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Sculptor James Muir Honors a Legacy and Earth Day

James Muir

James Muir

Originally Published: April 17, 2017 3:34 p.m.


"The Begats" by James Muir

Internationally renowned allegorical sculptor James Muir has spent his lifetime translating his deep spiritual convictions and social consciousness into profound works of art reflecting the critical nature of the times in which we live.

His work, prized by public and private collectors across the globe, speaks eloquently of duty, honor, courage, and justice, but above all, truth and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. His pieces are in both public and private collections internationally including the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas.

Allegorical Art is a term Muir uses to describe his art as being filled with symbolic meaning.

“To bring light into the darkness, such is the duty of the artist,” says Muir “The longest journey is the journey within.”

Muir believes we are all given a path of service to humanity and considers his talents as his own way for him to contribute in a meaningful way. Now, in keeping with his profound connection to the world around him he has sculpted “The Begats” capturing the three forces of nature, John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson.

Muir says of the piece “My interest in doing the sculpture, The Begats, was to honor the legacy of three great founders instrumental in creating the ecology movement in America.”

John Muir, to whom James Muir is related on branches of the family tree, is revered as America’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist. In 1892, he helped form the Sierra Club where he served as president until his death. His legacy lives on today through continued Sierra Club programs which have helped to establish a series of new National Parks and a National Wilderness Preservation System.

Aldo Leopold was best known for his influential book, A Sand County Almanac. His original ideas about conserving natural resources and his “land ethics” helped take conservation to new heights as he eventually adopted Muir’s view “that all wildlife - even predators like wolves, bears, and snakes - had value.” He was a co-founder of The Wilderness Society.

Senator Gaylord Nelson is celebrated as the founder of Earth Day. Following his election to the Senate in 1962 when he discovered his state had no environmental political agenda in place; he worked to devise a way to bring urgent environmental issues to the forefront. April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day, marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement.

“The Begats” involves a “Socratic” – type discussion between John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson. Muir is standing above the others, in deference to his status as the “founding father” of ecological and conservation awareness. His ubiquitous walking stick, resembling a staff, reflects his being the good “shepherd”, leading humanity through nature’s wilderness. Leopold is kneeling by his side, as the “student” of John Muir and has just planted a young sapling to replace the one nature has “re-claimed.” Nelson is seated, cross-legged, Indian fashion on the ground, right hand upon the fallen tree, to denote “Earth Day”, as well as his being the “offspring” of both Muir and Nelson.

True to form, James Muir has captured the ecologically minded group in detailed depictions of attire typical of their “working clothes” including details such as the hat and binoculars representative of the time period.

Muir says “I have chosen not to seat them on a bench – too urban; nor on tree stumps – too reflective of commercial exploitation; nor even on a rock – too insensitive to the earth. As depicted, they are standing, kneeling and sitting by a beaver-cut tree. This selected portrayal not only pays homage to the symbiotic relationship of all living things in nature, but also provides a central spot for the viewer to sit or stand and feel like an equal participant in the conversation.”

Muir’s work can been seen in public collections throughout the country; there are over 20 life-size/monumental sculptures in Arizona alone.

James Muir is represented by Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona for information about Muir please visit GoldensteinArt.com. or call 928-204-1765. Goldenstein Gallery is located at 150 State Route 179, at the corner of SR179 and 89A and is open daily.