Slope man’s art felt tribute to slaughtered geese

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

The federal massacre of 300 geese and baby geese this summer in Prospect Park has provoked outrage, protests, and endless coverage by our staff. Now, it’s even become the subject of an iconic piece of art.

I mean “iconic” literally.

Park Slope artist Jonathan Blum — you know him from his paintings of whimsical dogs and rabbis (and often both) — was so bothered by the jack-booted, middle-of-the-night bird slaughter in July that he painted “A Canada Goose Goes to Heaven,” a tribute featuring a waterfowl with a halo.

It follows a centuries-old tradition of religious iconography, equating the dead birds to martyrs to humanity’s need to get across the country in three hours. The work captures the bird in a bold pose against the grandeur of a park landscape.

It’s yours for $800.

But wait, there’s more.

A portion of the sale price will go to a goose-related charity, said Blum.

“To this day, I still am very affected by that slaughter — I can’t even say why,” he said the other day at his Fifth Avenue studio. “Partly, it was the way it was done, you know, in the middle of the night without any warning. Partly, it was the notion that we just have to get the birds out of our way so we can fly in our airplanes.

“I’m not a lunatic, but doesn’t that just sound so wrong?” he added.

So, yeah, maybe this quasi-religious painting is preaching to the converted, but then again, who would pay $800 for a painting of Tupper Thomas with a halo?

Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper. E-mail Gersh at

Jonathan Blum’s studio sale [285 Fifth Ave. between First and Second streets in Park Slope, (917) 855-6564], Dec. 11–12, noon-6 pm.

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
Jonathan Blum is the man of the year. Have mercy on the geeze.
Dec. 9, 2010, 8:17 am
Greenwood HeightsGlitterGoddess from Greenwood Heights says:
This has gotten rather ridiculous, IMO. I can understand being a lover of animals, but really? Seriously? Call me when people bother to have a large outcry about something more important. Like the unnecessary death of countless youths due to drugs, alcohol and violence. I can't quite bring myself to give a crap about geese (no pun intended) when we don't do as much to save humans. And yes, I'm one of those people who believe that humans are superior to animals. Sue me.
Dec. 9, 2010, 8:52 am
DIBS from Lechland says:
ignorant insidious idolatry by insipid idiots
Dec. 9, 2010, 8:56 am
from the bronx from lechland says:
Great way to start the day- laughing. What's next- trying to get the geese beatified?
Dec. 9, 2010, 8:59 am
Lavinia from BoCoCa says:
Dec. 9, 2010, 9:21 am
trustfunder from williamsburg says:
who the hell cares?
Dec. 9, 2010, 9:41 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Nice alliteration, DIBS
Dec. 9, 2010, 10:45 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
Iconic? like "curated" another word that's now garbage.
Dec. 9, 2010, 10:46 am
Park Sloper from Park Slope says:
"It follows a centuries-old tradition of religious iconography."

Seriously? Isn't that just a TAD overstated? Sorry, Jonathan, but this looks like a paint-by-numbers picture.

"Partly, it was the notion that we just have to get the birds out of our way so we can fly in our airplanes. I’m not a lunatic, but doesn’t that just sound so wrong?”

I understand why some people are upset about how these geese were exterminated, but Glitter Goddess is right: the outrage here is all out of proportion to the cause. What next? Will we decide that letting rabid racoons run around Prospect Park is more important than letting our kids play in the park safely? Should we let rats come into our basements because it's just so darn cold outside? Puh-LEASE!!!
Dec. 9, 2010, 11:41 am
OhioOrrin from williamsburg says:
geese are an non-native, invasive species that over-populate, due to few predators, and destroy native habitat thus damaging native species.
Dec. 9, 2010, 11:48 am
liberal man boy from park slope says:
but, like, couldn't we train the geese to be useful? their feces make wonderful fertilizer and they have very high intelligence!
Dec. 9, 2010, 1:12 pm
Mitchel Cohen from Bensonhurst says:
Why does GlitterGoddess assume that because many Brooklynites care about the extermination of Prospect Park's geese that we are not also involved in other projects?

As for myself, I'm involved up to my ears in social, educational and political efforts. I would think that one could not be involved in working with youth in a constructive way if it does not also lead to caring about other matters, such as the geese.

I like Jonathan Blum's honest statement: "To this day, I still am very affected by that slaughter — I can’t even say why. ... Partly, it was the way it was done, you know, in the middle of the night without any warning. Partly, it was the notion that we just have to get the birds out of our way so we can fly in our airplanes."

It's not JUST that the geese were slaughtered -- as terrible as that was -- but the lies told to defend it, the failure to examine other options, the mentality that went into it, the HIRING of out-of-work people to perform the deadly deed, the responsibility and relationship of government to the people, and of who is considered "expedient" to private corporations (the airlines) in their drive to lower the flight patterns to make more profits.

Often times morality -- and art -- start with an unexplained "itch" -- "something is just not right about this" -- and new worlds open up, if you allow them to do so, in unpredictable ways.

I would never have predicted that I would have become so involved in this issue. And yet, the more rationalizations and lies I hear, the more outrageous it all seems.

And, yes, I WILL do something about it, if I can -- and I will do the same on lots of other issues too. Not only is the one not exclusive of the others but is a window onto them all.

Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens/Green Party
Dec. 9, 2010, 1:29 pm
MB from WT says:
Beautiful and honest and from the heart.

Thanks for caring so much.
Dec. 9, 2010, 1:38 pm
Biff Champion from Brooklyn Heights says:
Is it just me or does Jonathan Blum bear a very close resemblance to Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer, in that first picture?
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:05 pm
Satan from DUMBO says:
What is the thing above the bird's head?

See some of you soon!
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:12 pm
CDog from CHill says:
Funny Biff Champion from Brooklyn Heights! I thought he looked familiar.

Ummm, is it may, or is that "painting" a tad abstract to be an homage to geese?
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:15 pm
Biff Champion from Brooklyn Heights says:
"What is the thing above the bird's head?"

I think it's a halo.

Or a cloud in the shape of a Cheerio.
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:23 pm
CDog from CHill says:
Oh, and Greenwood HeightsGlitterGoddess, forget the geese, my cause is banning glitter! Once I get glitter on my fur, it NEVER comes out!
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:23 pm
Samantha Swivel from The Heights says:
So where is lech@c@l today? He seems like a person who likes to argue about anything and is probably just a big teddy bear. Only a bear with too much energy.

About the geese. The excuse is that they may fly into airplane engines thereby putting people at risk. I remember reading, however, that no one knows for sure if it was really a flock of geese that flew into the engines of Captain Sully's airplane. And that the pilot and others were sequestered for days before they could speak to the press. One doesn't have to be a raving conspiracy theorist to think that there may have been another cause for the crash that someone may not want the public to know. Something that may put fear into the public, for instance. (And I'm NOT talking some crazy gov't plot.) So in the event that the geese were not involved in that plane crash at all, the geese are being scapegoated (pardon the mixed metaphor) for political reasons. (Imagine that, *political geese*.)

If there are too many geese in the park and some must be thinned out if they are a nuisance that is another matter. I am not educated in these matters. Also I cannot go along with the theory that we ought not be concerned about geese when there are teenager gangstas going around shooting people; or things to that effect. Perhaps you (or whoever, are in the hospital with a broken leg and I say, sorry, but N. Korea is causing trouble now and your leg doesn't matter. It is hard to get down with that.

So I leave with two thoughts: Save Lech@c@l ; and save the geese!
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:24 pm
CDog from CHill says:
I didn't recognize that was a bird - and you'd think I would since, in my youth, I used to chase them and occasionally capture one - but I did think that was a halo. Must be symbolism for "All Geese Go To Heaven".
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:25 pm
Bush says:
"One doesn't have to be a raving conspiracy theorist" to conclude:
Terrorist Geese

With those attacks, the Geese and their supporters declared war on the Park. And war is what they got.
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:45 pm
bK from greenwood heights says:
thanks, mitchell cohen, my thoughts exactly. i care about people and work hard in a field where i contribute to saving people's lives all day long. and i save a few animals on the side. i think we're all important. jesus christ some people are so negative. it's a cute painting. lots of people felt very sad about the geese. i still can't really go to the park without thinking about them.
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:56 pm
Obama says:
Be quiet, Bush.
Dec. 9, 2010, 3:57 pm
Manna 2 from Heaven says:
CDog may have a point about the meaning of the halo.

Is "Lech@c@l" banned, speaking of angelic?
Dec. 9, 2010, 4:02 pm
Mat from Marine Park says:
Now if only they would remove about 300 squirrels, and I'll paint a picture of ruined gardens and ripped up plantings.
Dec. 9, 2010, 5:16 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
For doing the right thing and keeping fecal matter and the biohazards they contain away from the citizens of Brooklyn and their children, and keeping me and my family safe when flying out of New York area airports, the parks department is being painted as villans by writers who probably eat meat products on a regular basis and simply label the lives of these birds as more valuable than a cow chicken pig or murdered child in Sudan, simply because of a higher "cuteness" factor. That's what's sick.
Dec. 9, 2010, 6:59 pm
PattyA from Manhattan says:
From Glitter Goddess: "Like the unnecessary death of countless youths due to drugs, alcohol and violence."

People CHOOSE to take drugs, drink alcohol and be violent.

You wanna go around "saving" them, go right ahead. Just keep 'em in your neighborhood.

I'd rather have the geese. They're much more peaceful and beautiful to look at.
Dec. 10, 2010, 10:39 am
Hopper from Los S-S says:
I'd rather have geese, too. They're delicious
Dec. 10, 2010, 11:57 am
lechacal from park slope says:
Banning people who disagree with the author makes the Brooklyn Paper look intellectually weak.
Dec. 10, 2010, 1:49 pm
Liz from Park Slope says:
you're still here?
Dec. 10, 2010, 1:53 pm
PattyA from Manhattan says:
For those who wrongly claim the geese are "non native" or "invasive" to the park:

The FACTS are that geese are waterfowl and just like ducks, swans and other waterfowl are native to ANY place having water, whether artifically created or not.

The geese are not named, "Canada geese" because they originated from Canada. They are simply named after a man with the surname, "Canada."

Geese have been living on water for centuries. Geese and water go together like sun and flowers.

What DOESN'T go well with water are BBQ coals, fishing barbs and lines and plastic garbage bags. How come you people don't whine about that?

Don't like geese and other waterfowl? Well, plug up the damn lake and other water holes in the park!
(Of course that won't sit so well with the fisherpeople who like to harass fish.)

Prospect Park can be turned into one big BBQ pit and garbage dump. The bugs will love it, especially since there will be no geese around to eat them.

Am sick of hearing you people whine about a few peaceful geese who BELONG IN AND NEAR THE WATER.

You hate geese, ducks, swans, sparrows, squirrels and anything else that can't text a message on a cell phone, then stay the hell OUT of the park! We don't need ya!

There, EASY!
Dec. 10, 2010, 2:16 pm
kathy from wt lakeside says:
Perfect Patty A:)
Dec. 15, 2010, 8:35 pm
lowitrus from Bensonhurst says:
What a beautiful man, what a wonderful expression of feeling and talent, and what a wonderful soul. I understand why this slaughter bothers him to this day - it bothers me too, and will ALWAYS bother me, because it was ugly, evil and WRONG. It doesn't matter if the WRONG was perpetrated on a goose, or on a person. It is the act that is heinous. I share this evolved person's feelings , even if I cannot share such a talent. The geese are beautiful, much maligned and greatly misunderstood by the hopelessly ignorant, of which there seem to be far too many. The world needs more people like Jonathan Blum.
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:42 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: