NORMAN — George Miksch Sutton (1898-1982) or “Doc” as he was known to friends and colleagues was among the world’s most accomplished ornithologists. Most of his career was as a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma.
In addition to being a scientist, Sutton was also a fine artist who produced an amazingly large portfolio of work depicting the subjects of his study. OU’s Sam Noble Museum of Natural History is honoring Sutton’s legacy with an exhibition of his art that opens today.
On Friday, Sutton’s biographer, Jerome A. Jackson, Ph.D, delivered a lecture at the museum as part of the Sutton show’s opening reception. Jackson is the recently retired Whitaker Eminent Scholar and Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.
His biography of George Miksch Sutton was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in April 2007.
Before Jackson’s remarks Museum Head of Exhibits Tom Luczycki addressed the crowd of members and people invited who had known Sutton. He credited Museum Media Specialist Michael McCarty with making it a very special exhibit because for him it was a passion.
Indeed it is an excellent collection of art displayed with finesse and attention to detail.
Works by Sutton include watercolor paintings of a curve-billed thrasher, plain chacalaca and crested guan. There was a vintage video tape of Sutton running in one corner explaining his techniques on expeditions to Mexico and the Arctic.
In one case is a worn leather portfolio marked “Pilot Navigation Kit” from his days as a 40-something officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII. Most of the exhibit is the very fine drawings and watercolors of the birds that Sutton devoted his life to studying.
Jackson spoke to Sutton’s life as a man, scientist and artist. He’d known him personally from when he was a student and Sutton was already an accomplished academic. Jackson recalled a time they’d discovered a dead yellow billed cuckoo in the road on the way home from campus and Sutton retrieved it for study.