— A bit of whimsey, a sleek, stylized collection and carvings so realistic they invited wide-eyed expressions of wonder awaited visitors in the Carving Gallery at the Academy Art Museum at 106 South St.
A steady stream of Waterfowl Festival 2017 visitors mingled and talked to the carvers who displayed their work after the exhibit opened at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10.
2017 Master Carver Richard Jones of Kattskill Bay, N.Y., has been exhibiting for 12 years. He said he already had sold pieces of his highly stylized art by noon.
“It’s a pretty good crowd,” Jones said. “It’s such an eclectic, unique show — it’s kind of fun.”
While Jones depicted birds in his carvings, subject matter ranged from traditional waterfowl to North American songbirds, raptors, tropical birds, and even butterflies and wildflowers.
Featured carver Pete Lupo of Lenoir, N.C., along with his wife Sherie, picked up their realistic pieces and turned them so visitors could see the wood in what appeared to be a woven hat, a pair of boots, a metal coffee pot and a beer bottle as settings for his wildlife depictions.
Because “everything is made of wood, we need to be able to talk to people. This is the perfect venue to talk to people,” Sherie Lupo said.
The couple visited the Festival 25 years ago, but this year was their first time exhibiting. They loaded their “Tahoe to the gills” and headed north, she said.
“I was a little surprised when I got accepted” after trying for five years, Pete Lupo said. “This is one of the best experiences we’ve ever had, and this is only the second day. Last night, at premier night, was excellent. What we get a kick out of is being around like-minded people.”
Carver Doug Mason said he’s been coming down seven years. The Canadian said he “loves talking to people” who visit his exhibit.
“Every bird has a story,” carver Tom Baldwin of Akron, Ohio, said. One of his carvings featured an American krestel on the corner of a threshing machine, all carved out of wood.
Competing since 2005, Thomas Horn of Emmaus, Pa., said his family loves the Festival. “The town is so great. It’s neat how they shut the town down for the Festival.”
Gene Hebert of Louisiana has been exhibiting for 20 years.
“There’s an interesting bunch of characters in this room,” he said. “It’s like a family reunion. If somebody makes a sale, we’re all happy for them.”
Mike Bonner of New Orleans poses with a carved decoy at the Carvers Gallery on Friday, Nov. 10.