MARCELLUS | In its 50th year, Baltimore Woods Nature Center in Marcellus celebrates the art of one of its former directors and one of the nature center's most beloved naturalists, John A. Weeks.

From Thursday, Jan. 7 through Saturday, Feb. 27, “John A Weeks: A Retrospective Exhibit” is slated to be on display in the art gallery in the John A. Weeks Interpretive Center at 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus.

The public is invited to attend the show Monday through Saturday. There is no admission or parking fees, and there will be art work on sale including paintings, prints and stationery.

Weeks has spent a lifetime outdoors enjoying and recording his observations, augmented by formal studies in wildlife management at Cornell University as well as plant ecology at Syracuse University. There may be no one more qualified to talk about and depict artistically the many types of flora and fauna that people enjoy in central New York.

In this exhibit, visitors to the gallery will find paintings and drawings of a variety of birds and animals pictured in their native habitats, inspired by Weeks’ own experiences in the field.

A wonderful example is “Springtime,” a black-and-white rendition of a fawn standing among wake robin, jack-in-the-pulpit, trout lily and cinnamon fern, all of which would be found thriving together in a natural area.

Others include a Baltimore oriole in a tulip tree and a rose-breasted grosbeak in honeysuckle. The artist has taken the time to prepare explanatory text for almost every one of his paintings, creating an opportunity to both appreciate and learn.

A self-taught artist for the most part, Weeks had an interest in art at an early age but took just one formal class.  His other learning came mostly from observing his father, a professional artist, and from looking carefully at the world around him.

Small paintings from as early as the 1930s will be on display in this show as well as more recent and ambitious ones, such as the murals that grace the entryway at the interpretive center.

While the nature center celebrates the artistic endeavors of John A. Weeks in this exhibit, his influence in central New York must be noted. The general public may best remember him for “The Nature of Things,” a weekly radio show on WRVO for 24 years, when he related stories and anecdotes about the natural world, some of which were carried by National Public Radio.

He was an associate professor at SUNY Oswego from 1957 to 1966, founding director of the Rogers Environmental Education Center at Sherburne from 1966to 73, and director of Onondaga Nature Centers/Centers for Nature Education from 1973to 1982, which included Beaver Lake, Baltimore Woods and the Cayuga Nature Center.

He was also instrumental in the founding of Rice Field Station at SUNY Oswego. At the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, he served in a number of capacities, including adjunct professor from 1974 to 1990.

Upon his retirement, Weeks became an environmental education consultant and exhibit designer for several nature centers including Baltimore Woods. Still active at 91 years old, he lives in Baldwinsville with Esther, his wife of 69 years, and has five children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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