Wildlife Art Festival features Federal duck stamp art winner

By JIM MATTHEWS www.OutdoorNewsService.com

The 32nd Annual Wildlife Art Show will be held Nov. 21-23 at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands. The event will feature the winning art and artist from the Federal Duck Stamp Art competition held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each year, along with the top runner’s up.

While that seems like stale news today because it has been going on for so long and the federal duck stamp artwork now takes a road trip across the nation each year with a number of stops, it wasn’t always that way.

The inaugural Wildlife Art Show (originally called the Wildlife West Art Festival) was the first time the federal duck stamp art was exhibited outside of Easton, MD, the only place the artwork was displayed. It was a political coup for the Inland Empire when local members of the community were able to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ship the art work West and allow it to be displayed. Once that hurdle was crossed, the event became a major wildlife art show that attracted many of the top wildlife artists from across the nation. The show brought people from all over California and other Western states to see the duck stamp exhibit and view the work of many of the finest artists working in the field -- and all at one place at one time.

While competition from other art shows and the fact that the duck stamp art is now displayed other places has diminished the number of people and artists who attend this show, the Wildlife Art Show was the show that got the ball rolling and it is still the first stop outside of Easton’s Waterfowl Festival (the official unveiling of the winning artwork) and the only event in Southern California where the artwork can be seen.

This year’s duck stamp art winner, Jennifer Miller of Olean, N.Y., with a painting of a pair of ruddy ducks, will be at the show all three days of the event, and her artwork will be on the 2015-16 federal duck stamp.

Miller doesn’t get a dime from the federal government for the win. In fact, the original artwork becomes the property of the USFWS. So why do from 150 to over 300 of the nation’s finest artists enter each year? It’s because they do retain the rights to reproduce prints of the winning artwork, and that is generally considered to be worth up to a $1 million or more, if the artist is savvy about marketing or works with an established art publishing house.

This is common knowledge for hunters, but the Federal Duck Stamp art competition is not about a postage stamp. The duck stamp must be purchased by all waterfowl hunters each year (at $15 each), and 98 percent of that money is used to wetlands habitat conservation and enhancement. Since 1934 when the program began, the duck stamp has raised $770 million, and the fund has paid for over 50 percent of the federal wildlife refuge acres in California. With matching money from private and other government partners, the value has been over $2 billion in wetland protection and enhancement. Duck stamp sales totaled more than $25 million just last year.

The Wildlife Art Show celebrates 80 years of the federal duck stamp program, most effective government-run conservation program in the country.

The Wildlife Art Show is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, November 22, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23. Artists will exhibit their work in the museum’s Fisk Gallery, where the top entries in this year’s Federal Duck Stamp contest will also be shown. There will also be a Friday reception to invited guests and Museum Association members from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, November 21, with a reception for the artists. Family Fun Day activities geared toward kids are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and the focus will be “discovering ducks.”

Besides Miller, other participating artists are wildlife carver Dennis Schroeder of Junction City, Calif., and a host of local artists from the Redlands Art Association: Vici Haag, Juell Villarreal, Dan Soury, Brad Willason, Judith Sparhawk, Judy Blair, Maggie Williams, Deborah George, Richard George, Sandy Davies, Linda Willason, Won Madeline Koh, Sheila LeBlanc, Randolph Staley, and Edward Sotello.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit north of Interstate 10 in Redlands. Admission is $10 (adults), $8 (military or seniors), $7 (students) and $5 (children aged five to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.sbcountymuseum.org or call 909- 307-2669.

California gun dealers challenge

ancient handgun advertising ban

Four California gun dealers filed a federal lawsuit Monday this past week that challenges a nearly century-old law that bans the display of handguns as part of in-store advertisements that can be seen outside the store.

Under the arcane state law, it’s legal for a gun-control supporters to use images of handguns in a protest outside of a gun store. But if a gun store were to put the same sign in its store window, it would be a violation of state law.

The dealers have claimed the law violates their first amendment right of free speech.

Earlier this year, a Central Valley gun dealer was cited by the California Department of Justice for breaking this 1923 law by displaying a handgun in its window.

Based on other recent court rulings in California, this lawsuit looks like it will be another slam-dunk win for gun owners.

‘Duck Dynasty’ musical coming to

Las Vegas’ Rio Hotel and Casino

“The Duck Commander Family Musical,” a 90-minute show with actors playing the Robertson family, famous for the “Duck Dynasy” program on A&E television, will be coming to the Rio Hotel and Casino in February.

Willie Robertson, chief executive of the Duck Commander company said the show had been “a great ride so far” for the family, which has approval rights over the script and casting.

“We’ve enjoyed the process of making a musical alongside the team who is interested in telling the Robertson family story from an outside perspective,” said Robertson. A 2012 book about the family, written by Willie and his wife, Korie, is the basis for the musical.

The show is expected to have a 14-song score that mixes country, blues, and show tunes. The likely opening number is called, “Faith, Food, and Family.”

“Duck Dynasty” has had as many as 11 million viewers, one of the largest ever for a cable show, and there were four million who tuned in for its season finale in August. The seventh season begins Wednesday, Nov. 19.

END

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