Mark Good

Art takes wing in Gilley show

Mark Good
This great horned owl, carved by Gerard Haraden, is one of more than a dozen bird carvings in the Museum Carvers’ Summer Show at the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor. The show runs concurrently with “Birds in Art,” a collection of paintings, prints and sculpture from artists from around the world. See more photos in a Gallery.

The Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor is featuring two shows – one the works of local bird carvers; the other a display of bird-inspired paintings, prints and sculpture by artists from across the globe.

The Museum Carvers’ Summer Show, which opened Saturday, consists of 15 birds carved by local artists who are following in the footsteps of Mr. Gilley, a Southwest Harbor plumber who, before his death in 1983, became one of the most renowned, and prolific, bird carvers in the country. Their work ranges from George Gilpin’s delicate ruby-throated hummingbird hovering over a brace of flower blossoms to Terry Stanley’s life-sized surf scoter.

Several of the carvings are basic: Chuck Merriam’s goldfinch is short on details but realistically shaped and painted. Others are highly detailed. The feathers carved into the body of Gerard Haraden’s raven are so realistic, it has the look of a neatly preened live bird. Perched on a tree stump, Mr. Gilpin’s Harris’s hawk appears ready to swoop onto some unsuspecting prey.

Despite the limited number of pieces in the show, each of the works illustrates the considerable talents of these local carvers. Mr. Gilley would be proud that his legacy is being carried on in such capable hands.

Also on display is a show called “Birds in Art,” a traveling exhibition of artwork organized by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin. This is the 35th year for the annual exhibition, which was last at the Gilley in 2005.

“Birds in Art” features 60 avian-themed works by contemporary artists. Paintings dominate the show, but there are also prints and sculptures.

Standouts include Debbie Stevens’ “Red Crown 3,” an oil on birch painting of two red-crowned cranes feeding in the abstract reflections of a rippled pool.

Equally impressive is an acrylic on watercolor board painting of a black-crowned night heron by Anne Peyton, a splash of shadow and light titled “Daytime Hideaway.” The heron, resting on the branch of a willow tree, blends in with the background, betrayed only by a single red eye.

Walter Matia’s bronze sculpture, “Peace Be With You,” places two mourning doves on a maple branch. The rough casting adds a lifelike appearance to the birds at rest.

One of the highlights of the show certainly has to be Andrea Rich’s “Plum-headed Parakeets.” The woodcut of five purple-capped green birds in a field of flowers owes much to Asian art, both in color and composition.

The two shows, along with the museum’s extensive collection of bird carvings by Mr. Gilley, make for an interesting and informative afternoon for lovers of both birds and art.

The Wendell Gilley Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday through October.

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Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander