‘Fish and Feather’ — the best in wildlife artistry

Most Vermonters love nature — love it so much, in fact, that they are happy to look at depictions of it hanging on the wall if they can’t get out and enjoy it. Perhaps with that in mind, the Bristol gallery Art on Main is presenting the exhibition “Fish and Feather: The Wildlife Artistry of Painter Nick Mayer and Carver Gary M. Starr.” Master carver Gary Starr makes bird sculptures in Middlebury and award-winning illustrator Mayer paints realistic images of fish at his Lincoln studio. This combined exhibit reflects the exceptional artistry and technique of two men passionate about the natural world and their creative expression of what they see and experience in it. “Fish and Feather” opens on Friday, May 18, with a public reception from 5-7 p.m. at the 25 Main St. gallery. It will be on display until July 1.
Gary Starr, who has seen birds all over the world, carves beautiful avian images out of wood.
If asked, Gary Starr will tell you he has seen over 4,300 different birds — in fact he has traveled the world in search of new species — from places as far flung as Antarctica and the Galapagos to the more mundane Kansas prairies. Each place offering new inspiration for his carving work.
Gary began carving as a boy under the tutelage and inspiration of his father, master carver and collector George Ross Starr Jr., who was well recognized in the world of decoy art. Gary knows the year that he carved his first bird — and every other bird he has ever made — because of George’s insistence that every piece be signed and dated. Gary would show his father his work, only to be turned back to make it “just so.” At age 40, Starr began carving full-time and created his highly successful business Starr Decoys. People from across the globe buy and collect his birds; from decoys to his beloved ornaments his buyers are passionate, and wait anxiously to see what new species will be introduced each year. He says the perennial favorite and best seller is the bright red cardinal — what is not to love!
Loons by Gary Starr
Nick Mayer is a full-time nature illustrator whose style embraces the natural beauty of fish and other marine life with a unique scientific perspective. He is a former marine biologist, adventurer and a lifelong fly fishing addict. He survived by the skin of his teeth after falling overboard off a commercial fishing vessel into the Bering Sea, then his float plane nearly crashed in Northern Labrador — this inspired Nick to pursue his true calling as an artist. Painting is his passion and he has developed a celebrated touch.
Sporting art specialist Fred Polhemus writes, “In today’s world of sporting art, Nick Mayer is simply one of the best practitioners in the market. In terms of fish portraits, Nick is among the top two or three practitioners in the world. His work is that good and he delivers renderings of fish that are not only technically accurate, convincing and powerful but are also fresh, spontaneous and full of life.”
Largemouth bass by Nick Mayer
Mayer has illustrated twobooks on fish — “Catalina Island Dive Buddies,” written by International Gamefish Association historian Mike Rivkin (Silverfish Press) and “Wild Oceans,” an adult coloring book (Fox Chapel Publishing). He is currently working on “Fish ABCs,” a children’s book featuring one fish for each letter of the alphabet. His work and licensed products can be seen in galleries and stores in over 30 countries.
Art on Main’s spring hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

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