Birds in Art 2021 Soars in September

Wausau, Wisconsin: Ascending to new heights, Birds in Art 2021, opening Saturday, September 11, 2021, at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, offers inspiration to persevere, endure, and thrive. Artwork from 113 artists from throughout the world comprises the 2021 Birds in Art exhibition. This year, 510 artists submitted 813 artworks for consideration by the three-person jury.

The 46th annual exhibition includes artwork by 92 artists whose work was selected by the jury and 21 who were named Master Artists during previous Birds in Art exhibitions. Birds in Art presents original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created within the last three years by worldwide artists.

Birds in Art 2021 opening day, Saturday, September 11, features options throughout more time and outdoor space, as a coronavirus precaution to support our community’s health, during extended hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Options include Birds in Art artist Drop-by Demos in the sculpture garden, hands-on art making, and exhibition and collection artwork in the galleries, Rooftop Sculpture Garden, and grounds.

The Museum’s extended opening-weekend hours continue on Sunday, September 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Birds in Art 2021 remains on view through Sunday, November 28. Before visiting, check The Birds in Art exhibition opening is part of Wausau’s Artrageous Weekend.

Presented in mediums ranging from watercolor, oil, linocut, and scratchboard to acrylic, wood, wire, and bronze, Birds in Art 2021 artwork also includes unusual techniques and materials. One artist’s paintbrush is an open candle flame; Seven Spazuk uses a fumage technique to create images with trails of smoke. A blue parrot made from bullet and shotgun shells heralds the return of artwork by Federico Uribe. Although new to Birds in Art 2021, his exuberant sculptures made from everyday objects attracted visitors in record numbers during summer 2018. Another among the thirteen first-time Birds in Art artists, Jamie Cassaboon depicts an Atlantic puffin via graphite. Milwaukee sculptor Don Rambadt incorporates colorful glass, along with shadows and reflections, into his bronze sculpture of a painted bunting.

Among artists referencing pandemic-related themes, Karen Bondarchuk’s “Tower of London” depicts “Covid Corvid,” a kindred crow surveilling the area beneath a turbulent sky. Mark Collins, during five months at the easel working on his watercolor painting, endeavored to make every brushstroke a tribute to the people most affected by the pandemic.

For others, specific birds provided solace and inspiration. Cindy House, who incorporated a pileated woodpecker into her pastel artwork, found it reassuring to focus on a thriving species, offering hope. Painter Nancy Howe added a flying redpoll to suggest “the return of vitality, circulation, and hope to follow this year of sheltering in the shadows.”

Conservation and environmental themes continue to motivate artists and, while constrained from traveling, some artists focused on studio work inspired by memorable forays and events. An extraordinary 2011 convergence of migrating warblers on a Maine coastal island inspired Aleta Rossi-Steward’s oil painting, “Fallout (Machias Island Light).”

In addition to artwork on view in the galleries, Rooftop Sculpture Garden, and grounds, explore varied options throughout the fall.

A residency and installation with Birds in Art 2021 artist Tom Hill
“Murmuration: Sculptural Studies in Movement,”
Tuesday, September 28, through Sunday, October 10
San Francisco-based sculptor Tom Hill’s artist residency and site-specific installation are inspired by murmurations – the avian aerial phenomenon occurring when large flocks of birds fly as one to create undulating cloud-like forms. During the residency, community members join Hill in creating wire birds to contribute to a flock, which will be installed as a single sculptural work at the Woodson Art Museum. Hill also leads a workshop for teens and adults and participates in a murmuration discussion, as detailed below.

  • Sculptural Puppets with Tom Hill, Saturday, October 2, and Sunday, October 3, 10-4 p.m.
    Explore avian gesture and movement and create an original marionette-like puppet. Materials and lunches provided; $120 for members; $140 for non-members. Scholarships available. Call the Museum at 715.845.7010 to register.
  • The Science & Art of Murmuration, Thursday, October 7, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
    Dr. Stanley Temple, University of Wisconsin-Madison Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation and Aldo Leopold Foundation Senior Fellow, offers insights into the complex and fascinating spectacle of murmurations, followed by conversation with sculptor Tom Hill on artistic representations of flocks and animal movements en masse.

Additional Fall Features
• Art Park: Inspired by the wire-bird murmuration project, interactives highlight movement – of birds and people and the ways we move and shape one another. Drop in to explore avian gestures and forms through collage, painting, and a cast of moveable characters.
• Thursday Evenings This Fall: The Museum remains open until 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings – except when closed for the Thanksgiving holiday – throughout “Birds in Art,” scheduled to remain on view through Sunday, November 28. On these Classical Thursdays, Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra ensembles enhance Birds in Art visits, 5:30-6 p.m. and 6:30-7 p.m.
• Gallery Walk, Thursday, November 4, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Join Museum educator Catie Anderson for guided art observation and conversation in the Birds in Art galleries.
• Stay Tuned for Artful Surprises: Opportunities to look, learn, and make will pop up in the galleries this fall; follow the Woodson Art Museum on social media for announcements and details.
• Art à la Carte: Gather at a table and chairs in the galleries or in Art Park for hands-on art making, inspired by artwork on view.
• Stop-by Studio: Always open and stocked with Art Kits and books, free to keep or share; pick up Art Kits for in-gallery or at-home art making.
• Sculpture Garden & Grounds: Seasonal foliage provides an ever-changing backdrop for sculpture. Go on a seek-and-find sculpture quest, using a map with riddles as clues to find six small-scale sculptures.

Exhibition Extras
• Catalogue & Posters: The 120-page Birds in Art catalogue features every artwork along with artists’ statements; $22.50. Get catalogue purchasing details here: Three distinct posters; $7.50 each.
• Videos: Artists share insights into a selection of Birds in Art artworks via videos to watch on the Museum’s YouTube channel; all free.

For additional 2021 exhibition details, check the artist list, events calendar, and exhibition webpage.
For more information, visit, e-mail the Museum at, call 715-845-7010, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Woodson Art Museum Hours
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9am – 4pm
First Thursday of each month 9am – 7:30pm
Every Thursday during Birds in Art 9am – 7:30pm
Saturday – Sunday Noon – 5pm
Closed Monday & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Phone: 715.845.7010
Location: 700 N. 12th Street (Franklin & 12th Streets), Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007

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