Friday, September 2, 2011

Birds in Art 2011

With the Labor Day weekend upon us, my mind is occupied with the details of an upcoming adventure. Like the last four, my 2011 September is highlighted by a journey to Wausau, Wisconsin for the opening of the Birds In Art exhibit. Unlike previous years however, I’ll be sharing the ride with 1991 Master Artist Larry Barth. I’m truly looking forward to picking Larry’s brain during the 24 hour long roundtrip. It will be a pleasant departure from my usual solitary sojourns.

Birds In Art is without question the most prestigious exhibition in the wildlife/nature art world. The fine people at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum and the generous Woodson family are gracious and accommodating hosts for this extraordinary event. I’m continually amazed at how smoothly this three-day visit always goes as there must be so many logistical nightmares. Yet 70-some artists along with their guests, hundreds of patrons, and visitors that must number in the thousands all leave the museum doors with wide enthusiastic smiles.

The art is always stunning. There are more than 130 paintings and sculptures from artists at every corner of the globe thoughtfully displayed within the intimate gallery spaces. As an artist, there is a humbling sense of self-analysis while browsing these works. I remember how overwhelmed I was by the whole experience on my first visit and just how incredibly fortunate I felt to have a painting of my own included. There was a moment of “warm and fuzzy” when I first saw my painting in the Museum. It was hard to stop smiling. I also remember exactly how insignificant I felt standing next to the likes of Robert Bateman, Lars Jonnson, Carl Brenders, and Dino Paravano. It was like the world was going to open up and swallow me and no one would notice. I feel a little more like I belong in the exhibit these days, but still get more than just a little starstruck around some of the big guns.

There is an energy to this event that makes it like no other. So many talented, adventurous, hardworking, and likeminded people in one place can’t help but wind you up like a toy store top. During a rare moment of downtime, it’s easy to find yourself wandering around your hotel room with your head spinning.

Of course this year’s Birds In Art excursion has a special meaning. My friend, painter James Coe will be awarded the coveted Master Artist medal during a ceremony held in front of hundreds of distinguished guests. I’ve admired Jim’s work for years and he’s one of the true “good guys” of the art world. I can think of no one more deserving.

Jim will be teaching a 4-day plein air painting workshop immediately following our Opening Weekend festivities. I’m wildly excited about this opportunity. I’ve always wanted to delve into this method of painting and Jim is a true master. Stay tuned for images and updates once I return to PA. The road awaits…. J


Cher' Shots said...

What are the dates that you will be in Wausa, Wi at the Birds in Art? We will be there the around the end of the month but would love to see you and your work.
Cheryl (My Mom's maiden name was Bortz and I'm Deans cousin)

Ralph Grady James said...

look forward to seeing you Jim - I've been getting more and more excited about the trip!

Jim Bortz said...

@Cher, Our itinerary is pretty tight for the stay in Wausau. The only time I'd be available for a brief visit would be on the morning of 9/10 during the public opening at the museum.
@Ralph, See you there!

Terry Miller said...

Safe journey to you and Larry. That should be an interesting drive, to say the least! See you in Wisconsin.

ajay brainard said...

Thank you for this blog update. I am so excited about being included into this prestigious event. This being my first inclusion into Birds in Art, I also have a "Starstruck" anxiety about attending and at times, I am still in shock that I will actually be exhibited along with so many of the world's greatest wildlife artists. I look forward to meeting you in person in Wausau, counting down the days - see you there.

Jim Bortz said...

@Terry, It'll be good to see you again. We've got a lot to talk about.
@Ajay, Looking forward to meeting you face to face and seeing your work in person. You'll have a great time :)