SALISBURY – The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, the carving community’s recognized leader, has announced that carvers Delbert “Cigar” Daisey, Robert “Bob” Guge and Ernest “Ernie” Muehlmatt will be honored with the museum’s inaugural Living Legends Award.
The presentation will take place in conjunction with the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival award ceremony on Saturday, April 27 at 5 p.m., at the Roland E. Powell convention center in Ocean City.
The award recognizes individuals who have been long-time advocates for wildfowl art and the Ward Museum; are generous in spirit and commitment to teaching others and passing on their knowledge, skills and talents; and have created an impact on the field of wildfowl art and/or the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition.
Daisey, born in 1924, lives and works on Chincoteague Island, Va. He worked as the instrument man on a survey crew for 13 years, fished in the summers and hunted wildfowl in the winters. His first decoys were a rig made with his father, Herbert Daisey, in 1941, using a recycled World War II submarine raft. He describes his early carving career as “making decoys on the side,” in combination with other jobs, but he finally began carving as a full-time career in the 1960s.
His nickname “Cigar” was given to him by a game warden when he lost some cigars while stealing ducks from the warden’s traps (some say he left the cigars to taunt the warden). One of the last surviving people who made a living as a market hunter, Daisey became an avid conservationist later in his life, serving as the resident carver at Chincoteague Island’s Refuge Waterfowl Museum. His work appears in the Smithsonian Institution, the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art and the Chincoteague Refuge Waterfowl Museum.
Born in 1952 and current resident of Sleepyhollow, Ill., Guge is a self-taught artist, and has been carving since 1972. He was strongly influenced by his father, Roy, a carver of hunting decoys. As his father’s pieces became more sophisticated and entered competitions, Guge’s interest in birds and art grew. By age 12, he already had carved a few birds. His first career, however, was not carving, but house painting.
In 1973, Guge and his wife visited Chincoteague Island and met with Daisey. From then on, Guge kept his day job as a painter, but carved at night and on the weekends with a new determination to make a career in wildfowl carving. Eventually, he stopped painting houses and took off to pursue the professional, artistic pursuit of wood sculpture fulltime. Along the way, the work of Harold Haertel and other artists influenced Guge’s style.
Muehlmatt was born in 1927 in Springfield, Pa. He has spent over 30 years as a professional carver as well as a graphic and sketch artist, painter, florist and inventor. He is a firm believer that his work ethic, taught to him by his father while working on the family farm, is the reason that he has been successful in the fields he has chosen. He served for two years in the U.S. Army, stationed in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. He returned home and attended a two-year program in commercial art at the Advertising and Art Student League in Philadelphia. He put his skills to good use in the family’s floral business. Eventually, Muehlmatt and his brother closed the retail end of the business, and Muehlmatt’s true love for carving began.
In the 1972 Ward Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition, Muehlmatt won first, second and third place in different divisions. Since that time he has won the World Championship, Best in Show, on three different occasions. He has published four wood carving books and regularly teaches woodcarving and design.