Feathered Favorites Continued

By: Jane Weinke, curator of collections/registrar on July 11th, 2018

As promised in my June 20 Woodson Wanderings blog post, here’s a sneak peek at another upcoming exhibition from the Woodson Art Museum’s inspiring collection.

Sharing the Shoreline highlights the beauty of shorebirds – sanderlings, stilts, turnstones, whimbrels and more – that stroll the water’s edge. The exhibition includes carved and painted wood, natural wood, bronze sculpture, and works on paper. The graceful shorebirds are distinguished by long legs, pointed beaks, and elongated wings. Typically, the bird’s plumage is brownish and dull, but some species like the American oystercatcher’s scarlet red beak and the salmon pink legs of the black-necked stilts are notable exceptions.

Here are several facts and observations about three works from Sharing the Shoreline, which opens September 4, 2018.

Jay Goldstein’s walnut sculpture Stilts IV depicts four standing black-necked stilts, which roost and forage in closely packed groups, often staying within a foot of one another. The stilts wade in shallow water to capture aquatic invertebrates and fish. To feed, they peck, snatch, and plunge their heads into the water and herd fish into shallow waters to trap them. Goldstein has perfectly captured the essence of the birds as well as their elegance.

Predominately a carver, Bruce Burk created a study for a marbled godwit using oil on paper. What fascinates me is the plumage detail; seeing it from the top and side in two, rather than three dimensions, shows the artist’s design style. I’m also captivated by the three detailed studies of the bill.

Shorebirds have amazing bills. The long-billed curlew appears to have an impossibly long, delicate bill used to forage for earthworms and deep-burrowing shrimp and crabs. Tom Shumate has captured the speckles and bars in the bird’s upper plumage and the cinnamon red on the wings and belly. This life-like carving seems as if the bird might walk away.

I hope this preview of coming attractions prompts many visits to experience Sharing the Shoreline and Regal Bearing: Bird Portraiture – two exhibitions drawn from the Museum’s collection – this fall and beyond.

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