Woodson Art Museum Announces James Coe as 2011 Master Artist

The Woodson Art Museum announces James Coe as its 2011 Master Artist who will be honored during the Museum’s 36th annual Birds in Art exhibition this fall.

As the Woodson’s 32nd Master Artist, Coe’s work reflects a synthesis of two styles, weaving his insight and skill as a trained naturalist into fresh, deftly painted landscapes. Coe first became enamored with egrets and shorebirds that flocked to salt marshes near his suburban New York City boyhood home. After working for years as a field guide illustrator, he ventured into the art world and began painting landscapes en plein air.

In announcing the 2011 Master, director Kathy Foley said, “Jim’s work captures an evolution of purpose that reflects our own Birds in Art exhibition – a willingness to morph and change.” In an essay for the 2010 Birds in Art catalogue, Foley wrote, “While traditions and traditionalists are essential to the Birds in Art story, experimentation – pushing the brush, so to speak – has made the exhibition stronger, more vibrant, and more relevant to today’s audience.” Foley adds, “Jim Coe is a painting-lover’s dream. His canvases are ethereal, moody, and sensitive all at once.”

Coe’s work has been selected for inclusion in Birds in Art ten times since his inaugural year in 1980. He will receive the award during the Birds in Art opening weekend.

“I am honored to be named Master Artist, and look forward to celebrating the 2011 Birds in Art opening with the entire Woodson Art Museum ‘family’ in the fall,” Coe said. “The list of past Master Artists encompasses so many giants in the world of wildlife art – including some whose roots link directly back to the very origins of the genre. I am proud to continue that lineage into the twenty-first century and also thrilled that the Museum recognizes and appreciates my efforts to put a ‘modern’ twist on the traditional approach to painting birds.”

Coe earned a degree in biology from Harvard University, with the goal of becoming an ornithologist. After receiving an M.F.A. degree from the Parsons School of Design in New York, Coe immersed himself for 15 years in field guide illustration, becoming best known as author and illustrator of the acclaimed Golden Field Guide: Eastern Birds. Shifting his focus to painting landscapes in the open, he discovered that skills he had developed to sketch a foraging or preening bird helped him capture fleeting light and changing outdoor conditions. Today, his work fuses a passion for landscape with a highly detailed knowledge of natural history. In a January 2011 article in Western Art Collector magazine, Coe said his goal is “to convey that same wonder and poetic harmony that I sense in nature.”

Coe, born in 1957, lives with his wife and two children in Hannacroix, New York, on the western rim of the Hudson River Valley, not far from Albany. He works in his home studio in a restored farmhouse.

The 2011 Birds in Art exhibition, on view September 10 through November 13, will feature more than 100 original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created within the last two years by artists from throughout the world. The exhibition’s full-color catalogue, featuring an essay about James Coe, will be available for purchase at the Woodson Art Museum.

For more information, visit www.lywam.org, e-mail the Museum at [email protected], or call 715-845-7010

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