Art From an Unlikely ArtistWritten by Andrea Campbell
Art From an Unlikely Artist
Amanda makes good money for her art, hundreds of dollars on some pieces. Her particular style is strictly abstract and she exhibits some unorthodox mannerisms, but her work garners attention of many. Sometimes artist sleeps late and only paints once a week. If inspiration strikes and she does not have her supplies though, she shows her frustration by spitting and acting out! Well, what would you expect from a 100-pound orangutan? Typically, her studio is littered with banana peels and other stuff lying around rotting, but she like to climbs up, up, up into a cargo net to greet visitors. Amanda lives at Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her Como Zoo keeper, Mike Thell, says that Sumatran/Bornean orangutan started painting in June as part of zoo’s enrichment program. Animals in this zoo and others across country, experience different incentive enhancements as well: there are gorillas who have to maneuver their treats out of plastic bottles, a polar bear who has to scratch his way through a block of ice to get his fish, and lions who get to roll around in their favorite herbs and spices. Animal behavior experts have discovered that by supplying work for animals, whether that means foraging for food, navigating their terrain, or simply doing unlikely projects like Amanda, animals fare better and exhibit a "psychological well being."
The intelligent, antsy Amanda just kind of took to painting after only a few demonstrations about what to do with brush and paints from less-talented humans around her. Because she thrives as a result of her painting, every so often bottles of nontoxic poster paint and thick sheets of paper are pushed up to her chain-link fence. Part of Amanda’s technique is to dip a fat paint brush into bright, primary colors and, after each thoughtful stroke on paper, she will cleanse brush in her mouth! Blue is a favorite hue. Several minutes of inspired painting take place and then she hands her brush back to Thell, licks excess paint with her pointed tongue, and its done. "She usually gives it tongue signature," Thell says. It does take some coaxing to get Amanda to part with her work, but she will eventually push her creation under cage door for retrieval. She is further rewarded for her efforts with either orange juice or a box of Kool-Aid, which she receives for every painting she completes.
Exploring the Universe with Dr. Norio Kaifu Written by Gayle Olson
During 1998 we were fortunate to attend a dinner hosted by Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii, featuring a lecture by Dr. Norio Kaifu. Professor Kaifu is director of Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and has held position as vice president of International Astronomical Union (IAU) since 1997. A specialist in radio astronomy, infrared astronomy and interstellar matter, Dr. Kaifu has published some 100 papers on astronomy in addition to 15 popular science books. Before joining Subaru in 1990, he was a director, a professor and an associate professor at Nobeyama Radio Observatory, and a senior research associate in Faculty of Science at University of Tokyo. As an amateur backyard astronomer we were delighted to learn of possibilities this new telescope will bring to exploration of universal knowledge.
Dr. Kaifu shared his views about design of new telescope, cylindrical in shape, rather than dome, it can be more optimal for wind resistance. The 8-meter diameter glass mirror is only 8 inches thick and has taken six years to construct and polish. The mirror is controlled by two Fujitsu parallel computers, with largest memory capacity in world with 261 supporting structures. 100 times per second computer adjusts mirror to counteract atmospheric turbulence, which we see as twinkling stars. The mirror can be controlled by computer by each second, to obtain best view of deeper universe. Mauna Kea was chosen as a location for new Japanese telescope because of stable weather and easy access.