MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Three Minnesota brothers who have dominated the competitive world of wildlife stamp painting pulled off a trifecta Saturday, taking the top three spots in the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp art contest.
Joseph Hautman of Plymouth won with an acrylic painting of a pair of trumpeter swans in his fifth Federal Duck Stamp contest victory. His work will grace the 2016-17 stamp, which goes on sale across the nation in June. Stamp sales raise about $25 million a year from hunters and collectors to fund waterfowl habitat programs.
In second was Robert Hautman of Delano, with an acrylic painting of a pair of mallard ducks. James Hautman of Chaska took third with his own acrylic painting of a mallard pair.
The brothers have won a combined 11 Federal Duck Stamp contests, but this was first time they've won all three top spots in what's considered the ultimate prize in wildlife art. Their talents were even noted in a subplot of the Oscar-winning 1996 movie "Fargo" — made by their childhood friends, Joel and Ethan Coen.
Robert Hautman has said the challenge of the Federal Duck Stamp contest is that it attracts so many good artists. "It's not easy to win," he said last December. "You've got to get lucky."
While the winning artists don't get cash prizes, they get bragging rights and make good money selling prints of their winning entries. The Hautmans' works are prized by collectors, and their designs appear on a huge range of home decor like rugs and blankets and shower curtains.
The winners were announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where 10 of the 157 entries made it to the final round.
"I congratulate Joseph Hautman on his win and the entire Hautman family on their artistic talent," Jerome Ford, the federal agency's assistant director for migratory birds, said in a statement. "This is not just any piece of art, but one whose impact will be felt for generations to come. Duck Stamps have helped to protect more than six and a half million acres of waterfowl habitat in our National Wildlife Refuge System; now that is a lasting legacy."
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