Charleston Place Hotel, February 11-14
This story was featured in the January 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Wildlife art takes center stage in Charleston, SC, this month as approximately 40,000 visitors attend the variety of events that make up the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. With a history of bringing wildlife art and conservation awareness to the Southeast, the show has expanded dramatically from its humble beginnings of 20 participating artists in 1983—this year it includes more than 100 fine artists bringing approximately 1,500 artworks, 500 additional exhibitors, and wildlife and sporting events in five different venues.
With the fine-art sale as the centerpiece of the show, the Charleston Place Hotel’s grand ballroom, where the artists display their works, is the hub of the event. Featured painter Kyle Sims returns to the show after attending earlier in his career. He brings with him a selection of artworks including this year’s featured piece, POWER AND GRACE, a 38-by-50-inch oil painting of a grizzly fording a rushing stream. This painting, along with nine other nonart items, is auctioned during the special black-tie VIP Preview Gala and Sale on Thursday, February 11, from 7 to 11 p.m.—an event attended by exotic animals and featuring wild fare and cocktails.
The artwork and exhibitions open to the public on Friday, February 12, at 10 a.m., but ticketing options for early previewing are available, and for serious aficionados, an early peek at the all-star lineup will be hard to pass up. This year the roster includes guest artists John Banovich, Greg Beecham, and Brett Smith—all of whom have been featured artists in past years—as well as painters Chad Poppleton, Julie Chapman, Mary Garrish, Kyle Paliotto, and Ezra Tucker, just to name a few. This year’s featured sculptor is Stefan Savides, who’s known for his avian bronzes. Other sculptors include Ott Jones, Karryl, and Don Rambadt.
Weekend art-related events include a Quick Draw and Speed Sculpt at 3 p.m. on Friday with 12 artists each creating an artwork in one hour. These works are auctioned immediately following. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Quartet performs during the Duet and Quartet event in which four artists, working in pairs, create two artworks: Grant Hacking and John Seerey-Lester collaborate on a single oil painting, and sculptors Scott Penegar and David Turner produce a sculpture of clay and plaster. “It’s almost like they’re painting along with the music,” says marketing director Mary Roberts. “It’s very graceful. It’s neat to see the artists work like that. They complete the works in one hour and an auction follows.
“SEWE began as a wildlife art and conservation show,” Roberts continues. “The heart of the show is the art, but it’s grown into the sporting and wildlife show as well.” Other weekend attractions include presentations by television personality, author, and conservationist Jack Hanna; an artisans’ exhibition featuring furniture, woodworks, nature photography, and handcrafted knives; a decoy exhibition and auction; cooking demonstrations; birds-of-prey flight demonstrations; fly-fishing demonstrations, dockdog competitions, and retriever demonstrations. In all, this is a must-see event for the wildlife enthusiast and art lover. —Laura Rintala
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