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Brush of Excellence Drawing Set for Earth Day

April 13, 2018

Islanders and visitors have an opportunity to own a Jim Sprankle bird carving, the Belted Kingfisher, for just $10. The drawing will be conducted during the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Earth Day event on April 22 at SCCF’s Nature Center. The winner does not need to be present. Tickets (one for $10 or three for $25) may be purchased at SCCF’s Nature Center or online here.

Sprankle was named the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Artist of the Year at the SCCF’s annual membership meeting in December. Sprankle’s Kingfisher carving has been on display at the SCCF Nature Center since then and exhibited a various SCCF public events.

For the past three years SCCF’s Brush of Excellence Committee has selected an artist who signifies extraordinary stewardship of the land and the wise use of our natural resources. Two previous recipients are Jaye Boswell and Clyde Butcher.

An invitation is extended to the chosen artist to accept the honor and create artwork of a reasonable size and value for donation to SCCF to raise funds that will be invested in SCCF’s “Ding” Darling Conservation Education Fund, an endowment created by the late Kip Koss, Darling’s grandson and the standard-bearer of his legacy.

Sprankle said, “I feel blessed to be able to recreate the beautiful birds that I observe here and hopefully instill in others a love of these glorious creatures in their natural habitat.”

Celebrating his 50th year as a waterfowl artist, Sprankle is one of the best-known wood sculptors in the world. His carvings are in collections throughout Europe, Japan, and North America.

His sculptures have been displayed at the Smithsonian Museum and are on permanent display in many places world-wide. In 2004, a life-sized American Bald Eagle, celebrating the spirit of America after 9/11, was presented to the President George W. Bush. It remained in the White House until it landed in the Bush Library in Dallas, TX, where it is now on permanent display.

After moving to Sanibel from the Chesapeake Bay, he was challenged to recreate birds that reside in Florida habitat. In 2011, he donated his entire personal collection of 43 birds (now 50), one for each year of his carving career to J.N “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge Education Center, and continues to add one bird each year. That permanent exhibit, “Folk Art to Fine Art,” is viewed by over 50,000 people each year.

The SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Program provides a constant reminder of J.N. “Ding” Darling’s legacy and an annually renewing recognition of environmental artists following in his footsteps.

The founding of SCCF was directly related to J.N. “Ding” Darling, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, artist and champion of conservation who had a winter home on Captiva Island. Following his death in 1962, his friends and admirers formed the J.N. “Ding” Darling Foundation, which led the efforts to establish the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. When the Refuge was completed in 1967, island members of the Darling Foundation turned their attention to land acquisition and conservation work yet to be tackled on the sanctuary islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Their focused efforts resulted in the incorporation of SCCF the same year. 

Since that time, Darling’s grandson, Christopher “Kip” Koss, has kept the Darling flame burning, in part by endowing the SCCF “Ding” Darling Conservation Education Fund to perpetuate the awareness of Darling’s commitment to conservation. The SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Program provides a continuing tribute to J.N. “Ding” Darling’s legacy and an annually renewing recognition of environmental artists following in Darling’s footsteps. It is in both their memories that the Brush of Excellence program has been created.

Following the Earth Day drawing, a photograph of the artist with their art work will hang in place of the original artwork until the next prize recipient is announced the following December. On permanent display in the same area of the Nature Center is the framed Brush of Excellence presented to SCCF at the Darling Fish House on February 23, 2015. A video monitor in the same exhibition area will play the video of that presentation ceremony, and an interpretive panel with amplify on that story. The names of each SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Artists of the Year will be added going forward.

SCCF (the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed through environmental education, land acquisition & stewardship, Native Landscapes & Garden Center, Marine Laboratory, natural resource policy, sea turtle and shorebird conservation, and wildlife & habitat management.   Community support through membership dues and tax-deductible contributions, in addition to grants and staff-generated revenue, makes this work possible.

Ticket sales will close Friday, April 20th, at noon. Enter here for a chance to win the piece.


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