Including participating SAA artists and guests, 375 people attended the opening for the Society of Animal Artists 59th Annual Exhibition at the beautiful Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio recently! The picturesque museum sits nestled among grand cypress trees lining the historic Riverwalk, where the numerous trees and lush gardens all about give one a feeling of being in an oasis, making it a real treat to visit indeed!
While several artists, including myself, spent Thursday at the San Antonio Aquarium getting up close and personal with lemurs and other delightful critters, most SAA members and their guests arrived at the Marriott Hotel later that afternoon in time to attend the opening that evening. The reception was well attended and the museum was packed with excited attendees and patrons!
Opening remarks were made by Michael Duchemin, Ph.D., the Briscoe’s Director, and SAA President Reneé Bemis. This year’s SAA student scholarship recipients were announced and we all enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Then came the awaited time to view the exhibition which was arranged beautifully and an absolute inspiration to see in person!
The next morning a caravan consisting of dozens of wildlife artists, headed to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch anticipating another great day! We made many animals very happy as our entourage tossed out piles of food while slowly driving along the scenic loop road. Thankfully it had cooled off some that morning and there was a delightful breeze as we went along feeding wildlife and taking numerous photos. I'm quite sure the animals thought for sure the paparazzi had invaded!
The group enjoyed a delicious and fun lunch at the restaurant located on the ranch with many of us taking another drive-through afterward. It’s a wonderful park where you can certainly get up close and personal with their numerous resident animals while allowing great opportunities for taking perfect reference photos... a delight to wildlife artists indeed!
Most of us spent our free time visiting historic landmarks, swimming in the hotel pool, and strolling along the picturesque riverwalk nearby, and Friday evening at the hotel, we had a great time hanging out and relaxing during the pizza party and game night for the attending artists. The game "Who am I?" gave attendees a chance to guess the mystery artists, after Executive Director Wes Siegrist read aloud different artist's answers to a few unique questions, giving us a chance to get to know one another better.
The next day was abuzz with numerous activities, starting with the SAA members meeting, and after lunch, we were treated to a most insightful and entertaining interview with SAA Master Signature Member Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen.
SAA Board and Distinguished Signature Member, Terry Miller, interviews Carel.
The afternoon was filled with SAA artist demonstrations, live bird presentations and a community mural project in which SAA artists helped the kids paint. The public poured in and the Briscoe Museum had a tremendous turnout for the various activities and viewing of the SAA exhibition, and a flurry of activities kept everyone quite busy all day!
SAA Executive Director and Distinguished Signature Member, Wes Siegrist alongside SAA Signature Member Robin Huffman having fun painting with the kids!
SAA Signature Members, Cynthie Fisher, Kelly Radding and Tiffany Miller Russell demonstrated their techniques and many tried their hand at scratchboard!
That evening the air was filled with abundant conversation and laughter during the Annual Awards Banquet, and it was decided that Wes had chosen wisely with the caterer, as the food was truly delicious!
Following dinner, SAA Distinguished Signature Member John Seerey-Lester was awarded the coveted Lifetime Achievement award by the Society. This amazingly talented artist, who has achieved so much throughout his career as an artist, even being Knighted at one point, brought tears to the eyes of many, as he graciously spoke of his love for the SAA in accepting his award. Afterward, this year's award winners were announced and can be viewed on the SAA website by clicking here.
John brought abundant laughter too in his acceptance speech (shown with his wife Suzie)
While attending board members including myself, spent the day in the SAA Board meeting, a group of artists got a chance to visit Bracken Cave located near San Antonio. With more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats, it's home to the world's largest bat colony, and I'm sure made for an awesome experience for those able to go!
The SAA would like to extend a HUGE thank you to the amazing Briscoe Western Art Museum for hosting the SAA’s 59th Annual Exhibition, and to the friendly staff that made it such a wonderful weekend for so many of us!
I'm currently working on producing a video featuring the exhibition at the Briscoe Museum and numerous highlights from all activities that took place during the memorable weekend and will share it on next month's blog.
Until Next Time ~ Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA