MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 9, 2005 -- For the first time in its 71-year history,
the federal Duck Stamp Art Competition will be held in Memphis. Previously
staged in Washington, D.C. and run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
the event is one of the nation's most prestigious waterfowl art
Along with its move to Memphis, the competition will be co-hosted for the
first time by Ducks Unlimited and the Greater Memphis Arts Council,
creating a regionally unique collaboration of art and wildlife. What will
result is a week of special events beginning on Sept. 11. It includes the
Duck Stamp competition and viewing, which is open to the public at no
charge, an exhibit of original art from past competitions, artists
seminars, a Family Day and a judges dinner. The week will be capped off
with the Ducks Unlimited Outdoor Expo, set for Sept. 17 and 18 at the
Memphis International Agricenter near Ducks Unlimited headquarters.
We are very excited to work with Ducks Unlimited and the Greater Memphis
Arts Council to bring the Federal Duck Stamp Art Competition to Memphis
this year, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acting Director Matt Hogan.
The Duck Stamp is one of the world's great conservation successes, raising
hundreds of millions of dollars to fund important habitat acquisitions for
the National Wildlife Refuge System. We hope that by bringing the
competition to the banks of the Mississippi River, more Americans can be
introduced to the Duck Stamp and the network of public lands it supports.
This is a great opportunity to tell the Duck Stamp story in an area rich in
the traditions and history of duck hunting and a commitment to
conservation, said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young. The
sale of Duck Stamps and wildlife art plays an integral role in providing
money for restoring and protecting waterfowl habitat. It's a relationship
that Ducks Unlimited members know well, and we're excited to work with the
Fish and Wildlife Service, the Greater Memphis Arts Council and the Memphis
College of Art to tell the Duck Stamp story. Anyone can support wetlands
restoration and protection of waterfowl habitat by purchasing a Duck Stamp.
It's that easy.
We are delighted to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
Ducks Unlimited to host the only U.S. government-sponsored art competition,
said Susan Schadt, Greater Memphis Arts Council president and CEO. Given
the high level of interest in duck hunting and wildlife conservation in
this region, we believe this will be an event that will attract many and
bring national recognition to the Memphis area.
For many centuries and for all of human history, art has begun with close
observation, added Jeff Nesin, Memphis College of Art president. This
continues today even with abstract and conceptual work, but especially with
work from nature. This exhibition will give our community and city a
wonderful opportunity to see the very best of closely observed work from
nature. We are very proud to have it take place at the College of Art.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selects the judges' panel which is kept
secret until the day judging begins. Competition judging begins at 10 a.m.
on Wednesday, Sept. 14, and continues on Thursday, Sept. 15. The winning
artwork will be identified Thursday afternoon. Ducks Unlimited plans to fly
the winning artist to Memphis on Friday and feature him or her with the
winning entry during the Ducks Unlimited Outdoor Expo on Saturday and
Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18. Viewing of the art prior to the judging is free
and open to the public at the Memphis College of Art on Monday and Tuesday,
Sept. 12 and 13.
All waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older must possess a Federal Duck
Stamp to hunt, but anyone can enjoy its benefits. A valid Duck Stamp
provides free admission to any national wildlife refuge in the country that
is open to the public. Refuges offer unparalleled outdoor recreation
opportunities, ranging from hunting and fishing to bird watching, hiking
and photography. Habitat acquired with Duck Stamp dollars benefits more
than just waterfowl, supporting hundreds of species of migratory birds and
other wildlife, including dozens of threatened and endangered species.
The recent rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker thought to be extinct
in the U.S. for more than 60 years occurred on Cache River National
Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. A significant portion of its acreage was
purchased with Duck Stamp dollars.
Since the program's inception, sales of Federal Duck Stamps to hunters,
stamp collectors and other conservationists have generated more than $700
million that has acquired and protected more than 5.2 million acres of
crucial habitat at hundreds of national wildlife refuges in nearly every
state in the nation.
Famed wildlife artist and conservationist J.N. Ding Darling, who was then
director of what would later become the Fish and Wildlife Service, created
the image for the first Federal Duck Stamp in 1934. In doing so, Darling
began what would become an annual tradition of featuring the work of some
of the nation's finest wildlife artists on the stamp. For the first 15
years of the stamp's existence, the Service commissioned an artist to
design the stamp. Soon, artists began submitting their artwork unsolicited
for possible inclusion on the stamp.
In 1949, the first Federal Duck Stamp Art Competition was held at the
Interior Department in Washington, with a panel of judges selecting an
image of two trumpeter swans by Walter Weber to become the 1950-51 stamp
from among 88 entries. The competition is now an annual tradition, with
hundreds of artists from around the nation competing for the honor of being
the next Federal Duck Stamp Artist. Winning the competition is a
significant boost for each winning artist, increasing the value of their
work and enabling them to sell prints of the Duck Stamp art.
The 2005-2006 Federal Duck Stamp, featuring a pair of hooded mergansers
painted by South Dakota artist Mark Anderson, will be released to the
public on July 1. Anderson bested 223 other entrants to win the 2004
contest, held last October in Washington.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest
and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The
United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands --
nature's most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than
100,000 wetland acres each year.