Thirty-one years ago, I had the pleasure of phoning Maynard Reece to tell him the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum wished to honor him as the 1989 Master Wildlife Artist in tandem with that fall’s Birds in Art exhibition.
I don’t recall Maynard’s exact words, but I’m certain they were humble, sincere, warm, and filled with gratitude. His response was in keeping with his gentle personality, which along with his considerable talents and penchant for wildfowl and wildlife subjects served him very well.
Maynard died earlier this month, eleven weeks after his 100th birthday. His life and legacy are ones to celebrate.
As the news of Maynard’s passing was shared, a flood of heartfelt comments was added to social media posts. Each echoed the sincerity that always accompanied a conversation with Maynard or a letter typed by him on a good, old-fashioned manual typewriter.
The annual gathering of artists from around the world at the Woodson Art Museum for the Birds in Art opening weekend – at which Maynard was a fixture until just a few years ago – provided fertile ground and opportunities for not only artists to make lasting friendships, but also for Museum supporters and community members to meet and engage with artist-heroes.
In brief videos below, recorded in 2015, Maynard summarizes the backstories of a painting and a bronze sculpture in the Woodson Art Museum’s collection.
As we each treasure our own Maynard memories, it warms my heart to know that his artwork included in the Woodson Art Museum’s collection will be cared for and exhibited as a lasting tribute to a distinguished artist.