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VOL. 121 | NO. 188 | Monday, September 25, 2006


Duck decoy collection makes debut Tuesday, stamp contest revs up

By Amy O. Williams

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HIGH TIMES: Mary Woodmansee (left) and Francie Sentilles, both 6 at the time of this photo, enjoy the art activities at last year's "Conservation Through Art" Family Day sponsored by the Greater Memphis Arts Council and Ducks Unlimited. -- Image Courtesy Of The Greater Memphis Arts Council

While they may look like ducks and float like ducks, you can't quite call them ducks - and that is exactly the point.

A good duck decoy does all those things well enough to lure the water-dwelling birds into the sights of waiting hunters.

But the decoys are not just for utilitarian purposes. To many, the hand-carved wooden representations are considered pieces of art and a way for duck-hunting enthusiasts to extend the hunting season.

Biologist Mike Checkett has been carving duck decoys for more than 15 years.

"I love duck hunting, I love ducks and wildlife in general," said Checkett, who works in the communications department at Ducks Unlimited (DU). "And carving my own decoys to hunt over is one way to add to my enjoyment of it."

Hobby gone wild

Checkett is not alone in his fascination with waterfowl decoys. Duck decoys are collected by people all over the United States and Canada.

One of the world's largest antique duck decoy collections makes its world premiere in Memphis Tuesday. The exhibit, "The Art of Deception: Waterfowl Decoys from the Private Collection of Paul Tudor Jones II," will be on display at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art from Tuesday to Oct. 29.

Sept. 25 - Oct. 7: Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest entries on display at Memphis College of Art (free), 1930 Poplar Ave.
Sept. 26 - Oct. 29: World Premiere: "The Art of Deception: Waterfowl Decoys from the Private Collection of Paul Tudor Jones II" at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar Ave. ( Sept. 28, 5:30 p.m.: VIP exhibit reception at Memphis College of Art; invitation only)
Sept. 30, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Family Day featuring duck calling, arts performances, the famous Peabody Ducks, and children's art activities at Memphis College of Art (free)
Oct. 5, 6 p.m.: Paul Tudor Jones special reception (event sponsors only) at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Oct. 5 - Oct. 7, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.: Waterfowl decoy appraisals by Guyette & Schmidt Inc. and rare memorabilia from the Federal Duck Stamp Collection of Jeanette Cantrell Rudy at Memphis College of Art (free)
Oct. 6, 1 p.m.: Lecture by author Alan G. Haid on decoys of the Mississippi Flyway at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (free with museum admission)
Oct. 6, 3 p.m.: Panel Discussion: "What Makes a Great Duck Stamp?" at Memphis College of Art (free). Features 2005 contest winner Sherrie Russell Meline, five-time contest winner Maynard Reece and more.
Oct. 6, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.: Duck Stamp Contest judging at Memphis College of Art (free)
Oct. 7, 9 a.m.- noon: Final judging of Duck Stamp entries and announcement of winner at Memphis College of Art (free)
Oct. 7, 7 p.m.: Reception and celebration dinner honoring Billy Dunavant at Memphis Zoo (tickets: $1,000).

For more information on all of these events, call 578-2787, Ext. 213, or visit www.memphisartscouncil.org.

Jones founded Tudor Investment Corp. and currently serves as chairman and CEO of the Tudor Group of companies. He also has served as chairman of the National Wildlife Foundation and director of Florida's Everglades Foundation Inc.

"Being able to exhibit both the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp art competition and native Memphian Paul Tudor Jones' priceless waterfowl decoy collection is a fantastic opportunity for this city," said Susan Schadt, Greater Memphis Arts Council president and CEO.

The exhibition is one of many events surrounding the
U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, which begins today at Memphis College of Art (MCA). The duck stamp art contest made its debut in Memphis last year after moving from Washington, where it had been held for 71 years. The events are all part of the "Conservation Through Art" celebration sponsored by MCA, the Greater Memphis Arts Council and DU.

"Ducks Unlimited has a long history of working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve habitats across North America," said DU Executive Vice President Don Young.

Stamp of approval

DU sponsors the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest each year. Sales of the $15 stamp raise money for conservation. Proceeds from the contest and stamp sales have raised more than half a billion dollars since the program began in 1934. 

"We're happy to welcome the contest back to Memphis this year, and invite everyone to come to the Memphis College of Art to see how conservation and art go hand in hand," Young said.

Anyone who hunts waterfowl is required to buy the $15 federal duck stamp. Collectors and conservationists alike buy the duck stamps because money raised from the sale of the stamps helps create and maintain national wildlife refuges all over the country, such as the Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge and Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge, both in Lauderdale County, Tenn.

Art entered for the contest will be displayed in Rust Hall at MCA beginning today and will go through several rounds of judging by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before the new stamp officially is announced Oct. 7. The new stamp will be sold for the 2007-2008 waterfowl hunting season.

Art of deception

The winner of the 2005 Federal Duck Stamp Contest was painter Sherrie Russell Meline of Mt. Shasta, Calif. Meline painted a depiction of a Ross' Goose.

"I've been painting waterfowl for about 25 years now," Meline said. "This was the first time to have a piece to win in the Federal Duck Stamp program."

Meline estimated it took her from 200 to 300 hours to paint the image.

Other events that will take place during the two-week Conservation Through Art celebration include free appraisals of waterfowl decoys by decoy auction firm Guyette & Schmidt Inc., based in Maryland. The appraisals will take place Oct. 5 to 7 at the Brooks Museum.

Other events include a fund-raising dinner at the Memphis Zoo Oct. 7 to honor Memphis businessman and tycoon Billy Dunavant, who is Paul Tudor Jones II's cousin.

Dunavant, a philanthropist and chairman of worldwide cotton company Dunavant Enterprises Inc., was a driving force behind DU's move to Memphis in 1992. He was also a major supporter of the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest moving from Washington to Memphis in 2005.

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