Local Artist Adam Hale Captures East Nashville’s Celebrity Bird

In March, we told you about East Nashville’s most famous bird – The golden pheasant that calls Shelby Bottoms home. Now there is one way you can guarantee to see our resident celebrity – or at least his likeness.

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The rogue Golden Pheasant living in Shelby Bottoms Park in East Nashville is the subject of a “royal portrait” painted by local artist, Adam Hale, and featured in a new art exhibit at the park’s Nature Center. The painting, along with other animal works and Hale’s newest series, Disestablished, is showing at the center from June 4 through August 31.

Local artist, Adam Hale, presents his portrait of “The Pheasant King,” an exotic Golden Pheasant which has reportedly been surviving in the Metro Park located at Shelby Bottoms in East Nashville. The piece is part of a summer-long exhibit presenting a collection of Hale’s recent work of acrylic on canvas.

Native to the forests of western China, the pheasant has been sighted on several occasions by neighbors and park visitors, leading the community to believe the rogue bird is likely an escaped pet. With its bright plumage, the pheasant blends successfully in the mountainous region of its homeland, but in Shelby’s bottomland forests, open fields, wetlands, and streams, his only survival mechanisms may be his hardiness in cold climates, and his ability to roost in the safety of the trees at night.

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With a golden-yellow crest, scarlet breast, green upper back, red, yellow and blue flight feathers, and long black-spotted tail, the Golden Pheasant is an exquisite creature to behold. Surprisingly, his attractiveness has not hindered his ability to evade harm, even among a host of predators, including foxes, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, hawks and owls. When asked about the bird’s survival, “It’s not looking good, but I can’t believe it’s been alive as long as it has.” Said Denise Weyer, Shelby Bottoms, Director.

Although the pheasant has permitted a few park visitors to get close enough for photos (usually in the early morning) he moves hastily through the underbrush when the inquisitive get too close. A web photo, posted more than two years ago, indicated the pheasant was a very young bird. Now appearing to be in his prime, and having a probable lifespan of five or more years, he could conceivably live in the park for many more seasons.

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While preparing for his exhibit at the Nature Center, Hale learned of the fabled Golden Pheasant and decided to create an Old World masterpiece-style portrait befitting of the celebrated bird’s pedigree. Hale’s creature is embodied in a suit of golden armor to embellish his fortitude and sheer grit. The regal stance of the “Pheasant King” gives the bird a persona of aristocracy indicative of his burgeoning notoriety in the eclectic Nashville neighborhood—a haven for visual artists, like Hale.

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“This is one of the more challenging pieces I’ve done; I wanted to reproduce the mastery of a 17th century painting glorifying a king, while capturing the raw nature of this heroic bird.” Said Hale. Historically, portrait paintings memorialized the rich and powerful, and a well-executed portrait shows the artist’s ability to capture the inner essence of the subject, not just a literal likeness. Shelby Bottoms’ Environmental Education Specialist, Christie Wiser, who organized the event, said “Adam’s interpretation of the golden pheasant that has been spotted in the park for several years now is long awaited by myself and the creative community of East Nashville. His ability to take this now iconic animal and bring it into the art world is brilliant and one of a kind. I am just so thrilled that we will get to showcase it in our classroom this summer.”

Merchandise depicting the “The Pheasant King” will be on sale at the nature center and on the artist’s website. Proceeds will be donated to the Shelby Bottoms Environmental Fund. Wanted1 Art & Design is Hale’s venture exclusively dedicated to providing fine art, murals, community art, commissioned work and commercial art to the Nashville community.

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