New York is my favorite city for a number of reasons, not least of which being that a taxidermy show in Brooklyn on a Tuesday night can become a hot ticket resulting in a packed house of fellow weird art enthusiasts. This year’s Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, sponsored once again by the Secret Science Club, was another rousing success with enough fairytale animals, exotic critters, and Black Forest creepiness to sate even the most jaded fans of animal preservation.
Each year, creators and collectors of mounted animal specimens gather at Brooklyn’s Bell House to show off their beloved beasties. Each presenter is given a few moments to describe his or her piece of taxidermy, and the stories run the gamut from the purposefully comedic to the surprisingly informative. It’s nice to be in a room full of drunks “woo”-ing for an ornithologist from the Bronx Zoo as if he was a rock star!
Before the contest began, journalist Melissa Milgrom
gave an opening presentation on her experience creating a mounted squirrel specimen. Her seven years of research in this strange world for her recently released book “Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy”
helped her develop a reverence for the artform and its creators that set the tone for the evening. Keynote speaker Mike Zohn of Obscura Antiques and Oddities presented an amazing slideshow detailing the development of taxidermy from, as he put it: “High-Brow to Hillbilly to Hipster.” Last year, Mike’s incredible songbird automaton earned the grand prize at the Carnivorous Nights contest, and his knowledge about the subject of taxidermy was absolutely vast. Isn’t it a damn fine thing that those of you not fortunate enough to be able to stop in to Obscura can catch a glimpse of its magicalness via the new Discovery Channel series “Oddities?”
I highly recommend you folks check that out–it’s one of the few things I’ll recommend here that you can safely watch with family!
Many of the items on display were part of the owners’ respective collections, and were found in charity shops, on eBay, and in exotic European locales. This two-headed squirrel was the spoils of a particularly bloody bidding war.
The majestic beast above is an example of a gag taxidermy from Bavaria. Known as Wolpertinger, these Jackalope-like creations are proof that anything we can do, the Germans can do in a far more disturbing manner. This little guy was wearing a blinged-out butcher knife around his neck and had bright red duck’s feet. Amazing.
This gentleman’s arctic fox stole looked super-stylish. I may actually prefer white fur stoles on men more than women, in point of fact. Bonus points for his flawless pronunciation of various Icelandic locations. I may have a tiny bit of a crush!
Where else in the world could I go and find TWO examples of stuffed, bipedal foxes carrying stuffed chicks under their arms? These adorable dudes above as well as the photo that kicked off this entry feature that motif. A motif, by the way, that I was completely unaware of until last night.
For me, the highlight of the show are the pieces shown by their creators. The big winner at this year’s show was Beth Beverly, an artist from Philadelphia who traveled via public transportation with her princess-themed chicken and rat terrier, along with an amazing hat made from a hen. Check out more of her work at Diamond Tooth Taxidermy
made another amazing showing this year with a group of alien skulls.
This beastie rolled across the floor like a children’s toy. The effect was alarming, and yet not un-adorable.
When asked why his goat, Bob, was covered in jewels, this fellow answered that it was “to make him look sexy.”
As always, if one of your pieces is showcased above, I want to give you credit! Please let me know & I’ll update accordingly.
Video of some of the entrants from the Wall Street Journal: