SkyBird Art
Jackson Pollock on the Wing
Jeffrey Ventrella

The three images above show examples of early avian art which likely influenced the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. These action paintings express fluidity and energy. The artists often worked from high altitudes, and encouraged chance to play a role in the painting process - emphasizing spontaneity and raw emotion.
We are not able to identify specific artists and their influences on each other, but the emergence of a New York style is clear from these examples. This is indicated by a readiness to embrace the gritty urban concrete as a canvas upon which to receive the spontaneous utterance of winged freedom. This is particularly true of the left-most study. In the middle piece, one can clearly see some of the early influences of Jazz.

Below are examples from later artists who were experimenting with new surfaces, with implications for alternate psychic dialogs, often highlighting the juxtaposition of human frailty against the backdrop of harsh, modern society. The second piece shown is often cited by avian-expressionist critics as a foreshadowing of Pop Art. And with some of these works, a discerning eye might even detect a hint of postmodernist figuration. There is something to be seen by all. As one critic points out with alarming clarity, "...the discursive polemic is germane to the aesthete, yet while provoking the gaze of the bourgeoisie."
The Northern Aesthetic
Engaging the historical backdrop of old-brick sidewalks, a new generation of painters were coming of age to the north. The lower branches of several fruit trees just outside of small cafes near Beacon Hill in Boston were frequented by avian poets and painters primarily concerned with the juxtaposition of stiff intellectualism with youth and abandon.
We see a progression in these works: a trend towards disregarding boundaries, which for the Beacon Hill Group represented societal and class division, calling out to be violated, fragmented, deconstructed, just as the early avian-expressionists had made their overt attack on the tyranny of representational literalism.
West Coast Influences
Many of these experimental painters had taken wing to explore a westward aesthetic. They found themselves in San Francisco's North Beach, unexpectedly enraptured in mind-altering experimentation.
After a late night gallery opening that combined confrontational interactive sound with drugs, a spontaneous "happening" opened the eyes of many painters at this famed event. A new colorist influence took hold that had a decisive west coast zeitgeist.
Later Works
The avian expressionists enjoyed several decades of recognition, praise and wealth. But many of them lived life on the edge: not only through experimenting with drugs and sex, but also through experimentation with ways of creating new colors and textures in their work that came from the very bowels of their aesthetic. In many cases, overblown egos combined with a fast-changing gallery scene and collectors seeking out new genres, had turned many of the most respected artists into drunken cynics.
No longer capable of flight, many of the avian post-expressionists began incorporating feathers and claw patterns to add texture and narrative angularity to their works. These artists had lost their following, and fell into obscurity. Below we see some of the later works. It is clear that their youthful vitality has been lost.

Still, we see something deep inside, glimmering through the grit - a reminder of an era of fresh vision: the splattering Shock of the New. But it is merely a vestige of that raw abandon we relished from the early New York painters of the sky. Even today, their influence can still be seen, although most art buyers in this consumer age are not even aware of this influence. To them, they are just splatters.
But, to the sensitive culturalist with a discerning eye who takes the time to look down, and maybe even stoop for a closer view, these are works of art - works that not only reveal the energy and the joy, but also the tortured existential angst...of the great Avian Expressionists.

Photographs by Jeffrey Ventrella (c) 2011