Birds carved by award winning local artist exhibited

Clark Weaver, a local artist, shared his love of birds and Iowa with the Grinnell community on Wednesday night at the Grinnell Arts Gallery. Young and old alike attended the exhibition to celebrate Weaver’s hard work and success over his past 20 years of carving birds.

Molly Rideout, Arts and Residency Director with the Grinnell Area Arts Council, explained the reason for highlighting Weaver’s work.

“Clark is a Grinnell community member and has been in a number of shows in the past,” she said. “He has donated work to our council, and it made sense to have him have a show. We wanted to put on a show that would bring in more than just the standard faces, and Clark has a following beyond our normal crowd.”

Bob Van Ersvelde began the evening with a talk on birding in the state of Iowa, and Weaver followed with an address to the crowd.

Weaver, who has carved a total of 175 birds to date, explained his affinity for bird carving and the difficult process of parting with his art pieces.

“One thing simply led to another; it got in my blood and I couldn’t get away from it. … It gets kind of difficult to see one leave after you have spent about 200 to 400 hours on it, but on the other kind, I know that someone is going to appreciate it, so it is kind of a trade-off.”

Weaver credits another local, Mike Burt, with some of his motivation in the early years. Burt recalled some of his earliest words to Weaver.

“I said, ‘Hey, I’m carving, and you are carving, so maybe we ought to get together,’” Weaver  said. “Clark came to the house and we have been friends ever since.”

Weaver also mentioned the importance of the carving club that they attended together.

“I saw just how neat their stuff was and I thought, ‘If I am going to bring something to this club, I better make it to their caliber.’”

Weaver has gone on to win numerous awards at competitions ranging from novice to professional, at locations such as the Iowa State Fair and the Kansas City Woodcarvers Club show. He has also won ribbons at the Ward World Championship in Ocean City, Maryland.

The judges clearly appreciate Clark Weaver’s work, but Wednesday night showed that the Grinnell community does as well, with an audience comprised of community members and college students, all showing an interest in the Birds in Iowa exhibit.

An aspiring young artist was among the attendees. Seth Ihde, age 9, attended the event with his mother and little brother.

“I like that raptor there, because it is about the right size,” Ihde said, pointing to a nearby bird. “I know, because I have seen a real one–I am very interested in raptors.”

A few Grinnell College students also joined the viewing of the Birds in Iowa exhibit. Carla Eckland ’13 decided to attend the event to learn more about various birds in Iowa.

“I’ve gone out to CERA [Conrad Environmental Research Area] a couple of times for various science labs and fieldwork,” Eckland said. “We had to do a bird lab and I saw some cardinals and woodpeckers, but I haven’t seen them all, so this is a good way to check them out. Maybe now if I am out walking, I can spot them.”

Even if you missed the excitement of the opening, there are plenty of opportunities to view Clark Weaver’s extraordinary work. Birds in Iowa will remain on display from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – Noon. Stop by to see what all the chirping is about.