Polly Matsumoto (center) with Sandy Gross and Erick Lindblad
Polly Matsumoto (center) with Sandy Gross and Erick Lindblad
Artist Ikki Matsumoto was honored posthumously with the SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Award at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Annual Meeting Dec. 11. His wife, Polly Matsumoto, accepted the honorarium and showed the silk screen, “Six Dolphins,” that was presented to SCCF. There will be a drawing at SCCF’s Earth Day celebration for the print.

The founding of SCCF was directly related to J.N. “Ding” Darling, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and conservationist who had a winter home on Captiva. The same small group who worked to name the Refuge in his honor then turned their attention to land acquisition and conservation work yet to be tackled, resulting in the incorporation of SCCF the same year, 1967.

Since that time, Darling’s grandson, the late Kip Koss, has kept the Darling flame burning. His wife, Andrea, continues to fund the honorarium given to the Prize Recipient each year.

The SCCF J.N. “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Program was created to provide a continuing tribute to Darling’s legacy and an annual recognition of environmental artists following in Darling’s footsteps. This is the fourth presentation. The program is administered by SCCF’s Brush of Excellence Committee, headed by Sandy Gross, with members Janie Howland, Diane Neitzel, Ran Niehoff, Carol Strange, and Peter Zell.
Ikki Matsumoto’s whimsical illustrations captured the spirit of Sanibel and Captiva. His sense of humor infused his art but never overwhelmed his respect for the wildlife he painted. The lines in his work are wonderfully fluid, and every bird, every dolphin had that extra “touch” that just brought a smile to people.

Ikki and his wife Polly were integral to the islands art scene, and his work was collected internationally. In 1972, he illustrated the popular “Joy of Cooking.” Known for his generosity, his images adorned posters, hats and T-shirts for several island nonprofits. Ikki simplified SCCF founding Trustee Ann Winterbotham’s original drawing of the SCCF logo pelican and island — and his logo image is still in use today.

Ikki Matsumoto passed away Dec. 31, 2013 and is receiving this award posthumously. His presence is missed but his lighthearted spirit lives on in his work.