A Talk on the Wild Side.
Yukon Flats Refuge.
With blind luck and ambition, we stumble into some of the best relationships when we least expect it. Heather Bartlett, a wildlife refuge specialist for Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, tells us how they led to the pairing of Adam Grimm, a two-time winner of the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp art competition, and Yukon Flats Refuge.
Yukon Flats Refuge staff needed an outreach item to exemplify the astounding and tangible connection between it and “sister refuge” San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California. They decided to develop a notecard that included a pair of canvasbacks, the primary species that connects Yukon Flats to San Pablo Bay.
Adam Grimm and his Duck Stamp winning art. Photo courtesy of Adam Grimm
As modern young Americans are wont to do when looking for something, Heather headed online. In her online search for canvasback artwork, one particular image quickly rose above the rest. Click. It was the winner of the 2013 Federal Duck Stamp, leaving little wonder as to why it caught Heather’s attention.
Minutes later she was on the phone with Adam Grimm, the award-winning artist. She explained the notecard outreach project and then asked Adam if he would allow us to use his image. Without hesitation, Adam agreed. Then Heather explained the kicker – the image would have to be modified to isolate the hen and drake canvasbacks. Again, Adam agreed without any hesitation and even offered to modify the image for our use. At this point Heather clarified that the refuge could not pay him for the image. That didn’t change Adam’s willingness to help. However, he did explain the effort he put into this one painting, detailing how he spent countless days and nights away from his family travelling to wetlands around the Dakotas, camouflaged in a ghillie suit awaiting incoming waterfowl until he captured the perfect photograph.
Adam in a ghillie suit. Photo courtesy of Adam Grimm
These field experiences of Adam’s sparked an idea in Heather’s mind. Yukon Flats Refuge needed high quality photographs of its landscapes and wildlife to update outreach materials. Adam’s skillset matched the refuge’s needs perfectly. Although Heather couldn’t offer him financial compensation, she could offer him the partnership of a lifetime. By the end of the conversation, Adam had agreed to come to Alaska to work with the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge not once, but twice.
For his first visit north, Adam was the featured artist and guest speaker at the second annual Art in the Arctic Art Show earlier this month. In the week leading up to the Art in the Arctic Art Show, Adam accompanied refuge staff to capture winter imagery of Yukon Flats Refuge.
He will return in June to do the same, focusing on waterfowl in their prime breeding plumage.
Thanks to Adam’s skill, professionalism and generosity, the public will have the chance to experience Yukon Flats Refuge, if not in person, but through the eyes and talents of a professional photographer and artist.