Collectors of rare duck stamp paintings will have a unique opportunity this month when UD professor emeritus Charles Rowe puts his painting of a pair of flying snow geese up for sale.
Rowe will be the honored artist during the Delaware Foundation for the Visual Arts Spring Art Show at the Hagley Museum Soda House April 8-10. His painting for the 1981 Delaware Duck Stamp contest—one of only a couple not owned by the state—will be for sale to benefit DFVA.
“When it’s sold, the DFVA will get a very good commission off that,” Rowe says.
Rowe has displayed the painting in his Newark home almost since it was made. The year after he won the duck stamp contest, the state began keeping the winning images.
Waterfowl hunters have been required to display duck stamps on their licenses for many years. They were straightforward affairs until, in 1980, the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited started asking local artists to enter their images in an annual contest.
Fees raised from the sale of stamps and prints of the art—now highly collectible—are used to acquire and preserve wetlands. Since the painting contest began in 1980, more than $2.9 million has been raised for waterfowl conservation.
In the years before he entered the duck stamp competition, Rowe says there were only 15,000 to 18,000 snow geese that migrated through Delaware each year. After he won the contest, he was told that figure rose to 150,000.
“The [contest] director said, ‘We’ve never seen that kind of population before,’” Rowe says. “I said, ‘Well, it pays to advertise.’”