Wildlife Art Museum Ready for FestivalSeptember 4, 2018
Sep 4, 2018
The National Museum of Wildlife Art has grown up with the Fall Arts Festival.
The museum was founded 31 years ago, three years after the festival’s inception. The original museum occupied a small space on Town Square across from where Mountain Trails Gallery lives today.
“The museum has been a cornerstone of the Fall Arts Festival for all 31 of those years,” said Amy Goicoechea, the museum’s director of programs and events.
In its infancy, the museum hosted a “miniatures” show, in which the artists whose work was beginning to be incorporated into the museum’s permanent collection were invited to give the museum a small painting or sculpture to be auctioned off to visitors. The museum kept a percentage of the sales. The museum’s show follows a similar format today.
Today the miniature auction has grown into the museum’s longest running and biggest fundraiser of the year, Western Visions, which runs from Saturday, Sept. 8, to Sunday, Oct. 7.
The show features over 200 paintings, sculptures and sketches by the world’s finest living wildlife artists working in contemporary and traditional styles.
“It’s a very exclusive show,” Goicoechea said.
This year the museum has only two new artists represented in the show, Adonna Khare and Peregrine O’Gormley.
Khare, who is represented by Visions West Contemporary, is a graphite pencil virtuoso. Her large works, sometimes spanning 8-foot-by-11-foot murals, take months, sometimes even a year, to complete. She places masterfully drawn animals in fantastical situations, bringing a storybook quality to the world of fine arts.
O’Gormley is a contemporary wildlife sculptor who works primarily with driftwood. His work has been exhibited in the Brookgreen Gardens, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Smith and Vallee Gallery in Edison, Washington, and Gerald Peters in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
For the show artists were asked to submit two pieces — one finished piece, and one that is considered a sketch. Many of the artists also show in galleries in Jackson or already have works in the museum’s permanent collection.
The museum holds a series of public and invitation-only events to benefit and celebrate the fundraiser throughout the festival.
The first event of the week is the sold-out Jewelry and Artisan Luncheon, which will take place at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept 5. (See sidebar.)
The first public event is the the annual Palates and Palettes event on Friday, Sept. 7, which previews the fundraiser. The event is held throughout town, as restaurants partner with neighboring galleries for an evening of art, tastes and libations.
“We hold ours from 3 to 5 so that locals and visitors can come see the Western Visions show and sale and still get into town and enjoy Palates and Palettes there,” Goicoechea said.
The next week the museum will host a free, but limited, artist talk with Dustin Van Wechel, Amy Elizabeth Lay, Andrew Denman and September Vhay from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept 13.
That evening all featured artists and patrons are invited to an Artist Party from 6 to 9 p.m. The party will give patrons the opportunity to view the collection, bid and mingle with the artists before the big sale the following evening. Attire is “festive Western.”
The show concludes with a Western cocktail party from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept 14. It will be the last opportunity for patrons to bid before the museum’s draw to determine who will take each piece of artwork home. Each piece is at a fixed price, and bidders are randomly drawn.
The event is invitation only. To be considered, visit WildlifeArt.org/western-visions for more information.
The museum closes the festival with a bloody mary-infused brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16. Here, any unsold pieces will be on display and available for sale through Sunday, Oct. 7.