Flights of Fancy at the San Bernardino County Museum

Life in the air—birds and butterflies, waterfowl and wetlands, outdoor sporting and environmental education— will all take center stage during Flights of Fancy at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The event includes a field trip to wildlife refuges, a gala evening reception, the first west coast exhibition of the top entries from the Federal Duck Stamp competition, Junior Duck Stamp entries, and two days of demonstrations, special guests, and activities, arts, and crafts for kids and families. The field trip and reception are ticketed events; activities on Saturday, November 17 and Sunday, November 18 are included with regular museum admission.


Duck Stamps and Refuges

Duck Stamp Art will be exhibited at the San Bernardino County Museum during “Flights of Fancy,” November 16, 17, and 18, 2012. The exhibit includes the top entries from this year’s Federal Duck Stamp contest and Junior Duck Stamp entries.

Duck stamps are not postage stamps. In fact, they are not “Duck Stamps”—they are actually called Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps. These revenue stamps are purchased by waterfowl hunters each year to validate their hunting licenses. Duck Stamps are also used as entry passes to refuges with entry fees, and are sought after by collectors and conservationists. The proceeds from stamp sales are the single largest source of funding for wetlands habitat conservation and enhancement. The stamp design, new each year, is chosen through a prestigious, federally sponsored art contest. The winning painting appears on the following year’s duck stamp.

The Duck Stamp program started in 1934. America’s vast flocks of wild ducks were at record lows. Drought and drainage were destroying the wetlands where birds nested in North America. A political cartoonist, Jay N. “Ding” Darling, conceived the idea of a federal revenue stamp to be purchased by hunters to fund migratory bird habitat. Artists were commissioned to design each year’s stamp until 1949, when the annual contest began.

Since 1934, the Duck Stamp program has raised over $750 million to preserve 5.2 million acres of wetlands in 186 national wildlife refuges. Today, 98 cents of every dollar in Duck Stamp sales goes directly to the purchase of habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System. These refuges are used by one-third of our threatened and endangered species and two-thirds of our most important commercial and sporting species along with fishes, songbirds, shorebirds, and countless other species. In California, Duck Stamp sales fund, in part, the following national wildlife refuges: Butte Sink, Colusa, Delevan, Grasslands, Humboldt Bay, Kern, Lower Klamath, Merced, Modoc, North Central Valley, Sacramento, San Luis, San Pablo Bay, Sonny Bono Salton Sea, Sutter, and Willow Creek–Lurline.

Field Trip

Among these wetlands are wildlife refuges near the Salton Sea. Museum director and ornithologist will lead a field trip to the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge and Wister Wildlife Area on Thursday, November 15, to recognize the contribution that Duck Stamps have made to waterfowl conservation and to observe hundreds of thousands of wintering waterfowl. The trip, which will depart from the museum in Redlands on Thursday morning, costs $70 per person ($60 for San Bernardino County Museum Association members) and includes morning coffee, transportation, lunch, beverages, and snacks. Advance registration is required; reservation forms can be picked up at the museum or made by calling LaWanda Avery-Brown at (909) 307-2669 ext. 225.

Guest Artists

Robert Steiner, this year’s winner of both the Federal and the California duck stamp contests, will meet museum visitors and set up an exhibit of duck stamp and waterfowl paintings. World-champion carver Dennis Schroeder will show waterfowl and songbird carvings. Seetharam Maddali will exhibit fine art nature photography in the Fisk Gallery.

Robert Steiner is a guest artist at Flights of Fancy in a dual role as the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp competition and the 2012 California State Duck Stamp contest. Steiner is America’s foremost duck stamp artist. He has won the 1998–99 Federal Duck Stamp art competition, the 2013–14 Federal Duck Stamp art competition, and has designed 82 state duck stamps to date. These include three prestigious “First of State” stamps: 1989 Rhode Island, 1990 Colorado, and 1991 New Mexico. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and earned a Master’s degree in fine art printmaking from San Francisco State University. Steiner won his first duck stamp art competition when he was chosen as the winner of the 1981 California Duck Stamp contest. Since then, he has gone on to design more duck stamps than any other artist!

Steiner is the only wildlife artist to ever receive an award from the National Academy of Art and Letters in New York. He also was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership by The Park Rangers Association of California for his outstanding contributions to California’s wetlands preservation efforts. Mr. Steiner’s paintings have been featured in scores of books, magazines, radio programs, television interviews, and museum shows. Recently, the Outdoor Channel ran a thirty minute program documenting Mr. Steiner as the world’s premier duck stamp artist.

Dennis Schroeder was born and raised in Minnesota with its many lakes, rivers, and abundant wildlife and waterfowl. Wildlife art was always his primary interest while growing up and through his art education, sketching and painting the surrounding lakes and marshes and their wildlife. He began his carving career in 1984 and soon found that his background in landscape and wildlife painting to be very useful in creating his carvings. He began to enter his wildfowl carvings in competitions across the country, resulting in numerous first places and best of show awards. In 1990 and again in 1991 he won the prestigious title of “World Champion” in the Ocean City, Maryland international wildfowl carving competition. Though he does not compete in these competitions any longer, his love of wildfowl art has only increased. He now regularly serves as a judge in many of these wildfowl carving competitions, including the World Championships. He was also invited to judge the renowned Federal Duck Stamp art competition in Washington D.C. His work is displayed in museums and private collections across the nation and in other countries.

Seetharam Maddali was born in Krishna-Godavari river basin of Southern India, a place that witnesses one of the largest bird migrations on Earth and home to many endangered species. Growing up, he observed many fascinating creatures: colorful painted storks, spot-billed pelicans, peafowl, water buffalos, Olive Ridley turtles, and venomous cobras. These experiences influenced his interest in sketching and, later, wildlife photography. He moved to the United States in the late 90s, where he worked with the United States Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and United States Forest Service on web-enabling conservation, land use planning, and the permitting process. His environmental concerns dramatically expanded during this period of work, as did his knowledge of North American flora and fauna. Maddali’s photography hangs in both private and corporate collections. His website is a showcase for his photographic art: His publication credits include Westways, Digital Texas, Birder’s World, Digital SLR User and National Geographic. He achieved the Award of Excellence in Arts, 18th TANA Conference, 2011; CMA 2011 Gold award winner, World Best Animal/Wildlife Photography Retail Wall Calendar; CMA 2011 Gold award winner, USA Best Animal/Wildlife Photography Retail Wall Calendar; CMA 2010 Silver award winner, National Best Animal/Wildlife Photography Retail Wall Calendar; two of his images reached finals and three reached semifinals in BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 2010; Cornell Lab of Ornithology Featured Photographer, November 2010; First, Second and Third prizes in the 49th Annual Hillcrest Festival of Arts, California; and Featured Artist, TANA 2009 International Festival, Chicago.


Environmental organizations, including the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, the U. S. Forest Service, U. S Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, the California Waterfowl Association, and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society will be represented; most will offer special activities for children.

On Saturday and Sunday, Bass Pro Shops and angler Richard Crook will give fly casting and fly tying demonstrations, and Starlight Kennels will bring Labrador retrievers to show off obedience and retrieving skills.

The museum’s education division will invite families to create colorful three-dimensional butterflies, to make and color flip books that show birds in flight, to paint decoys, and to look through microscopes to see feathers up close and personal. Selena Bryan will employ music and free-form dance while helping visitors make colorful feathered bird masks. These family activities are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Artist Trudy Wood will teach art classes for children: drawing birds and feathers with colored pencils at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and basic pen-and-ink at noon. These classes are offered free on Saturday and Sunday; because space is limited, advance tickets will be available at the museum’s front desk. Dance performances by CSUSB Generations-Dance are scheduled for Saturday afternoon. On Saturday at 3:00, PoetrIE will introduce visual poetry, including making a collage of a raven and writing a poem about what the raven sees, smells, and encounters as it flies.

Chef Roger from Five Star Catering will host a cooking demonstration on Saturday at 3:00.


A “fancy dress” gala evening reception is planned for Friday evening, November 16, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The reception will include hearty hors d’oeuvres, no-host beverages, music, opportunity drawings, and social networking. Tickets are available at $25/person or $40/couple; members of the Museum Association are $20/person or $35/couple.

Community Support

Flights of Fancy is organized by the San Bernardino County Museum Association to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Event sponsors include Five Star Catering; Bass Pro Shops;; 91.9 KVCR; Beaver Medical Group; James and Marguerite Glaze; Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith LLP; Ritual Brewing Co, and Target. To recognize the Association’s 60 years of commitment to community service, a special journal will be published in conjunction with Flights of Fancy with the support of numerous organizations, individuals, agencies, and businesses.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. Flights of Fancy is open Saturday, November 17, from 9 am. to 5 pm and Sunday, November 18, from 9 am to 4pm. General admission is $8 (adult), $6 (military or senior), $5 (student), and $4 (child aged 5 to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669 ext. 229 or (TDD) 909-792-1462.