EASTON — The Waterfowl Festival serves as the premier wildlife art and sportman’s expo in the country, showcasing artists and their work in five galleries across historic Easton.
Galleries will feature world-class paintings, carvings, sculpture and photography.
Downtown, guests can visit the Art at the Avalon, sculpture and painters; Art at the Armory, painters and flat art; Art at the Pavilion, featured art pieces and sculpture; Art at the Church, photography; and the newest venue, Art at the Prager Family Auditorium on Washington Street, housing the carvers while the Academy Art Museum undergoes renovations.
This year’s featured artist is Nancy Tankersley, a 15-year resident of Easton and Waterfowl Festival exhibitor since 2015. Tankersley’s “Podgin’ for Oysters” is the Featured Art Piece of this year’s Waterfowl Festival.
She began her career as a portraitist in 1983 but entered the gallery scene with figurative paintings of people at work at at leisure.
Now her creations move between landscape, figures and still life. She remains faithful to her impressionistic style by incorporating nontraditional tools, supports and technologies for her paintings.
“As a resident of Easton, I’m privileged to see the excitement build as our little town is transformed into the side of a major art and conservation festival,” Tankersley said, as published in the Festival guide. “The enthusiasm of the crowds, the local businesses and the volunteers make the months of preparation and labor well work the effort ...”
Additional Waterfowl Festival artists include Rich Smoker, Joel Boches, David Petlowany, Julia Purinton, Carol Heiman-Greene, Jan Fitch, Jim Rataczak, Keith Whitelock, Tom Baldwin, William Goebel and Mark Dziewior.
Smoker is a 2019 National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest honor for folk and traditional artists.
He grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1982. He has been carving decoys for nearly a half-century. The birthplace of his carving career is in his father’s woodworking shop at the local high school in Selinsgrove, Pa.
Meanwhile, Boches hopes to photograph birds and wildlife in otherwise overlooked moments in today’s “plugged in” world. He says his love of photography tied in well with his career as a graphic designer.
Boches professes a particular fondness for songbirds, herons and waterfowl.
Stone carver and Ohio native Petlowany has been coming to the Waterfowl Festival since 2001. He creates his pieces out of limestone, marble or bronze casting, and describes his style as minimalist with the intent to bring joy to those who witness his work.
Purinton said she spent her life finding magic in the world, growing up in native Maryland spending hours drawing, reading, climbing trees and enjoying the wonder of it all. That magical view of the world has become part of her artistry, she said.
She describes her work as luminist, striving to capture the effects of light in the landscape and the emotional impact we feel when immersed in nature.
Heiman-Greene grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and is a lifelong animal enthusiast who creates acrylic paintings. Though she does not have a favorite subject, she is partial to North American wildlife, including wolves and coyotes.
Full-time carver Fitch is from Hertfordshire, England, and was part of a crew from England who delivered a boat to Oxford, Md., more than 30 years ago. There, she met local carver Eddie Cheezum, whose skill in carving a miniature duck provided Fitch the inspiration to pursue her own carving destiny.
She works in a variety of media, including basswood, driftwood and cast paper sculpture, and enjoys creating miniature carvings and using her attention to detail to intricately shape the birds.
Minnesota native Rataczak derives inspiration for his paintings from birds and the natural world. He grew a love for sketching as a child, and credits his teachers for recognizing his art as a talent rather than a distraction.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Notre Dame and soon thereafter a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. While Rataczak set out to pursue a career working in the field of birding, he later traded his spreadsheets for a sketchbook.
Rataczak’s art is continually inspired by the natural world, and he said if he had 10 lifetimes, it wouldn’t be enough to do what he wants to do with his paintings.
Eastern Shore native Whitelock is known as the “Chesapeake Bay guy” and continues to find ways to combine his love of art and the images of his beloved Eastern Shore in ways that reach as many as people as possible.
Whitelock’s series of YouTube videos titled “Watercolor Workshop” has amassed more than 17,000 subscribers and over 900,000 viewers. Though his style has evolved throughout his 40-year career, he works in watercolors, oils and occasionally acrylics.
His end goal remains the same: to present a realistic image of a rapidly disappearing lifestyle.
Wildfowl carver Baldwin has a presentational preferences to visually illustrate how birds deal with and tolerate the objects that man builds or leaves laying about. He said he is impressed with how birds create odd adaptations to our environment.
Baldwin specializes in what he describes as a gallery style that mixes biology and art. Anatomy is accurate down to the feathers and their individual texture and coloring.
The carver said it always amazes him how the same tools in different hands create such different results.
World-class wildlife artist Goebel, of Salisbury, has been drawing birds for as long as he can remember. Goebel prefers a little informality in his work to showcase the brushwork and texture where necessary. Such artistic expression may find him working on as many as a dozen canvases in any given day, and each piece of art has its own unique evolution of trial and error, too.
Sculptor Dziewior said his love for nature and its creatures was paralleled by an innate and almost visceral need to draw and paint.
He describes his style as being highly driven by a desire to combine the human characteristics of the animals he sees into his work.