Corvids & Owls

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on September 23rd, 2015

While passing through the galleries on Friday afternoon, I talked to an older gentleman who was admiring a woodcarving by Wisconsin artist Todd Wohlt. It’s a sculpture of nine blue-breasted bee-eaters emerging from a block of cherry-colored bubinga.


I pointed out that nearby, in the lower right corner of a large painting of exotic-looking African birds is a blue-breasted bee-eater atop a bateleur eagle.


I explained that as curator of exhibitions, I’m responsible for designing the installation and I placed these two artworks near each other so visitors could compare two depictions of bee-eaters. Pointing to the opposite end of the gallery, I noted the purposeful placement of Burt Brent’s bronze of domestic chickens in close proximity to Ed Hatch’s painting of the same subject.

The gentleman told me that he’s been coming to Birds in Art for many years and always enjoys his visits to the Woodson Art Museum. He added that he noticed this year’s exhibition includes a lot of crows and owls; I noticed that, too.


Walking into the first large gallery, visitors see five owls along one wall in addition to four corvids. What you won’t see is repetition. Each painting, drawing, and sculpture is distinct in its design and presentation.


Compare Jim Bortz’s painting of an evening sunset with the silhouette of a great horned owl perched on a branch of a distant tree, waiting to begin its evening search for food, to Richard Finch’s sculpture of a barn owl. Its intricately carved and painted feathers look so soft you want to reach out and touch them. While both artists chose owls as their subject, their respective handling and approach couldn’t be more different.

Check out the 2015 Birds in Art exhibition, on view through November 29, and see for yourself how 123 international artists have interpreted nature, each bringing a unique vision and artistry to their work.

What strikes you and piques your interests in this year’s Birds in Art exhibition? I’d like to hear from you.

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