The Legacy of Wildlife Artist James Meger
Over his 30-year-plus painting career, wildlife artist James Meger became synonymous with Pheasants Forever, as his creations were selected as Pheasants Forever Prints of the Year more times – six – than any other. Meger passed away last week after a battle with cancer.
Even at Pheasants Forever’s beginnings, Meger built a connection to “The Habitat Organization.” Pheasants Forever’s first goal was passing the Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp bill. The Pheasant Stamp is required of all Minnesota pheasant hunters ages 18 through 64, and sales generate money for habitat enhancement efforts on both public and private lands in the pheasant range of Minnesota. But the stamp also opened the door for artists to compete to have their work featured, and Meger’s work graced Minnesota’s third such stamp in 1986.
Since 1984, Pheasants Forever has also selected an annual Print of the Year, limited-edition prints that local Pheasants Forever chapters have used to raise funds for their area conservation efforts. Meger has been selected as Pheasants Forever’s Print of the Year artist more times than any other, including:
1997-98 Thanks Be Given
1999-2000 The Pumpkin Patch
2000-2001 Pony Express
2001-2002 Storm Break
2003-2004 Forever Pheasants
These prints raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, and not just in Minnesota. While best known in his native state – Meger was from Lyon County in southwest Minnesota’s pheasant country – his signature style separated him in an era rich with talented wildlife artists, and distinguished him at Pheasants Forever banquets from Indiana to Idaho.
“James Meger’s artwork was, without question, the most popular among our members,” says Ben Streitz, Pheasants Forever’s Director of Special Markets who worked with Meger in organizing print fundraising efforts since 1996, “He was the master of painting the modern farmstead with family, habitat and pheasants. His trademark was to hide all types of critters inside his paintings. People would just love looking for all the hidden animals. At a Pheasants Forever banquet you just had to look at the where the prints were lined up; there would always be a crowd surrounding his work.”
Messages for the Meger family can be left at www.caringbridge.org/visit/jamesmeger.
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