In March of 2011 I was one of thirty artists invited to go on a “dream junket” to San Carlos, Mexico to paint, sketch and shoot reference for a Sea of Cortez exhibition at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona. And of course I happily accepted the chance to spend a week in a beachfront condo with 29 fellow artists.
One of the truly special things we got to do was to spend a day in a boat cruising some of the islands. There were birds everywhere and just about every one of them was a new species for me.
At one point, fishing lines were put in the water. I didn’t pay much attention since I was riveted by the bird life, which included brown pelicans blue-footed boobies, gannets, cormorants, frigatebirds and wonderfully graceful tropicbirds.
We cruised around near this outcropping on one of the islands.
A gannet flew by.
And, at a distance, a magnificent frigatebird flew by. In the meantime, someone hooked a yellowjack and hoisted it onto the boat. We were all gathered around admiring it when I looked up and spotted a frigatebird flying towards the boat, coming closer and closer. I had my camera with the long lens and started to shoot photos as fast as I could as the bird came right over our heads.
Frigatebirds mostly make their living stealing fish from other birds and this one had spotted ours, hoping for an opportunity to snag it. Alas, no. But I snagged enough good photos to create a triptych I titled “Magnificent Flyer”. I was honored when it was chosen to be used for the exhibition and direction banners at the museum.
Most of us who have traveled in groups have experienced the phenomena of everyone swearing undying friendship and promising to stay in touch and then, after awhile…crickets….as the participants all go back to their daily lives and routines. There was no reason to believe that this group would be any different or that very many would make the effort and spend the money to come back from all over the country for a one-day opening reception and group dinner. But I, and they, did! Every artist in the show was at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on March 16!
I didn’t take as many photos I as probably should have or could have, but sometimes one just wants to be a part of an event, not a recorder of it, and this was definitely one of those times. As seems to be the case with events like this, there’s never enough time to see and talk to everyone else although I did my best.
It’s an amazing show we’ve collectively created and I am honored to be a part of it. I think we really captured the spirit of the Sea of Cortez and the area where we spent a week in March of 2010. Yes, it’s been two years since the trip. You can read about it and the creation of two of my three paintings in the show here.
As enjoyable as the opening was, the REAL fun began at the home of the couple who put their fishing yacht at our disposal on the trip (without which there would be no Sally Lightfoot crab or magnificent frigatebird paintings) and then hosted us all for dinner in the evening. It was warm, a nice break from the cold or rainy winter weather elsewhere, and there was a even live mariachi band to accompany the delicious Mexican food.
As a way to show our appreciation to Dr. Wagner for all his hard work and organizing of the trip and then the exhibition (definitely an exercise in cat herding at times), after dinner a number of us presented a light-hearted, but sincere tribute roast.
Yours truly kicked it off with a “media analysis” of the tremendously conscientious (a steady stream of emails month in and month out for over two years) communication on the part of Dr. Wagner. Then followed a recreation of The Incident of the Stingray Sting (hoping to post the link to a video when available), the Sting Ray Song and the presentation of various gifts and awards. Our hosts were also put on the spot recognized and then, as the finale, Andrew Denman sang, with new words, “We’ll Do It Our Way”, which tells the story of the trip and some of the memorable things we saw. The video for that is available for viewing here. You can see photos of the reception and the evening’s festivities here.
Here are the credits for the cast:
David Wagner Gets Roasted
Andrew Denman, as The Singer
Kim Diment, as Chorusline Dancer
Susan Fox, as Media Analyst
Mary Garrish, as the mild-bedside-mannered Physician
John Pitcher, as the wayward Artist and Co-Producer
Rachelle Siegrist, Chorusline Dancer
Featuring Wes Siegrist, in the lead role as victim, David Wagner
and Sue Westin, as Choreographer and Co-Producer
Molly Moore, one of our merry band of artists, put together a 38 minute slide show of trip, which you can view here.
For more about the trip and images of one work by each participating artist, go here.
Here’s all the latest information on the Sea of Cortez art exhibition that I am one of thirty artists participating in. You can find out about the trip we all took, the opening weekend and see an example of each participating artist’s work here. Shown here are two of the works that I will have in the show.
It’s a triptych showing one Magnificent Frigatebird who came swooping in behind our boat after one of the artists caught a fish. His landing gear was down, hoping to snag it if he got a chance. I grabbed my camera and got five photos of him. I was really pleased to see these three and submitted all of them for the curator to chose from. And even more pleased when he gave me the go-ahead to do all of them as a set.
Here are the three paintings. Each of them is 40×16″:
You can see the other two paintings, “El Tigre (Nacapuli Canyon” and “Up Close-Sally Lightfoot Crab”, plus my other posts about my trip to the Sea of Cortez as part of a group of 30 artists here.
I just finished my second painting, “El Tigre (Nacapuli Canyon)”, for the group show I’m participating in, “The Sea of Cortez”, which will be opening next March at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona. The first one “Up Close-Sally Lightfoot Crab” can be viewed here.
This new painting came about as a result of my interest in comparing the Gobi and the Sonoran Desert. There are argali sheep in the mountain ranges that rise out of the Gobi, so I wondered if there were desert bighorn in the part of the Sonoran Desert that we visited, particularly the spectacularly beautiful Nacapuli Canyon.
I was given the contact information for a scientist who is familiar with the megafauna of the area. He more or less told me that he had bad news and good news. The former was that there is no record or evidence of desert bighorns in the canyon. The good news (and very good news it was indeed) is that there have been sightings, along with pugmarks and other evidence, of jaguars in the canyon. So I knew what one of my paintings would be.
Nacapuli Canyon is quite popular with visitors to the area for picnicking and hiking. Big cats tend to be very wary about the presence of humans, so while other wildlife like birds and coatimundis aren’t too difficult to see, the odds of seeing a jaguar are close to zero. But…as an artist I knew that I could “see” a jaguar in the canyon and show other people something very special about this place that might help conserve it for future generations.
Here’s the step by step process of the creation of “El Tigre (Nacapuli Canyon)”-
Definitely a change of pace for me, this painting is the first one of three for the upcoming Sea of Cortez group show, which will open at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on March 16, 2013. You can read about the trip and see some of the drawings I’ve done and photos I shot here.
While I was on the trip with 30 of my colleagues in March of 2011, we had access to a very nice fishing yacht whose owners generously took us out to an island that not only had these colorful, irresistible-as-subjects crabs, but also California sea lions and many species of birds.
I knew as soon as I saw them that I would want to paint one. Fortunately, there was also a Zodiac (small pontoon boat) that got us right up to the rocks. That and fast shutter speeds and I got some great reference.
Here’s the step-by-step of “Up Close-Sally Lightfoot Crab”:
I thought I’d share some details of the crab and the background.
The next painting for the show will truly be something completely different…a landscape with Nacapuli Canyon as its subject, with a special extra thrown in.
I’ve been having fun over the last month or so doing graphite drawings from reference I shot during the artist’s trip to the Sea of Cortez this past March. You can find out more about the trip here.
One of the reasons for doing them is to explore possible subjects for finished paintings that will be submitted for the 2013 exhibition, “The Sea of Cortez: Where the Desert Meets the Sea”, to be held at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
All the drawings are done with a General Draughting Pencil on 14×17″ Strathmore vellum bristol.
What a trip it was! The whole package…great scenery, interesting animals, terrific traveling companions who are also great artists and, in 2013, the exhibition at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to top it off.
I’ll be blogging about specific aspects of this experience and the art that I plan to create from it between now and showtime, but today I thought I’d share an overview of some of my favorite images, an album, if you will.
And, for this coming Mongolia Monday, I’ll compare and contrast Mongolia’s Gobi with the part of the Sonora Desert that I have now visited.