WAUSAU – Ascending to new heights, “Birds in Art” 2021, opening Sept. 11 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, offers inspiration to persevere, endure and thrive. Artwork from 113 artists from throughout the world will be featured in the 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. 

Opening day features options throughout more time and outdoor space, as a coronavirus precaution to support the 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 Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Birds in Art” 2021 remains on view through Nov. 28. Before visiting, check www.lywam.org

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. 

Aleta Rossi-Steward, Fallout, 2019, oil on panel. Image courtesy Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

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.” 

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,” Sept. 28, through Oct. 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, Oct. 2, and Oct. 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, Oct. 7, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
    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 Nov. 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, Nov. 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. 

For additional 2021 exhibition details, check the artist listevents calendar, and exhibition webpage. For more information, visit www.lywam.org, e-mail the museum at info@lywam.org, call 715-845-7010, and follow the museum on FacebookTwitter and Instagram