MEMPHIS, Tenn., Oct. 7, 2006 – Wildlife artist Richard C. Clifton, 44, a duck hunter from Milford, Del., today won the 2006 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I’m just tickled to death,” said Clifton. “I think I’ll run around the house two or three times. It still hasn’t sunk in. It’s a big relief to win this event.”
Clifton’s painting of two swimming ring-necked ducks bested 296 other entries and will grace the 2007-2008 Federal Duck Stamp. Clifton had entered the contest more times than he could remember.
Persistence paid off for the winner. “I don’t know how many times I’ve entered,” Clifton said. “It’s been quite a few times, though.”
Clifton says the piece took about a week to complete. He is self-taught, and has painted for about 18 years. He runs The Gallery at Eastwind.
Second place went to Joe Hautman of Plymouth, Minn., who painted a pair of flying wood ducks, and third place went to Ed Yanok of North Canton, Ohio, who painted a pair of cinnamon teal. Competition for third place was hotly contested. The third place decision took four tie-breaking votes to decide.
Clifton expressed surprise when told that he’d beaten Joe Hautman, a two-time winner. Hautman won the Federal Duck Stamp contest in 2002 with a rendition of a black scoter.
“I lost in a quadruple tie-breaking vote to Joe a few years ago,” he recalled. “He’s quite a painter. That makes this even more special.”
Eligible species for this year's contest included the wood duck, American wigeon, ring-necked duck, gadwall and cinnamon teal. Some 53 percent of the entries this year were wood ducks. The competition was co-hosted by Ducks Unlimited and its partners, the Greater Memphis Arts Council and Memphis College of Art.
"Congratulations to Richard,” said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young. “He’s been a great friend of DU for so many years, and is a big hit with the kids at the annual DU Greenwing youth event in Delaware.”
DU members nationwide are familiar with Clifton’s art. It’s been part of DU fund-raising events several times over the years.
“Duck Stamp and waterfowl art is a great wetlands and waterfowl conservation story,” Young said. “Their value to DU’s wetlands conservation efforts and in helping build the national wildlife refuge system provides benefits to waterfowl hunters and all Americans who enjoy the outdoors. DU and Memphis are proud to play a leadership role in growing the public's awareness of this remarkable conservation and art success story."
For the second consecutive year, the event was held at Memphis College of Art in Memphis, Tenn. This was only the second time in the stamp’s 74-year history that the design was chosen outside of Washington, D.C.
The competition was surrounded by two weeks of public events at Memphis College of Art, Memphis Brooks Museum and the Memphis Zoo. The fortnight of festivities culminated with the Conservation Through Art dinner honoring long-time Memphis philanthropist and conservationist Billy Dunavant. Dunavant was instrumental in bringing Ducks Unlimited’s national headquarters to Memphis in 1991.
"The Federal Duck Stamp contest is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious wildlife art contest, and Ducks Unlimited is honored to have co-hosted it here in Memphis the past two years,” said DU President Jim Hulbert. “We want to thank our partners for making this such a successful event. More people now know how important the duck stamp is to waterfowl and wetlands conservation, and I encourage them to purchase a duck stamp.”
Ducks Unlimited’s Chief Biologist Dr. Bruce Batt served as one of the judges. “Overall the quality of art was excellent,” Batt said. “It was very difficult to separate the best pieces from the rest as the judging progressed.”
“Richard Clifton’s persistence has paid off not only for him but also for wetlands conservation,” said U. S. Fish & Wildlife Director Dale Hall. “His beautiful painting of ringneck ducks that will grace the next Federal Duck Stamp will help us to purchase needed wetlands for the national wildlife refuge system.”
The sale of Federal Duck Stamps raises approximately $25 million each year to fund waterfowl habitat acquisition for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is sponsored each year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry Duck Stamps. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from the $15 Duck Stamp go into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which purchases wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System. A celebration of the nation’s refuge system begins Monday with the start of National Wildlife Refuge week.
There are more than 545 National Wildlife Refuges spread across all 50 states and U.S. territories, and a valid Duck Stamp can be used for free admission to any refuge open to the public. Refuges offer unparalleled recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, birdwatching and photography. Duck stamp dollars have been used to acquire land at hundreds of refuges in nearly every state in the nation.
Ducks Unlimited Director of Communications
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year. For more information visit www.ducks.org.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas.
Raising funds to ensure excellence in the arts and build a vibrant cultural community for everyone, Greater Memphis Arts Council is the 8th largest United Arts Fund in the nation. In addition to raising almost $3 million annually in support of the arts, the Arts Council administers Arts Build Communities grants and Student Ticket Subsidy awards through annual funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission. The Arts Council also funds arts education through the Arts for Children & Teachers (ACT) program, which brings the arts to thousands of area schoolchildren every year.
Greater Memphis Arts Council, 8 S. Third St., Ste. 300, Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 578-ARTS, fax (901) 578-2784, www.memphisartscouncil.org.
Small by choice and purpose, Memphis College of Art is the only not-for-profit, independent art college between Atlanta and Kansas City. It is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to grant the BFA in Design Arts and Fine Arts and the MFA in Computer Arts and Studio Arts. It extends its programs to the public through gallery exhibitions, continuing education and children's classes and visiting artist lectures. For more information about the college, visit www.mca.edu.