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Saturday, March 23 , 2019, 6:05 am | Fair 49º


Wildling Gives Wing to Art Exhibit on Regional Birds

Artist George Lockwood’s acrylic work is called The Settlers. Click to view larger
Artist George Lockwood’s acrylic work is called The Settlers. (Wildling Museum of Art & Nature)

The Valley Oak Gallery at the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature has gone to the birds. Our Feathered Friends: Birds of the Tri-Counties features paintings by Jim Hodgson, René C. Reyes and George Lockwood, March 17-July 30.

The painters share their artistic perspectives of bird species that can be found in the tri-county region — Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo. The Wildling is at 1511-B Mission Drive, Solvang.

Santa Barbara County and the overall region is renowned for bird species diversity and is a hotspot for birders with the Central Coast a stop along the migratory Pacific Flyway.

Also in the gallery, a monitor will be showing the short film by Michael Love, The Snowy Plover and You. Featured in the NatureTrack Film Festival, the film documents the decline in population of the snowy plover and how it can be reversed.

Visitors to the exhibit also can expand their knowledge of local birds by attending birding lectures and excursions.

On Saturday, March 24, the Wildling will charter a boat tour of Lake Cachuma, where guests are likely to spot some local bird species with the help of a naturalist. Tickets for the tour are at www.wildlingmuseum.org, or call 686-8315.

Hodgson was born in Alberta, Canada, in 1956 and grew up in Santa Barbara.

He began his love of bird watching at age 11 when he went on his first Audubon bird-watching trip. Hodgson later began sketching and painting birds and wildlife as part his lifelong study of birds, reptiles and mammals.

His successful career as a mechanical designer in the engineering field honed his illustrative technique. His precision and attention to detail is reflected in his painting style, which combines accurate detail with muted abstract backgrounds.  

Hodgson spends countless hours in the field drawing inspiration from actual experiences and encounters with his subjects. He uses field notes, sketches and his own photography to compose his pieces in the studio.

Hodgson believes it’s imperative humans protect remaining wild lands and habitats to ensure rich biodiversity and ecological health of the planet. He said he hopes his paintings will help viewers appreciate how much is at stake.

“It would be such a loss for future generations to not know the beauty of these creatures,” Hodgson said.

Lockwood developed a passion for wildlife and the outdoors while camping, hunting and fishing in the western United States and Mexico as a boy.

While earning a degree in agricultural business management at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he spent summers packing mules in Yosemite National Park.

Experience with livestock and the outdoors took him to Alaska where he got his guide license. Lockwood has guided clients to some of the most remote and beautiful corners of Alaska.

Art had been a hobby until he was commissioned to paint specific animals and places for people he had guided. Thus he began to paint professionally during the winter months specializing in wildlife and landscape.

In 1989, Lockwood moved to Prescott, Ariz., to broaden his range of subject matter and devote more attention to art. He studied and painted the variety of wildlife and landscape for four years. He continued to guide in Alaska for 19 years.

Lockwood's art is inspired by first-hand knowledge. His paintings are a record of experiences.

Reyes grew up in the Philippines; his first sketch was of a photo of two birds his grandfather had hanging on a wall. Today, hundreds of art pieces later, he remains fascinated and appreciative of this opportunity to share the beauty of the natural world.

Reyes' compositions are widely varied, though a common thread is his gift of capturing the essence of each subject.

His goal is to paint the more than 600 species of bird species found in California. He lives in Northern California, with his wife and two daughters.

Reyes’ Snowy Plover was part of the Wildling’s Animals: A-Z exhibition in 2017, which inspired executive director, Stacey Otte-Demangate to reach out to Reyes for this show.

The Wildling Museum of Art & Nature is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends; closed Tuesdays.

For more information, to volunteer and/or join as a member to support this important local arts and nature institution, visit www.wildlingmuseum.org.

— Katie Pearson for the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature.


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