11-19-2008, 9:13 PM
DUCK STAMP SHOW NOV 22-23 * ONS-matthews column * 12nov08

Wildlife Art Festival, federal duck stamp exhibit Nov. 22-23 at San Bernardino County Museum

By JIM MATTHEWS Outdoor News Service

Joshua Spies, an artist from Watertown, S.D., will be at the 26th annual Wildlife Art Festival held Nov. 22-23 at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands showing his original artwork that won the 2008 federal duck stamp art competition.

Spies' acrylic painting of a long-tailed duck or oldsquaw and a hunter's decoy used to attract the birds will be reproduced on the 2009-10 federal duck stamp, which is purchased by all waterfowl hunters across the nation.

The artwork was selected from 270 entries by a panel of judges in mid-October, and the top entries will be on display at the county museum from Wednesday, Nov. 19 through Tuesday, Nov. 25.

While the artist "donates" his original painting to the federal government for use on the duck stamp, Spies will be allowed to reproduce prints of the original work and sell those. Print sales generally earn the artist around $1 million and helps launch their art careers if they are not already established artists.

A well-know artist, this was the first time the 35-year-old Spies has won the duck stamp art competition, but he said he's entered the event "off and on" since 1994. His highest placing in past events was a fourth place finish in the competition two years ago.

An artist since childhood, Spies graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree in fine arts and began his wildlife painting career shortly after.

"There are a lot of artists out there with more talent than me, but not many work as hard. I don't sleep a lot because I love what I do. You get out what you put in to it," said Spies.

An avid hunter, Spies decided to forgo an annual pheasant hunt with family and friends to attend the judging competition in Minnesota, and was there when he was selected as the winner. Spies said he was excited that his artwork would be on the federal duck stamp, where 98 cents of every dollar raised is plowed back into saving wetlands and wildlife habitat across the country.

Spies, who does a lot of work for national hunting conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Whitetails Unlimited, and Safari Club International, said he still "gets excited when I see one of my painting sell at auction, see how much money it raises, knowing it goes to projects that will hopefully save more of these places."

Duck stamps have been sold for 75 years. Since 1934, the Duck Stamp program has raised $770 million to purchase nearly six million acres of wetlands and other wildlife habitat for the nations 186 national wildlife refuges. These refuges are used by one-third of the nation's threatened and endangered species and two-thirds of the most important commercial and sporting species.

While the bulk of the $15 duck stamps are purchased by hunters who are required to buy them for waterfowl hunting, birdwatchers, photographers, fishermen, and others who enjoy wildlife also buy the stamps, which are available at most post offices, wildlife refuges, and many retail stores that sell hunting licenses.

The Wildlife Art Festival was the first show ever to have the federal duck stamp art exhibited outside of Easton, Maryland, where the competition is usually held each year. The 1983 show was so successful and popular that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now takes the duck stamp art on the road each year and moves the selection event to different areas to promote stamp sales, wildlife art, and conservation across the nation.

Spies, who will only be on hand Saturday and through the morning on Sunday, will join 22 other artists at the Wildlife Art Festival this year, including this year's featured artist Leslie Kirchner from Green Valley, Calif.

The San Bernardino County Museum is located just north of Interstate 10 at the California Street exit in Redlands. Unlike past years, admission is free for this year's event, which is sponsored by the San Bernardino County Museum Association, and parking is also free. For more information, visit http://www.sbcountymuseum.org or call 909-307-2669. For more information on Spies art, you can visit his web site at http://www.joshuaspies.com.

Video of last years' festival

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11-19-2008, 9:17 PM
Thanks for the heads up, but I will be out those two days putting my ducks stamps to use.:D