Greenfield — Greenfield professional artist Brian Kuether is one of five featured artists who created pieces for the MPTV Great TV Auction going on this week.
The auction, that will end Saturday, May 3, on channel 10, is a fundraiser to support Milwaukee Public Television. Each year, individuals, businesses and local artists donate more than 19,000 items to the auction and viewers bid on them by telephone or online.
Kuether was destined to become a wildlife artist. As a boy, he spent hours outdoors fishing, hunting, observing wildlife and exploring the woods, marshes and rivers near his family's cottage in Fremont, Wis. His grandmother was a prolific watercolorist who encouraged him at an early age to try his hand at painting. He was soon sketching and painting on his own.
For his donation to the auction, Kuether chose the tundra swan as his subject.
"I've always wanted to do swans," he said, and with the tundra swans coming so close to extinction and then rebounding, he wanted to pay tribute to them. Not only that he said, but tundra swans that overwinter on the East Coast use Wisconsin as a flyway every spring and fall and recently a few have nestled into northern Wisconsin and brought up their young there, he said.
They are passing through the state right now as they come from their winter homes on shallow ponds, lakes and estuaries near the Chesapeake Bay and in the marshes of Virginia and North Carolina.
"They're beautiful birds," said Kuether who holds a degree in painting from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Kuether said he's been wanting to donate a painting to the Channel 10/36 auction for some time because he enjoys its programming.
"I like to watch 'Nova' and it has a lot of variety and good history I'll tune into if I have time," he said.
The original of "Winter's Journey-Tundra Swans" and 100 signed and numbered and 10 remarqued prints will be available for bids throughout the auction.
During his career, Kuether spent many years with fine art publishers in Minnesota and later worked for Conrad Schmitt Studios in New Berlin completing artwork in-house. While with Conrad Schmitt, he also traveled the country to restore, repaint and gild significant icons such as the steeple cross that's perched 330 feet above ground at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame University and murals at Ford's Theatre in Virginia.
Kuether's talent has been recognized numerous times over the years. In 2009, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation selected his piece "Morning Majesty-Elk" as its print of the year and in 2008 his "Canvasback Ducks" was chosen for the Wisconsin-Waterfowl Stamp.
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