National Museum of Wildlife Art, September 9-October 9
This story was featured in the September 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Collectors who love wildlife subject matter, and anyone for whom nature’s creatures strike a chord, is well advised to head to Jackson’s National Museum of Wildlife Art this month. That’s where, for the 29th consecutive time in the museum’s 29-year history, top animal artists converge to showcase and sell their works in the institution’s largest annual fundraiser, Western Visions.
This show kicks off on Friday, September 9, from 3 to 5 p.m. with a preview and reception. Guests can peruse the 200 or so paintings, sculptures, and drawings on sale. Each of the 77 invited artists submits up to three pieces—a medium-size work, a miniature, and a drawing. Festivities continue the following week with two ticketed evening events, which many of the artists attend: an Artists Party on Thursday, September 15, from 6 to 9 p.m., at which guests can meet the artists, view their work, and submit intent-to-purchase slips; and the show and sale on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., which includes the final opportunity to put your name in the box before the sale closes and buyers’ purchase slips are drawn.
The show includes works by such venerated names as Len Chmiel, Ger-ald Balciar, and Donna Howell-Sickles. “[But] even entry-level collectors can find reasonable price points, with prices for some sketches as low as around $400,” notes Amy Goicoechea, the museum’s director of programs and events.
Goicoechea enthuses about the international range of the show, noting contributions from sculptor Richard Loffler and painter Ron Kingswood, both Canadians; Swedish painter Lars Jonsson; and Britons Nicola Hicks and Simon Gudgeon. “We’re really proud of the breadth we’ve achieved,” she says.
Closer to home, longtime participants express their own quiet pride to be included. “I feel a very personal connection to the museum,” says Jackson-based September Vhay, whose self-described “western contemporary” oils, watercolors, and charcoal drawings capture local wildlife with eloquent immediacy. A decade-long participant, she presents a miniature painting of a magpie, a larger painting of an elk herd, and a charcoal drawing of a deer. Adds painter Edward Aldrich of Golden, CO, “Western Visions is one of the gems of my year”—and that’s high praise considering he simultaneously has a solo show at the local Mountain Trails Gallery, while a painting by him stars on the poster for this year’s Fall Arts Festival (see page 48). Now in his 13th year in the show, Aldrich is showing ON THE PROWL, an oil painting of a timber wolf in the snow, along with a miniature of an Arctic fox and a graphite drawing of a cheetah. He adds that the National Museum of Wildlife Art is the perfect setting for the event. “The quality of works the museum has is amazing, with the very best masters of the genre. Every time I go, I’m enthralled.” —Norman Kolpas
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