Wes and I returned home last evening after an exciting week in San Antonio, Texas, where we attended the opening festivities for the Society of Animal Artists 59th Annual Exhibition at the beautiful Briscoe Western Art Museum! We arrived in San Antonio in time for a nice dinner by the Riverwalk, and afterward, we enjoyed a relaxing riverboat cruise while taking in the beautiful scenery and learning about the historical buildings that stand beside the river.
Countless stunning old cypress trees line the narrow river, including one grand tree that is over 300 years old! The numerous trees and lush gardens all about give a feeling of being in an oasis, making it a real treat to walk about the riverwalk meandering alongside the river.
It was too late to tour the Alamo by the time we got there but we decided to walk over to see it anyway. To get there from the Riverwalk, we were told to follow the water through a building which led us alongside a series of manmade fountains and streams that were quite lovely.
I have always wanted to see the Alamo since I was a little girl, and was delighted to have the chance to finally see this beautiful historic building. I had just walked up to it and stood there abuzz with excitement, and suddenly heard a loud buzzing noise approaching. Immediately after that, a bug flew into my left ear, and alas I couldn’t believe what had just happened! Although I tried my hardest to dislodge the insect I couldn’t get it to come out. So there I stood trying to maintain my composure and read about the Alamo while listening to loud scratching noises in my ear. We walked back to our hotel, and I couldn’t take the noises it was making in my ear any longer, so Wes looked up online about how to get it out. He walked to a nearby store and got baby oil, which he poured into my ear, thus suffocating the bug. Thankfully the noises stopped immediately and I flushed out my ear with warm water afterward. Needless to say, I’ll never forget my visit to the Alamo, and laughingly decided I had made yet another memory indeed!
The next morning I went with several artist friends to the San Antonio Aquarium, while Wes attended to SAA business at the Briscoe Museum. We had a wonderful time and were thrilled to be able to spend nearly an hour with two different groups of lemurs! The velvety-soft fur of the lemurs felt so good to my bare legs as different ones took turns sitting on my lap. We were allowed to gently pet them whilst using two fingers, and I simply couldn’t get enough of this amazing opportunity!
The energetic and inquisitive Lemurs were everywhere as they swapped laps, whilst checking us and our cameras out! Being wildlife enthusiasts and artists, we were truly in heaven and thought this a most amazing experience to share as friends!
Although we could’ve stayed there all day with our numerous furry new friends, we had to say goodbye, as there was much more to see.
The very friendly handlers were happy to meet a group of wildlife artists who were as concerned about the wellbeing of this amazing species as they were, so a couple of us got to go into the enclosure with the resident porcupine, and I got to do something for the first time, which was to pet it, and as you can imagine I was thrilled to have the chance to do so!
There was also a bird aviary, which we spent quite some time in while feeding Lovebirds, baby Crowned Cranes and much more, and I absolutely loved it! Leaving the aviary, I had a chance to feed the numerous resident stingrays that call the aquarium home, which too was a great joy for me! Some got very excited about being fed the wee shrimp and splash great amounts of water over the edge of their large pool, so I happily was christened by several stingrays!
That evening as we walked over to the museum, something felt weird to my left foot, and looking down, I noticed the bottom of my shoe had come apart and was hanging down! Thankful they were flats, I stopped and pulled the bottom of my shoe off while laughingly stating . . . “Yesterday a bug in my ear, and today my shoe falls apart on the way to the big opening, we shall see what tomorrow brings!” So with my sole in hand, I merrily hobbled along while keeping up with the others. The opening was well attended and the museum was packed with excited attendees and patrons! Opening remarks were made by Michael Duchemin, the Briscoe’s Director, and SAA President Reneé Bemis. This year’s SAA student scholarship recipients were announced and we all enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks. It was then time to see the exhibition which was hung and arranged beautifully and was an absolute delight to see in person!
The next morning a caravan of numerous wildlife artists headed to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, anticipating another great day! We made many animals very happy as our entourage tossed out piles of food as we slowly drove along the loop road. Thankfully it had cooled off a bit and there was a delightful breeze, as we went along feeding and taking numerous photos.
The group enjoyed a tasty lunch at the restaurant on the ranch with many of us taking another drive-through afterward. It’s a wonderful park where you can certainly get up close and personal with their numerous resident animals, whilst allowing great opportunities for taking perfect reference photos!
That evening at the hotel, we had a great time hanging out with everyone during the pizza party and game night for the attending artists. The next day brought many activities starting with the SAA members meeting, followed by a most interesting and entertaining interview with SAA Master Signature Member Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen. The afternoon was filled with demonstrations, live bird presentations and a community mural project in which Wes and other SAA artists helped the kids paint. The museum had a tremendous turnout for the various activities and SAA exhibition!
That evening the air was filled with conversation and laughter during the awards banquet, and we all decided that Wes had chosen wisely with the caterer, as the food was truly delicious!
Our very dear friend and fellow SAA artist John Seery-Lester was awarded the coveted Lifetime Achievement award by the Society. This amazingly talented artist, who has achieved so much throughout his career, even being Knighted at one point, brought tears to the eyes of many of us as he graciously spoke of his love for the SAA in accepting his award.
Then came time to announce the award winners for this years exhibition, and I was both totally surprised and thrilled to learn that my painting “Stealthy Approach” had received an Award of Excellence! This marks my third time to receive the SAA’s highest honor!
Later that night artists enjoyed hanging out together in the breakfast room, as we had all done the past evenings. The next day was spent in the Board meeting, followed by dinner together that evening. Afterward, I enjoyed swimming in the lovely pool, as I had done daily, and was joined by several others, relaxing together after the very busy past few days. We said our goodbyes and early the next morning Wes and I headed back home.
I want to extend a big thank you to the Briscoe Western Art Museum for hosting the SAA’s 59th Annual Exhibition, and to the friendly staff that made it such a wonderful weekend for so many of us!
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Until Next Time . . .