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The annual federal duck stamp art contest was held this past weekend at the Academy of Sciences in downtown Philadelphia. At noon on Saturday, James Hautman was declared the winner for the fifth time, tying him with his brother, Joseph, whose art is featured on the 2016-17 stamp.

The 152 entries were judged by artist and naturalist Sue deLearie Adair; John P. Booth, Executive Director for the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art; wildlife artist Jan Martin McGuire; Dr. Nathan H. Rice, Ornithology Collection Manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences and Keith Russell, Program Manager for Urban Conservation for Audubon Pennsylvania.

James’ medium was acrylic and the 2017-18 federal stamp will once again feature Canada Geese (see Figure 1). Together with his brothers Joe and Robert (see Figure 2), the trio now has has a combined twelve wins between them.

 

 

Figure 1. James Hautman’s winning entry featuring Canada geese.

 

 

Figure 2. From left to right: Joe, James and Robert Hautman. The closest thing we have to duck stamp royalty.

 

 

The Hautman brothers have been a force in the duck stamp contest for over twenty years, with James becoming the youngest artist in history to win in 1989 at age 25; Joe winning his first in 1991 and Robert winning his first in 1996. They were the subject of a conversation in the Coen Brothers notorious 1996 film, Fargo, much of which was set in their home state of Minnesota.

Frances McDormand plays the now iconic role of a Minnesota state trooper and her husband, Norm, played by actor John Caroll Lynch, is an aspiring duck stamp artist. In the conversation, Norm laments the fact that one of the Hautman’s beat him out in a stamp contest (see Figure 3). McDormand would go on to win the Academy award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Marge.

 

 

Figure 3. Marge and Norm, in a scene from Fargo.

 

 

Recently, in 2015, all three brothers were eligible for the federal duck stamp contest (winners must sit out for three years) and placed first, second and third. Needless to say, Norm has had a lot of company over the years.

Rebekah Nastav-Knight placed second in her most recent attempt to become a winner of both the junior duck stamp contest and the regular one (see Figure 4). Rebekah also chose acrylic and she submitted a beautiful entry featuring a Brant goose (see Figure 5).

 

 

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Figure 4. Rebekah Nastav-Knight Placed 2nd in this years contest.

 

 

Figure 5. Rebekah’s entry featuring a single Brandt goose.

 

 

Rebekah has been a talented artist since she was a young girl. She started entering the junior duck stamp contest when she was 13 years old. When she was 15, in 2006, her entry of a Redhead drake (titled Morning Swim) was selected as the winner (see Figure 6).

 

 

Figure 6. Rebekah Nastav standing next to her her winning junior duck stamp design.

 

 

Rebekah comes from an artistic family and was home-schooled her entire life. She received art direction from a family friend, Susan Harting, who later became her art teacher and the person who told her about he junior duck stamp program.

After winning the junior contest, she set her sights on the regular contest. This is not the first time she has come close to winning, placing 6th in 2011. She is now “knocking on the door” and it should not come as too big a surprise if she wins in the near future.

I have talked with several people who attended this year’s event and everyone seems to have really enjoyed themselves. It is a fun, educational experience in the company of fellow wildlife art and duck stamp lovers – what could be better?

Next year (2017), the federal duck stamp contest will be held at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point on September 15th and 16th.

 

 

 

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