John Yow,
Wyland: 25 Years at Sea
(Andrews McMeel, 2006)

Wyland's art is a breathtaking window into an unreal sea. In his world, the ocean is crisp and clear, the water pure and clean, the native life serene and picture-perfect. Sure, we know the truth has more to do with pollution and extinction than Wyland's art would suggest ... but I prefer Wyland's view all the same. That's how it should be, anyway.

Anyone who's seen Wyland's gigantic murals or smaller-scale posters knows something of his work already. But John Yow, in Wyland: 25 Years at Sea, touches a little more to the heart of the matter, delving into the passion that inspire's the artist's work.

Wyland is an environmentalist. More importantly, he's an informed environmentalist, one of the rare ones who knows what he's talking about when he argues against senseless waste and destruction. And, better still, he's an active environmentalist, one who puts his personal resources to work as well as his celebrity. As Yow explains, Wyland doesn't just want a "wow" for his art; he wants to hook the interest of people, especially children, who will learn more about the ocean and its life and will do something about its preservation.

That, of course, is one reason why so many of his paintings of whales are life-sized murals, not tiny prints.

But let's be honest. I found the story about Wyland, his passion and his work interesting. But I kept wandering away from the text to enjoy the art that illustrates this heavy tome to the point of distraction. It's everywhere, in bold and bright colors, and I wanted to dive right in and swim with the dolphins and whales. Wyland's art makes that very nearly possible.

by Tom Knapp
4 November 2006

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