What is Birds in Art?

Birds in Art is a prestigious, internationally curated exhibit organized by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, in Wausau, Wisconsin.  Since 1976, the Museum has presented the best contemporary art interpretations with birds as a subject matter.  The jury selects approximately one-hundred works.  Sixty of those works migrate to Rockport this fall.  What is unique to Rockport versus other exhibit locations the show travels to, is that art connoisseurs are able to acquire masterpieces for their personal collections.

Why is Birds in Art coming to Rockport? What is the story behind the exhibit?

Rockport Center for the Arts presented Birds in Art in 2013.  It had a very successful two-month run.  After the show ended two Art Center benefactors, M. A. and Pete Fischer, approached expressed interest in making a major financial commitment to have a new edition of Birds in Art return.   Work on it started right away.  Bringing a traveling exhibit of this caliber to South Texas requires collaboration, logistical support and major gifts. Generous support was received from Bill Richmond, the Margaret Sue Rust Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the City of Rockport.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport on August 25, 2017, the exhibition was moved to the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi. Longtime champion of the Arts, South Texas Money Management LTD, became the Exhibit Sponsor.

What is the purpose of the exhibit?

In its fifth decade, Birds in Art is recognized around the world as the golden standard for avian art.  Since 1976, Birds in Art has showcased the talents of more than 1,000 artists from around the globe, who have presented the very best work interpreting birds.

What can guests expect to find at the exhibit?  What are the different mediums used in this exhibit? 

The show will contain two and three-dimensional works. Fifty paintings and works on paper and ten sculptures.  Whether the subject is garden and backyard feeder favorites, aquatic birds or exotic species from around the world; an international cast of artists interprets avian themes and habitats employing diverse styles and mediums.

Who are some of the artists involved?  Are any of them from Texas? 

The show will include three artists that live and work in Texas.   Kent Ullberg (Corpus Christi), Jim Offeman (Missouri City) and Debbie Stevens (Cypress) as well as many other artists with international recognition.  Ullberg needs no introduction.  The Coastal Bend is already a sanctuary for his work with a total of eighteen major monuments, two of which reside in the Art Center’s Sculpture Garden- Rites of Spring (2000) and Preening Heron (2017).  Offeman has the distinction of being Rockport Art Festival poster artist in 2001.  His pastel art work is widely collected in the Coastal Bend.  Stevens was recently selected as Art Festival poster artist for 2018.  She also has deep connections in the area.

Why is this particular subject important to artists? 

Art is intertwined with nature.  Nature’s representation across all art forms transcends culture. The painting of birds in particular, has been documented across ancient civilizations and dates back centuries.  As an important art colony in the United States, Rockport Center for the Arts has encouraged artists to use the natural elements of our coastal landscape, the water, the light, the live oaks and the shore birds because we are also an important migratory area for many species.

Birds are beautiful creatures.  Whether you are an artist who draws or sculpts them, a poet who writes about them, a naturalist who observes them, or an activist that advocates for conservancy; the mere fact that birds can unpredictably take flight, make songs with fluttering wings and coordinate other birds into a rhythmic elevation and patterns is fascinating.

Where will this exhibit travel to?

 From its origination point at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wassau, Wisconsin, the show has 5 additional stops at prestigious institutions: the Museum of York County in South Carolina; Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University; Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in New York; Rockport Center for the Arts; and the Fullerton Arboretum in California.

This is one-of-a-kind opportunity for people in Texas, its four bordering states and Northern Mexico to experience the finest avian art in the world.

How long will it be in South Texas?

The show will have a two-month run.  It opens Thursday, September 28 and it closes Saturday, November 19, 2017.

Why should people visit the exhibit? 

Mankind’s fascination with birds, bird symbols and avian art is universal.  To be captivated by the harmony and serenity of the natural world is part of the human condition.  This is the perfect exhibit for South Texas.  Art lovers, nature enthusiasts and bird watchers will find something exciting in Birds in Art.