Making Friends through Birds and Art

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on September 24th, 2009

In her blog last week, educator Jayna Hintz wrote about friendships forged during Birds in Art opening weekend events. She spoke about how old friendships are renewed and new ones develop.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the Birds in Art opening, I was fortunate to spend quality time with this year’s Master artist John Busby and his wife Joan. They arrived from Scotland on Tuesday evening, September 8. I picked them up at their hotel on Wednesday afternoon after they were rested and refreshed so that I could help John put together a PowerPoint for his talk, The Subtleties of Drawing.

Knowing how busy the weekend would be, I asked John and Joan if they wanted to make a quick stop at a local park to see if we could spot a few birds before heading to the Museum. Bluegill Bay Park is located on Lake Wausau and the bay’s stagnant water is filled with duckweed this time of the year.

When we arrived, we walked to the edge of the pond and could see a great blue heron standing in shallow water before a narrow island of tall grasses and reeds. John viewed the still bird with binoculars as it scanned the water for its next meal. Over head, birds were darting from the trees, and as soon as I heard the high-pitched “stweeet,” I knew they were cedar waxwings.

As we stood there, Joan noticed something on the island in the grass and weeds behind the heron. It was another heron only smaller – a green-backed heron. What a treat to be able to show our guests birds of northcentral Wisconsin.

At the Museum I helped John with his PowerPoint and took him to our breakroom where I scrambled to find tea for him and Joan. Fortified, John then signed copies of his books and I asked if he would sign a copy of Drawing Birds for me. On the title page he drew a picture of two herons and a cedar waxwing and signed it “Lake Wausau, 9 Sept. 09 John B.” What a wonderful drawing by a great artist to remind me of our visit to Bluegill Bay Park.

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of introducing Julie Zickefoose to a filled-to-capacity audience for her presentation Letters from Eden. Julie’s exhibition A Naturalist’s Journal, comprising drawings and watercolors, is on view in the gallery adjacent to the Museum’s entrance. Her lecture included nature stories from observations on her eighty-acre sanctuary at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in Ohio. I was thoroughly impressed with Julie’s presentation as was the audience.

Following her program and many questions, Julie signed copies of her book, Letters from Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods. Of course, I had to have a copy and Julie wrote a gracious comment about her experiences in Wausau. We had lunch and another great conservation prior to her flight home.

The combination of birds and art is a terrific catalyst to bring together people who observe and enjoy nature and who make and enjoy art. It’s also a great opportunity to meet wonderful people and make lasting friendships.

Share This!

Subscribe to our weekly blog. Please enter your email address.