crazy out there…

jaguar – panthera onca – big cat

Presence of a jaguar(s) in the Sonoran desert determines I will someday draw the big cat. First things first, I need to cross paths with one.

Last weekend, a visit to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center with artist Carolyn Lavender, brings the opportunity. We attend an evening Bat Netting. Excited about the bats, I don’t think about meeting the resident jaguar.

Before the netting, our guide walks us through the facility. Each animal has a rescue story. (Humans…one really has to wonder about some of them.)

A jaguar walks towards us, slow and elegant. Two fences sit between him and us.  I want to push aside a young boy that stands between me and the feline (but I don’t). I want a closer look.

The large cat and the guide interact, they know each other. We look at the majestic creature. He looks at us. He lays and rolls in the same way my cat does when she’s feeling secure.

Our guide makes introductions and explains Leonardo, bred for entertainment, was born in a cage. His canine teeth and his claws, pulled out. You can imagine how not having canine’s has effected him, including the facial structure necessary to eat, consequently effecting diet and proper nutrition. Declawing is not recommended (considered abuse) for cats (big or small) and in this case, the careless job leaves the jaguar with pain.

I stay behind as people move on to the next wild creature.  When he lays eyes on me, I am thrilled (to say the least).

Leo, respected and made whole, enjoys a good life these days.

Leonardo’s story points to the value of the Conservation Center.  The facility houses many animals including coyotes, wolves, lions and bears. While the goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and release the animal back into the wild, in the case of some animals (like Leo) where condition does not permit, Southwest Wildlife becomes home.

Back to the studio…This summer, I draw a jaguar.

As I begin setting up a composition, I realize I must consider how to lay in both anatomy and unique markings. I will need to decide how to balance the anatomy and the striking pattern. (I had a similar challenge a few years back when I painted an armadillo.)

The jaguar head is a 16 x 16″ collage and mix media panel. A study of materials, method and subject that will help me lay out a full anatomy study of the grand feline.


The Southwest Wildlife Conservatory is a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates wild animals. They provide a home-for-life in their accredited sanctuary for animals that cannot be returned to the wild.
For more info and/or donation (they have a wish list)  → Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center