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KODIAK: Gray Whale Artwork Unveiled at Refuge Visitor Center
Midwest Region, May 15, 2008
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Kodiak Gray Whale Project Coordinator, Stacy Studebaker, and Artist Bruce Nelson, proudly unveil “Migration Casualty at Three Saints Bay” at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. (Photo by: Ralph Gibbs/Kodiak Daily Mirror)
Kodiak Gray Whale Project Coordinator, Stacy Studebaker, and Artist Bruce Nelson, proudly unveil “Migration Casualty at Three Saints Bay” at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. (Photo by: Ralph Gibbs/Kodiak Daily Mirror) - Photo Credit: n/a

Monday March 31st, 2008, on behalf of the American people, Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center received a long-awaited gift from the Kodiak Gray Whale Project (KGWP). Joining the graceful, rearticulated 37-foot long Gray whale in the upper lobby of the Center, is an original painting by artist Bruce Nelson. The ten by six foot painting entitled, Migration Casualty at Three Saints Bay, is on loan from the KGWP. The painting is the product of early visioning by past Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Manager, Leslie Kerr, and KGWP founder, Stacy Studebaker, and was made possible by a grant from the Alaska Conservation Foundation.

Depicting the natural relationship between the Kodiak brown bear and the ocean environment, the painting shows a coastal scene of bears just discovering a dead whale on the beach of Three Saints Bay. Building on the “Bear Food Market” exhibit on the lower level of the Center, this installation will teach visitors about the diverse food sources available to Kodiak bears. The location of Three Saints Bay, on the southeast part of Kodiak Island, was suggested by Kodiak Refuge Wildlife Biologist, Denny Zwiefelhofer. Nelson was invited by Kodiak Refuge staff to join a flight bound for that area and, once of the ground, the artist refined the setting for his beautiful work of art through numerous sketches and photographs.

Included around Nelson’s painting is a detailed vignette that illustrates the gray whale life cycle. Studebaker describes the border which is also the work of Nelson, writing that “the center at the top is the Earth showing the Western Hemisphere and Eastern Pacific Ocean, home to the Gray Whale.” Studebaker explains further, that “unlike other species of baleen whales, [Gray whales] travel near to shore along the continental shelf and are therefore easily seen by people at various points along their migratory route.”

Kodiak Refuge employees, Paul Banyas and Dave King, coordinated and executed the transport and installation of the painting, along with local craftsman and KGWP volunteer Paul Chervenak.

Coming later in 2008, Kodiak Refuge will be completing the story of the whale by creating an interpretive panel for the upper lobby, as well as a photo essay installation which charts the work of Studebaker’s KGWP and the community-wide effort that made this exhibit possible.


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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