Wendelin Painting Display

We hope you enjoyed seeing the Smokey Bear Wendelin Paintings this spring when they were housed at the Journey Museum and Mt. Rushmore National Memorial!


Although we do not have plans to bring them back to the Black Hills, check back to the website for updates and information.

What are the Wendelin Paintings?

Although the first artist's portrayal of Smokey Bear was created by Albert Staehle in 1944, Rudolph (Rudy) Wendelin was a prominent artist in his own right regarding Smokey Bear and the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention program that started in 1942.


Rudy started painting his Smokey Bear portrayals in 1949 and continued doing so well into his retirement.  He was even the official illustrator of Smokey Bear his career as a illustrator and draftsman with the US Forest Service which lasted from 1949 to 1973.


Rudy is credited with softening and humanizing Smokey Bear's features, making him more appealing to children.  At that time, most fire prevention campaigns were targeted towards children.


Currently, the paintings rendered by Rudy Wendelin are being housed at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland.  Housed in Special Collections, they are part of a bigger collection of Smokey Bear paraphernalia that documents the Smokey Bear and Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Programs.


For more information on the Wendelin Paintings or to see pictures of his works go to:  http://specialcollections.nal.usda.gov/guide-collections/us-forest-service-smokey-bear-collection/only-you-can-prevent-wildfires











"Rudy Wendelin" by U.S. Forest Service - The Forest Service: Fighting for Public Lands by Gerald W. Williams. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rudy_Wendelin.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Rudy_Wendelin.JPG

Beyond painting the iconic Smokey Bear paintings Rudy also:
  • Designed numerous stamps for the US Postal Service including one honoring John Muir in 1964 and a Smokey Bear stamp in 1984.
  • Was considered as Smokey Bear's "caretaker" until he retired in 1973.
  • Was an accomplished landscape artist having exhibited at the US Department of Agriculture and the American Forestry Association in Washington DC.


Honoring John Muir Postage Stamp

Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Muir_1964_Issue-5c.jpg#mediaviewer/File:John_Muir_1964_Issue-5c.jpg

Random Tidbits on Rudy

1984 Smokey Bear Postage Stamp designed by Rudy Wendelin


Children enjoying the paintings and working on their entries for the 2015 WAM Coloring Contest.