MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Feb. 24, 2010 – Wildlife artist James Hautman of Chaska, Minn., is the Ducks Unlimited 2011 Artist of the Year. His painting, "First Light – Canvasbacks," earned him the top honor.
"It is a great honor to be named DU artist of the year," said Hautman, who credits DU with providing him a valuable stage for his work. "It is particularly satisfying to have my artwork chosen by people who really know their ducks and are passionate about the outdoors. I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do, and I want to thank DU not only for their conservation work, but also for exposing so many people to the world of wildlife art."
Hautman was first exposed to wildlife art from duck paintings on the covers of DU magazine covers. "I'm sure that without the knowledge that there was an audience out there for this kind of art, I would have chosen a less interesting and less rewarding career."
"James' piece brings a quintessential waterfowl scene to life in a beautiful way," said Randy Graves, chief executive officer of DU. "The DU art program affords us the opportunity to interact with and recognize many of the top wildlife artists. These talented men and women are responsible for helping raise more than $250 million for DU's conservation mission. I congratulate James and look forward to the future success that this art program will garner for our conservation mission."
This is the fifth year the public voted for the winner through an online vote on www.ducks.org. More than 20,000 votes were tallied, an increase from last year's 16,000. The voting numbers continue to grow as the wildlife artists and their paintings become more popular with outdoor and art enthusiasts.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.