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Birds in Art - Just the Cure for Avian Envy - At Woodson Art Museum
Adele Earnshaw, In the Wind, 2008, oil on canvas.

WAUSAU, WISCONSIN.- The Woodson Art Museum’s 33rd annual Birds in Art exhibition, opening Saturday, September 6, offers a creative and surefire remedy to cure avian envy. With the exhibition closing on November 9, visitors have nine weeks to take the cure.

This serious “syndrome” affects anyone who has spotted a cardinal swaying on a pine tree’s topmost branch and thought, “I wish I could see the world from up there.” Or imagined what it feels like to fly while watching a bald eagle soar over a shimmering sunlit lake. Other symptoms include migratory itches, pecking at one’s food, delusions of “walking” on water, trilling in the shower, and a propensity for feathered Halloween costumes!

Birds in Art comprises 126 original contemporary works by 113 painters and sculptors hailing from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United States.

James Morgan, a painter who resides in Mendon, Utah, is the honored Master Wildlife Artist and will be represented with eleven paintings and four drawings. He is a seasoned Birds in Art participant, having exhibited in twenty-three previous exhibitions. The Woodson Art Museum counts four Morgan paintings in its collection, each featuring birds indigenous to Jim’s piece of Western heaven in Utah’s Cache Valley: trumpeter swan, cinnamon teal, and yellow-headed blackbird.

From 9 am-noon on Saturday, September 6, more than five dozen exhibiting artists will be on hand to mark the exhibition opening at “A Clutch of Artists.” Morgan upholds a venerable Birds in Art opening-day tradition with a talk at 10 a.m. During “Small Streams and Tracks in the Snow,” the newest Master describes how his experiences and the way he sees have led to his status as an acclaimed artist of wildlife and Western landscapes.

In some ways “It’s Hip to be Square” could be a 2008 Birds in Art motto. Ten two-dimensional pieces are square and another five are almost equal-sided. In these works, the artist invites the viewer to step into the space to savor a transitory moment of time, be it Adele Earnshaw’s barn swallows jetting past freshly laundered sheets on a clothesline, Paula Waterman’s conclave of five crows conferring on frozen ice, or Robert Bateman’s displaying herons rendered in black and white.

A new “found” medium is seen this year in Corvus Deflatus, a sculptural crow made using tire scraps scavenged along I-94 in Michigan by Kalamazoo artist Karen Bondarchuk, who herself is new to Birds in Art. The sculpture’s title is a play on both the genus Corvus, which includes crows, and the deflated tires that make up the work. On another level, the sculpture reflects the faltering automobile industry and a bygone era of prosperity and livelihood for many Michiganders.

Avian envy knows no borders. Thankfully, given the number of bird species found around the world, the widely diverse habitats in which they thrive or struggle, and the number of “afflicted” artists who look to the avian world for subject matter, possible cures (i.e., artistic interpretations) are almost infinite. Whether works in the exhibition are portraits, seascapes, or landscapes, painted realistically, whimsically, or trompe l’oeil, or give rise to humor, nostalgia, or introspection, Birds in Art transports, engages, entertains, educates, and stimulates. In short, it’s good for what ails you!

A 134-page full-color catalogue documenting every work in Birds in Art is available for $20 plus $5 S/H. It can be purchased at the Museum or ordered by calling 715-845-7010 or on-line at

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