Thursday, August 1, 2019

Society of Animal Artists Works at Benson Sculpture Gardens

Marking the holes
While recently visiting friends and fellow member of the Society of Animal Artists, Diane Mason and husband Bob in Colorado,  I  had the opportunity to see first hand the process of installing a sculpture into a public park.  When we arrived at the park, the cement pad had previously been poured and allowed to completely set up.  Then they hoisted the very heavy sculpture up with thick straps attached to a small crane and lowered it down long enough to mark the holes for the bolts on the base.  After liftling the sculpture back up, they commenced drilling holes with the BIGGEST drillbit I personally have ever seen, and I was surprised at how quickly it did the job!

Using the BIG drillbit

Once they had the holes drilled, they slowly lowered the sculpture while carefully eyeing it and making sure everything lined up properly.  Then the holes were slowly filled with a special epoxy, before carefully lowering the bronze back down and the protruding bolts into place.  

Adding the epoxy and getting everything ready for the final setting

And voilà . . . it seemed like they had finished just mere minutes after starting, and there stood Diane's sculpture "Over-worked and Under-paid" looking very statley in its new home!  Located in Loveland, CO, Benson Sculpture Park is a beautiful city park which wraps around a couple of small lakes, and takes you through grassy areas and flower gardens, as you meander along the varius paved walkways.  Close to thirty SAA artists, past and present, have work on display in this beautiful park, so if you're ever in the area, I recomend a visit to check out the numerous sculptures there representing so many of our talented SAA sculptors!

Diane proudly stands by "Over-worked and Under-paid"

Here's a list of our currently active SAA members who have work in the park  . . .

Gerald Balciar
Tim Cherry
Martin Gates
Daniel Glanz
Sandy Graves
Laurel Peterson Gregory
Tony Hochstetler
Kim Kori
Ronald W. Lowery
Cammire Lundeen
Diane Mason
Walter Matia
Parker McDonald
George McMoingle
Leo Osborne
Dan Ostermiller
Louise Peterson
Carrie Quade
Don Rambadt
Sherry Sander
David Turner
Kent Ulberg

Until next time . . .

Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA

Monday, July 1, 2019

Exhibitions of the Society of Animal Artists

Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen, Charles Allmond and Bob Kuhn at the 2001 SAA Annual Exhibition at the West Valley Art Museum, Surprise, AZ.

With the Society of Animal Artists' 59th Annual Exhibition upcoming, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the SAA exhibition history with you.  There have been nearly 1,000 artists featured in the exhibitions to date.  The first was held in 1960 at the Burr Gallery in New York, NY, and up until 1980, the exhibitions were held in various galleries located in New York City.  

Louis De Donato, Michelle Daniels, Marilyn Newmark, Guy Coheleach, Leslie Delgyer, and Pam Coheleach at the 2003 SAA Annual Exhibition at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, Oradell, NJ.

In 1981 the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA began the SAA's expansion into various regions of the United States and Canada. The touring aspect of the Society's exhibitions started in 1988 when the SAA recruited David J. Wagner to create and manage tours of artwork selected from their annual exhibitions.  To date, this includes over 100 venues!

In the SAA's history, over 70 artists have been selected by the juries 15 times or more to have their artwork included in the exhibition, and 25 artists have been featured in 25 or more!  SAA Master Signature Artist, Guy Coheleach, holds the current record of participating in 46 Annual Exhibitions, and he will again be featured in our 2019 exhibition! Marilyn Newmark (in the photo above with Guy) participated in 41 exhibitions before passing away.

Eileen Matias, Rachelle Siegrist (My first time attending an Annual Exhibition opening), James Coe, Tucker Bailey, John Pitcher, and Sue Westin enjoy a museum-style picnic in the Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, VT.

Artists & Artworks in the 2019-2020 SAA Tour
(Last month's blog had the list of all artists in the exhibition)

Adair, Sue deLearie - This Way to the Eelgrass! 
Beecham, Gregory A. - Winter Survivor
Bieler, Lucrezia - Covey of Quail
Birchill, Jeff - Gulf Coast Treasures
Bradshaw, Jeremy - Splittin' Hare
Brest van Kempen, Carel - Out Of Their Depth
Chen, Dan - Take Two to Tango
Coe, James - Cool Shadows
Cohleach, Guy- Mountain Flash
Crouter, Anni - Arabesque
Diment, Kim Rae - A Pair In A Partridge Tree
Doellinger, Mick - Incoming
Donahue, Mikel - Your Moment's At Hand
Dunphy, Kathleen - Wingbeats
Faust, Anne Senechal - Another World
Frentner, Rusty - New Life
Fullingim, Sharon - Busy Body V
Geise, Ann - Goats Galore
Glanz, Daniel B. - Soulful
Graves, Sandy - Gone Fishin'
Gylling, Gemma - Treasures of the Elkhorn Slough
Hakeem, Sherif - In Focus
Hillier, Matthew Simon - Under The Curl
Ingram, Alison - Red Kite and a Mob of Crows
Kellner, Justin - An Easy View
Kiehm, David - Who's Turf?
Laird-Lagassee, Janet - Eye of the Beholder
Martin, Roger - Circumstantial Evidence
Martone, Jeanette - Waiting
Matia, Walter - The Talk of the Town
Maxwell, Sally - Fading
Maynard, Chris Maynard - Amphibian Delight
Miller, Darin - The Old Garden Gate
Murray, Robin E .T. - Wolverine in Taiga
Murtha, Sean - Golden Grace
Nimmo, Timothy - Constellation
Pepin, Patricia - Swan Flower
Plank, Millie Whipplesmith - Smith River Canyon, Double Dippers 
Plishka, John - Feeding Koi
Pokorny, Tamara - Behold but Beware 
Rankin, David - Ranthambhore Ambush 
Rhymer, Paul - The Candidate
Rigsby, Jody - Hopnotized
Rogers, Julia - Elephant in the Room 
Rosetta - Settled In
Siegrist, Rachelle - Stealthy Approach 
Siegrist, Wes - Southern Sentinel 
Solberg, Morten E. - This Is Paradise 
Soos, Heather - The Fish Hawk 
Stajcar, Pati - Rushing Home 
Stauffer, Amy - I Believe I Can Fly 
Sussino, Mark A. - Ambush Point 
Thompson, Carol Lee - Inquisitive 
Thornton, Rita - Vulturine Guineafowl 
Tryggmo, Gunnar - Shimmer
Tucker, Ezra - Splendor of the Plains 
Ullberg, Kent - Lone Wolf
Walter, Bart - The Embrace 
Yablonski, Scott - Sunspots
York, Sherrie - Chasing Daylight


February 1 – April 15, 2020, Hanceville, AL
May 22 – September 13, 2020, Stamford, CT

Until next time . . .

Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Join the Society of Animal Artists in San Antonio, Texas

SAA members and followers . . . Exciting events are scheduled for the opening of the 59th Society of Animal Artists Annual Exhibition being held at the prestigious Briscoe Western Art Museum this coming September 19th - 21st in San Antonio, TX! Activities will start with a members' reception at the Briscoe Thursday evening the 19th, from 6-8 PM. 

Then Friday the 20th, SAA artists and guests will be going to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch for the day, where we will enjoy a safari drive, petting zoo and more. Having been there once before, I know what a treat this will be for all who join us! Being able to ride through with windows down, whilst tossing out purchased food, brings the animals up close and personal, to say the least, making it an awesome experience! At times the Emus and Ostriches among others were checking out the interior of the car and I couldn’t believe it when I got a kiss from a zebra! 

Unlike most zoos where the animals are the ones in an enclosure, at this park, you are the one inside the enclosure, your vehicle, and the animals roam free! They have a wonderful variety of species and when we were there, there were lots of babies, obviously making it a perfect photo op for reference material. The landscape seen whilst driving the loop road is just as beautiful as it's furry and feathered residents, creating a most enjoyable experience!  That evening the SAA group will be having a pizza party at the Springhill Marriott hotel.

Two very friendly and curious residents at the Wildlife Ranch

Saturday the 21st will begin with a members' meeting from 9-11 that morning at the Briscoe Museum.   Different programs will take place during the day from 11:30-4 at the museum, and that evening the awards banquet will be held at the Plaza Marriott from 5-10. Of course, you can always enjoy one of the local attractions as well, such as touring the Alamo or taking a relaxing river cruise along the Riverwalk.  Here are a few websites for taking a cruise . . . Go Rio Cruises, River Boat Tours, and info about the San Antonio Riverwalk.  

Want to join in on the fun and excitement of the opening weekend then become a Patron Member today and come have a great time with the artists! The Society is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. All contributions are tax deductible.

The Society invites individuals and corporations to support us in our efforts by becoming Contributing Members. For those with a love of the animal kingdom and the art that celebrates it, Society patronage is an ideal way in which to contribute to the development of this important contemporary fine art form. The Society is a 501(c)3 charitable non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.
Contributing Members are entitled to the following benefits:
– All Society Newsletters and Annual Exhibition catalogs
– Invitation to attend annual exhibition opening seminars, presentations and Artists’ Reception for member and one guest
– Acknowledgment in the Annual Exhibition catalog
– Opportunity to sponsor individual art awards
Contributing Membership for 2019 is available in four categories:
– Patron Member $150-$299 – All of the benefits described above. 
– Sponsoring Member $300-$999 – All of the benefits of a Patron Member plus admission for member and one guest to the Annual Member’s Award Banquet at no charge. 
– Sustaining Member $1000-$4,999 – All of the benefits of a Sponsoring Member plus admission for two to all Member activities with a cost during the Annual Exhibition at no charge. 
– Partner Member $5,000+ – All of the benefits of a Sustaining Member plus an expanded acknowledgment in the Annual Exhibition catalog.

Click here for the Contributing Member Information and Application  (PDF 286 KB)

~ SAA Artists who have work in the 59th SAA Exhibition ~

Adair, Sue deLearie
Aja, Douglas
Alvarado, Fran A. H.
Anderson, Thomas
Bacon, Chris
Balciar, Gerald
Baumlin, John Perry
Beckner, Joy Kroeger
Beecham, Gregory A.
Bemis, Reneé
Bieler, Lucrezia
Birchill, Jeff
Bogy, Janice Gernhart
Bork, Beatrice
Bradshaw, Jeremy
Brest van Kempen, Carel
Caldwell, Robert Louis
Cameron, Clarence P.
Chen, Dan
Coe, James
Cohleach, Guy
Collins, Mark
Cook, Carrie
Cooper, Katherine
Crouter, Anni
Dedrie, Mark
Diment, Kim Rae
Doellinger, Mick
Donahue, Mikel
Dunn, Lori Anne
Dunphy, Kathleen
Engel, Camille
Faust, Anne Senechal
Fraley, Lynn A.
Freeborn, Gay
Frentner, Rusty
Fullingim, Sharon
Gandert, Jeff
Geise, Ann
Glanz, Daniel B.
Gleim, Lisa
Graves, Sandy
Gray, Peter Clinton
Gylling, Gemma
Hakeem, Sherif
Harada, Atsushi
Hedges, Patrick Graham
Hester, Sharon
Hillier, Matthew Simon
Hopkins, Margaret
House, Cindy
Huffman, Robin
Ingram, Alison
Kellner, Justin
Kidera, Brenda
Kiehm, David
Kondos, Michelle Valborg
Kori, Kim
Kratter, Paul
Lai, Ze Ze
Laird-Lagassee, Janet
Lalingo, Judy
Lockhart, Lynne
Mark-Finberg, Laura
Marshall, Pete
Martin, Roger
Martin McGuire, Jan
Martone, Jeanette
Matia, Walter
Mattson, Janis L.
Maxwell, Sally
Maynard, Chris
Miller, Terry
Miller, Darin
Miller Russell, Tiffany
Murray, Robin E .T.
Murtha, Sean
Nicholls, Calvin
Nicholls, Elizabeth Anne
Nimmo, Timothy
Offeman, James
Orlando, Ron
Osborne, Leo Ewell
Painter, Gerald J.
Park, Pokey
Pepin, Patricia
Peterson, Louise
Pettit, Bryce L.
Peyton, Anne
Plank, Millie Whipplesmith
Plishka, John
Pokorny, Tamara
Radding, Kelly Leahy
Rankin, David
Rhymer, Paul
Rich, Andrea
Rigsby, Jody
Robertson, Derek
Rogers, Julia
Russell, Jocelyn
Savides, Stefan
Seerey-Lester, Suzie
Seerey-Lester, John
Sheeter, Cathy
Siegrist, Rachelle
Siegrist, Wes
Sjöberg, Måns
Solberg, Morten E.
Soos, Heather
Stajcar, Pati
Stauffer, Amy
Stevens, Debbie
Sussino, Mark A.
Szatkowski, Frederick
Taylor, Kristine
Taylor, Mary C.
Tennison, James
Thompson, Carol Lee
Thornton, Rita
Thumbar, Chirag V.
Trent, Debra
Tryggmo, Gunnar
Tucker, Ezra
Ullberg, Kent
Vannoy, Sally
Walter, Bart
Ward, Heather
Wear, Marilyn
Westin, Sue
Woodall, Terry
Woodbury, Ellen
Yablonski, Scott
York, Sherrie
~ () ~

Until next time . . .

Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA

Sunday, May 5, 2019

My Experience As An SAA Juror

 My first time as an SAA juror by Rachelle Siegrist

Max hanging out with jurors Sherrie, Roger and Kim

     Wes and I left for Chicago last Tuesday morning, to attend the Society of Animal Artists spring meeting.  Our plane took off on time and landed in Atlanta, where our connecting flight was delayed a couple of hours due to very bad storms in the Chicago area.  They finally boarded us and before landing, I was delighted the clouds parted enough to reveal Chicago below, allowing us to see the "Sears Tower" rising above the clouds!  Others flights had been delayed as well, so we all ended up at O'Hare Airport at about the same time, before heading to SAA President Reneé and husband Brian's beautiful home.  
     The next morning fellow Board members and guest jurors serving on the SAA jury joined us at  Reneé's, and it was time to get busy.  We spent eight hours that day looking through around 400 images, from which pieces were selected for the upcoming Annual Exhibition which will be at the beautiful Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, TX.  The jurying takes place in their home theater and I was delighted to get to sit in the massage chair, where I enjoyed numerous back and foot massages throughout the day!  The group views all submissions in a random order before the actual jurying process begins, and there is absolutely no conversation allowed during this initial viewing nor during the jurying process.  As each image is projected onto the screen, the jurors sit in a dark room, while a cup is passed around and each member discretely places either a white marble for "Yes" or a black marble for "No" into the cup.  Jurors cannot see into the cup, so votes are completely hidden.

The room where the jurying for the annual show takes place

When all jurors have voted and the two cups are passed back, Reneé counts the marbles, announcing aloud the number of "Yes" votes.  If a juror needs a break at any time, there is an alternate juror who temporarily takes their place.  It was quite amazing how much of the time, the 9 jurors choices were in unison or close to it.  Since signatures are removed from submitted works by the SAA executive director (Wes), decisions are based solely on each juror's perception of the work. It's a very long day, as we viewed submissions for over 8 hours!  That evening, Board members who'd arrived during the day joined us for a dinner party, and the kitchen became abuzz with activity, with many of us helping out and cooking, filling the air with delicious aromas!

Hanging out while getting ready for dinner

Afterward came the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, whilst feasting and enjoying lots of laughter and wonderful conversation!  A highlight of the dinner conversation at our table was the stories Reneé and Brian shared about their experiences with spinner dolphins, rays and the likes while in Costa Rica!  Later that evening the group excitedly viewed for the first time, the accepted artwork that would comprise the upcoming annual show at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.

Allen, Me, Roger, Brian, Reneé, Chris, Jim, and Sherrie

The next day started early once again as we headed to the hotel where most of the members were staying and our Board meeting was to be held.  The agenda was a long one, so we got right to work discussing issues, and planning some exciting future events for the SAA. During our lunch break, we juried the new member submissions. As images by each artist are projected onto the screen, the group views them and is allowed to discuss them. Then votes are then cast, by a raising of hands for either "Signature", "Associate", "Resubmit" or "No".   Excitedly, 14 new members were accepted this time. Thankfully, even though the agenda was packed, things went fairly smooth and after another 8-hour meeting, by 5 o'clock that evening, we had accomplished everything we needed to do!

The Board Meeting

That evening, it was time to relax for a while at a restaurant nearby, where we once again enjoyed delicious food, lots of great laughter and conversation!  Afterward, we said our goodbyes and our crew headed back to Reneé's.  The next morning we thanked Reneé and Brian for their wonderful hospitality and I petted sweet Max one last time, before heading back to the airport.  Once home, Wes got busy with a mountain of SAA work, as he had to send out over 1,000 emails to the artists and Board members.  Thankfully, everything is progressing well and we're eager to join fellow artists this fall in San Antonio, TX for the opening weekend!

Until next time . . . 

Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA

Monday, April 1, 2019

Behind-the-Scenes Readying for the SAA’s Annual Exhibition Jury

     I thought it would be interesting to share insight with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what takes place, in order to get things ready for the jurying process of the SAA Annual show.  So, the SAA Executive Director, Wes, has kindly listed out deadlines for the different tasks and processes that must happen beforehand.  

~ 6 Months Ahead ~ 

The prospectus and entry form is created after confirming any updates and special circumstances. Since last year, the SAA forms are online now. Only a handful of members still submit paper forms.

~ 4 Months Out ~

Distribute the prospectus and entry form and set all deadlines. The SAA Jury Chairman selects the jury which is an extremely daunting task.  

(The Chairman must choose jurors that accepted artists will see as brilliant, insightful and full of good taste.  At the same time, these jurors must be seen by rejected artists as blind in one eye and unable to see out of the other, lacking all discernment of quality in art.)

(And most challenging of all . . . each juror MUST be able to identify artists works when presented in random order with signatures removed!)

~ Around February 1st ~ 

Start receiving and sorting entry materials.  It starts as a trickle at first, before turning into a flood at the end!  So many to do ... with so little time remaining!

~ Deadline Time ~ 

Entries are processed with forms and artwork sorted ... double check for errors, remove signatures from artwork and assign random numbers. Prep the slide show for the jury, and then test and retest it!

~ Jury Time ~  

Nine jurors spend all day jurying the submitted artworks.  They work independently of each other without speaking and vote “yes” with a white marble or black for “no” which are placed inside a cup.  The President, who is not on the jury, counts the votes and announces the results after each work is presented.  The Executive Director is managing the slide show and recording all the votes inside a spreadsheet.  Typically, six yes votes are “in” and 5 are “maybe”. 

Results are tallied and while the jury takes a break the Executive Director determines where the numbers stand with the required works for the exhibition.  Since the SAA now only accepts one work per artist, the jury must review again the artists that they chose both entries.  The jurors are allowed to discuss the dual entries at this point to finalize their choice.  Numbers are tallied once more, and if needed the jury then returns to continue jurying the “in or maybe” votes by highest scores to reach the final show.

That evening, the jury previews the selected show for the first time in its entirety.  (Jurors are then escorted by SAA security teams back to their safe houses to live the rest of their lives in secrecy.)

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the behind-the-scenes look at the jurying process for the annual show.  

* Please note that sentences in parenthesis and italicized are purely for a touch of humor and not for real!

Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA

Monday, March 4, 2019

Get To Know More of The SAA Board & Staff

Insights Into Current SAA Leadership ~ Part II

~ Allen Blagden ~

     Allen Blagden lives in Salisbury, Connecticut and has been an SAA Signature Member since 1987 and served as one of the SAA Vice-Presidents in the past. Born into a family of talented artists, he began his artistic training with his father, an artist and art teacher at Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT.  After graduating, Allen travelled extensively throughout Egypt and Greece whilst painting and sketching for a year.  After returning to the States he was awarded a fellowship to Yale University’s Summer Painting Program, where he studied under Bernard Chaet, and produced several large paintings based on his Egyptian sojourn.  He later graduated with a BFA from Cornell and worked as an illustrator for the National Serengeti Park in Kenya for three months, before becoming an illustrator for the Department of Ornithology at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.  After having worked there a year, he went to New Mexico to work as a cinematographer for Denny McCoy, nephew of Andrew Wyeth, for the film Billy The Kid, before returning to Connecticut to set up his own studio and paint full time.

Allen and me in Rocky Mountain National Park

Having won the Connecticut Art Foundation Annual Award in one of his first group shows, he also had his first solo show in New York City at the Janet Nessler Gallery, where he was awarded the Allied American Artist’s prize for Best First One Man Show of the Year!  That same year he took part in a two-man show with his father Thomas Blagden, at the Picture Gallery in Saint Gaudens National Site in Cornish, NH.  Then in 1971, he along with his wife and daughter, lived in the south of France for the winter, then lived in England and Ireland that spring and summer, where he produced a large body of paintings and drawings.  While in Europe, Allen took part in a group show at the Galerie de Paris, in Paris, France and had a solo show at Trafford Gallery in London, England.  Upon returning to the States, his entire exhibition of European work at the Frank Rehn Gallery sold out!  Allen has been in Birds In Art13 times now, and has had numerous solo exhibitions over the years with Kennedy Gallery in NYC, with his most recent being at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY in 2017.  Most recently, several of his paintings were part of the David Rockefeller auction at Christie's in NYC.

~ Elizabeth Nicholls ~

     Elizabeth Nicholls lives in Toronto, Canada and has been an SAA Associate Member since 2017.  She grew up in the small town of Lindsay, in southern Ontario, and had a keen interest in art, nature, and animals for as long as she can remember. Her grandparents built a cottage in the beautiful Kawartha Highlands years ago when her mother was just an infant. Her mother adored spending her childhood there, and later shared it with Elizabeth and the rest of the family. The island cottage is still a favourite place of theirs to visit to this day, and the wildlife that inhabits the region has always been one of the main attractions. Elizabeth enjoys feeding chipmunks peanuts from her hand, watching families of raccoons come out at night to eat scraps left out for them, and loves the haunting sound of a loon. Having gone on many family trips through the forests of Ontario, Algonquin Park has been a favourite destination of the Nicholls family, where they have experienced the thrill of seeing wild moose and feeding Grey Jays from their hands. She feels very at home in the presence of nature and continues to explore on camping trips with her friends every summer.

Elizabeth as a young girl, feeding a Grey Jay in Algonquin Park

Elizabeth’s artistic talent takes after her father Calvin, who is also a member of the Society of Animal Artists. She has always known that she wanted to make art her career, and after graduating high school, she studied at Sheridan College in the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Illustration program. She continued to advance her skills at the Academy of Realist Art, and in 2017, she felt honored when she was accepted to be a member of SAA. Now Elizabeth is enjoying the beginning of her journey as a professional artist and is overjoyed to be the new Instagram Administrator for the Society of Animal Artists. 

~ Wes Siegrist ~

     Wes Siegrist lives in Townsend, TN and has been an SAA Signature Member since 2001.  He’s one of our Distinguished Signature Members and has served as our webmaster since 2001 when he built the SAA’s first website to launch the Society into the digital age.  Wes served on the SAA Board as one of our Vice-Presidents from 2012 until 2017 when he stepped down to become the Executive Director.  He grew up playing outdoors in rural Southern Indiana and working summer jobs on farms.  The former Boy Scout still loves to hike, fish, kayak and camp and also enjoys tending to yardwork and his vegetable garden now mostly inside a greenhouse.

Wes with a clump of Indian Pipe during a hike

Wes grew up drawing, painting and working with modeling clay, and was also into building models and has continued his love of model railroading (it’s for the nieces and nephews he says) to this day. He was blessed to develop a close personal friendship with his high school art teacher as well as being able to take private art lessons for a year from a professional artist that guided him through “Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain”.  Majoring in both Fine Arts and Graphic Arts in college included drawing and painting from life and he enjoyed doing freelance illustration work, cartoons and an internship with a publishing house.

Moving to Florida began his love of creating wildlife art and it has been the primary focus of his work since the 80s.  He met me (Rachelle) in 1989 and stumbled into the enchanting world of miniature art back in 1997, now doing all of his work in this minute scale. He’s looking forward to doing BIG things with the SAA and anticipates years of fun with his fellow members!

~ () ~

Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA