Stark turns focus on Duck Stamp’s history

Published 12:08 am Tuesday, June 18, 2019

ORANGE — The Stark Museum of Art will bring the great outdoors inside with Conservation Art: Federal Duck Stamps & Prints. The exhibition opens July 13 and continues through Jan. 4.

In an issued statement, the museum said the exhibition celebrates the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, popularly known as the Duck Stamp. A set of stamps and prints, from the beginning in 1934-1935 through 2000-2001, will be placed on view. In addition to viewing the stamps and prints, visitors can go on a virtual Duck HuntTM and enjoy other activities.

Started in 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp program links hunting with conservation. Sales of stamps support wildlife habitat. Choosing artists to design the stamps added visual drama.  Artists’ prints increased the impact of the program.

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With this exhibition, the Stark Museum of Art traced the history of the Federal Duck Stamp. The U.S. government created the stamp to address a problem. In the 1930s, the numbers of ducks and geese had fallen to dangerously low levels. Loss of habitat and over hunting contributed to the decline. Hunters and conservationists sought remedies.

To raise funds for waterfowl habitat, the government required hunters to buy a Migratory Bird stamp. The U.S. uses the revenue to purchase and maintain wildlife refuges, the museum said.

Every year the government selects an artist to create the image and issues a new stamp. They depict ducks, geese and swans. The beauty of the stamps has inspired collecting. It has also prompted the artists to make prints from their stamp art.

The exhibition begins with the 1934-35 Stamp and its accompanying print by Jay N. “Ding” Darling. Darling was a Pulitzer prize-winning political cartoonist, a hunter and a conservationist. Franklin Roosevelt appointed him as chief of the Biological Survey.

Darling drew two mallards flying onto water for the first stamp, and then made an etching based on his design. The exhibition includes etchings, lithographs and photolithographs by 52 artists, including Frank W. Benson, Maynard Reece and the Hautman brothers.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to view a digital exhibit of the 2018-19 Federal Junior Duck Stamp in Texas winners. The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design program began in 1993. Each state holds a contest. A best of show for the state is selected.

These works advance to the national contest. The digital exhibit features the top 12 Texas artists in K-12 in the 2018-19 contest. It is presented in cooperation with the Federal Junior Duck Stamp in Texas program.

The exhibition includes a number of hands-on learning opportunities. The interactives include viewing recent years’ duck stamps up closely using magnifying tools, drawing and displaying a duck stamp, and playing the Nintendo Entertainment SystemTM pop culture classic Duck HuntTM.

Adjacent to the main exhibition will be Waterfowl Art with the flourishing images of ducks and geese as seen in Steuben glass, Limoges plates, Boehm porcelain and other forms.

An opening reception and lecture will be held from 2-4 p.m. July 13 at the Stark Museum of Art. Celeste Rickert, a 2018 Federal Duck Stamp Finalist from Katy, will speak on her experience as an artist participating in the Federal Duck Stamp competition.

Light refreshments will be served following the talk. The Opening Reception and Insights Lecture are open to the public, admission free.

— Special to The News