Well-known local wildlife artist Chris Wozniak has been accepted into the prestigious Society of Animal Artists. The organization is comprised of 496 members from all over the world who produce the best in animal art.
"It's like a feather in the hat," said Wozniak, an award-winning painter and sculptor whose art is collected by many residents throughout the region.
The mission of the Society of Animal Artists is to promote excellence in the portrayal of domesticated and wild animals in art. The organization's annual Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists and its traveling exhibition, Art and the Animal, have become the standard by which all others are measured.
News Photo by Diane Speer
Artist Chris Wozniak of Alpena holds one of the artworks that recently secured his membership into the Society of Animal Artists. Several of his other pieces, pictured behind him, are currently on exhibit at Thunder Bay Arts Council Gallery. He also has works for sale at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan.
In order to gain entrance to the society, Wozniak had to submit five of his artworks for consideration by a jury of other artist members. The organization selects new members just two times a year, in the fall and spring.
Wozniak currently is considered an associate member. The next step will be to become a signature member, which he plans to pursue at a later date.
The Society of Animals Artists got its start in the 1950s in New York City.
Since retiring three years ago from Verizon, Wozniak makes time for painting daily.
"I paint every day," he said. "I am still progressing, and I always try to get better."
He harbors a keen respect for all wildlife, which inspires his paintings. Ever since high school, he has been developing his unique style of painting. He has designed and created numerous original paintings, many of which have been reproduced into prints and posters.
Wozniak, who received a commercial art degree from Ferris State College, also has entered several art competitions and has done well in all of them. In 1990 and 1995 he was named Michigan Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year. He did the sponsored print for the organization in 1998. The Michigan United Conservation Club named him their Artist of the Year in 1998 with a painting of Redpols.
Although he has not won the Michigan Duck Stamp Competition, he has placed third twice and in the top 10 many times. He also has several blue ribbons for decoy painting competitions.
While he appreciates all wildlife, Wozniak's favorite subject to carve and paint is birds. He creates in his basement studio where he listens to old records for inspiration.
"I still have a record player and I still listen to the old 33s," he said. "There's just something about that music. It's not digitized like the other stuff."
Wozniak is a member of the Thunder Bay Arts Council Gallery in Alpena, where he has a number of his works available for sale. He has done well with sales at the gallery and routinely must restock his supply of art there.
"We're very fortunate to have the gallery here," Wozniak said. "All of the artists feed off one another."
The artist also currently has several pieces on exhibit and for sale at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan's Season of Light.