Mayer wildlife artist works to keep art alive

Sept. 29, 2008

Gun Dog magazine praises artist Carl Melichar for his affordable art

By Caroline Wigmore
Staff Writer

Full-time wildlife artist Carl Melichar of Mayer works out of his quiet, countryside art gallery, but he is no stranger to public recognition, having just been featured on the cover of the national Gun Dog magazine.

This magazine is one of more than 20 national magazines to showcase Melichar’s paintings. The June/July issue features pictures of Melichar’s colorful artwork, and an article, telling his story and giving him credit for his affordable prints.

“Not everyone can afford the originals, and I want people to be able to enjoy affordable prints,” Melichar explained.

One of the reasons Melichar is able to keep his prices reasonable is that he chose to market his own work, rather than using an agent.

“I’m trying to keep the arts alive,” he said.

Melichar first enrolled in art instruction school at the age of 14, where he gained his basic knowledge of art. After high school, he enrolled in night classes with the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and later enrolled in a commercial art course at Mankato Area Vocational Technical Institute. Melichar feels that special training is necessary to prepare the artist for a career.

Melichar’s work is often commissioned by proud dog owners who desire original paintings of their canines. He takes many photos of his dog subjects for reference and also meets them in person to capture the dog’s personality.

Melichar’s work is displayed several times a year in various places, one of his favorites being the state fair, where 72 framed pieces were viewed by fair-goers this year.

“The Minnesota State Fair has been fantastic exposure,” Melichar said. He has been displaying his work at the fair for 15 years.

Melichar has taken 20 trips to Alaska, where he sketches and photographs wildlife. He also enjoys making video pieces of Alaska that he creates with his wife, Maria.

Melichar looks forward to competing in the federal duck stamp contest Oct. 17-18 at the Bloomington Arts Center, with public viewing beginning Friday, Oct. 10. This event is a rare treat for wildlife lovers, as it will be decades before this judging returns to Minnesota.

In 1991, Melichar tied for 11th place at the federal duck stamp contest, putting him in the top 35 contestants.

The federal duck stamp is near to Melichar’s heart as the program has donated more than $6 million for wildlife habitats. Conservation is very important to Melichar.

Other venues where his work can be found include the Renaissance Festival, the National Pheasant Fest, and Gander Mountain in Eden Prairie, Thanksgiving weekend. He is also a part of an online community that displays his work: www.artbarbarians.

Melichar creates and displays his paintings in an antique 1936 granary called Countryside Art Gallery, located on his property at 8020 Highway 25 just south of Mayer.

The impressive collection consists of his own art, the art of the late Les Kouba of Hutchinson, who was Melichar’s second cousin, and world class carver Richard Schiebel, also of Hutchinson, and a good friend of Melichar.

The studio is open to the public annually, with daily showings starting Monday, Dec. 1 through Saturday, Dec. 20, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments available year around upon request. To request an appointment or for more information, call the studio, (952) 657-2323.

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