A labor of love for the Cincinnati resident
CINCINNATI (April 8, 2016) – Chances are you’ve seen the Cincinnati Zoo’s “New Ones” poster created by Lou Specker thirty years ago. The Zoo receives thousands of inquiries from people wanting to buy the iconic poster and discovered that one of the area’s most popular frame shops gets just as many. Frame & Save Hyde Park owners Doug & Marianne Sandhage got tired of saying that the poster was unavailable and decided to ask famed local artist Loren Long to create a new version.
That’s how the new poster, “Zoo Babies,” was born. “Loren didn’t hesitate when we asked him to collaborate on this project,” said Marianne Sandhage.
“I know the original poster well. It’s been hanging in my kids’ pediatrician’s office for years,” said Long. “Creating the Zoo Babies painting for the zoo was a natural extension of the work I do in my children’s book career. On a basic level, my art is dedicated to children. In many ways, at least in my mind, a zoo is dedicated to children and their families. It felt like a natural fit from the beginning.”
Long, who grew up in Lexington and shares fond memories of summer jobs working with horses, is a true animal lover. He’s surrounded by wildlife as he works in the windowed studio in his Madeira home. Three kinds of woodpeckers and songbirds gather at his bird feeder, grain is scattered in the yard for deer, owls and even raccoons are welcome visitors.
“The Cincinnati Zoo was my Zoo as a kid. It’s my Zoo now and will be my Zoo in the future,” said Long on a recent Zoo visit. “I volunteered to do this project because of my love for animals. I’ve long admired and respected our zoo’s role in education , protection and propagation of endangered animals. I’m proud that funds from the sale of my poster will contribute to the great work they do at the Cincinnati Zoo.”
Long’s version of the poster includes some animals, such as the polar bear (his favorite), that weren’t in the previous version. He has also hidden an image of Otis, the benevolent tractor from his Otis book series, in the 27” x 47” poster.
“I wanted the animals in my painting to have a sense of playful appeal and adorable innocence. And most of all, I wanted them to look out at the viewer as if they were saying, ‘Come and see me!'” said Long.
The Zoo Babies poster will be available at the Cincinnati Zoo gift shop and at Frame & Save Hyde Park in early April, and Long will be signing posters at the Zoo on May 1 from 11a.m -1 p.m. Proceeds from poster sales will be used for the care and feeding of the Zoo’s animals.
Visit the Zoo throughout May for Zoo Babies, presented by MainSource Bank. The event is free with Zoo admission.