Wausau, Wisconsin: The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum announces sculptor Paul Rhymer as its 2023 Master Wildlife Artist who will be honored during the Museum’s 48th annual Birds in Art exhibition this fall.
In announcing this year’s Master, director Matt Foss said, “We’re thrilled to honor Paul Rhymer as the Woodson Art Museum’s 2023 Master Wildlife Artist. As an artist and person, Paul upholds the standards of excellence prized by the Museum’s staff, Board of Directors, and the Woodson family. His inclusion into the pantheon of past Master Wildlife Artists is apt.”
“When I got the call from Matt, I was gobsmacked. I had to sit down,” Rhymer recalls. “Participating in Birds in Art and seeing and meeting many of my artistic heroes, being in those rooms with that incredible art, is inspiring. With so much talent in that exhibition, being named Master Artist was, and is, inconceivable to me. I still don’t really believe it. It is the biggest honor of my career.”
Rhymer comes from a family of artists and has drawn and painted his entire life. After receiving an associate of arts degree in 1984 in painting and drawing, Rhymer worked at the Smithsonian Institution doing taxidermy and model making for twenty-five years; he retired in 2010. Having done so much three-dimensional work in his job, in the late 1990s, he gradually began to move from painting and drawing into sculpture. “By the time I started sculpting I had been a model maker and taxidermist for 15 years. It was the best training to become a wildlife sculptor. It also was a handicap. For years I had to unlearn taxidermy and model making. In taxidermy minute details can equal quality. Every hair or feather needs to perfectly in place. Those kinds of details can kill a sculpture.”
Being an avid fisherman, hunter, and birder, he says he finds an unlimited source of inspiration for his subjects. He uses these observations to create sculptures that convey his feelings and experiences with animals and uses them to express feelings about the world around him.
Rhymer’s work has been exhibited in Birds in Art each year since 2008. “I didn’t get into Birds in Art the first three times I tried,” Rhymer said. “The Woodson sends catalogs to everyone who applies. Those three years, I’d get my catalogs and look through them and see why I didn’t get in. Those experiences made me work harder to become a better artist just so I could get juried into the show. Now that I have been in it, I work hard to get back in. Because of that dynamic, Birds in Art has been an incredible source of inspiration and growth for my work.”
In addition to the Woodson, Rhymer’s work has been shown at the Society of Animal Artists Annual Exhibition, the National Sculpture Society Annual Awards Exhibition, and the Brookgreen Gardens Masters Exhibition. He also had a solo exhibition at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in 2010.
Rhymer is a fellow with the National Sculpture Society and a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists. His public art installations are on view at locations across the country, including: Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Denver Zoo, Phoenix Zoo, Topeka Zoo, NatureWorks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, City Park in Hagerstown, Maryland, B.I.R.D.S. Project in Summerville, South Carolina, and at the Woodson Art Museum.
The Woodson’s 2023 Birds in Art exhibition, on view September 9 through November 26, 2023, will feature Rhymer’s artwork along with approximately 100 original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created within the last three years by artists from throughout the world.
Woodson Art Museum
Tuesday – Friday 9am – 4pm
First Thursday of each month 9am – 7:30pm
Thursdays 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, Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 North Twelfth Street)