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KTD button artwork is no turkey

WORTHINGTON -- Ever wondered who paints the turkey on the annual King Turkey Day pin? The artwork for this year's pin was done by local artist Mark Kness. Kness, who has been painting for 30 years, has a history of having his artwork selected for...

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WORTHINGTON -- Ever wondered who paints the turkey on the annual King Turkey Day pin?

The artwork for this year’s pin was done by local artist Mark Kness. Kness, who has been painting for 30 years, has a history of having his artwork selected for special occasions.

Kness won the Minnesota Duck Stamp Contest in 2003 and 2010, getting his paintings on every state wildlife conservation stamp for those years. After not entering since 2010, he was awarded second place in this year’s contest. In 2004, Mark finished fourth in the Federal Duck Stamp competition, which gathers entries from around the country.  

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This is the third time Kness has done the artwork for the King Turkey Day pin. The last time he was selected for the honor was 2006. A print of the button art will be auctioned at Thursday’s King Turkey Day mixer, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Pioneer Village.

President of King Turkey Day Wade Roesner briefly explained how the organization decided to select Kness.

“It was a board decision,” Roesner said. “His name was brought up, and everyone on the board thought it was a great idea to bring Mark back.”

Kness’ parents are originally from Worthington. Since his father was in the Air Force, Kness constantly relocated while growing up, but he considers Worthington his hometown. He started painting in high school, inspired by popular wildlife artists Terry Redlin and David Maass.

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Although Kness specializes in landscape and wildlife painting, he enjoys imposing an image of just about anything onto a canvas with acrylic paint.

“I do a lot of commission work,” Kness said. “If someone wants their hotrod, car, pets, portrait done, I can do it.”

One of the portraits he’s currently working on is of Hall of Fame NFL coach Tony Dungy. Kness met Dungy a couple years ago, and they became good friends. Dungy even invited Kness and his brother to his Hall of Fame induction in Canton, Ohio this year. Dungy asked Kness to create a portrait of his remarkable career, a commission Knees was honored to work on.  

“I’ve gotten some great awards,” Kness said. “But this is gonna be top of the list for what I’ve done.”

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Kness will have his work displayed on every official pin this weekend for the 77th annual King Turkey Day.

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