REVIEW: Boston Globe
Adelaide Murphy Tyrol: Exotic Birds from The Fairbanks Collection
By Cate McQuaid
Adelaide Murphy Tyrol is an expressionist John James Audubon, or a Roger Tory Peterson with a humorous wink and a poke in the ribs. Her small gouache and oil stick pictures of birds at the Richardson-Clarke Gallery, taken from models of stuffed birds at the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, VT, are packed with character.
These vivid, brightly drawn birds are cocky, sneaky, curious and haughty. The small format effectively contains the blast of energy each of these bristling creatures exudes. The works succeed partly for their settings - she places them against brilliant red and blue backdrops that show off the birds’ plumage and echo their high pitch - and partly for the sheer personality in each of her subjects.
“Lawe’s Six-Plumed Bird of Paradise” struts before a red-hot background, lifting his leg with the elegance of a swing-dancer and leaning slightly to the right, as if he’s mid-step during a foxtrot. His feathers fan around him in regal puffs. Long whiskerlike feathers with heart shapes bobbing at the end sprout from his head like a fancy chapeau, and the soft golden red down on his chest turns this smooth talker into a true Casanova.
“Anna’s Hummingbird” is a quivering bullet of gold on a blue backdrop, it’s black thorn of a beak pointing hopefully upward. Two “Indian Peacock “ drawings feature a thrilling sweep of cobalt blue up a long neck through an aquamarine sheen at its throat – a seduction of color that crashes to a halt at the bird’s scolding visage, with its downturned beak and blood-red eyes. If this show is for the birds, it couldn’t have given them a better honor.