Beginning art instruction at age 8, Wick Ahrens had
a traditional education, studying at Vesper George
School of Art in Boston, and at San Francisco Art
Institute, and in the studio of his mentor, Clark
Voorhees of Weston, Vermont.
Mr. Ahrens had been sculpting whales for two years,
working at cabinetry to support his obsession with
seagoing mammals, when he took the plunge - he went
to sea. In Mexico's Baja Peninsula, Ahrens studied
gray whales during their annual retreat from Alaska
for mating and calving. In San Ignacio Lagoon, a
40-foot whale allowed the artist to stroke its
throat - a rare encounter which transformed Ahren's
life and, of course, his art. Not long thereafter,
he was commissioned to sculpt an 18-foot whale for
permanent display in the Coyote Point Museum in
1985. This sculpture is the largest wooden cetacean
in the world.
During a pilgrimage to Maui, Mr. Ahrens swam with
humpbacked whales, observing at awesomely close
range their behavior, their power and grace, and
even their individual personalities. In his studio
overlooking Tomales Bay, he began hand-painting a
series of the massive carved portraits, applying
barnacles and scars realistic enough to match the
vitality he was capturing in their forms. But Wick
was raised on the butterfat of a Vermont dairy farm,
and could not stay at sea.
He relocated from California, establishing his
studio in Peru, Vermont. He sculpts full time,
studying his subjects by film and photo, with
assistance from marine biologists. Devoted to the
essential whale, he makes his own life a bridge
between sugar pine timbers and those mysterious
creatures who left the land 50 million years ago.
Like the national treasure artists of Japan, Mr.
Ahrens produces only a few pieces each year. The
result is completely original yet authentic
interpretations of various species. His work is
represented in MBNA America Bank, and in many public
museums, galleries and private collections.
Jim started carving at age 13, to enhance his rig of
decoys that he used while duck hunting on the upper
Barnegat Bay of New Jersey. He studied Art at
Florida Southern College and received his B.A. in
Fine Arts from Monmouth College in New Jersey. Jim
has been carving for over forty years but only full
time since 1980. His popularity grew rapidly upon
opening his shop in Woodstock, Vermont and now his
list of collectors includes people from all over the
world. He has shown his work in most decoy shows,
and many exclusive art galleries and leading decoy
auctions, but now spends most of his time just
Jim carves “hollow smoothies”
and an eider, being his favorite waterfowl, is
carved as a baby and placed in each of these
carvings. He does others as well, carving full or
oversized birds in cedar.