Art Buffs Flock to Museum, Events

By Michaela Jackson on May 8, 2011 at 7:24 am EST


From Big Bird to the ugly duckling, from the mythical phoenix to Coleridge’s albatross, birds have captured the imagination since time immemorial.

Every year, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau looks skyward and invites masters of the pen, the brush, the chisel and other media to unleash their avian creativity for Birds in Art.

The exhibit, which is in its 33rd year, showcases birds in all media for crowds sometimes upwards of 15,000 people.

“Just as the birds migrate north and south, we also have visitors that migrate from all directions to participate in the exhibition,” says Marcia Theel, associate director of the Woodson Art Museum.

Indeed, the exhibit itself has migrated around the world, delighting art and bird enthusiasts in Scotland, England, Sweden, China, Japan and elsewhere.

“You may see the subject matter, and think, ‘Birds? What’s there to say?’” Theel says. “Well, there is so much to say about the subject – the birds in their environment; the birds as a harbinger to what’s happening to our environment; birds as they interact with people.”

At the heart of the exhibit’s popularity, Theel believes, is the same blend of curiosity and desire that fills our sleep with dreams of flying.

“We’d all like to be able to sit up at the very tippy-top branch of a tree and look out over the landscape and just see how things look from up there,” she says. “I think we all have a little bit of avian envy in us.”

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