Each year, the Great Swamp Conservancy in Canastota hosts its Spring Migration Nature Art Show. This year the show has expanded to be bigger and better! The name has even changed to the Spring Migration Nature Arts, Crafts and Children's Festival.
An annual tradition of the show includes picking the "artist of the year." This artist is chosen by the board of directors as the most deserved artist to receive the award. This year's Artist of the Year is Marilyn Vona.
Vona is a self-taught artist. She began drawing at the age of five and with much encouragement from her mother she continued to draw, eventually leading to paint. Watercolors first, then oils.
Her father was an outdoorsman, hunter, fisherman, etc., and often took her with him. He would explain everything about nature, especially while hiking in the woods pointing out different trees and what the wildlife ate.
She started out drawing horses and eventually replaced them with deer leading to Adirondacks scenes and wildlife.
The first painting she sold was at the Tupper Lake Art Show. It was a painting of a buck. She had given it to her father for his birthday. He took it to the show and showed it to Ray Jackman who was in charge of the show. He took it and put it in the show. It was the first one sold.
That's when she realized people liked her work.
She had a one-woman show for 14 years at the "Bird World" in Sherrill. She exhibited for many years at the Old Forge Woodmakers. She also exhibited at Beaver Lake and won best of show at Tupper Lake. She won first prize at a show in Portland, Ore., and third prize at the Old Forge Art Show.
She was commissioned to do a painting of the camp on Rondox Lake belonging to the president of BMW Corporation. The painting is set at his home in Switzerland.