Wildling Museum exhibit explores feathered friends through eyes of four contemporary artists
“Bird’s Eye View: Four Perspectives” will be on view from March 18 through Sept. 4 at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature.
Featured will be new and recent works by artists Chris Maynard, David Tomb, Shae Warnick and Chester Wilcox.
The public is invited to celebrate the new exhibit at an opening reception from 3 to 5 p.m. March 19 at the Wildling, 1511-B Mission Drive in Solvang.
“People live among more than an estimated 10,000 bird species worldwide. These animals uniquely inform the works of the four artists featured in this exhibition,” said Stacey Otte-Demangate, Wildling Museum executive director. “Realistic wood carvings by Chester Wilcox, intricately shaped and carved feathers by Chris Maynard, a hand-crafted fabric bird doll aviary by Shae Warnick and an immersive wetland environment installation by David Tomb — all express the magic, mystery and incredible diversity of the avian world.
“ ‘Bird’s Eye View’ will also explore the impact of birds in our world,” she continued. “Many bird species serve as valuable pollinators. Others eat insects and rodents that would otherwise decimate gardens and vegetation, and some help to disperse plant seeds, playing a vital role in biodiversity.”
Birds were always a part of Mr. Maynard’s childhood. As a young person, he took refuge in the woods around his home in Washington state, where, his head nestled in moss, he watched the birds up in the tall trees. He began working with feathers at age 12.
At left, Chris Maynard’s “Stop and Drop,” 2022, carved feathers, naturally shed. At center, Chester Wilcox’s card wood decoy, “North American male kestrel” (detail). At right, Artist Chris Maynard works in the studio. Birds were always a part of Mr. Maynard’s childhood.
Today, Mr. Maynard carves feathers into intricate art to make their natural beauty more noticeable. His work highlights the patterns and colors of the feathers themselves, inviting the viewer to look and look again. For him, feathers represent flight, transformation and a bridge between our present lives and our dreams. He displays his work in shadow boxes, a signature art form he developed.
Mr. Maynard works with feathers from turkeys, parrots, peacocks and other birds and crafts them into scenes that are displayed in his world-renowned shadow boxes. A conservationist at heart, Mr. Maynard obtains the feathers legally. Many of them are naturally shed, which means that the birds they came from may still be alive today.
His work is included in private collections and featured in publications in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia. His 2014 book, “Feathers, Form and Function,” highlights his work and tells stories about what feathers are, what roles they fill for birds and why people find them alluring.
Mr. Tomb received his bachelor of fine arts degree in painting and drawing in 1984 from Cal State Long Beach. Since then, he has maintained studios in Oakland, New York, San Francisco and currently Marin County.
Mr. Tomb has exhibited in more than 100 group exhibitions and nearly 40 solo exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. His most recent solo exhibition, “Rock and Rockfowl,” was on view at the Fresno Art Museum in 2018.
His work, “Monumentally Fragile: Large Scale Work,” is currently in a three-person show at the College of the Desert.
At left, David Toms’ “King Tides and Elusive Rails” (detail), mixed media installation, 2016-2023. At right, David Tomb is seen in his studio. Mr. Tomb has exhibited in more than 100 group exhibitions and nearly 40 solo exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the U.S.
In addition, Mr. Tomb’s work is in many public collections, including the embassies of the United States, Manila, the Philippines and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; art collections of the Consulate General of the United States, Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana; and collections at the fine arts museums of San Francisco, Oakland Museum of California, Huntington Library Art Collections in San Marino, Arkansas Art Center, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Fresno Art Museum, among others.
His art work has also been widely published and reviewed in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s, Art LTD, Threepenny Review and The San Francisco Chronicle, among others.
Ms. Warnick is an artist and naturalist whose multidisciplinary study combines scientific subjects such as ornithology and botany with printmaking and painting.
In addition to the time she spends in her studio, Ms. Warnick is dedicated to natural history, which has led her to work with museums and research institutions across the country, including the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Punta Cana Foundation Group in the Dominican Republic and the Lloyd Library and Museum in Cincinnati.
Her recent work examines the increasingly decorative and curated role that nature plays in our lives and the importance of balancing science with sentiment, fiction and folklore.
Mr. Wilcox’s fascination with woodcarving began at the age of 8 after winning his first pocket knife in a Boy Scout competition. He quickly took up carving small animals and boats out of any wood he could find, and by 1982, he began focusing his work on carving duck decoys. Today, Mr. Wilcox’s detailed life-like carving includes every kind of bird species, ranging from songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors and more. He is a member of the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association and teaches private decoy and bird carving classes.
Mr. Wilcox’s ultra-realistic bird carvings can take up to several years to create, using a range of tools that include chisels and X-Acto knives, wood-burning instruments and even dental drills. He earned his master’s degree in outdoor education with an emphasis in field research and is an avid lifelong outdoorsman and conservationist.
Sponsors for the Wildling Museum exhibition are the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, Pete and Becky Adams, Kevin and Terrie Patterson, George and Denise Rose, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and donors to the Patti Jacquemain Exhibition Fund.
“We are excited to share these four artists with our community, and we hope that the exhibition will encourage our guests to better appreciate birds,” said Ms. Otte-Demangate. “They are crucial to ecosystems everywhere and are a constant reminder of the joys and importance of nature wherever you live.”