The annual federal duck stamp art contest was held this weekend at the Noel Fine Arts Center, located on the University of Wisconsin campus at Stevens Point. The event was co-hosted by the College of Natural Resources and the College of Fine Arts and Communications. By all accounts, the organizing committee did a fabulous job and the unusually large crowds were enthusiastic in voicing their pleasure.
The featured activities took place on Friday and Saturday. This year saw 227 total entries (12 were eliminated prior to the judging for not complying with the regulations), representing a 50% increase over 2016. Starting at 9:00 AM on Friday, the public was invited to view the 215 entries hanging in the Edna Carlsten Art Gallery, free of charge (see Figures 1 and 2).
At 9:30 AM a separate decoy carving contest and exhibition opened in the Dreyfus University Center Laird Room, also located on the Stevens Point Campus. This much-anticipated event was co-hosted by the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources.
At 10:00 AM the judging to determine the duck stamp winner began in Michelsen Hall. This year’s contest regulations advised that prospective artists were to choose from five species: mallard, gadwall, cinnamon teal, blue-winged teal or harlequin duck.
The five distinguished judges for this year’s competition were: Dr Jacob Straub, a waterfowl biologist at UW-Stevens Point; Jane Kim, an artist and science illustrator; Robert Spoerl, a member of Ducks Unlimited’s Board of Directors, Tim Pearson, an artist and fly fishing guide and Richard Prager, an avid duck stamp collector and a frequent contributor to this blog (see Figure 3).
A wide variety of related activities and events were scheduled to take place both on campus and throughout Stevens Point during the month of September. These included a free public screening of The Million Dollar Duck on Thursday, September 14 at the Dreyfus University Center Theater, on campus. For a complete schedule of events and activities, click on the icon below:
Near midday on Saturday, the judges selected a winner – by awarding a perfect score of 25 in the final round to a pair of mallards created by well-known artist Bob Hautman from Delano, Minnesota. Bob spent a great deal of time perfecting this piece and the composition is very pleasing to the eye. As mallards are perennial favorites with just about everyone, this selection is certain to result in a very popular stamp (see Figures 4 and 5).
Second place in this year’s contest went to crowd favorite Greg Alexander of Ashland, Wisconsin. Greg’s art has been featured on many state waterfowl and conservation stamps. His entry featured a cinnamon teal sitting on the water’s surface.
Greg is perhaps best known for his ability to capture lighting and this talent is clearly evident here – especially when observing the grasses that extend beneath the duck, just below the water’s surface (see Figure 6).
This was Bob’s third win, having previously won in 1996 and 2000. As many of you know, the Hautman family has been nothing if not prolific, with brothers Jim and Joe each having won the federal contest five times!
When Bob placed 2nd in two previous contests – in 1995 and 2010 – it was only to his younger brother, Jim. Even more remarkable, in 2015 Joe, Bob and Jim Hautman placed first, second and third, respectively. Bob’s artwork will now serve as the vignette for the 2018-19 federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp.
Better known as the federal waterfowl stamp or “duck” stamp, the sale of these miniature works of art to hunters, collectors, wildlife art enthusiasts and conservation-minded philanthropists has, since the program’s inception in 1934, resulted in over 950 million dollars being provided for waterfowl conservation.
The significant increase in entries and the nearly unprecedented crowds that thronged to view them may be seen to reflect brightly not only upon the event’s organizing committee – but the resurgence in interest we have seen in duck stamps over the past two years, across the board.
Our congratulations go to Bob Hautman – and to all of those who organized and participated in this year’s event, thank you for helping to make the duck stamp program a continuing success.