Fun at the SAA 55th Annual Opening Weekend!

Attending the Society of Animal Artists Exhibition Weekend!

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist at the buffalo zoo -
Allen shows Cathy and I his scratch from the hawk encounter

Obviously the highlight of our weekend in Buffalo was seeing Niagara Falls, but we also had lots of fun with our artist friends during the remainder of the weekend! Friday morning, about a dozen of us headed to the Buffalo Zoo for the day. It’s a lovely, photographer friendly zoo, so we were all able to get bunches of great photos. It was a nice cool morning, so the zoo inhabitants were all out and quite active! Of course visiting the petting zoo was a treat as were the abundant flower filled hanging baskets on display throughout the well maintained grounds!

rachelle siegrist allen blagden at the buffalo zoo - 1
Allen and I on the hanging bridge inside the Aviary

The zoo has a wonderful aviary, which makes you feel as if you have walked into a section of the rainforest when you enter. Seeing and photographing the beautiful, resident nesting Scarlet Ibis, was certainly a highlight of our visit to the small indoor paradise! It was fun hearing stories from our artist friends as we walked about, and after having a Red-tailed Hawk fly directly above our heads, dear friend Allen, shared about his recent encounter with a hawk. Seems he was out feeding his pigeons one day recently, and a hawk flew directly between his legs, while chasing the pigeon and scraped his leg with one of it’s talons! The hawk missed and his pet pigeon lived, plus he now has an amazing story to tell!

rachelle siegrist at the roger tory peterson museum - 1
Me standing in front of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute

That evening we enjoyed the lovely two hour drive to Jamestown, NY, where we attended the SAA opening at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. With our own Exquisite Miniatures Tour having been exhibited there July 12 through November 7, 2014, it was nice seeing this beautiful facility in person! The opening for the Society of Animal Artists 55th Annual exhibition was well attended with artists and patrons.  We really enjoyed viewing the show and were treated to a delightful and delicious assortment of edible goodies outside in a tent!

Saturday morning, the SAA business meeting culminated with a presentation by artist Bob Bateman, as he talked about his career. That afternoon, he demonstrated painting techniques working on a composition featuring a Great Blue Heron. His commentary while painting was very enlightening as well as quite entertaining! It was certainly a delightful treat for all attending!

Bob Bateman demonstrating painting - 1
Bob Bateman demonstrating

That evening we attended the SAA Awards Banquet, where lots of conversation, laughter and delicious food was enjoyed! While Wes attended the SAA board meeting Sunday, I spent the day with artist friend John Agnew’s wife, Pat. We had a fun filled day of adventures, which started at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. After a relaxing walk through their colorful outdoor flower gardens, we went into the Conservatory.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - 1
The entrance to the Conservatory
shayne dark sculptures exhibited at buffalo and erie county botanical gardens - 1
One of Shayne Dark’s bright sculptures on the grounds

The impressive conservatory was the third largest public greenhouse in the U.S. and was ranked as the ninth largest in the world, when it opened in 1900! Upon entering it, I finally felt nice and warm and immediately fell in love with all of the lush greenery and blossoms inside! Other than a Chocolate Tree, one of the most interesting residents was a Corpse Flower called “Morty”. The “tree” which is seen above the ground is actually one leaf! When it blooms every 6-10 years, it produces one single huge blossom!

Morty the corpse flower at Buffalo County Botanical Gardens
Morty the Corpse Flower

An admirer of palm trees of all shapes and sizes, I was especially drawn to a tall palm tree whose trunk was covered in what appeared to be grassy-like whiskers, called an Old Man Palm Tree. It was actually quite adorable looking and you just wanted to pet it!

old man palm tree at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - 1
The adorable Old Man Palm Tree

As we slowly meandered through the multiple glass enclosed rooms, we were surrounded by a variety of lush trees and shrubs, blooming orchids, hanging tendrils of Spanish Moss and a variety of other blossoms. There were several delightful, bright-colored sculptures by Shayne Dark, on display throughout the conservatory, with many appearing as if they were slowly walking about the interior gardens!

shayne dark sculpture at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - 1
One of Shayne Dark’s sculptures that appeared to be crawling about
shayne dark sculpture at Buffalo County Botanical Gardens - 1
Yet another one of his interesting sculptures
shayne dark sculptures at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - 1
More interesting sculptures by Dark

Each glass room featured plants with a common theme, and it was truly delightful seeing what we would discover next! One room featured a checker set, which I must admit was one of the neatest I have ever seen, especially since it was surrounded by a garden of hanging Spanish Moss!

checkers game at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - 1
The inviting checker board

The entire interior space of the conservatory, was filled with an extensive variety of plants, including one I really admired, called a Hanging Clock Vine.

hanging clock vine at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - 1
The beautifully graceful Hanging Clock Vine
clock vine flower at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens - 1
A close up of the gorgeous Clock Vine flower

There was an extensive collection of blooming Orchids of all shapes, colors and sizes on display, with several of them offering a delightful, delicate scent as well!

orchids at buffalo and erie county botanical gardens
One of the many Orchid blossom

Having spent a couple of relaxing hours admiring it all, we headed for our next destination, the Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo. We spent a couple of hours walking the numerous trails and boardwalks, many leading by small lakes, while enjoying the beautiful sunny day! A personal favorite of the preserve, was a group of contraptions hanging from cables stretched between trees, which served not only as bat houses, but were interesting sculptures as well.

bat house sculpture at Tifft nature preserve
Bat house sculpture at Tifft Nature Preserve

Leaving the nature preserve, we took a short drive to nearby Lake Erie, where we enjoyed a lovely walk along the shoreline. We watched as numerous sailboats slowly drifted by in the late day sun, accompanied by the calls of gulls and a pleasant breeze. That evening we joined Wes, John and the other board members for dinner at the hotel, where there was once again lots of laughter, conversation and of course, delicious food!

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Until next time . . .


4 thoughts on “Fun at the SAA 55th Annual Opening Weekend!

  1. Don Weiser

    Hi, Such a lovely blog this week!!!!!!!! Enjoyed every photo and the descriptions too. Too bad Corpse Flower wasn’t blooming. Or maybe not. 🙂 Not too long until snow arrives in Buffalo and they get a ton!!!!! D


    1. Thanks Don!!! We had such a great time! From what we were told, the Corpse Flower smells really bad stinky when it’s blooming, so maybe it’s a good thing it wasn’t, although I would’ve loved to have seen it!! As for the snow . . . better than than us 🙂

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