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‘In the Air and on the Water’ at LPCA

August 2, 2012
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid Center for the arts will host an opening meet-the-artists reception, , from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3 for "In The Air and on the Water: The Magic World of Bird and Wildfowl Art."

The gallery features the works of carver John Lawrence, falconer/sculptor Al Jordan, carvers Zach Benson, Rich Hollis, Bill Sarni and artist Joey Kirkpatrick.

This event is sponsored by the J.D. Reynolds Family in memory of Don Jones, Ducks Unlimited and Sara Jane and William DeHoff.

This new exhibit will be on display at the LPCA Fine Arts Gallery through Sept. 8. Admission is free.


Artist bios


As a wildlife artist, Al has won more than forty Best of Show awards across the country. As he is a Master Falconer, Al's specialty is raptors, any eagle, owl, hawk or falcon. However his subjects are birds of all kinds, having carved birds from the size of a hummingbird to a golden eagle. In 2010 he won the National Shorebird Championship, and in 2008 he claimed the North American Championship. Jordan's work is highly sought after, being housed in both private and corporate collections across the country, as well as being featured in a permanent exhibit in Denali National Park.



John Lawrence has been carving decoys since 1982, having focused first on full-size decorative ducks and eventually moving to traditional hunting decoys. He has participated in numerous competitions, winning many Best in Shows over the years. In 1990 he began teaching private lessons and workshops and continues teaching to this day. Lawrence has developed a more artistic perspective over the last decade, working beyond competition rules to create waterfowl sculpture. Each bird is hand carved from wood, much of which is native to Pennsylvania, and is then painted with artist quality oil paints. Now at the forefront of the movement to take the decoy form from craft to art, Lawrence continues to push boundaries and traditional thought about the form. His process includes drawing each bird as many as 30 times before sculpting and painting it, ensuring a unique piece of decoy art. John also occasionally creates shorebirds and has begun painting again after a long hiatus.

John's work has been featured in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Wildfowl Carving's Competition Magazine, Hunting and Fishing Collectibles Magazine, and Downhome Life, a Canadian lifestyle magazine.



An avid outdoorsman, Zach Benson moved to Lake Placid in 2002 after graduating from college to spend what he thought would be one summer as a fly fishing guide. One summer turned into two and ultimately a lifestyle; bouncing back and forth between Alaska's last frontier and Northern New York.

The same year he graduated, the studio art major carved his first decoy and a love was born for carving and painting birds in this very town. As his birds progressed, he naturally became involved in decoy competitions as an outlet to share his work. He was successful, winning The People's Choice Award at the Oregon Waterfowl Festival, and Best of Show at the Art Knapp Decoy Competition in Clayton. Zach's BOS Drake Goldeneye adorns the label of a 2012 bottle of red table wine by Coyote Moon Winery.

Benson's decoys depict emotion and movement of the species, and in his carvings he has long struggled to create birds that capture the creative elements of composition and design while still fitting within the parameter of the rules for competition. Competitions, he feels, are ruining the progression of the decoy as an art form and carvers are making birds for a judge rather than one's self. He vows to no longer compete in shows that limit artistic expression.

Canton is home now for this avid waterfowler where he owns and operates a bed and breakfast called The Whistlers Inn amidst the borders of Upper and Lower Lakes WMA with his wife, Jen.



Hollis was born and raised in Ogdensburg on the St. Lawrence River. His dad, Bill Hollis, was an avid decoy carver, duck hunter, fisherman and boat builder, so it was only natural that his love for these things be passed on to Dick - who began carving at the age of 13 under his father's guidance and encouragement.

Using his father's patterns, Dick started carving miniature decoys and soon after , that led to him carving life-sized decoys for his own hunting rig. That rig consisted of whistlers, broadbills, and black ducks. It wasn't until his late teens that his father brought him to his first decoy competition in Clayton, where he first encountered other carvers' works. Dick then realized his carvings were of competitive quality, and that opened up a whole new world of references. Thus began his career of competitive decoy competition.

Over the last 40 years, Hollis has successfully competed in shows all over the U.S. and Canada with his working class decoys earning recognition and hundreds of awards and ribbons, including quite a few Best of Show awards. His career in decoy carving also spread to carving of, and competing with decorative waterfowl, also earning numerous awards and ribbons.

Today, Dick resides in Ogdensburg with wife, Joanna.



Folk Artist, Bill Sarni of Hingham, Mass. is well known for his outstanding decoy carvings with their meticulous detail and form. Raised in the Accord section of town where he enjoyed the wildlife of New England, Bill continues to observe songbirds, ducks, and shorebirds from his home overlooking the Weir River. It is the local and natural environment that has inspired this folk artist.

As a child, Bill grew up next door to Joseph W. Lincoln a famous decoy carver, whose decoys are well sought out by collectors today, both here and abroad. Inspired by Lincoln and other Hingham and Accord carvers, such as Charles W. Thomas, Alfred Gardner, Ralph Laurie, Russ and Alston Burr, Bill continues to work in the Hingham and New England style of carving and is both a collector and restorer of decoys, reflecting his devotion to this unique American folk art form.

Sarni has earned several awards and ribbons for his decoys and has a long list of private collectors and individuals that have commissioned his work for their collections. Most recently, Bill was selected (again!) as one of the top 200 traditional craftsmen in the country by Early American Life Magazine. His work also appears in two Lark Art books, "by Hand" by Janice Eaton Kilby and "Design" by Steven Aimone published by Sterling Publishers, N.Y. He is also featured in a Taunton Press book written by Sam Martin, titled "Manspace". His work also appeared in the "American Crafts" calendar published by Brown trout Publishers, San Francisco, Ca. Bill has also had the privilege of being selected as the States Folk Artist to be interviewed by the Folk Arts and Heritage Program initiated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Bill teaches a traditional decoy making workshop at the Early American Arts and Crafts Class in the historic 1800 House for the Nantucket Historical Association. He also conducts workshops and private lessons from his timber framed barn/studio overlooking the beautiful Weir River in Hingham. Bill has been selected twice to demonstrate his talent of Decoy Carving at the Lowell Fork Art Festival.

Sarni's work has been exhibited at the South Shore Art Association (Cohasset, Ma); The Lowell Folk Festival; Hull Art Studio (Hull, Mass.); South Shore Science Center (Norwell, Mass.); Hingham Historical Society, Plymouth Plantation (Plymouth, Mass.); Brick Store Museum (Kennebunk, Maine); Aisling Gallery (Hingham, Mass.); Hingham Public Library; Tufts Arts Exposition, Best of show (Boston, Ma.); New England Wildlife Exposition First place & Best of show (Northford, Conn.); Arts Affair on the Boardwalk (Quincy Ma.); Quincy Art Festival First Place (Quincy, Mass.). In 2008, and 2009 Bill's work was part of a grand display on Folk Art at the Museum of Natural History in Lexington, Mass., it consisted of many of the best folk artisans in the state of Massachusettes.


The first women to teach glassblowing at Pilchuk Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora Mace met there in 1979 and have worked collaboratively for over 27 years, returning to the school each year as instructors or to work with other glass artists. They have created a diverse body of work that includes both blown glass vessels with applied imagery and sculpture fabricated with wood, glass and other media.

Joey and Flora have the following to say about their works, "Drawings, paintings and prints contribute to our sculpture making process. The two dimensional works serve as a vehicle to explore our combined ideas as well as stand on their own as completed works of art... pieces reflect our excitement in the field as we experience nature, compelling us to more specifically identify what we see. In the spirit that is human, to name things, we bring closer into view the first facts of bird identification, continuing a history that helps us to more fully know our own place in the world."

Their collaborative work is included in collections and museums around the world including the Corning Museum of Glass; The Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI; Hokkaido Museum, Japan; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Lausanne, Switzerland; and the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Wash.; M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, Calif.; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; National Museum of American Art, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.



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