By Robin R. Salmon
In 1976, three simple words – birds in art – took on a life of their own when the phrase became an exhibition title at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI. Since then, Birds in Art has morphed and grown and now is recognized around the world as the exhibition that sets the standard for avian art. Kathy Kelsey Foley, executive director of the Woodson, said: “We have wanted Birds in Art to travel to Brookgreen Gardens for many years. I am delighted that it has now happened and I know the audience there will enjoy it.”
Throughout the years, Birds in Art has showcased the remarkable talents of more than 875 international artists, presenting their best contemporary work interpreting birds and related subjects. As the flagship exhibition of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Birds in Art helps the museum to meet its goals of presenting and collecting art of the natural world having birds as the primary or secondary focus. A fully illustrated, four-color catalogue accompanies each exhibition.
In conjunction with Birds in Art, the Woodson Art Museum selects an artist to receive its annual Master Wildlife Artist Award. The award honors artists who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in using bird imagery in their artwork. The individual recognized as the Master Wildlife Artist is further honored by a mini-retrospective of ten to 12 artworks during Birds in Art at the Woodson. This year’s Master Wildlife Artist is painter James Coe of Hannacroix, New York. The Woodson’s thirty-second Master Artist, Coe initially was fascinated by egrets and shorebirds that flocked to salt marshes near his suburban New York boyhood home. He worked for many years as a field guide illustrator before he ventured out of the studio and began painting landscapes en plein air. Coe’s work reflects a synthesis of two styles, weaving his insight and skill as a trained naturalist into fresh, deftly painted landscapes often featuring avian subjects.
Each year, 60 works by 60 artists are selected from Birds in Art to travel to national and, occasionally, international venues expanding the exhibition’s reach to broader audiences. The 2011 Birds in Art opened to the public at the Woodson Museum on September 10 and is on view there through November 13. In addition to Brookgreen Gardens, it also travels to museums in Kansas, Michigan, Colorado, and Alaska through 2012 and early 2013. Birds in Art will be on view in our Rainey Sculpture Pavilion, January 28-April 22, 2012.
“Birds in Art exhibit is one of the most prestigious art exhibits in the country and we are extremely pleased to host it Brookgreen Gardens,” said Bob Jewell, president and CEO for Brookgreen Gardens. “It provides the local community and the visitors to our area a chance to view works from some of the most talented avian artists nationally and internationally and the exhibit blends perfectly with our mission to promote the arts.”
The traveling exhibit includes 49 paintings, drawings, and prints, and 11 sculptures selected from the 112 artworks shown in the full exhibit. Among the distinguished international group of artists having works in the traveling exhibit are Hélène Arfi (France), Chris Bacon (Canada), Robert Bateman (Canada), John Busby (Scotland), Adele Earnshaw (New Zealand), Peter Gray (South Africa), Simon Gudgeon (England), Nobuko Kumasaka (Japan), Lars Jonsson (Sweden), Zev Labinger (Israel), Lucinda Kate McEachern (Australia), Bernd Pöppelmann (Germany), and Ewoud de Groot (Netherlands).
The American artists include James Morgan (Utah), Frank LaLumia (Colorado), Timothy David Mayhew (New Mexico), Anne Senechal Faust (Louisiana), Roger Martin (North Carolina), Mary Cornish (Virginia), Lorri Davis (Alaska), Hilarie Lambert (South Carolina), Paula Waterman (Maryland), and Thomas Hill (California). A painting by the 2011 Master Wildlife Artist, James Coe, will also be in the traveling exhibit.
Known as “the best opportunity for indoor bird-watching on the planet”, this exhibit is not to be missed. A special members’ preview reception will be held on January 27.
For more information, visit the website: www.brookgreen.org .