Fun With Fellow Members of the Society of Animal Artists

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist houston museum of natural science
Wes and me beside a T-Rex

We hit the ground running when we landed in Houston, TX this past Wednesday evening, arriving just in time to attend the meet and greet party for the artists attending the 2016 Annual Exhibition.  After breakfast Thursday morning, director of marketing at Trailside Galleries, Kimberly Fletcher, gave an informative talk on using social media in today’s art market.  Then the afternoon was ours to enjoy, so we spent it at the Houston Museum of Natural Science along with fellow artist friends Stephen Spears and Dan Chen.

wes and rachelle siegrist dan chen houston museum of natural science
Wes, Dan and me inside the butterfly enclosure

Once inside, the four of us took a wrong turn, leading us through a door, down an indoor firescape and outside! Having the adventurous, unplanned scenic tour behind us, we headed back inside for a second time, which proved to be more successful! The first point of interest was a visit to the butterfly exhibit, where we enjoyed watching a vast variety of butterflies flitting about the enclosed tropical gardens.  A highlight for us all was seeing the amazing assortment of chrysalis displayed, the favorite being these amazing metallic ones, appearing to look like little aliens!

houston museum of natural scienceOf course the dinosaurs were at the top of my must-see list, so that’s where we headed next!  It was a most impressive collection, and we later learned from a docent that several of the fleshless giants were the real deal, while the others were copies, and the visual key to the difference was in their supporting systems.   From there we went through their expansive collection of trialobytes and other ancient fossils.  There was an amazing collection of petrified wood, and seashells from around the world, and stunning gems of assorted shapes and sizes.  And so it went, one impressive collection after another from the extraordinary to the most odd, one of which was a bearded mummy!  The evening culminated with the opening reception for the exhibition.

rachelle siegrist at houston museum of natural science
I know I just saw that thing move!

Friday we headed to the Houston Zoo  for what would be a fun day enjoyed in beautiful weather!    A cool morning had brought many of the zoo’s residents to life, and we happened to be at the cougar enclosure at the perfect time, as they were up and running about, charging each other, climbing a tree and so forth!  Each time one would run up the tree, it would then jump to the area above us, walking across a clear skylight affording us below a most interesting view of its underside!  We were delighted to capture several great photos of them, which will serve as great inspiration for future paintings!houston zoo cougar photo The shaded paths between animal enclosures, wound their way through lush tropical gardens, showcasing a variety of flowers, trees and shrubs.  Numerous aquariums housed a stunning array of  fish, insects, amphibians and reptiles, which we especially enjoyed seeing!

nouston zoo awuarium rachelle siegrist

houston zoo reptiles
Of course the birds are always among my personal favorite making the tropical aviary a highlight for us both!  I especially found the peaceful, warm interior of the aviary a most delightful place, and one little bird in particular mesmerized me for quite sometime with  his melodious tune!

houston zoo
Me inside the bird aviary

Back at the hotel that evening,  the artists were treated to a pizza diner, followed by an exciting game of pictionary, most appropriate for a group of artists to play. Saturday brought a day filled with meetings and presentations, the highlight being an inspiring talk by Dan Chen, leaving all listening excited to get back to our studios and create!

That evening we attended the awards dinner, and loved helping sneak our dear friend and curator of our Exquisite Miniatures tour, Dr. David Wagner, into the dinner.  Dave surprised longtime friend and sculpture Kent Ullberg, by presenting to him in person the SAA’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.  Later that evening I greatly enjoyed chatting  with David, Kent and his wife Veerle,  for a couple of hours, while Kent shared truly enchanting and hilarious stories about his time spent birding with Roger Tory Peterson through the years!  Being a fan of Peterson myself, I found these stories truly priceless, not to mention getting sore cheeks from laughing so hard at times! What a delightful evening and great end to a fun weekend!

artist Brian Jarvi, David Wagner, wes and rachelle siegrist, SAA
Brian Jarvi, David Wagner, Wes, me and Tamara wife of Jonn Nelson Harris taking the photo

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

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