The 2018 edition of the annual federal duck stamp art contest was held this past Friday and Saturday, September 14th and 15th, at Springs Preserve in Nevada. A total of 153 entries were judged and Scot Storm’s painting of a wood duck swimming past a decoy was selected as the artwork for the 2019-20 stamp vignette. This was Scot’s second win, the first coming in 2003.
Springs Preserve is a 180 acre wildlife sanctuary located just outside Las Vegas and features family-oriented botanical gardens, nature walks, museums and traveling exhibits. One of the Preserve’s main attractions is an interpretive trail through a scenic wetland habitat. Therefore, it provided an appropriate setting for the contest (see Figures 1 and 2).
Educational centers such as Springs Preserve help explain the need for the stamp program’s continued support. Since the program began in 1934, duck stamp sales have generated over one billion dollars. This has gone into a fund that protects over six million acres of vital wetlands habitat.
A Special Theme in 2018
On March 20, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a special theme for this years contest, “Celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage”. The theme required that prospective artists include one or more elements “that reflect the contributions waterfowl hunters make to habitat conservation.” The official press release also named the five waterfowl species eligible in 2018: wood duck, American widgeon, northern pintail, green-winged teal and lesser scaup (see Figure 3).
The hunting theme ensured this year’s winner would be forever linked with two of the most popular federal duck stamps of all time – the 1959-60 stamp whose artwork was designed by the legendary Maynard Reece and the 1975-76 stamp designed by James Fisher (see Figures 4 and 5).
There were a total of 168 entries this year and, of these, 15 were disqualified prior to the first round of judging for various rules infractions, including missing the special theme element. To read the the 2018 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest Information, Entry Form and Regulations in its entirety, click here.
This left 153 entries for the judge’s consideration. To view each of the qualifying entries, click here. The five judges for this year’s contest were: Lowell E. Baker, a conservationist; Dr. Robert J. Bloom, a waterfowl and wetlands conservationist; Roberta E. Laine, an artist and educator; Chris Maynard, an artist and philatelist and Brett James Smith, an artist.
Schedule of Events
The program included a Contest Schedule (see Figure 4). In addition to the official events, there was a special screening of the Million Dollar Duck documentary at Springs Preserve on Friday night. The movie covered the 2013 contest and was followed by a Q&A session with director Brian Davis and several duck stamp artists, including Bob Hautman, Tim Taylor, Rob McBroom and Rebekah Knight. Rebekah came in second to Bob’s brother, Jim, at the 2016 contest (see Figures 6, 7 and 8).
An Unprecedented Event
This year’s contest will be remembered for a development believed to be unprecedented in the history of the event. As explained in The Million Dollar Duck to Air on Animal Planet…, the judges are advised to vote with three criteria in mind:
- Anatomical accuracy;
- Artistic composition and
- Suitabilty to be printed on a stamp.
In the first round (Friday morning) all entries were either voted “in” or “out” by the panel of judges. Those receiving at least three “in” votes move past the first round and into the semi-finals the next day. What happened at Springs Preserve was that Scot Storm’s wood duck did not make it in – it received only two “in” votes.
After to the first round, each judge is allowed to “bring back” up to five paintings he/she liked from those that were voted “out”. The fact that Scot’s painting was brought back was not unusual. However, what was unprecedented is that it subsequently made it through the remaining rounds and was declared the winner!
The five judges vote by holding up a number from 1 to 5. In the second round Scot’s wood duck received 4/5/5/4/2 to advance with a total score of 20. In the final round it received a 4/5/5/5/3 to win with a total of 22 (see Figure 9).
Scot storm lives in Freeport, Minnesota. Two Wisconsin neighbors, Frank Mittelstadt of Beaver Dam and Greg Alexander of Ashland came in second and third, respectively (see Figure 8).
Next year, the federal duck stamp art contest will be held at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland. This is a great location for a family visit, within a half-hour drive of Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington D.C. For those who are not aware, the National Aquarium is located in the inner harbor area of downtown Baltimore and is nothing short of amazing.
Artist Information. There are a lot of gifted artists out there who we would all love to see participate in future contests. In 2019, the eligible species will be black-bellied whistling duck, emperor goose, American black duck, northern shoveler and bufflehead. Let us all enjoy your passion!
A special thanks goes to Richard Prager, a past judge who attended this year’s event and provided us with his insights and some great photos!