Great Dismal Swamp inspires winners, wildlife discussion

Published 6:29 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

Suffolk Center for Cultural Art’s current art exhibition, Walk on the Wild Side, showcases 33 artists and 83 works of art inspired by the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. 

Juror Jim Gordon, an avid woodcarver from Suffolk, awarded first, second and third place winners at the April 13 opening reception. Walk on the Wild Side People’s Choice Award is still open for voting and the winner will be announced at the Great Dismal Swamp presentation by wildlife biologist Susan Stanley at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 11.

Gordon spoke from the heart as he revealed what he found special about each piece of wildlife artwork, adding that he sees himself as an outdoorsman and an environmentalist.

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“We have made some horrendous mistakes that we need to stop making and if we can correct them we need to correct them,” Gordon said. “I believe that there are some things in this world that are sacred and we need to do our best to preserve what’s left of the natural world.”

He awarded first-place to artist Linda Phillips for her painting, Mom’s Resting. Sighting egret’s plumes used to be used for ladies’ hats and it almost made them extinct. 

Phillip’s artist statement in-part reads: “Egrets symbolize abundance, prosperity, and good luck. Their dazzling beauty, which so endears them to us, almost caused their extinction in the early part of the 20th century. Protected habitats like the Great Dismal Swamp is a key part of their successful comeback.”

Second place was awarded to artist Bobbi Gunn for her oil painting, Late October Skies. Gordon said he was struck by the painting’s colors of the marsh blending up to the sky.  The wisps of clouds in the painting reminded him of the weather proverb, “Mackerel sky and mare’s-tails make lofty ships carry low sails.”

Gunn’s artist statement in-part reads: “I love all of the colors the marsh turns during the seasons of the year. Going from bright green, to dark green, to golden yellow, and finally to soft umber. All of the colors are muted and soft, and the sky speaks to the changing season.”

Third place was awarded to artist Bonnie Horne for her photograph, Barred Owl on Watch. Gordan shared that he selected this artwork because the photography jumped out at him and he was taken by its beauty, its coloring and nature’s way of protecting the owl during the day time. 

Horne’s artist statement in part reads: “On my first visit to Dismal Swamp, driving along the Railroad Ditch Trail, I was startled to see this Barred Owl sitting about 30 feet high in the tree line 20 feet off the road.”

At the close of Walk on The Wild Side, at 6-7 p.m. Thursday, May 11, there will be a free presentation about the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife by wildlife biologist Susan Stanley. The exhibit features several nature displays, including a bear, beaver and raccoons – a very cool component for the kids to see up close and in-person. 

The Great Dismal Swamp wildlife discussion will feature O’Connor Brewing Co.’s Great Dismal, a special Black IPA. 

The May 11 presentation is free and open to the public.

Experience nature and be inspired by the Great Dismal Swamp at Walk on The Wild Side through May 13. Admission is free and open to the public 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays.

For more information on the exhibition, visit SuffolkCenter.org or call 757-923-0003. Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located in historic downtown Suffolk, 110 West Finney Ave.