As difficult as it is for me to believe it this morning, I have just returned from my 17th inclusion in the internationally reputed exhibition, Birds in Art. As it always is, the weekend was wonderful in many respects, not least of which the opportunity to view, first hand and up close, some phenomenal art work and to meet artists from all across the globe, both 'first timers' and those who have made the cut in years before. It's a time for those of us who are fortunate enough to have been juried in on many occasions over many years, to catch up with artist friends we may only have the opportunity to see at this one time each year.
It is always a wonderful thrill and highly anticipated moment when I walk into the galleries and catch a first glimpse of the work hanging on the walls. It is fun to leaf through the catalog, when handed our copies upon arrival in Wausau and quickly scan the pages, but the real impact, for me anyway, is always made when standing in front of the actual works at the museum. I personally, never look at the artist's name or any of the information, such as title or the work's size in the catalog when I initially scan through it. I am just really, glancing through to have an overall mind's eye image of the entire show.
And then, when we get to the museum and walk in, I always like that feeling of 'Wow!', when I see the first several works as I round the corner from the entry hall and proceed down the hall into the main galleries. As always, that 'Wow' factor hit hard upon seeing the first five works and just got stronger and stronger as I moved further into the galleries.
This year's honoree as Master Artist was James Morgan. I have admired Jim's work over the years and was blown away by the small assemblage of 15 of his works that were spotlighted in the Master's Gallery, which included four lovely graphite studies. On Saturday morning during the public presentation of the Master's medal to Jim and his subsequent slide-show enhanced talk about himself and his work, we were all treated to Jim's wonderful, droll sense of humor.
As I sat there and listened to Jim speak, talking about how he, as an artist, viewed the world and quoting from some of his favorite statements from other artists and writers, I was, as I have frequently been over the years of listening to the Master honorees in the past, taken by how much of what Jim was saying bore on me personally; how his view of the world was quite similar to my view of it. I guess we artists are a pretty connected group, even with our diversities of style and medium and how we translate what is inside of us for others to see, there still is that strong link and intense need to put down on paper or canvas or in three dimensions, what makes us tingle with joy, what excites us, what little details that others tend to overlook, catch our eyes.
So, with those observations in mind, here follows a series of images from the weekend. Enjoy!
These first couple of images show three more of Jim's refined, reflective and refreshing works . . . followed by an image of Jim (to the left) conversing with artist, Ed Aldrich.
And here is Ed's beautiful painting of a pair of Trumpeter swans . . .
Larry Barth, 1991's Master honoree, is quite something when it comes to carving. This amazing work, all in basswood, shows just how impressive a Master Larry is. I know it is a bit hard to see the extent to which the branch extends out from his background in this image but this overall view gives a good indication of his abilities. The bird is life size, as are the indications of ferns. Or, are those real ferns?
In this next shot, Frenchman, Henry Bismuth is being interviewed by the local TV station. Henry stands before his wonderful raven work. In the six years that Henry has been juried into the exhibition, he has always submitted a work depicting ravens. Is it any wonder he dresses in black?
This next work by Nobuko Kumasaka, is a wonder. Her work is a woodburned panel depicting a Shoebill, appropriately titled, 'My Name is Bill'! This was Nobuko's second visit to Wausau, having been juried in last year as well with another amazing woodburned image.
Next, Colorado based bronze sculptor, Rosetta, poses near her work, 'Heron Rising'. She stands before, on the left, a lovely work by German, Eugen Kisslemann and to its right, a lovely, soft and quite appealing work of a white heron by Kim Donaldson. In the background stand Maryland sculptor, Paul Rhymer, a 'first timer' at the museum and with his back to the camera, Wes Hyde, another Coloradoan and one mean croquet player as I discovered on Saturday afternoon.
This view above, from the circular staircase that leads from the upper galleries to the lower, shows the range of both two and three dimensional works that go to make up this grouping of the exhibition. As these images were all shot on Friday afternoon, at the artists' only gathering, the crush and crowds of later that evening at the Grand Opening and that of the Saturday morning Public Opening, were not apparent.
In this shot, taken of the four works suspended on the circular wall at the staircase, can be seen, from left to right, works by Brit, Alan Hunt, New Englander, John Pitcher, Peter Gray of South Africa and last but not least, a gorgeous rendering of a Red-Winged Blackbird by Marylander, Mae Rash.
Here is a wonderful, bright, graphic Loon painted by Sedona, Arizona artist, Cathy Gazda. This image was one of several that the museum chose to use on posters for the exhibition as well as in National advertising and I can understand why with the very clean, graphic nature of the work. And, nudging in from the left margin of this image, we can just see Rod Lawrence's reading of a Black-Crowned Night-Heron.
In this following work by another 'first timer', Arlene Rheinish, with whom I enjoyed the Friday Artists' Lunch, she has defined her vision of the Black-Crowned Night-Heron and in a most interesting compositional way, I have to say. Now, why didn't I think of that sort of composition? Good for you, Arlene and congrats on your first participation in this event!
Robert Bateman, the 1982 recipient of the Master Award, stunned everyone and caused quite a sensation with the above, 4 foot square, graphite on canvas rendering of two Blue Herons. It really knocked my socks off!
Below, Bob chats with another 'first timer' from North Carolina, David Simpson. And behind those two, 1993 Master recipient, Dino Paravano admires the exhibition. It was good to see Dino as he has not attended the opening weekend for a number of years.
In the shot below is, front and center, sculptor friend, Don Rambadt's quirky and delightful Ground Hornbill. I never cease to amaze at how Don manages to pick and choose the most obvious scraps of metal for his terrific one-of-a-kind pieces. Behind Don's work is a piece by another fine artist friend, Ohioan, Mark Eberhard. In his work, cheered by both artists and the general public crowd alike, Mark has dramatically brought to light the plight of six endangered species of bird in his unusual, graphic, direct, most creative and inviting style. By dispersing his subjects at the very fringes of his canvas, Mark has, without question, shown the precarious nature of these feathered creatures.
Above, is one of my favorite three dimensional works from the exhibition, this Rudy Duck by Oregonian, Stefan Savides. I had an interesting chat with Stefan on one of our many to and from bus rides back and forth from museum to hotel.
And here again, Bob Bateman converses with a small group, including his lovely wife, Birgit standing just behind the head of the pelican sculpture. To the left stand 'first timer', Kim Middleton of Washington State, her husband and Kelly Singleton of Maryland, attending her second Birds in Art opening weekend. The nice bronze Pelican in the foreground is by Loveland, Colorado sculptor, Dan Ostermiller.
This next work, by Sedona, Arizona friend, Adele Earnshaw, shows how quite a few of this year's artists (including myself) made use of the square format in composition; one that, as I have mentioned many times in postings on this blog before, is not that easy to work within. Adele does it here, with apparent ease and grace. This truly was one of the works in my 'Top Ten' list!
This work above, by friend and fellow graphite artist, Cole Johnson hung two works away from mine in the gallery and I was pleased to be able to catch up with Cole and his lovely wife, Mary, having not seen them for a number of years. This work had double appeal to me, as not only was it one of Cole's best efforts, I felt, but it was also from the personal collection of sculptor friend, Don Rambadt, mentioned above.
This next, glorious riot of color in pastel, was by Floridian and friend, Janet Heaton. It just shimmered and glowed against that great peach colored wall panel behind.
Jeremy Paul from the Isle of Man, painted this beautiful piece, above, very appealing to me and many others as well, but especially to me because I also had a fun time doing a lace curtain in my work that was a part of this year's exhibition.
This next work by Californian, Randal Dutra, was another of the works on my list of fav's. Randy is a true master of rendering ethereal and quite evocative scenes and his landscapes just make me want to walk into them and get lost within their subtleties.
These two works, above and hanging side by side, represent another two of my very 'Top Ten'. On the left a gorgeous gem of a work by Peter Baedita of Florida. Of course, being a graphite work, I was instantly drawn into it. Once I stood and let myself be totally absorbed in his work, though, I marveled at Peter's softness of line and simplicity of composition. Yet the work held so much more for me as a fellow graphite guy. Kudos, Peter! The work to the right by James Offeman, another of the 'first timers', breathed with so much life and depth and strength, it was hard for me to imagine someone being able to capture that much intensity and evoke so much emotion in me through the medium of pastel. Kudos to you too, James!
And with a final flush of fond memories of the weekend just past, here is a nice overall shot of the main gallery with fellow Marylander, Paul Rhymer's delightful hippo and Purple Gallinule taking center stage.