The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, announces that it will recognize three Living Legends during it’s 50th annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival in April 2020. This eighth class of Living Legend award recipients includes Larry Barth (Stahlstown, PA), Jett Brunet (Galliano, LA), and Dan Burgette (Tetonia, ID).
Originally from Marinette, WI, Larry Barth (b. 1957) developed a keen interest in wildfowl art from a young age—when his mother was an avid bird watcher and his father was a woodworker. Barth later attended Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied graphic design and illustration. During the fall of his freshman year, his family attended the 1976 Ward World Championship. Following this, Barth tailored his major at Carnegie Mellon to support his intention to carve birds, and he was able to take classes on avian anatomy and the arts that would further his intellectual and creative skills. Because of his remarkable regard for the essence of species, Larry has been regarded as “the master of simplicity”—removing anything unnecessary and carefully leaving the feeling or essence of a natural scene in his work. His award-winning pieces have been shown at museums and in private collections around the world, and through publications such as Larry Barth: Birds, Art, and Design. In 1985 Barth won his first Best in World title at the Ward World Championship; as of 2019, he has taken this award 17 times—more than any other artist in the history of the competition.
Jett Brunet (b. 1964) is the son of 2014 Living Legend, Tan Brunet, and the older brother to champion carver Jude Brunet. Jett grew up watching his father carve, using only basic carving tools and finding ingenious ways to create every barb of a bird’s feather. Jett was also inspired by the many Brunet family trips to the Easton Waterfowl Festival and the Ward World Championship. Following in his father’s footsteps he started carving at the age of nine, and in that same year, he started entering competitions. At the age of 21, Jett won his first Best in World title in the Decorative Decoy Pairs competition, which he took both in 1985 and 1987. In 1990, the Easton Waterfowl Festival commissioned him to make a bird carving that could be the featured work at the festival. He was advised by art collector Sandy Garfinkle that a Bald Eagle would be the best and to this day it is one of the most impressive pieces in his collection. Jett now focuses on carving more interpretative pieces, and pieces in line with traditional sculpture. He often leaves birds unpainted to put more emphasis on form and structure. This has served him well, as he took the Best in World title in the Interpretive category at the World Championship both in 2018 and 2019. In all, Jett has won more than 35 Best of Show awards and continues to be an inspiration to fellow carvers.
Dan Burgette (b. 1947) began carving 40 years ago while working at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Indiana. Part of his duties was to dress like a frontiersman and whittle while he talked about the Revolutionary War. During this time a new supervisor came from Redwoods National Park with a chainsaw-carved decoy. Inspired, Burgette found a tulip tree limb and carved his first duck with a historically accurate tomahawk. Over the next many years, while Burgette was a park ranger and mountain rescue coordinator in Grand Teton National Park, he gained a great deal of inspiration for his carvings, and later sculpture, which would fare well in competitions. Dan first came to Ocean City, MD to compete at the World Championship in 1989. After initially winning second in the novice division, Dan worked all the way up to Best in World Interpretive Wood Sculpture in 2001. He has since won many other ribbons for interpretive and bronze work, including Best in World in the Interpretive category again in 2011, and Best in Show Wildlife Sculpture in 2018. Dan is a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists and Artists for Conservation and he is an elected member of the National Sculpture Society. Since retiring from ranger duty, Dan gets inspiration for new work by canoeing in the arctic; and he passes on his love of carving and sculpture through classes, workshops, and talks benefitting the next generation.
As seen above, the Living Legend Award recognizes individuals who have been long-time advocates for wildfowl art and the Ward Museum; who are generous in spirit and commitment to teaching others and passing on their knowledge, skill, and talents; or who have created an impact on the field of wildfowl art and/or the Ward World Championship. Each of these three has pushed the boundaries of this art form, won much due recognition through awards nationally and internationally, and has given back to the carving community as a teacher and mentor.
Join the Ward Foundation in celebrating the new class of Living Legends during the Ward World Championship in April. A celebration dinner and award ceremony will be held at the Grand Hotel and Spa in Ocean City, MD on Friday, April 24, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now through April 2020, through www.wardmuseum.org or calling the Ward Museum at 410-742-4988 ext. 120. Sponsorships to support the awards and dinner are available now by calling 410-742-4988 ext. 111.