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Stadalsky: Channahon’s Four Rivers Environmental Center a boon for bird enthusiasts

Chicago-based artist Catherine Game is shown with her Common Yellowthroat painting at a recent show at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.
Chicago-based artist Catherine Game is shown with her Common Yellowthroat painting at a recent show at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.

Channahon’s Four Rivers Environmental Center will be the first stop for the Backyard Birds exhibit by Chicago artist Catherine Game, starting this week.

Game’s unique paintings of native birds that pass through Chicago, which is along the Mississippi Flyway, will be on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays through June 22 in Channahon.

Game captures the true spirit of birds seen not only in the Chicago area but also in our southern communities.

When she first moved to the north side of Chicago, she was struck by the sheer number and different species of birds in the city.

“The songs of the birds are such a stark contrast to other city sounds,” Game said.

She has incorporated each bird’s song into each painting by way of brush strokes in the background. The red-tailed hawk, for instance, has a screech, so the strokes are sharp. The chickadee, on the other hand, is cheerful, so the lines are softer, she said.

She also combines her interests and education in environmental issues with her love of nature and painting by making all of her own paints out of natural materials.

“[Game] uses natural things found in the wild; it’s a great fit for what we strive for,” said Ben Hecke, the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s community partnership and outreach coordinator.

The Four Rivers Environmental Center itself is a haven for birds and bird-watchers, Hecke said.

The Forest Preserve District has been moving away from large-scale events and bringing things back to the communities, he said, because it’s what people yearn for.

This is the first year of what is planned to be an annual community event at local visitors centers. A few years ago, a traveling photo exhibit was very well received in communities, and the idea has grown from there. There are all sorts of opportunities, Hecke said. They currently are tossing around the idea of a traveling quilt exhibit for next year.

From Channahon, Backyard Birds will move to the Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville from July 5 through Aug. 4, and then to Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township from Aug. 9 through 31.

There will be a special event held during each of the exhibits, which Game will attend and participate in.

Channahon’s will be an arts festival on June 17 called Art and Nature on the River. It runs from 12 to 4 p.m.

Cork and Craft, a wine and bird painting event, will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on July 22 at Isle a la Cache Museum.

From 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 19 will be the Hummingbird Festive and Nature Celebration at Plum Creek Nature Center.

Game is excited to be bringing her series of bird watercolors to the communities to share her love of nature.

“It’s a labor of love,” she said.

Hecke also is thrilled.

“This is such a great area for birds,” Hecke said. “Everything that we found in [Game] is what we strive for as an association. For us to bring it here is a great opportunity.”

• Kris Stadalsky writes about people and issues in areas southwest of Joliet. Reach her at writestuff56@comcast.net.

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