Artist Workshops, Demos Fill Art in the Wild Calendar at ‘Ding’ Darling

provided to the Santiva Chronicle

Artist Andrew Corke fashioned the mother and baby manatees from recycled bike tires for the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center mural and will be demonstrating his craft during Art in the Wild. Pictured here with Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland.

Nine accomplished artists will be demonstrating their skills, eight others will be leading workshops and hands-on art stations, five duck stamp celebrities will be presenting and signing, and an estimated 20-plus plein-air artists will be creating at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island for Art in the Wild during the weekend Oct. 21-22.

In celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week and Jay “Ding” Darling’s 146th birthday, the refuge and “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge introduce the inaugural, all-free Art in the Wild, originally scheduled for October 2022, but canceled due to Hurricane Ian.

Two days of free art activities honor 2023-2024 Duck Stamp artists and the legacy of refuge namesake Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist and artist of the early 20th century.

The famous Hautman brothers, multiple Federal Duck Stamp Contest winners, will make personal appearances that day. A special exhibition of their nature art also will be on display in the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center auditorium during the month.

Joe Hautman won the 2023-2024 contest and will be signing his winning stamp depicting three tundra swans. Brothers Jim and Bob also will appear, along with 2023-2024 Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) winner Mila Linyue Tong from Virginia and Florida’s JDS best-of-show placer Jenny Liu from Port Orange.

Other noted artists will be demonstrating their skills from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 21. They include world-renowned bird sculptor Jim Sprankle, pottery artist and educator Tim Smith, and Andrew Corke, who sculpted, using recycled bike tires, the refuge’s iconic manatees at its Best Restroom exhibit. Other demonstrators include pen-and-ink artist Jaye Boswell, painter Lacy McClare, fish-fly tyer Stan Bunick, origami artist Cabe Rieck, stained-glass artist Deborah Kramer, polymer clay artisan Christine Keyworth, and wood-block printer Gus Mezetta.

Sanibel artist Rachel Pierce conducts a workshop “Paint on a Queen Palm,” and former Junior Duck Stamp winner John Brennan teaches hands-on how to paint ducks. Refuge Artist-in-Residence Jacqui Roch will lead a Community Mural project in the afternoon.

Other hands-on art activities include painting wine glasses, a nature journal hike, painting seashells, making recycled jewelry, and decorating tea towels. Some activities limit participation. Visit to pre-register free-of-charge.

On Sunday, Oct. 22, the refuge expects more than 20 regional plein-air artists to participate in its first-ever Paint Out. Visitors can observe the painters along Wildlife Drive and at Bailey Tract and can later place their vote for People’s Choice Award. Admission to Wildlife Drive is free both days.

Other activities throughout the two-day event will include live music, yoga instruction, a nature puppet show, a Federal Duck Stamp art exhibition, and awards to winners of youth art contests and the annual amateur nature photography contest. Visit for a full schedule of activities and programs.

“This will become an annual fall tradition to celebrate ‘Ding’ Darling’s art legacy and role in creating the first duck stamp and Federal Duck Stamp Program, which has continued for nearly 90 years and preserved six million acres of sensitive wetlands and wildlife habitat,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. “The event offers something for everyone, all free of charge.”

DDWS seeks sponsors for this year’s

Art in the Wild. For information, contact April Boehnen at Current sponsors include Roseate Spoonbill: Wayne & Linda Boyd; Great Egret: Friend of “Ding” Darling; Reddish Egret: LCEC, WooBamboo; Snowy Egret: Palm Printing, Maureen & Gary Saage, She Sells Sea Shells, Brian & Susan White.

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit or contact Birgie Miller Gresham at 239-292-0566 or

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