by Jennifer Smith, PortalWisconsin.org
Perhaps you're an avid bird-watcher who sets out just the right kind of seed to attract your feathered friends. Or maybe you hardly notice the many species that surround us. Either way, if you're interested in the work of contemporary artists from around the world, the exhibition "Birds in Art" at Wausau's Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum has something for you. "Birds in Art" remains on view through November 9, 2003.
"Birds in Art" has become an annual tradition for the Wausau museum. This year marks the twenty-eighth exhibition. It is ambitious in scope, bringing together 124 works from 112 artists who come from countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden and the United States. Seven of the featured artists hail from Wisconsin.
Despite the focus on a single theme, the exhibition offers rich variety. Artists pursue this theme through a range of approaches and media. Says Curator of Exhibitions Andrew J. McGivern, "Some artists make the bird the center of attention, while others hide the subject in the landscape to demonstrate cryptic colorationnature at its stealthy best. On occasion, the bird is nowhere to be found. Instead, an artist might reveal an element in the life of a winged creature such as a nest or a feather or a footprint."
One of the artists included is Elliott Offner, who has been named the Woodson Art Museum's 2003 Master Wildlife Artist. His sculpture "Bittern Mother and Child" is a graceful, poignant take on the avian theme. The extended shape of the mother bird with its beak raised recalls the geometric elegance of Brancusi. Tucked below the mother bird is the tentative young offspring she seeks to protect.
"Birds in Art" is accompanied by a full range of programming for children and adults, including the "OctoBIRDfest XIII" scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. OctoBIRDfest promises fun for the whole family, with art and craft activities, games and prizes, face painting, and entertainers Stuart Stotts and the Fabulous Feno. Also, two related exhibitions extend the themes of "Birds in Art": "Owl Moon: A Classic Revisited" and "Bird Watcher's Digest: Celebrating 25 Years." Find out more about these related events by searching PortalWisconsin.org, or visit the Web site of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.
The Woodson Art Museum extends its Tuesday hours during "Birds in Art." Hours are Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and holidays. It is located at 700 N. Twelfth St. in Wausau, and admission is free. Visitors can purchase a 130-page, full-color catalogue of the exhibition; those who prefer to order online or over the phone can visit www.lywam.org or call 715-845-7010.
The exhibition, though a local tradition devoted to our winged friends, provides a broad look into the world of contemporary art, letting divergent approaches take wing.