I had an unpleasant email exchange this week regarding an old post on this blog. You can follow the link, but the relevant portion of the blog post is copied below. I am making the exchange public because it came as a complaint from the artist about my assessment of his work. I don’t know why he didn’t put a comment on the blog post rather than sending an email but it seems like he has a right to have his opinions heard and so I am giving him space here to do so. This will give all you readers the chance to form your own opinions based on his work and his comments.
Text from the original blog post:
And I learned that Georgetown, Texas has a totally awesome library. It has wonderful open stacks, great art in the hallways and sculpture outside, an actual café in the library with great food. But the best part is the children’s section. It has a South American jungle theme with murals painted on all the walls.
Please notice the capybara peeking out of the grass near the bottom left corner. How great is that? Of course, whoever painted it had no idea how large capybaras are because that one would be a midget. Or maybe the jaguar is a giant. Or maybe nothing is drawn to scale. At any rate, I would love to do a book reading / capybara encounter and have Caplin in front of that mural. I donated a copy of the book to the library and gave them one of Caplin’s cards. Hopefully they’ll contact me about it.
Original contact email from artist:
I’m the artist for the wall mural in Georgetown Library. Yes, I do know how large Capybara’s get. I’m not sure you do however. That giant thing that you have is not the norm, not by a longshot. Notice the mural is set in the wild, and in the wild few Caps ever reach 1/3rd that size as they are the main food source for so many predators. Also, the JAGUAR is in the background, whereas the Cap is in the foreground and is a decent size as compared to the Manatee, and is at the size you’re likely to find in the wild.
Please critique me only when you know what you are talking about, and please do not use my artwork image without permission.
Wow, you are really sensitive. And yet still wrong.
The average size for a capybara is 100-140 lbs. Caplin weighs in at around 100 lbs so he’s actually a bit small. Furthermore, I also have seen capybaras in the wild. Here’s a link to my post showing some photos: http://gianthamster.com/2009/09/wild-capys-in-venezuela/.
I don’t know where it is that you saw the tiny capybaras. Maybe they were babies. Maybe you saw the elusive lesser capybara from Panama and Colombia which is supposed to top out at 75 lbs, although I have never even seen a photo of one.
On the whole, my critique of your artwork was very positive so I think your indignation is inappropriate and exaggerated.
Thanks for reading my blog!
Melanie & Caplin Rous
Again, if allowed to get that large. I have seen them in the wild too. And it’s well-known that they don’t get that large, usually no more than beaver-size. It’s from what I’ve seen in the wild and what I’ve read from experts, not some woman with a self-published vanity book and a pet, is that in the wild they seldom reach half their full life-span.
It’s something I’ve noted of interest about the psychology of the amateur animal ‘expert’, particularly with exotics. They know a little about a particular animal and develop this sense of self-importance, so they are quick to criticize any fact they think is invalid whether asked to do so or not. It makes them feel better about themselves.
But okay, so we have a difference of opinion, but my point was, you have no right to post someone elses image, particularly if you are going to criticize.
I expect you to take that image off your site and this is an official request by me to do so.
Magical Ideas Illustration
‘A mind stretched with a new idea,
never goes back to its original dimensions’
Your mural is displayed in a public place and I have every right to photograph it. If you feel a need to contact me again, please do so through a lawyer.
So there you have it, judge for yourselves.
I admit I probably should have been more polite in my initial response. I hope I have learned a valuable lesson.
One last thing. I hate to post this because the behavior of the humans makes me kind of sick. Poor little capybara! Nevertheless, it shows the relative sizes of capybaras and jaguars in the wild. You probably don’t want to watch it all the way to the end.