Barry Van Dusen Named Woodson Art Museum 2014 Master Artist

Wausau, Wisconsin: The Woodson Art Museum announces Barry W. Van Dusen as its 2014 Master Artist who will be honored during the Museum’s 39th annual “Birds in Art” exhibition this fall.

Van Dusen, the Woodson’s 34th Master Artist, will receive the Master Wildlife Artist Medal during the “Birds in Art” opening weekend, September 6 and 7.

In announcing the 2014 Master, director Kathy Kelsey Foley said, “We are delighted to honor Barry Van Dusen and acknowledge his exceptional artwork. Barry’s watercolors are remarkably luminous and sensitive, which is due in part to his preference for working in the field, a long-standing tradition among artists who look to nature for subject matter. Lars Jonsson and Jim Coe – both honored as Woodson Master Artists – are two of his many mentors and they, in turn, have the highest respect and praise for Barry.”

“Barry Van Dusen’s paintings are among the most original works being created today, because they originate with sketches drawn in the field from live birds,” said James Coe, the 2011 Master Artist. “Every perfect gesture; each lively glint in a bird’s eye is there because Barry observed that in nature.”

Van Dusen’s work has been selected for inclusion in “Birds in Art” fourteen times since 1991, his first year in the exhibition.

“The chain of Woodson Masters is forged by a common passion for birds and art,” Van Dusen said. “I am honored to be a part of it!”

A blend of impressionism and realism, Van Dusen’s watercolors begin with direct observation, fieldwork, and careful planning, but then are executed in a spontaneous, painterly style. Some of his watercolors are produced outdoors, directly from life, while others are a studio synthesis based on fieldwork.

“Field sketching is at the core of my work as an artist,” Van Dusen says, “It’s an ongoing process of exploration and discovery that keeps me intimately connected to the natural world.” Van Dusen calls his sketchbooks his “science and art laboratories,” adding that since 1983, he has filled more than eighty sketchbooks with thousands of drawings of birds, other animals, insects, plants, and landscapes.

Van Dusen, who lives with his wife, Lisa, in Princeton, Massachusetts, was born in 1954 and spent his childhood in the Sebago Lake area of Maine where he first developed an interest in the natural world. Barry’s father, a designer and skilled draftsman, encouraged Barry and his brothers to learn to draw at an early age.

After graduating from Southeastern Massachusetts University (now the University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth) with a degree in Visual Design in 1977, Barry worked as a commercial designer and illustrator until 1985 and has since specialized exclusively in natural history art and illustration. In 1982, his passion for natural history led him to an ongoing association with the Massachusetts Audubon Society illustrating a variety of natural history books and pocket guides. Barry’s bird illustrations also have appeared in books published by the American Birding Association, HarperCollins, and both Princeton and Cornell University Presses. Van Dusen’s articles and paintings have been featured in Bird Watcher’s Digest, Birding, and Yankee magazines.

Barry’s published illustrations represent only one side of his artistic career. His skill as a field artist led to his participation in projects abroad sponsored by the Netherlands-based Artists for Nature Foundation. With this organization he has traveled to India, Peru, England, Ireland, Spain and Israel and worked with some of the world’s leading field artists, including John Busby from Scotland, who was honored by the Woodson in 2009, to raise funds for conservation of threatened habitats. “These projects were vital to my continuing development as a field painter” says Van Dusen, “but they also have introduced me to other cultures, and shaped my outlook on worldwide environmental issues.”

“I’m an artist first and a naturalist second,” Van Dusen concludes. “Birds continue to fill me with awe and wonder, and I hope I can open other people’s eyes to their beauty and why they need our protection.”

The 2014 “Birds in Art” exhibition, on view September 6 through November 16, will feature more than 100 original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created within the last two years by artists from throughout the world and a selection of approximately a dozen works by Barry Van Dusen. The exhibition’s full-color catalogue, featuring an essay about Van Dusen, will be available for purchase at the Woodson Art Museum. For more information, visit, e-mail the Museum at, or call 715-845-7010.

Barry Van Dusen, Mergansers at Deep River, 2003, watercolor on Arches cold pressed paper

Barry Van Dusen, Robins and Bittersweet, 2012, watercolor on Richeson cold press paper

Barry Van Dusen, named 2014 Woodson Art Museum Master Artist. Photo by Julie O’Neil.

Barry Van Dusen, named 2014 Woodson Art Museum Master Artist. Photo by Mike Digiorgio.

Woodson Art Museum

Tues–Fri 9am–4pm
First Thurs each month 9am–7:30pm
Thurs during Birds in Art 9am–7:30pm
Sat–Sun Noon–5pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas

Admission: Always Free Admission
Phone: 715.845.7010
After hours press inquiries: 715.298.2901

Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 N. Twelfth Street)

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