Gilley’s latest exhibition showcases avian art

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — When artist Sherrie York swooped into town last week for a two printmaking classes at the Wendell Gilley Museum, she had the opportunity to speak about her piece, “A Tern of the Tide,” on display now at the museum’s Birds in Art show. 

“I love her work,” said Sean Charette, director of the museum. “A lot of her work is that style where she features the bird, but she also features the landscape so beautifully.”

Alongside York, there are several artists in the exhibit who have an influential relationship with the museum, which last week celebrated 40 years of being open. Barry Van Dusen, whose watercolor “Winter Watch” is also on display, was one of the speakers in a series hosted by the museum earlier this year. As guests enter the museum, they walk by two different metal sculptures crafted by Don Rambadt, whose piece, ‘Boundless,” is also in the show.  

Birds in Art 2020 is an exhibition with varied interpretations of avian wonders via original paintings, sculptures and graphics created within the last three years. It is an international juried art show organized each year by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wis. The show will be at the Wendell Gilley Museum until Aug. 18. 

 “We’re happy to have it because we were supposed to have it last year,” said Tammy Packie, who manages the museum’s gift shop and visitor services. “We have it for a short season. So, we’re trying to get as many people here as possible to see it.” 

Last year, the Birds in Art 2019 show was scheduled for exhibit at the museum but was cancelled because of COVID-19. The show now being exhibited is the one that was at the Wisconsin museum last September.  

“It would have been a different show,” said Charette about the change. “The quality in the work this summer is just fantastic.” 

As Charette took the Islander on a tour of the exhibit, one patron commented that it was the best show they had seen at the museum. In it, the artists really explore the many ways to convey avian life, and some intertwine it with human influence in their pieces. Certain artists chose to integrate the pandemic into their creation, like Karen Bondarchuk’s charcoal of a bird atop a tower of toilet paper called “Cache ‘n’ Carry.” 

One of Charette’s favored pieces in the show is “Let’s Dance,” a bronze sculpture by Mark Dedrie.  

“I just love this piece because of that subtly it has,” said Sean referring to a blue hue on the backs of two smoothly sculpted birds standing on a ragged piece of wood. “I really like the process and technique of lost wax metal casting. The inside of the plaster mold has all of the details and intricacies of the surface. It’s called lost wax because wax is lost in the process.  

“With this you only get one shot. It’s highly technical… It’s a bronze but it involves patination and then to have the pigment on there as well. A lot of thought went into it.” 

In Rebecca Korth’s “Chickadee & Strawberries,” the fruit looks as though it could jump from the canvas straight into the viewer’s mouth. Mary Cornish’s “The Bone Collector” brings the viewer back to a different time. “It has that Dutch feel to it,” said Charette, speaking of the golden hue of the piece. 
It is important to note how pieces from the show, about 60 in all, are displayed throughout the museum. When visitors enter what is typically the carving space, S.V. Medaris’s “Cock o’ the Walk,” a larger-than-life hand-colored woodcut, will leave an impression.  

To learn more about Birds in Art and other upcoming exhibits or events, go to 

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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