Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Good Luck Charm

The 9th Annual McKeever Nature Art Show wrapped up earlier today and it was quite a success. It was one of my better shows and I'm quite pleased with the results.
Of course, as I was setting up on Friday, the skies opened up and the rain thoroughly soaked everything outside. I feared this would keep people from attending this small show, but that was not to be. Opening night was pleasantly cool, reasonably dry, and as patrons began to browse the gallery, a barred owl lit in a small tree just outside the window. It seemed as curious about what was going on behind the panes of glass and watched us watching him.
I've heard owls can be good luck. Well, I'm inclined to agree. The owl stayed throughout the weekend and became quite a celebrity. I'm sure I won't be the only artist with an owl image in my display next year!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Returning from Birds In Art

The past eight days have been a blur. So much has happened and there has been almost no time to digest it all. Finally, with my feet up and Otis the Wonder Dog snoring happily beside me, I can take a few minutes and browse the current Birds In Art (BIA) exhibit catalogue.

Of course, the first several pages are dedicated to this year’s Master Wildlife Artist, James Coe. Jim and I have been friends for a few years now and I could not have been more pleased with his selection for Master honors. Jim’s work is the definition of what true art should be. He is an artist in every sense of the word. I was also fortunate to be able to paint with Jim during a plein air workshop he conducted after the opening weekend festivities for BIA. It was my first attempt at plein air painting and I walked away with a firm foundation for my outdoor painting future. Oh… and I also ended up with a decent painting or two J

Moving past the last of the Coe paintings and into the body the catalogue, I’m reminded of the feeling I had walking into the exhibit for the first time. Right away, I was drawn to Paul Rhymer’s barred owl sculpture, then to Chris Bacon’s “Liquidity”. Each piece seemed to hold my attention for longer than it probably should have given the finite duration of my stay. I remember being awed by Matthew Hillier’s glistening brushwork in “Beach Party.” Terry Miller pulled off yet another extraordinary composition in graphite. Larry Barth’s cuckoo carving was so elegantly lifelike it seemed to move beneath the protective glass. It’s hard to imagine an exhibit of this size having such outstanding quality without seeing it in person. There are far too many highlights to mention them all and some of the art literally gave me goose bumps.

There was a buzz in the crowd Saturday morning as some of the artists demonstrated their craft for the public. Debby Kaspari flaunted (though I don’t think that’s a word she would use) her amazing drawing skills to the delight of everyone watching. I never tire of watching her work.

Then there was “the news”. Wednesday evening, Jane Weinke and Shari Schroeder pulled me aside so they could speak to me alone. Jane informed me of the Museum’s decision to purchase my painting, “Shimmer”, for the permanent collection. Then she asked if that would be okay. I nearly fell on the floor! It was the best news I’ve heard in quite some time. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip. It will be weeks before my feet touch the ground again.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Birds in Art 2011

With the Labor Day weekend upon us, my mind is occupied with the details of an upcoming adventure. Like the last four, my 2011 September is highlighted by a journey to Wausau, Wisconsin for the opening of the Birds In Art exhibit. Unlike previous years however, I’ll be sharing the ride with 1991 Master Artist Larry Barth. I’m truly looking forward to picking Larry’s brain during the 24 hour long roundtrip. It will be a pleasant departure from my usual solitary sojourns.

Birds In Art is without question the most prestigious exhibition in the wildlife/nature art world. The fine people at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum and the generous Woodson family are gracious and accommodating hosts for this extraordinary event. I’m continually amazed at how smoothly this three-day visit always goes as there must be so many logistical nightmares. Yet 70-some artists along with their guests, hundreds of patrons, and visitors that must number in the thousands all leave the museum doors with wide enthusiastic smiles.

The art is always stunning. There are more than 130 paintings and sculptures from artists at every corner of the globe thoughtfully displayed within the intimate gallery spaces. As an artist, there is a humbling sense of self-analysis while browsing these works. I remember how overwhelmed I was by the whole experience on my first visit and just how incredibly fortunate I felt to have a painting of my own included. There was a moment of “warm and fuzzy” when I first saw my painting in the Museum. It was hard to stop smiling. I also remember exactly how insignificant I felt standing next to the likes of Robert Bateman, Lars Jonnson, Carl Brenders, and Dino Paravano. It was like the world was going to open up and swallow me and no one would notice. I feel a little more like I belong in the exhibit these days, but still get more than just a little starstruck around some of the big guns.

There is an energy to this event that makes it like no other. So many talented, adventurous, hardworking, and likeminded people in one place can’t help but wind you up like a toy store top. During a rare moment of downtime, it’s easy to find yourself wandering around your hotel room with your head spinning.

Of course this year’s Birds In Art excursion has a special meaning. My friend, painter James Coe will be awarded the coveted Master Artist medal during a ceremony held in front of hundreds of distinguished guests. I’ve admired Jim’s work for years and he’s one of the true “good guys” of the art world. I can think of no one more deserving.

Jim will be teaching a 4-day plein air painting workshop immediately following our Opening Weekend festivities. I’m wildly excited about this opportunity. I’ve always wanted to delve into this method of painting and Jim is a true master. Stay tuned for images and updates once I return to PA. The road awaits…. J