Featuring some of the country’s best outdoor photographers and painters
Humans have been adorning their homes with images of wildlife since we were painting by firelight. In modern times these images are synonymous with the upland tradition, and wildlife art and conservation are tied together indelibly through things like the Duck Stamp program.
National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic is a celebration of our collective passion for the outdoors, and that celebration wouldn’t be complete without wildlife art. On the show floor this year, you’ll find a selection of some of the nation’s best painters, photographers, and wildlife artists, each with a unique style and focus.
Below are five of our featured artists for Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2023:
Steve Oehlenschlager has been a self-taught professional photographer for the last 12 years. He lives in Elk River, Minnesota, and started off photographing friends and family hunting trips. His work has now been showcased in virtually every hunting magazine in the country, as well as numerous private client collaborations. Oehlenschlager’s passion is shooting upland game bird hunts in particular — as the combination of hunters, dogs and close-flushing birds makes for especially intriguing photographs.
At Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, Oehlenschlager will be selling metal, canvas and regular prints of some of his best work, with a particular focus on ringneck pheasants, ruffed grouse, Hungarian partridge, sharptailed grouse, prairie chickens and bobwhite quail. He will also be offering private photography sessions for client’s dogs and hunts. The best shots from those sessions will also be submitted to various magazines for possible publication.
Jason Dowd - The Upland Lowlife
Jason Dowd, well known to hunters online as the “Upland Lowlife,” is a pen/ink artist and illustrator from Flint, Michigan. He specializes in upland folk art, so to speak, mostly drawn on wood. Dowd got his start as a tattoo artist before transitioning to illustrations, and just stumbled into wood as a preferred medium.
“I’ve always liked the idea of folk art,” he said. “And I happened to have some wood lying around one day so I just started experimenting with it.
At Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, Dowd will have some finished pieces up for sale, and will also spend time in his booth working on current projects.
Kickliy is an artist and painter from the Twin Cities who gained a named for himself by live painting Minnesota’s sports teams — including the Twins, Vikings and Wild.
A native Minnesotan, Kickliy grew up hunting grouse in the northern reaches of the state. He’s been a painter all his life but had to relearn the skill after an accident seven years ago left him unable to even hold a brush. He eventually moved to Paris to help spur that process along and returned to the states with the honed-in style he’s since become known for. While much of his work so far has focused on the sports world, he’s also branching out into more outdoor-oriented paintings.
Kickliy will join Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic for the first time this year. He’ll have several upland themed prints available for sale and will also roam the show floor throughout the weekend painting guests, presenters, bird dogs, and anything else that catches his attention.
Carl Melichar - Countryside Art Gallery
Wildlife artist, sporting dog artist, photographer and videographer, Carl J. Melichar makes his residence in rural Mayer, Minnesota. Countryside Art Gallery is located on an old historical farm, built in the middle 1800’s, about 40 minutes west of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro.
Melichar’s artwork focuses heavily on waterfowl and gun dog prints, as well as custom keychains and other unique pieces. He also displays the artwork and carved decoys of Richard Schiebel and memorabilia of the late, great Les C. Kouba at his gallery. Melichar is also the director of the 1914 "Old Granary" Museum, Studio and Art Gallery, which features over 100 taxidermy specimens — mostly sea ducks and all four of the North American Eiders.
Melichar has been working with Pheasants Forever for over 30 years. For 2023, he’ll feature a collection of his new artwork on the show floor, as well as a new line of Colorado musky spoon zipper pulls, with over 300 different images infused in the metal.
Tara Banks is an artist and painter based in Bozeman, Montana. Banks has been painting original wildlife art for over 20 years. Her work has been featured in galleries all over the Rocky Mountain west, including the NIC Art Museum in Casper, Wyoming. Most of her pieces are large custom commissions, but occasionally she has time to create original work for her personal collection, some of which have also been displayed in various art museums or galleries.
Banks painted an original piece for Pheasant Fest this year, which will be included in the live auction at the Saturday night National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic Banquet.
The impact of wildlife art extends far beyond decoration. Over the course of the last 100 years, wildlife art has raised countless dollars for conservation — it's undoubtedly impacted a piece of property you use in some way. When Pheasant Fest kicks off in two weeks, take the time to check out each of these artists, their styles and their contrubutions to the uplands.
The 2023 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis on February 17-19. Tickets and more information can be found at: PheasantFest.org.