Wings of Wonder bird carvings on exhibit at LR nature center

Wings of Wonder bird carvings on exhibit at LR nature center. Click to open event flyer. LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – John James Audubon worked with birds through his painting two centuries ago. Gerry Chisholm and Sheri Phillips-Chisholm bring birds to reality today with their woodcarving.

The Mountain View artists have an exhibition of their work on display at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in downtown Little Rock. The exhibit is free and continues through Sept. 30. The nature center, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission facility, is at 602 President Clinton Ave. in the River Market and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday hours are 1-5 p.m., and the center is closed on Mondays.

A special program, "The 20-Year Carving Career of the Chisholms," is scheduled Saturday, Aug. 20, with the talented carvers on hand to meet visitors and to tell about their work. Eight local collectors of Chisholm carvings also contributed over 80 pieces to be on display at the nature center.

The Chisholms have been carving with wood and focusing on birds for nearly 40 years. They said, "Our work focuses on the birds and animals of the Ozarks region. These creatures are plentiful on the 40 acres of excellent wildlife habitat we chose for home. Gerry built a house and work studio in the backwoods. There is an all-year creek as well as natural food sources augmented by plantings and feeding stations."

From 1990 until 2008 they worked as designers for Aromatique, Inc., creating a line of sculptured containers based on wildlife and natural themes for the Heber Springs-based firm.

The Chisholms said, "Most aspects of our lifestyle relate to our work. These include: field study and photography, rehabilitation of injured wildlife, preparing study skins and freeze dried specimens from road kills by federal permit, working with regional natural history museums, gathering both carving wood and found wood to reshape, creating habitats from brass, copper and other media and, most of all, the carving itself."

Their objectives? "Our goal is capturing the vibrancy and sparkle of life of the bird or animal portrayed in its environment. We carve the wood, texture burn it, and add multiple washes of color to the life-size pieces. Miniatures may be either fully detailed or executed in a smoother, simpler style."