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‘Ding’ Darling Society accepts Brush of Excellence

By Staff | Mar 4, 2015

Sam Koltinsky, filmmaker for America’s Darling documentary about the life of Jay Darling, presented the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) with a Brush of Excellence Award on Feb. 19.

Koltinsky is awarding the framed paintbrushes used by artist and political cartoonist Darling paint smudges, fingerprints, and all — to deserving organizations nationwide that demonstrate a commitment, as did Darling, to stewardship of the land and culture.

He made the presentation, also with awards to the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, at the historic fishhouse in Captiva that Darling used as a studio during visits to the island. It is now part of the Rauschenberg estate.

Standing in front of the fishhouse fireplace with its unique seahorse designs, Koltinsky shared the history of the artist’s brushes.

“Christopher ‘Kip’ Koss [Darling’s grandson] was my best friend and mentor, and I miss him immensely,” he said. “One summer afternoon Kip graciously presented me with several of Jay N. ‘Ding’ Darling’s brushes. I pondered for a number of months on how to make the best use of Darling’s brushes, and then I woke up one morning at 3 a.m. with the perfect solution -the Brush of Excellence!”

The Brush of Excellence is to be used as an incentive to gain financial support for an educational project relating to land stewardship, art and conservation, or initiatives related to an organization’s mission, Koltinsky explained. The receiving organization will have the responsibility to decide on its best use, and the Brush must be passed on with its Certificate of Authenticity.

“This is such a wonderful honor,” said Doris Hardy, Wildlife Society president, who accepted the award with Refuge manager Paul Tritaik. “And so fitting with our mission of educating the public not only about refuge conservation and education programs, but as importantly about our namesake’s amazing conservation legacy.”

Andrea Koss, family legacy representative and wife of the late Kip Koss, was on hand to offer her congratulations to the recipients.

“The use of these Darling brushes in this manner is a stroke of genius in itself,” she said. “I imagine Darling himself would be applauding you, and Kip would be so pleased to know that this Brush of Excellence award has been given to you for all the protecting and preserving you have done here, which is ‘Ding’s’ favorite place in the world.”

To view some of the highlights of the Brush of Excellence Ceremony, please visit www.marvoentertainmentgroup.com/brush-of-excellence.

As part of its mission to support land conservation and education at the refuge, DDWS supported the production of the America’s Darling film by facilitating nearly $80,000 in support the largest contribution to the project.

Darling was a political cartoonist for the Des Moines Register and won two Pulitzer Prizes for this work. He began visiting Sanibel and Captiva islands in the 1930s and is responsible for the creation of a wildlife refuge here. As the first head of the U.S. Biological Survey, the forerunner to today’s U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, he created the Federal Duck Stamp Program and designed the first duck stamp.

About DDWS

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop proceeds.

To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at (239) 292-0566 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.