I’m not in Kansas anymore and there’s no place like home. Interesting trip back which started when I found out at the Wichita airport that my flight home via Sacramento had been canceled and that I would have to stay overnight in San Francisco. United Airlines never contacted me, even though they seem to have my correct email address and I was checking email twice a day. They will be hearing from us. I ended up at the Hilton near the airport. The guy behind the counter listened to my tale of woe and gave me a “Preferred” room for $70. Very spiffy room with big LCD tv hanging on the wall. Lamps next to the bed with dimmers, very comfortable bed, great omelet for breakfast, so it all worked out. A big, fat Win for Hilton.
Pleasantly uneventful last leg. It’s nice and sunny. Hope to be back in the studio tomorrow with wonderful memories of all the great artists and art I saw at the opening.
The annual membership meeting was held in the morning. Lots happening. The Society is closing the office it has maintained at the Salmagundi Club in New York, which will save a ton of money. The Society is now based in Colorado, home of the President and our Administrator. There are big, exciting plans afoot for our 50th anniversary Art and the Animal Show to be held in San Diego next year. A week’s worth of events, a Life Achievement Award for Robert Bateman, who will be in attendance, enough room for lots of member’s work and also large works, talks, workshops, possible trips to Marineworld and the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. Members coming in from all over the world.
But the big news, personally, was that I have been elected to serve on the Executive Board of the Society! I sent in the required “Why I want to do this” letter, but didn’t really expect anything to come of it for at least a year or two. However, a couple of long-time Board members dropped off, so the Nominating Committee tapped me and another gentleman to run, so we’re both in. I plan to attend the November meeting in New York, although my term doesn’t start until January. I’m really excited about this opportunity to get more involved in the Society and to work with the other board members, superb animal artists all.
After the meeting, most of us adjorned to the zoo for one more round of sketching and photographing the animals.
We gathered in the evening at 5pm for “Social Time”. Everyone brought their show catalogs and we spent over an hour getting each other to sign their respective pages. It was kind of like a high school year book signing at the end of the school year, but without the social drama. A great deal of fun.
Then it was time for dinner. I had the good fortune to have picked the most fun table and probably the rowdiest, sitting with Jan Martin McGuire, Paul Rhymer, Joni Johnson-Godsy, Kelly Singleton, a couple of spouses and another very amusing artist whose name I didn’t get. At one point Diane Mason’s husband came over and told us that they were going to split us up. I guess we were having too much fun ;0).
The final business was the handing out of the awards. One good friend, who shall remain anonymous until he is officially notified, received an Award of Excellence and a number of new friends, who I met this weekend, also got awards. Our new President, Diane Mason, who has already brought amazing energy and new ideas to the organization, got a well-deserved standing ovation.
I drive back to Wichita tomorrow to catch an afternoon flight for home.
As those of you who followed the run-up to my Mongolia trip may remember, I bought a Flip video recorder for the trip. As it turned out, I really never used it. Too much else to think about. But I brought it with me and yesterday I was watching some timber wolves at the zoo and thinking about how to capture in paint that graceful, loose-limbed stride they have. Then I remembered, duh, I have the Flip with me.
Here’s a sample. It will be interesting now to draw from this kind of reference-
Sept. 4, later-
Back from the opening, at which there were around 40 artists. There have been a few sales already, which is good news for everyone. I’ve only seen Art and the Animal in the show catalogs. This is the first time I’ve seen it in person. It appears, from some of the comments that I’ve heard, that this show is particularly good, so I’m even more proud to be a part of it. Sat at dinner with another artist, Kim Diment, who I met on Simon Combes’ last safari in 2004. We ended up regaling the table with tales from the field- elephant encounters, hippo incidents, etc. Sculptor Karryl had a great wild dog story. Saw them pull down an impala in Botswana. Perfect dinner table conversation. If you’re animal artists.
Spent most of the day sketching at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure zoo and taking pictures. So far, the big hit seems to be a small pond outside the entrance to the museum that has water lilies and at least ten frogs, who may now be some of the most photographed frogs in history. At a place where there are snow leopards, amur leopards, Indian rhinos, black swans, orangutans and other exotic creatures, it seems like every time I walk out of the museum there’s at least two or three artists photographing the frogs. The opening reception is this evening. Should be fun!
Back from the Art and the Animal show venue, Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure. About eight of us are here a day early. They fed us a lovely brunch and then we got to see the show, which is filled with superb work. After that, we were taken on a walking tour of the zoo, which has everything from capuchin monkeys to asian rhinos. We invade a local Italian restaurant at 6:30.
Hanging out at the Country Inns and Suites in Salina, Kansas after visiting the Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve. Gloomy, grey day, so nothing to photograph. It is, after all, thousands of acres of….grass, but represents a significant chunk of the 5% …or so of that ecosystem that is left. They hope to reintroduce bison at some point, but not remove the domestic cattle, which is too bad.
Trip started with a 90 minute delay due to weather in San Francisco, not uncommon for the 8:50 am flight. My next two legs were bumped to later flights, so I got into Wichita at 9:30 instead of 7:30. I so love arriving in places I’ve never been after dark and having to find a motel on the other side of town. But it all worked and the Fairfield Inn and Suites was quite nice. Super comfy bed.