Sunday, March 1, 2020

Highlighting SAA Inaugural Members of 1960

Since we're celebrating the Society of Animal Artists 60th Anniversary this year, this month we continue with more history pertaining to the beginning years of the organization. In addition to the SAA Founders Patricia Allen (Bott) and Gudio Borghi, all of these artists listed below were inaugural members of the Society. The SAA archives currently lack records from 1960-1963, so there could be a few more artists that were active starting in 1960. Members starting in 1958 were part of the Animals in Bronx Zoo exhibition, which was the inspiration for founding the SAA two years later. Most of these members remained active with the SAA until their death.

(Photos of the artist's artwork shown below their paragraph)

Anna Hyatt Huntington (1960-1973) ~ Called the 3rd SAA member by Founder Patricia Allen, she was one of the foremost female artists of her time, known worldwide for her sculptures ranging in size from the miniature to the heroic, with her Joan of Arc statue located in NYC, perhaps the most famous. She, along with husband Archer Huntington, founded Brookgreen Gardens in 1931. Anna was active in the SAA leadership until 1973, serving as the Society’s 1st Vice-President, and was also a member of the National Academy of Design. 

Paul Bransom (1958-1979) ~ He was active in the SAA leadership until 1978 and served as one of the Society’s Presidents as well as on the membership jury. For several years Paul did much of his early work in a studio located inside the Bronx Zoo, a rare privilege indeed! He illustrated over 40 books of wildlife and animal stories, as well as hundreds of animal stories for numerous national magazines.

Joseph Boulton (1958-1981) ~ He was a sculptor, painter, teacher, and taxidermist, and studied at the National Academy of Design. He spent his childhood days working on ranches in Texas, so he could get the first-hand experience for doing western subjects and American Indians in art. He learned much about anatomy while caring for sick or injured animals and nursing them back to health.

Gardell Dano Christensen (1960-1991) ~ He was active in the SAA leadership until his death in 1991. He began working at the American Museum of Natural History at the age of 19. Several years later, he represented the museum in a year-long expedition to collect animals for the Akeley African Hall, from Africa. He was the first American artist to paint an okapi from life whilst in the Belgium Congo. He also illustrated and wrote several books.

Brenda Frey (1958-1966) ~ She was active in the SAA leadership until 1965, serving as the Society’s Treasurer and Secretary. Spending numerous hours as a young girl drawing and painting animals at a nearby city zoo, she became intrigued by the movement of the animals. The circus gave her a pass to paint behind the scenes for many years, where she painted many famous animals and clowns.

Harry L. Hoffman (1958-1964) ~ He specialized in brightly colored impressionistic paintings of marine life. While in the Bahamas, he developed a special bucket with a glass bottom that allowed him to clearly see the marine life below. He was also a member of the National Academy of Design.

Elizabeth Rungius Fulda (1958-1968) ~ She was active in the SAA leadership until 1967, serving as the Society’s first President as well as on the membership jury. At age 14, she began painting lessons from her brother Carl Rungius. She sketched from nature at her neighbor's large farms and in her own barnyard. Later on, she drew animals in the Berlin Zoological Garden, before moving to the United States in 1905, where she continued her animal studies in the Bronx Zoo, under her brother Carl's guidance.

Ugo Mochi (1958-1977) ~ He was active in the SAA leadership until 1972, serving as one of the Society’s Vice-Presidents.  Hailed as "a triumph for the ingenuity of human finger" in a London publication, Ugo was the greatest living exponent of shadows in outline and specialized in silhouettes typically from cut paper. after sketching a rough outline on white paper, he used a double-edged knife cut away from around the pencil lines, producing a beautiful, detailed and accurate design. His artworks were used as illustrations for numerous books.

Lloyd Sanford (1958-1971) ~ He was the art editor of the New Jersey Audubon Society, an illustrator for college‐level zoological texts and an illustrator of a variety of nature and animal books. As the staff artist for the New York Zoological Society, Lloyd produced over 4,000 paintings before his death, when he was tragically killed in a car accident.

Joel Stolper (1958-1964) ~ He specialized in illustrating and writing children’s books.  He also liked to draw the animals from life at the Bronx Zoo.  One of his illustrated books was "My Trip to the Zoo: A Visit to the New York Zoological Park".

Clarence Tillenius (1960-2012) ~ He was active in the SAA leadership until 1989, serving as one of the Society’s Western Representatives. Specializing in paintings, he did illustrations for nature and wildlife magazines for many years and was also particularly known for his work on dioramas, including those in the National Museum of Canada.

Clement Weisbecker (1958-1964) ~ He was particularly known for illustrations in comics including Betty & Veronica of Archie Comics, Captain America of Marvel Comics, and Lance O'Casey of Fawcett Comics.  In the comic world, he was known as "Clem". He loved to draw animals from life at the Bronx Zoo and was equally adept as a painter.

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We want to welcome the SAA's newest Patron member ~ America West Frames!  

Until next time ~ Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Founders Of The Society Of Animal Artists

Guido R. Borghi (1903-1971)             Patricia Allen Bott (1912-1994)
In 1958, Patricia Allen (Bott) and Guido Borghi assembled an exhibition of fellow artists that regularly met at the Bronx Zoo in New York City to sketch and paint the animals from life. The exhibition, Animals In Bronx Zoo, was a resounding success with the public. As a result of this enthusiasm, Patricia and Guido decided to form an organization of likeminded artists for fellowship, encouragement, and exhibition opportunities at Burr Galleries,  as well as other NYC venues.

Pat gave the fledgling society her all, and like a mother hen, she carefully nurtured relationships with each of the artists. For the first few decades, it was Pat that produced all the newsletters and replied to almost all correspondence. She also worked at the prestigious Grand Central Art Gallery, which exposed her to professional animal and wildlife artists beneficial in building the Society of Animal Artists  (SAA) membership.  

The initial shows of the SAA were held at Burr Galleries (Founded by Pat's father) pictured above and below. The first exhibition in 1960 was sponsored by the Bronx Zoo.

Due to the high cost of rent, exhibitions were moved to Grand Central Art Galleries starting in 1964, which contributed to the continued growth, exposure and prestige of the Society. Pat arranged the traveling shows for the SAA from 1960 to 1972 and served on the SAA Board the remainder of her life, including positions as Secretary, and Treasurer.

Two of Pat's field sketches from Africa

Pat received little to no formal training in art. She was heavily influenced by her father, George Brainerd Burr's impressionistic style with bold brushstrokes and color. She continued to enjoy working from life at the Bronx Zoo during her lifetime, where she also served for a time as a volunteer, even having a cub at the zoo named after her.

Like Pat, Guido was inspired and taught by his father. Living nearby, he also loved to draw and sculpt animals from life at the Bronx Zoo. He was adept at oil painting including murals, he taught sculpture and painting and had his work featured in museum exhibitions around the United States.  

Two of Guido's sketches

Special thanks to historical information provided by Harriet E. Phillips (SAA Secretary 2005) and research provided by SAA Executive Director Wes Siegrist from the Society's archives.

I'm looking forward to sharing more historical insights about the SAA over the coming months celebrating our 60th Anniversary!

Until next time ~ Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Society Of Animal Artists Celebrates 60 Years

SAA artists at the 1980 Exhibition/Convention in San Antonio, TX

This year is an exciting one for the Society of Animal Artists! Founded in 1960, the organization will celebrate its 60th Anniversary this year, so I thought it a perfect time to take a look back in time. Below are several different photos from the past of current and late SAA members and their works. I challenge you to take a close look at each one and see if you can guess the mystery artist. The correct answers are located at the bottom of the blog post, so you can see how well you did. 

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The mystery artist is the gentleman on the left
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The mystery artist is the gentleman standing on the left

1. Wayne Trimm
2. John Ruthven
3. George Luther Schelling
4. The late Richard Sloan
5. Al Gilbert
6. Guy Coheleach

So . . . How did you do? I'm looking forward to sharing many more interesting photos and facts about the SAA's rich history, as well as our founding members, with you in future posts throughout this year, as we celebrate our 60 years in the making!

Until next time ~ Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA