Still Not Listening by Leo E. Osborne

From my heart to your heart, the ONE  HEART,


This request is being sent to many of the people I know in hopes that we can co~create an opportunity as voices for the wild creatures of this planet and for those of us humans who have a voice left to be heard.

The horrors of what struck us by the oil well disaster in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, caused great turbulence in so many lives. We have been shaken to the depths of consciousness and in doing so I am personally being drawn back into the arena of artists creating a statement work about the conditions in their life right now!

As you read the enclosed information and view the works pictured, I hope that you will see the long journey represented and how a large part of my life has been affected.  Now at 62, an old hippie, who went to Woodstock and inhaled, I have seen too much destruction in so few decades, all from man’s greed, fear and ignorance.

My hard work over the years as an artist has brought me to a place where I hope my reputation may get a greater listening ear.  I work to bring beauty into the world and it has been only a handful of works done at a time of concern over the planet for which I chose to give specific environmental content and impact.

STILL  NOT  LISTENING was done in 1989, toured the world, and it has been with me for years now, wondering itself where it would go from here.  The time has come to bring it back to public attention and along with it I plan to take a wooden sculpture that I have had in the studio for some time and make an “art happening’ with the piece, like I did 21 years ago.

I have a killdeer feigning a broken wing as ‘the lure’ for a predator to make it go after the injured bird and thus lead it away from the nest with 4 eggs.  Unfortunately this predator is crude oil and will overtake the nest and maybe the adult bird too!  My plan is to again use black caulking with a ‘gun’ to spew this blackness over the edge of the sculpture and up onto the eggs. The sculpture will take on the appearance of being engulfed with oil sludge.

What I am asking of you is to help me find a way to present this to the world.  If you have a personal contact or know someone who can bring this information to Oprah or Ellen or some national broadcasting figure who would use this opportunity to make this statement with art, I ask that you please attempt to do so. As a reflection of what we are doing to our pristine planet, this is an opportunity to make a statement that will hopefully have impact. Please forward this on to anyone who might be able to assist in making this happen.

I am right now planning on making a mold of the original STILL NOT LISTENING. With the help of others I hope to cast an edition of these.  The plan is to also mold and cast the new piece with the killdeer once it too has the caulking applied to it.  My hopes are to send these sculptures to various oil corporations and governmental agencies like the White House, etc. as well as being made available to the public for purchase.

I will donate a percentage of sales to an environmental program that will be designated later.

We need to IMPACT the world with this message from the art community and I am asking for your help and support in this journey.

Thus with my connection to you, I wish for you to use your connections to others and together be THE ONE HEART.

Leo E. Osborne


It was 1989 and I was living on the Maine Coast in Warren, ME when the Valdez Oil Spill occurred in the Prince William Sound of Alaska.  My neighbor was in daily communication with folks in Alaska, via the newly established ‘internet’ service through computers!  He was trying to get equipment sent to help assist in the clean up work.  The red tape that he had to go through was making it impossible to assist and the entire situation got to be horribly frustrating.  Hearing these personal daily reports coming through the internet I was stunned by the horror that I was witnessing and the great endangerment to our wild life creatures in that area.

I was then working on a burl wood sculpture depicting three shorebirds doing their springtime mating ritual.  There was one bird with wings extended doing what I refer to as a mating dance and another bird that was feeding around the edges.  I was about to start the third bird when the spill occurred.  When I went back to the sculpture, instead of making the other bird sitting on a nest as planned, I decided to make this last bird to be on its back with its wing caught up in the black sludge of crude oil.

It was a beautiful carving done in pristine birdseye maple burl.  When completed I took a caulking ‘gun’ and with this symbolic weapon I spewed black vinyl caulking over the bird with strands hanging from its wing and caught up in this sticky mess that I had brought upon it with my weapon.  It was in fact a personal ‘art happening’ similar to the happenings staged in the 60’s when that was the thing to do as an artistic expression for something happening in the world.

The finished work was taken that spring of 1990 to the annual Ward Foundation Bird Carving Competition held in Maryland.  The piece was viewed by many and one nationally known carver asked that it be part of the center piece for a dinner being held in honor of the Japanese Master wood carvers who were attending the event.  The piece was then approached by Japanese Master Haru and he looked at it and wept.  With the tears in his eyes he said something in Japanese.  His translator looked at me and said “Mr. Haru has just said, we must listen to the bird songs.”  Mr. Haru did not know that I had titled the sculpture STILL NOT LISTENING.  When we both understood that we had the same thought, we hugged one another and realized that this was one fierce moment when art transcended all boundaries and borders, language and nationality.  As it happened, Mr. Haru later requested that the piece be sent to Japan for a one year tour of several museums.

The sculpture did go to Japan, but before that it toured the United States via the auspicious of the Society of Animal Artists and while at the Boston Museum of Science it got extreme notice and recognition.  It was written up in several magazines including the one from the Science Center itself and Wildlife Art News, a feature magazine of that time.

Here is an interesting story of how works of art, when let loose from the artist and go into the world can and often do create their own stories.  It is the act of inanimate objects becoming artifacts and living notions.  A friend who lived in Maine and saw me working that sculpture in its creation went to Belize to study the Mayan stellars and ruins.  While there, out in the jungle and in a hut of a local villager, he asked what this person thought of the art being done elsewhere in the world.  He said that it was through periodicals and magazines that he found access to the art world.  He reached under his small table and picked up a magazine and turned to the picture of STILL NOT LISTENING  and said, here you go, this is the type of art that stirs me and makes me know what is being expressed elsewhere in the world.  You can of course understand how my friend felt at that moment!  He related to this man how he not only knew me personally, but knew the piece personally and was there in my studio when I put the caulking onto the sculpture!

I like to use that imagery when talking to folks about how it is important for an artist to let go of his creations, like a child has to be weaned off the nest and take its position in the world so as to make up their own stories.  No different for a sculpture or a painting!

The sculpture has rested in my studio for years and it is only now that we are in the throws of the worst oil spillage in history, that I wish for it to come back to being viewed.  That which is occurring right now in the Gulf of Mexico and how it is devastating the coast of the southern United States is horrifying.  Shame on us!!!!  It is appalling and sick to think what man is still doing to this planet.  No wonder our ‘Mother’ is pissed off and she is letting us know that!


Let us not forget about the “Canary Story”, of how when early miners would bring a live canary into the mines with them.  If the bird got ill and fainted that meant that the air was getting too thin and the men too hopefully with the canary would retreat out of the mine and not perish.  They listened to the bird song!!!!

Are we as intelligent as a canary?

I am not letting this story and sculpture rest on a shelf now.  There was reason for me to keep hold of that sculpture for over two decades.  There are no accidents in creativity.  That prompted me to listen myself!  I listened, and in doing so I found another sculpture that has been in my studio for some years.  It is a killdeer that is moving off of its nest of four eggs to feign a broken wing as to lure a predator away from its precious nest.  It will be to no avail, for this time the predator is the ‘human condition’ and it spews upon the coast its black crudeness and swallows the life of all that is around it.  This sculpture done in maple burlwood is being prepared and finished so that as the situation arises I will make a public demonstration of shooting with a ‘gun’ the black caulking mixed up with other plastic litter to finish the piece and to take away the pristine beauty of what is now and transform it into a drastic statement of our times.  It will be another “Art Happening” by Leo E. Osborne.


Along with the information about my “ART HAPPENING” and the stories surrounding STILL NOT LISTENING, this information is also included as a separate attachment.

My longtime friend and associate in the arts, Author and Curator David J. Wagner has prepared this prospectus for a museum exhibition titled ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT and as you will see this presentation showcases “Still Not Listening”, along with Kent Ullberg’s bronze sculpture “Requiem For Prince Edward Sound” and Bob Bateman’s fierce paintings of the Pacific Northwest and the environmental wreckage caused by man.

If you know of any contacts with museums to showcase this exhibition then please contact them with this information and David Wagner himself for more information, questions or details.

It would be wonderful for all of these events to come together as one, being kicked off with the broadcasting of spewing the caulking over the new sculpture!

... before the oil


About martingallerycharleston

Martin Gallery strives to bring some of the finest artists in a variety of fields together under one roof. Upon entering the historic Grand Salon of Martin Gallery, one experiences a soaring space filled with the exquisite color and texture of oils, acrylics, bronzes, marbles, terra-cottas and richly hued glass. Martin Gallery features contemporary art, representing more than thirty nationally and internationally renowned artists. Our goal is to provide works of thoughtful beauty to enhance residential and commercial surroundings. Our belief in the quality of the work that our artists produce is what drives us, and our excellent client relationships are what sustain us. Martin Gallery is located at 18 Broad Street on the corner of State and Broad Streets, in the Grand Salon of the historic People’s Building.
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One Response to Still Not Listening by Leo E. Osborne

  1. Andrea Garrett says:

    I think you mean salamanders were considered good luck for foundries because of all the legends about the salamander and heat!

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