Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SAA’s 58th Annual At The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art

SAA’s 58th Annual At The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art!

The beautiful James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art
The exciting opening for the Society of Animal Artists’ 58th Annual Art & The Animal Exhibition at the gorgeous James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art took place this past weekend in sunny St. Petersburg, FL, and had attending artists saying "Wow!" Wes and I manned the check-in for arriving artists Wednesday afternoon, and it was great seeing everyone's smiling faces once again! That evening we all enjoyed a meet and greet party, filling the air with lots of conversation and laughter as we ate.

Artists and guest hanging out and having fun

A favorite of the meal was the potato bar, where one filled a large martini glass with mashed potatoes and topped them from an assortment of delicious toppings, and it was as much fun to look at and make, as it was to eat!

Sharon and John are quite pleased with their creations!

Artists love to create, even when it comes to making a spuds martini!

Lots to catch up on!
The next morning everyone headed in different directions to enjoy some sightseeing, kayaking, birding and the likes, with some of us taking advantage of the big pool located on a portion of the 7th floor roof, enjoying our personal oasis amidst the palm trees! That evening the group enjoyed an assortment of delicious desserts while participating in a trivia game, where questions about the SAA were asked by Wes, granting points to the groups with the correct answer. The team that won received a great prize of having their jury fees waived for next year's exhibition!
A wonderful bronze with a water feature in the permanent collection
Friday afternoon several artist including myself, took part in an SAA presentation about artists in residency programs. Afterwards the audience enjoyed seeing another SAA presentation called “How I Got My Start” featuring photos of a group of artists from childhood throughout their career, which was enjoyed very much by all. That evening we were all in for a royal treat at the James Museum and were completely blown away by this fabulous museum and their southern hospitality! Emily and the staff were all so friendly, making the artists feel very special and so welcomed from the moment we stepped in the door!
A gorgeous setting for our artist reception
Everywhere we turned we saw amazing art and stunning architecture, with large stone-lined rooms and hallways, making you feel as if you were walking through canyons. Not only was it a breath-taking building and exhibition venue housing a delightful staff, but the food we enjoyed during the artist reception was fabulous as well!

After dinner, we headed upstairs to the gallery where the SAA exhibition was beautifully arranged! The docents were extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the museum and its art, including our show as well, making our experience even more memorable.

Saturday morning started with the members meeting and was followed by the jury game, which was a big success last year. It's a great way to show attending artists how the show is juried each year and what a difficult and impartial task it is.

Saturday afternoon was filled with fascinating demonstrations by several different SAA artists and the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve graciously treated us with being able to sketch and photograph two of their gorgeous resident owls, which they brought to the museum and were a big hit!

That evening we attended the awards banquet at the museum, and upon walking in were greeted by tables covered in gold linens topped with an arrangements of bright yellow flowers and sand-filled glass containers, holding an assortment of paint brushes. As we talked and laughed, our taste buds enjoyed scrumptious fare once again!

Then came the moment several of us had been waiting quite sometime for, as long-time member Janet Heaton, thought she had been asked to attend the dinner to announce Wes as the new executive director for the SAA, not knowing that the real reason was to present her with the SAA’s coveted Bott-Borghi-Bransom Animal Artist “Legacy Award, which is indeed a great honor! As you can imagine she was totally surprised and speechless!

Janet is obviously very delighted!
Then came time to present the award winners for this years show, making for several delighted artist! Following the awards presentation, came the “Little Gems” swap, where each artist brings a small piece of art and draws a number corresponding to another piece of art, so that everyone goes home with a new addition for their personal collection.
This year's attending artists . . . a great looking crowd!
This year's happy award winners!

On behalf of the SAA artists, guests and patrons, I would like to extend a BIG heartfelt Thank You to the James Museum as well as to Emily and the rest of the delightful staff for making this such an amazing weekend for the SAA!

Cheers! ~ Rachelle Siegrist