"Late in the 1960's, The Griggsville Wild Bird Society recognized an opportunity to build public interest in wildlife art. It subsequently developed an ambitious educational art program, unprecedented in its scope and standards of quality.
The foundation of its new program was to be the creation of a series of great American bird paintings unprecedented in their detail, authenticity, and realism. They were to be on a massive, standardized 22""x 28"" format, second in size only to the huge elephant prints of John Audubon. The Society was determined this series would eclipse anything done previously and would bring new recognition to this type of art.
The Society studied contemporary artists throughout the land, and finally selected Richard Sloan of Palestine, Illinois, for the series. The Society felt he was North America's finest bird painter in terms of the detail, authenticity, and lifelike qualities of his subjects.
Prior to his selection, Richard Sloan was well known among wildlife art enthusiasts in the Great Lakes area, being especially noted for his paintings of the birds of prey. He is an ardent conservationist and an experienced zoo man, widely respected for his knowledge of animal behavior both in captivity and in the wild.
After Mr. Sloan's selection, The Society set up a reproduction program and publishing program of such high standards that it would serve as a model. The Society was determined that anyone else entering this field would feel compelled to operate on similar standards of excellence.
It selected 5,000 as the size of all its editions, a figure large enough to achieve widespread public exposure for the paintings, but small enough that these prints would become valuable collector items.
In their first year of national competition, a Sloan print won the highest prize among art prints in Printing Industry of America competition, and Sloan prints have won blue ribbons regularly since.
After setting up its art and reproduction programs, The Society set up a variety of public interest programs through which Sloan prints would be used to benefit wildlife in a variety of ways. One of these programs is the state bird program. Under these programs, a quantity of each edition of Sloan prints is immediately dedicated to the public, and many of them ultimately find their way to outstanding collections in libraries, museums, schools, galleries, and other public institutions.
Most importantly, the Richard Sloan birds have enabled The Society to expand its educational activities into other phases of fine wildlife art. These prints have provided the foundation for other art works of comparable excellence; for the establishment of the largest educational traveling art show ever assembled; and for the development of a great nature education center in the very heart of America. All of these programs owe a large debt to the rapidly growing popularity of the Richard Sloan birds-the finest artistic achievement of the 20th Century in this field. "