“The Wildlife Art of Christopher B. Walden,” Annual Reunion Exhibit in memory of Gordon and Betty Hughes will be on display at Middletown Arts Center through Oct. 19 in the main gallery.
Walden’s son Logan Walden, also a critically acclaimed artist, will be exhibiting alongside his father in the MAC lobby gallery. While their artistic styles are different, Logan is paying homage to his father by presenting “Free Bird”, a series of paintings in his own surrealistic style focused on the diverse and vibrant colors of birds from around the world.
The Journal-News spoke with said Kate Dykes, executive director of Middletown Arts Center to find out more about the exhibitions and other upcoming learning opportunities.
For more info on the exhibits and other upcoming special events, visit MAC’s website at middletownartscenter.com/christopher-walden-exhibit.
QUESTION: “The Wildlife Art of Christopher B. Walden” is this year’s Annual Reunion Exhibit in Memory of Gordon and Betty Hughes. Can you talk about the history of this exhibition and how artists are chosen for it?
KATE DYKES: The Reunion Exhibit was conceived 20 years ago to feature original artworks, either bringing together well-known local artists, or as a one-person exhibit, from someone noteworthy in their medium. As examples, early shows included such significant artists as Don Dennis, Bruce Peters, Bill Rehse, Paul Melia, Steve Perucca, Bro. Joseph Barrish, Reggie Finkelman, Stephen Suchy, Mary Deas Wortley, Sharon Schellenberger, Pat Brewer, Ron Bushhorn and many other notable names. Groups showing in this venue have included regional Ohio Watercolor Society artists, Queen City Art Club and Jean Vance and Friends. One person’s exhibitions have included Homer Hacker, Jack Howard, Frank Martindell and Judge George Elliott.
Q: Why was Chris Walden’s work chosen this year?
A: Chris has always been a tremendous supporter of the MAC. After donating work for our last fundraising art auction, he proposed an exhibition to showcase a body of his work here, that we were of course thrilled to showcase. This will be the largest collection of his work displayed at the MAC since Walden’s first exhibit of pencil drawings here in the 1980s.
Q: Can you talk about his art and what community members can expect to see when they visit?
A: It is such an outstanding display of over 75 originals, giclées and limited-edition prints — a truly impressive viewing of master artistry.
The refrain we often hear is “how does he do that?” I think visitors will be fascinated to view some progression photos that Walden has shared, and that will be featured on our lobby TV, that relay how he transitions from an outline to a living, breathing wolf, popping off the page.
Q: This exhibition is unique because Chris and his son, Logan, have works on display at the MAC at the same time. How did that come about?
A: Our exhibit committee carefully considers both balance and contrast between our main exhibit hall and lobby gallery exhibits. While it’s true that the Walden’s styles are quite different, Chris’s work is hyper realistic, and Logan’s is typically surrealistic, both share heightened accuracy in detail. We thought the collections of work would complement each other nicely. Once we learned that Logan planned to create a new expressive series of work in the realm of wildlife as an homage to his father, there was a synergy aligning with the whole engagement.
Q: An exhibition like this really speaks to the level of talents artists in the area have? Can you talk about the talent of Chris and Logan and how they are great examples of talented artists we have in the region?
A: Our region is home to countless talented creatives, all an integral part of arts and culture in Ohio. The history we share with Chris is part of what makes this exhibit so intriguing. Additionally, the opportunity to help promote the mission of another non-profit, Red Riding Hood Rescue Project, creates a meaningful opportunity for our community. Now that Logan is exhibiting at the MAC alongside his father, this story seems to have come full circle. The MAC is delighted to celebrate the generations of artistry and share them with our community.
Q: Tell us about some of the programming that will go along with this exhibition? Why did you feel it’s important to offer it?
A: Walden has made his life’s work about the conservation of wildlife and promoting his love for nature. Over the years, he has used his talents and artwork to help raise over $28 million in funding for wildlife and conservation efforts.
We’ve planned a series of animal encounters and programming so that our community can learn first-hand why Chris is so passionate about wildlife, providing a fun, creative balance of culture and art education.
Q: Why would you encourage community members to visit the galleries and to participate in some of the related programming?
This will be a rare opportunity to view such a large collection of works from an internationally recognized and appreciated wildlife artist. His exhibit will bring lots of engaging activities and opportunities to those interested in his works and processes.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share or highlight?
A: The MAC strives to act as an anchor of arts and culture in our region. Our programming opportunities provide enrichment that is both fun and helps to cultivate cultural understanding and appreciating of the arts.