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Madonna And Bluebird
© Lew Tilley, single use reproduction with permission.

Madonna and Bluebird

Renewals and new beginnings

The Bluebird is seen as the symbol of happiness, prosperity, good health, and the arrival of spring for many diverse cultures as indicated in Korean legend (a little bird told me), Native American Cochiti and Navajo spirit animals (rise to greet the Sun), Russian fairy tales (hope), and European mythology (the sky and eternal happiness).

The first recorded mention of a magical Bluebird dates to an oracle bone inscription from the Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 BC) in China where a bluebird was the messenger of the “Queen Mother of the West, a fearsome and immortal goddess” and 3000 years later, a “fairy queen”. *

Perhaps this Chinese origin story explains the oriental cast to the eyes of Lew Tilley’s Madonna, as she and the baby gaze at the bluebird on her hand. The title of the painting, “Madonna and Bluebird”, indicates a multi-cultural approach that includes the legendary Chinese “Bluebird of Happiness” and Christian mythology of the baby Jesus as associated with “new beginnings, hope and rebirth” to mankind.

How appropriate it is to use this as the first artwork featured in American Voice Media for 2018.—Eve Tilley, 2018

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Lew Tilley

Lew Tilley

Lewis Lee Tilley III, painter, poet, printmaker, photographer, illustrator, watercolorist, animator, filmmaker, writer, graphic designer, computer art expert, scholar, experimental architect, actor, set designer, raconteur, gourmet cook, jazz fan and world traveler, was born in Parrott, Georgia, May 17, 1921,to the union of Margaret Wright and Lewis Lee Tilley II. Lew was an artist from the beginning. His mother could always tell where he had spent his day by peeking in his sketchbook.

Lew matriculated at Emory University in 1937, ostensibly to study either medicine or theology. The death of his father in 1939 required he move to the University of Georgia, where he became acquainted with Lamar Dodd, Jean Charlot, and John Held Jr. In the summer of 1938 Lamar Dodd recommended he attend summer classes at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Arts School to study with longtime friend Boardman Robinson, as well as Adolph Dehn and Lawrence Barrett. Lew received his B.F.A. from the University of Georgia in 1942 and returned to Colorado Springs, eventually becoming an instructor in painting, drawing, printmaking and design at the FAC School and the Colorado College

A “migratory bird” at heart, he took his family to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in 1952 where he bought his first camera and added photography to his repertoire. Upon returning to Colorado Springs he became a free-lance artist, writer, teacher, muralist and photographer. This interested led to film-making. From 1958 to 1962 he was writer-producer-director at Alexander Film Company.

In 1962 he took a two-year tour of duty with USAID in Kaduna, Nigeria, working with the British Ministry of Education and the Peace Corps. He returned to be professor of art at the University of Southern Colorado (now CSU Pueblo) where he worked from 1965 until his retirement in1985. He returned to San Miguel de Allende summers to receive his M.F.A. in 1968 from the University of Guanajuato, Mexico, through his studies at the Instituto de Allende. Always ready to embrace a new medium, he also became a pioneer in computer art and wrote articles and designed covers for the British publication Your Amiga Magazine in the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s.

Among his honors were winning the purchase prize at the inaugural Canon City Blossom Festival (the first arts festival of its kind in the country) completing the circle when he returned as judge for their 50th anniversary. At USC he was voted “Outstanding Faculty Member” for 1979-1980 and also won an annual co-eds “Male Chauvinist Pig” award.
Lew Tilley died in Colorado Springs, October 4, 2005

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