The Eagle and the Songbird

As to be exhibited at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, September 11th to October 9th. Pen & ink illustrations from the Eagle and the Songbird: The Eagle and the Songbird Take Flight (left), The Songbird Sings His Song (right) and The Bell Jar (far right). Portrait of My Family As a Young War is at center. Click on this image for a larger view.
At the age of 29. I had not had many opportunities to travel far from home. Growing up financially disadvantaged, my vacations were spent in my neighborhood with a group trip to the Poconos in the winter and a weekend with my church youth group at the shore in the summer framing the seasons of my teens.

Following high school, and a three-year program at Temple in Mechanical Engineering Technology, I found a job is a draftsman, and eventually found my way at the age of 25 into a job at a bank marketing firm as an “artist,” hired to do lettering on flip charts. While there, I taught myself to illustrate and developed a style using the tools of my trade as a draftsman: rapidograph pen, straight edge, circle and ellipse templates, vinyl eraser, and xacto knife.

 At my workplace, I also learned to write, if not in a creative way, one that would help sell bank cards and explain financial services.

Many with whom I worked had seen much more of the world than I. As an only child, I spent a lot of time with my parents, friends of my mother and relatives, and stayed always close to home and have remained in Delaware County, Pa. almost my entire life. In doing so, at an early age I had learned a lot of the what goes on behind closed doors, and the stories of my parents’ and my grandparents’ past lives.

Fascinated with children book illustrators, I decided to write an “adult children’s book” and used a songbird in a cage as my doppelganger and protagonist. The antagonist of my story was a “know-it-all” eagle, who saw himself as magnificent because he could travel so far and view so much.

While swooping down to an open window and landing on its ledge one day, the eagle spotted the
songbird softly singing in his cage, and began to taunt him about his meager life.

The songbird was undaunted by the eagle, and merely told the larger bird that his life was one of
family, stories, songs and the rhythms of his home. The eagle continued to chide the songbird and his “tiny” life, and finally convinced the smaller bird to fly with him to experience some of the world he saw in the way “it was meant to be seen.”

As the story progressed, the eagle displayed his ignorance of the world and the people in it, looking foolish while displaying his bravado. The songbird took in the sights and became aware of the ignorance of the larger bird.  By the end of the story, the songbird was thankful to maintain his truth, “...that although I don’t get to see the vastness of the universe, I get to experience the  real meaning of
life and the world around me.”

Although the story was lost in time, I have maintained nearly all of the art and given some to my
grand children for their rooms. The illustrations shown on this page, and at my 50 year retrospective, are some of those displayed on the walls of my grand daughter Lucy’s room in our house. She likes the bakery sign the best!

–– George Rothacker

The Diverse Artistic Universe of George H. RothackerA Memoir is available at Amazon. Click here for paperback or Kindle version. Please review the book if you like it!

Also please call, or email me with regards to the schedule of events at the two art centers. Any and all will follow COVID-19 guidelines. I will respond to all emails and calls.

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