‘Ding’ Darling Art in the Wild Features Plein-Air Paint Out Competition

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Watch plein-air artists at work and vote for your favorite.

Scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 21-22 at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, the inaugural Art in the Wild devotes Sunday to a Paint Out among plein-air artists along Wildlife Drive and at Bailey Tract. Admission to Wildlife Drive and the refuge are free that day 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Participating artists can enter one 9”x12” work in the Paint Out, which will go on display in the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center for visitors to vote on People’s Choice Award through Oct. 30.

Check-in to participate in the Paint Out runs from 7 to 8 a.m. on Oct. 22 at The Roost, the forthcoming outdoor flex pavilion at the base of the Visitor & Education Center entrance ramp. Artists will submit completed artwork by 3 p.m. inside the center, where visitors can begin viewing it and placing their votes. Artwork will be available for purchase through the Refuge Nature Store, profits benefiting refuge research and conservation.

Artists must provide their own canvases. At check in, canvases must get stamped with the official “Ding” stamp to enter the People’s Choice contest. Participating artists receive a $10 Nature Store gift card for entering. Winner of People’s Choice receives a $50 gift card.

Paint Out happens the second day of Art in the Wild, following Saturday’s lineup of duck stamp and other noted nature artists’ presentations, signings, workshops, and demonstrations. The 2023-24 Duck Stamp winner Joe Hautman leads the roster of presenting artists. See a complete calendar at dingartinthewild.com. Wildlife Drive will also open fee-free that day, Oct. 21, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Art in the Wild celebrates National Wildlife Refuge Week and the 146th birthday of refuge namesake Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, a Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist, artist, and influential conservationist of the mid-twentieth century.

“We invite all interested plein-air artists to participate in this first-of-its-kind event,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, event organizer. “It will become an annual fall tradition to celebrate “Ding” Darling’s art legacy and role in creating the Federal Duck Stamp Program, which has continued for nearly 90 years and preserved six million acres of sensitive wetlands and wildlife habitat.”

For more information about Paint Out and Art in the Wild, contact Westland at Toni_Westland@fws.gov or 239-940-0169. Contact April Boehnen at AprilB@dingdarlingsociety.org to learn about sponsoring Art in the Wild.

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 dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller Gresham at 239-292-0566 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.

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