On Thursday, November 30th at 7:30pm Warwick's will host C.J. Cook as he discusses and signs his new book, Beauty in the Beast: Flora, Fauna, and Endangered Species of Artist Ralph Burke Tyree. C.J. Cook is an author, historian, and biographer of artists of the South Pacific, primarily Hawaii and Tahiti. His first biography about Ralph Burke Tyree, Tyree: Artist of the South Pacific won two Gold Awards for Best Cover and Best Biography from the Independent Book Publishers Association. His second book about Edgar Leeteg, the Rascal in Paradise, entitled Leeteg: Babes, Bars, Beaches, and Black Velvet Art, was equally successful, winning a Gold Medal for Best Biography from the IBPA.
A tribute to the artistic brilliance of Ralph Burke Tyree and the animals and plants of our planet, Beauty in the Beast begins with a quote by Albert Einstein that evokes one of the greatest challenges of our time: "Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."
Ralph Burke Tyree was a prolific artist who helped popularize Polynesian art in the 20th century. Beauty in the Beast is the story of Tyree's creative genius in painting flora and fauna, including colorful and exotic animals from around the world, many of which are endangered species.
Raised in California's Central Valley, Tyree received his art education in San Francisco. He joined the Marines after the start of World War II and deployed to Samoa in the South Pacific, where Private Tyree was designated the resident artist of the Marine base. He returned to California after the war, married his high school sweetheart, Margo, started a family, and began to work as a professional artist in California and the Pacific Rim. He depicted the idyllic beauties in beach or jungle settings with tropical flora, notably plumeria and hibiscus, adorning the hair of his subjects. Initially, he primarily painted with oils on board, but in 1960 Tyree switched mediums and began painting with oils on fine black velvet to add depth and texture.
When the first Earth Day sparked the environmental movement of the 1970s, and DDT threatened the bald eagle and other birds of prey with extinction, endangered animals entered his repertoire. For the next decade, his primary interest was oil painting these majestic creatures on both board and velvet, bringing awareness to their declining numbers. Tyree died in 1979 at 57.
Published to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Beauty in the Beast explores the works of the last ten years of Tyree's life when animals became his focus. Some endangered species covered are the pangolin, cotton-top tamarin, ornate Hawk-eagle, dwarf lemur, red panda, slow loris, and several big cats, including tigers, lions, and leopards.