WAUSAU, WISCONSIN: The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum announces Milwaukee sculptor Don Rambadt as its 2017 Master Artist who will be honored during the Museum’s 42nd annual “Birds in Art” exhibition this fall.
Rambadt, the Woodson Art Museum’s 36th Master Artist, will receive the Master Wildlife Artist Medal during the “Birds in Art” opening, Saturday, September 9.
In announcing the 2017 Master, director Kathy Kelsey Foley said, “The Woodson Art Museum is delighted and proud to celebrate the artistry and achievements of Wisconsin native Don Rambadt as the 2017 ‘Birds in Art’ Master Artist. Don embodies a range of attributes that lead to the creation of superb art: he continually experiments, pushing boundaries – aesthetically and technically. He’s been influenced by his years as a participating ‘Birds in Art’ artist. Going forward, Don’s work is certain to impact future generations.”
Selected for inclusion in “Birds in Art” sixteen times since 1998, his first year in the exhibition, Rambadt attended exhibition-opening festivities each of those years. Seeing the excellence, innovation, and new interpretations of avian themes in the galleries and interacting with the dozens of accomplished “Birds in Art” artists who attended has been crucial, he said, to the development of his sculpture and his career. “As a young artist, my heroes were all there: Larry Barth, Walter Matia, and Bart Walter,” Don reflected, adding that it was inspirational to talk with these and other artists and that “Birds in Art” camaraderie over the years has led to lasting friendships.
Throughout each of the last twenty years Rambadt entered artwork for “Birds in Art” jury consideration, he “tried to add to and broaden the breadth of my genre with something new to keep my sculpture fresh and provide thought-provoking experiences for visitors.” “Scarlet,” a vivid stainless steel, great horned owl, included in the 2014 exhibition and last year’s “Birdsong Maquette” are among Don’s “Birds in Art” work that continually elicit enthusiastic praise from exhibition attendees. Twelve or so Don Rambadt sculptures will comprise his 2017 “Birds in Art” Master Artist grouping.
“I’m humbled to be honored by the Woodson Art Museum as the 2017 Master Artist. There is no higher achievement within the avian-art genre. This recognition also poses daunting challenges, which I gratefully accept; it further drives me to create work of the highest caliber,” Don said.
Born in 1970 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rambadt received his bachelor of fine arts degree in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. For ten years, Rambadt operated Vanguard Sculpture Services, a bronze foundry in the Milwaukee area, initially with John Hickman, a former college instructor, who proved pivotal in Don’s decision to pursue sculpture as a career. Rambadt discovered his intense passion for art when he explored welding. “It was a medium through which I could express myself in a spontaneous yet durable material,” he said. “It fueled something; I could completely lose myself in the process.”
Rambadt’s mentors drove him to discover how to “think like an artist, continually questioning the relevance of what you’re doing.” He continues to push beyond representational depictions of his subjects, thinking and working in ever more creative and innovative ways. Among his crucial mentors is UW-Milwaukee instructor Narendra Patel and also John Hickman, who challenged Rambadt to “get rid of the wings in my work. Hickman said, ‘you should be able to show flight without something as obvious as wings.’ Patel stressed the importance of design awareness and how things work three dimensionally.”
Exhibited in Germany, Maine, Maryland, West Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, Rambadt’s work also can be seen in public installations in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In 2016, Rambadt completed outdoor installations at the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor, Maine, and his largest and most ambitious highway “gateway” sculpture near Pinedale, Wyoming. Commissioned artwork also includes colorful, aluminum mobiles suspended in Little Rock’s Arkansas Children’s Hospital atrium, exterior wall-mounted artwork for “Community Pathways” installations in Jackson, Wyoming, and the entrance sign for Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
His artwork is in the collections of the Benson Park Sculpture Garden in Loveland, Colorado; Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina; Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor, Maine; Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, Maryland; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum; and in many private homes and businesses.
The 2017 “Birds in Art” exhibition, on view September 9 through November 26, will feature Rambadt’s sculptures along with more than 100 original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created within the last three years by artists from throughout the world. The exhibition’s full-color catalogue, featuring an essay on the 2017 Master Artist, will be available for purchase in September at the Woodson Art Museum.
Woodson Art Museum Hours
First Thurs of each month 9am–7:30pm
Thursdays during Birds in Art 9am–7:30pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas