The naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton was a complicated man. In fact, Seton wasn’t even his family name: He adopted the surname at 21 because he became convinced that his father was the true heir to the lands and titles of Lord Seton, Earl of Winton. Born in England, he grew up in Canada and, late in life, became a Santa Fean. He was an animal lover and a prolific writer who was enamored of Native American culture. His passions led him to found the Boy Scouts of America, in 1910. Five years later, he was booted from his own organization because he was a pacifist.
Seton, who died in 1946, lived out the last years of his life in a castle near Santa Fe, from which he ran courses in scouting and leadership endeavors. That institution closed at the outbreak of World War II, and the property is now home to Academy for the Love of Learning (133 Seton Village Road, 505-995-1860), which hosts an opening reception on Sunday, Aug. 11, for More Beautiful and Amazing: Art Inspired by Ernest Thompson Seton, in celebration of what would be Seton’s 159th birthday.
Curator David Witt paired writings with new and existing work by 14 local artists, as well as artwork by Seton. Among the work on display is Luna, a 1969 embossed engraving by Mukta Webber of a woman’s silhouette reaching for the moon, which is paired with a quote from Seton’s Woodland Tales (1921): “What walked around your tent that thirtieth night? You know not, you heard nothing, for you slept. Yet when the morning comes you feel and know that round your couch, with wings and hands upraised in blessed soothing influence, there passed the Angel of the Night, with healing under her wings, and peace.”
Academy for the Love of Learning is a progressive nonprofit educational institution founded by Aaron Stern in 1998, in consultation with the musician Leonard Bernstein. The academy celebrates Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”) on Aug. 25.
The public reception for More Beautiful and Amazing is 2 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The exhibition runs through July 2020. For more information, go to aloveoflearning.org/events-workshops.