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The Art of JAMA
February 3, 2015

Coyote and AldersAlex Colville

JAMA. 2015;313(5):448-449. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.11555

The range of the North American coyote, which extends from Central America to Alaska, has expanded in recent decades as far as the Atlantic coast. Coyotes first migrated to the maritime province of Nova Scotia in the mid-1970s and were well established by 1995, when Coyote and Alders was painted by the Canadian artist Alex Colville (1920-2013). In this image a coyote keeps to the cover of alder branches as it lopes across a field from left to right, following a game trail or seeking a mate. The composition of the painting is divided by the horizon line into upper and lower segments, with each segment having a broad and a narrow band of topography. Many of Colville’s compositions have natural mathematical structures, such as the doubling of this painting’s landscape and the fractal geometry of the alder branches piercing the snow. The narrow band of alder tops in the lower frame partly conceals the coyote’s body. The source of illumination is moonlight on the snow, like a footlight on a proscenium. Coyotes are nocturnal and well camouflaged but are somewhat easier to see in the winter breeding season when they are on the move and the undergrowth is bare.

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