THE weekend has come and gone . . . the opening of this year's edition of Birds in Art at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. I returned home late yesterday afternoon after three days of excitement, dizzying events and many congratulations upon being named and awarded this year's medal as Master Wildlife Artist. Thanks to artists friends, dear friend/collector (and author of the extraordinary catalog essay about my work) Sarah Scott and the museum's own photographer, I'll post of few remembrances of the weekend today and in a few days will post my usual follow up on my favorite works from the exhibition, so stay tuned for that shortly.
The museum has gone through a number of renovations and additions/alterations over the last couple of years, most recently the renovation of the main entrance and addition of new gallery space, which was christened by my mini retrospective Masters Exhibition. The beautiful vaulted ceiling in the entry lobby set the stage for the expansive and, as always, impressive gathering of this year's ten dozen excellent works of art.
The first event is always the Thursday evening reception for local residents with a more informal atmosphere which, for me this year, was followed by the annual, special Masters Dinner just for attending past Masters and museum and associated board members. Sitting next to Kathy Foley, the museum's director, who always makes all the artists feel like family at a reunion, I was immediately put at ease and able to enjoy the evening with laughter, stories about art and everything else under the sun and feel welcomed 'home' to Wausau.
At Friday lunch, traditionally the time to meet all the 'first timer' artists at their first Birds in Art weekend, my dear, dear artist friend, Paula Waterman had the honor to present the medal to me after a very warm and tear-instigating talk about our years of friendship. I managed to tell a story or two, change up the atmosphere to a more light-hearted one and thank, as sincerely and humbly as I could, all involved in the decision to have named me this year's Master.
After lunch, we all bussed over to the museum for a first, personal and private, for the artists only, look at the exhibition. Stunning, as always, the work just blew me away, but since my attentions were required in my little solo gallery, I was not able to spend as much time as usual enjoying all the galleries.
Congregating in the galleries for their first view, friends Cindy House, Jim Coe (the previous named Master in 2011) and Barry Van Dusen seemed entranced by a particular work.
The festive formal reception on Friday evening kicked off the major events of the weekend with crowds filling all the galleries, enjoying their first views of the art and sculpture and engaging all the attending artists in conversation and catalog signing.
I enjoyed discussing my work with many interested, attending guests, explaining my process, talking about my medium and expounding about the joys of being a 'black and white' artist (one of 7 included in this year's roster of artists and works).
Not only was I thrilled to share insights with the public and attending special guests throughout the three days of events. but also excited to catch up with many artist friends with whom I only meet once a year at Birds in Art.
As mentioned over the last couple of weeks here on my blog page, Saturday morning dawned with me going over last minute details for my presentation under the big tent in the museum's sculpture garden. A packed house seemed to enjoy and respond to my attempt at a humor-filled slide show and the accompanying stories about times in the field and how and why I do what I do. It was a joy and pleasure for me to try and relate just how important being an artist is to me and also my love for my medium of graphite.
A group portrait of the previous attending Masters along with their newly installed additional member capped off the morning and the disbursed crowd then enjoyed an hour of watching a number of the attending artists practice their craft in demonstrations scattered throughout the sculpture garden before the artists bussed off to northern Wisconsin and an afternoon of relaxation, letting our hair down and recounting the joys of the weekend, all the while, wondering about and formulating ideas already for next year's entries for the jury. I, on the other hand, don't have to worry about that any longer! Now, what can I do for next year that will knock everyone's socks off?