Matthew Zigler
5/8/10 12:10 PM

A friend of mine considers pigeons rats of the sky, but I have always found this to be a decidedly ungenerous attitude. Columba livia, as the common pigeon is formally called, deserves respect for adapting so well to the urban environment. The bird’s not so bad looking either. Matthew Zigler seems to take a similar position on this common creature, and he has devoted his current painting practice to memorializing it and its contemporary habitat. A pair of birds etched into scrap metal has potential in its surprising silver lines on rusted plates, but this series remains unresolved, the drawings themselves not rendered convincingly enough. Dead birds meticulously painted onto fragments of safety glass feel just right, so fragile and touching. A series of small wood panels present tender, brushy oils of individual birds, exacting enough to provide information yet not so overdone as to feel educational. Zigler sources found materials, and installs some of his finished work, in an abandoned local mill, where one suspects the painted creatures can only rest temporarily, being less weatherproof than the feather-and-blood ones. Who gets to see them there? Other birds, perhaps. Zigler photographs these installations and also suggests them in elaborate painted compositions, but these re-presentations are of less interest than the installations themselves. But why paint such common creatures at all? Perhaps to help us pay more attention to that which hops and flies past us everyday, as we ignore or shoo or insult it away. My friend, the pigeon hater, could certainly stand to contemplate some.

—Lori Waxman
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