For Sherry Doherty, the worlds of art and the natural world collided at an early age.
Growing up outside of McConnells Mill State Park in Lawrence County, Dougherty painted fantastical animals born of her imagination.
“I used to draw these crazy compilations,” she said by phone from her home in Pittsburgh. “There will be combinations of elephant and bird, skunk and snake. I was not bound by reality.”
Then one day she found that reality was much more promising than her vivid imagination.
“I was obsessed with birds when I was 8 years old when a bobolink landed on a fence post in my yard,” she said. “That did it for me.”
The sight of the beautiful bird with its striking black and white and light brown colors further ignited her imagination and set her on a quest for art and birds that took her across the United States and Central and South America.
And her drive led her to Middle Creek Wildlife Art, where she is this year’s featured artist.
The show, which has been on hiatus for the past two years, opens Aug. 5 and runs through Aug. 7 at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center near Kleinfeltersville, Lebanon County. Opening hours are 1pm to 5pm on Friday, 9am to 6pm on Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Sunday with free admission.
Daugherty will be joined by two dozen other Pennsylvania artists who will show their work in a variety of media.
“We are blessed to have artists living in the state who are simply wonderful in their talents in all areas, whether it be paintings, iron casting or decoy carving,” said Lauren Ferreri, manager of the Visitor Center at Middle Creek.
A tradition since 1986, this year’s exhibition is the 34th, after being suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and the renovation of the Visitor Center and construction of the Conservation Heritage Museum last year.
As a featured artist, Daugherty donated a moose painting that will be raffled off along with the 2022 Working Together for Wildlife and Pennsylvania Duck Stamps to benefit the Wildlands Preservation Fund’s land acquisition program.
“Elk are majestic animals,” Dougherty said. “It’s hard not to be impressed by a moose. They are beautiful animals.”
The moose painting also offers some insights into Doherty’s artistry.
“The majesty of the moose is incredible,” she said. “Sometimes you paint and you don’t even realize what you’ve achieved. Some days I sit and paint all day and see the results of what I’ve done.”
“I look at it and I’m amazed because I don’t remember how I did it,” she explained with a laugh. “I guess it’s a normal artistic thing. You get in the zone. It’s a big picture and I wanted it to be a big picture and I wanted to focus only on the animal.
And, she added, the elk represents a great success story from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“Their reintroduction into the state is a testament to the game commission and their efforts,” she said.
That her painting will help protect the earth will be a plus for the 65-year-old artist, who works primarily in acrylics and has been in the show since 1999.
“I’m a big supporter of preserving natural places,” she said. “That’s one of my big motivations.”
Along with the art show, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Operation Game Thief trailer will be on site and visitors can participate in archery demonstrations, Ferreri said. Game Commission officials will be available to answer questions and food will be available for purchase.
The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is a 6,000-acre tract owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and established to protect, reproduce, conserve and manage wildlife and wildlife habitat, and to educate the public about conservation efforts. The wild nature.
“The biggest thing is that a lot of people really value the outdoors, and art is one way to bring the outdoors inside and experience it at home,” Ferreri said.
It’s also a way for people, whether they’re hunters or not, to support wildlife by buying the stickers and supporting the artists themselves, she said.
“We are happy to organize the event after a two-year hiatus to try and get people back to normal,” Ferreri said. “We’re so excited to have everyone back at Middle Creek and hope the artists can share their passions with audiences and inspire them to get outdoors, too.”
If you go
What: Middle Creek Wildlife Art Show
Where: Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center, 100 Museum Road, Clay Township, Lebanon County (near Kleinfeltersville)
When: August 5-7
Opening hours: Friday from 13:00 to 17:00; 9am to 6pm Saturday; and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays with free admission.