2004 National Medal of Arts recipient John Ruthven dies

CINCINNATI, Ohio (AP) — John Ruthven, a wildlife artist, naturalist, author, and lecturer, has died. He was 95.

Ruthven, the 2004 National Medal of Arts recipient who was called the “20th Century Audubon,” died Sunday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Ruthven used some of the same techniques as 19th-century American ornithologist, artist and naturalist John Audubon.

For over 50 years, Ruthven was associated with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and in 1973 he started a campaign to save the zoo’s original pavilion.

The pavilion was where Marta, the last living passenger pigeon, was kept. Ruthven painted a three-story “Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon” mural in Cincinnati on the corners of Seventh and Vine streets to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Martha’s death and the extinction of the species.

In addition to his numerous honors, Ruthven was celebrated locally for his generosity. Proceeds from the sale of his artwork have benefited different groups and organizations, including the Mariemont Schools Foundation.

In addition, Ruthven belonged to Masterworks for Nature, a group of local artists committed to promoting awareness and raising more than $1 million funds for conservation efforts.