My Nights In The Museum

Bennington Center for the Arts2

Wes and I just returned from both a stressful and exciting adventure in Bennington, VT. For the past four years, the Society of Animal Artists (SAA), for whom Wes works as the Executive Director, has been in negotiations to accept the gift, and assume the management, of The Bennington Center For the Arts. The center is 36,000 square feet and encompasses a 316-seat theatre, seven art galleries, a covered bridge museum, and a variety of offices and workshop spaces. Included in the large building are two apartments, which will be used to house visiting artists and guests. The center will become the permanent home of the SAA, but this will only be a small part of the art and activities planned for the future. 

native american art Bennington Center for the Arts museum

Wes is currently one of the Board of Directors for this new center, so we flew up to assess the condition of the building, meet with multiple repairmen, and generally start the reopening process. It was a gigantic task indeed, but since we recently went through two building inspections with both the sale of our home in Townsend and the purchase of our home in Grandview, inspection terms and concerns were fresh in our minds. We both have history with construction as well, so Wes was able to keep abreast of what was being addressed as concerns and in need of repair. 

Bennington Center for the Arts

Currently two of the galleries house an array of wonderful Native American art, consisting of paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, fetishes, drums and so much more. This collection is on loan to the new center. 

Bennington Center for the Arts, native american art

Bennington Center for the Arts native american art

If you have ever seen the movie “Night At The Museum” then you can totally understand how my imagination went into overdrive each night, as I imagined the various characters portrayed in the art collection springing to life! The Native Americans, cowboys, Bison herds, and the hundreds of other animals and birds represented in the vast collection of wildlife paintings and sculptures, all roaming about the museum and doing who knows what each night! There were a couple of times whilst laying in bed, I could’ve declared I heard the call of a warrior or the thundering roar of a herd of bison fleeing!

indian gallery Bennington Center for the Arts

I thoroughly enjoyed working with one of the co-founders Elizabeth, inventorying the amazing collection of Native American pottery, Katsinas, jewelry and more. I must admit the highlight of the day for me was when she carefully took out a gorgeous silver, turquoise, and bear claw necklace and placed it around my neck. I felt like royalty and was amazed at how heavy the beautiful piece was! Another unforgettable treat was when she took one of the drums off of the wall and played it for us! I couldn’t believe the amazing sound that resonated and filled the room, literally rattling the rafters at times! The beat could be felt inside of us as it vibrated through the space.

native american drum

Fellow SAA artists Kelly Radding and Jim Coe spent two days helping me sort through and inventory the art. It was a huge job, as we also curated a show which can be hung at a later point. It was like Christmas as we pulled out painting after painting, and sculpture after sculpture, from inside the many closets, and placed them around the circumference of the rooms. That evening, the four of us enjoyed a relaxing dinner of pizza and time of conversation and laughter. 

SAA artists Bennington Center for the Arts

Fellow SAA artists Jim Coe and Kelly Radding doing the art inventory along with me

Wes spent his spare time searching through files and looking for historic records to be kept, as well as cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning about the building. Since it has set vacant for two years, there was so much that needed to be done. Mostly he spent his time meeting with what seemed like dozens of electrician, plumbers, soundboard technicians and more often at the same time!

wes siegrist Bennington Center for the Arts

Since several of the HVAC systems weren’t running when we arrived, it was extremely cold in most of the gallery spaces, and absolutely frigid in the section housing the covered bridge museum! So as you can imagine, I spent as little time in there as possible, while trying to capture several photos showcasing the amazing collection.

covered bridge museum in Bennington Center for the Arts

Although the model railroad isn’t currently working, we plan to get it up and running again in the future.

covered bridge museum

I absolutely love the rock sculpture of a miniature “stone henge” on the property!

rachelle siegrist at Bennington Center for the Arts

Another highlight for me was getting to spend a short while playing the lovely grand piano on the stage of the theater, and I was thrilled to play for a sold out audience . . . of invisible people, Ha! The acoustics in this gorgeous theatre are amazing, and the sound of the ivories being tickled sounded simply divine!

Bennington Center for the Arts theater

I was on stage many times as a ballerina and tap dancer whilst growing up, but had never had the opportunity to go up into the catwalk section above the stage. So I jumped at the opportunity and Wes and I just kept climbing ladders until reaching the top!

rachelle siergist at Bennington Center for the Arts

Snow was forecasted during the week and I must say I was delighted to be able to venture out for a few minutes and capture the front of this beautiful museum surrounded by snow.

Bennington Center for the Arts3

Wes and I enjoyed a delightful end to our week there at the art center, as Elizabeth asked us to join her for dinner at a local restaurant. We sat in a warm cozy back room which overlooks the river, as we dined on scrumptious food, whilst enjoying many laughs and sharing stories. 

rachelle siegrist 2

Afterwards I had the opportunity to play the most beautiful piano I’ve ever had the delight of playing, and I can’t express what a thrill it was for me to serenade Wes and Elizabeth for awhile, whilst making a memory I’ll never forget! It was a full week consisting of lots of hard work, but so much was accomplished and we made sure to squeeze in fun with those there whenever we had the chance. We can’t wait to see the amazing opportunities that arise for our organization with this incredible gift! 

rachelle siergsit4

LOL…. The look on my face sums it up! . . . “Ooooooo, it sounds and feels so beautiful!”

IN THE STUDIO

I’ve added a new fun time-lapse video to our YouTube channel of my recent truck painting for you to enjoy! Watch it HERE and please subscribe to our channel if you enjoy watching our painting videos.

 

SEE OUR PAINTINGS IN PERSON

 

Our touring exhibition Exquisite Miniatures is currently at The Evelyn Burrow Museum, located in Hanceville, AL, where you can see it now through April 21st, 2022. So if you’re in the area, plan a visit to the museum, grab a magnifying glass and be “Wowed” in person!

Society of Animal Artists 2021 Exhibition
Remaining Tour Venue:
February 5 – May 5, 2022: The Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays, KS

To see our available miniature paintings as well as some upcoming shows, please

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Thanks for following me 🙂

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

They Are Back!!

white-tailed deer photo

Early this morning, I slowly made my way over to the living room window to peer out, with high hopes that this would be the day I would see the deer back in our yard. And lo and behold, there they were, in all their glory! Five of them as a matter of fact, standing right there in the front yard, mere feet from the window! I was thrilled to say the least, and called out to Wes saying “They’re here!” He carefully came and stood there watching them with me. It was obviously the first time they have seen the landscaping improvements I’ve made to the front yard, as they slowly circled the one section, carefully sniffing each rock and plant added to the setting. They seemed content with the additions, so I’m guessing they approve. After a short while, they walked across the driveway and into the woods on the other side, slowly making their way up the hillside and eventually onto the trail, which they followed up into the woods.

deer photo2

We’ve made more progress on projects around the house the past couple of weeks. One of the hardest was safely moving the concrete pizza oven from inside the garage out to the stone base. We had been concerned, especially since it was down on the garage floor and clearly weighed more than we had expected. Fortunately, Wes’s brother and his wife had stopped by to visit last week and Tony was able to help Wes get it up off the floor and on to a table. From there, it was still not an easy task at all, but after it was safely loaded onto the wheelbarrow, we began the arduous task of carefully rolling it around to the backyard. Using pieces of 2X4’s we moved it onto the base and slowly maneuvered it into place. What a relief it was indeed, to finally have it in place! Now to add another layer of concrete and a few more rocks, and it will be completed. 

stone patio

With spring finally here, we finished one of the raised rock garden beds by the patio and I’ve started planting a few herbs in it. 

herb garden

another great project was the DIY composter which Wes designed and built using the old dryer tub, some pieces of old plywood and wheels we had laying around. To use it, you simply undo the latch, open the door and toss your kitchen scraps in, then you spin it once, it’s that easy. The base is constructed of logs from a downed tree on the property, that he peeled off all the bark. It’s very sturdy and should last a very long time, and even better, it matches the log cabin and was free! 

DIY composter

Another fun woodworking project was redoing this picnic table which the former owner had left for us. It’s actually made with an old table base from a McDonald’s, with two of the twisting seat attachments that still worked. So we made seats for those two from wood we had, whilst reusing and refinishing the original boards that were on there already. It works great and makes me feel like a kid again while twisting back and forth on the seat!

log cabin furniture DIY

Our favorite “restaurants” here are outside! There are several parks nearby that we love eating take-out picnics at when we’re in town running errands. I thought this was a particularly beautiful location and the view couldn’t be beat, and of course the brilliant blue skies and abundant sunshine made it even better!

rachelle siegrist

IN THE STUDIO

While I’m continuing to paint on a pet commission that I’ll be sharing with you later on, Wes has been busily at work framing our miniature paintings for upcoming shows. Downsizing our studio and framing area after our recent move, brought along with it several challenges. Nonetheless, Wes has figured out how to adapt within the space, to make it work. All I can say, is thank goodness we paint miniatures!

siegrist artist studio

SEE OUR PAINTINGS IN PERSON

miniature portrait painting

Our touring exhibition Exquisite Miniatures is currently at The Evelyn Burrow Museum, located in Hanceville, AL, where you can see it now through April 21st, 2022. So if you’re in the area, plan a visit to the museum, grab a magnifying glass and be “Wowed” in person!

Society of Animal Artists 2021 Exhibition
Remaining Tour Venue:
February 5 – May 5, 2022: The Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays, KS

To see our available miniature paintings as well as some upcoming shows, please

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Thanks for following me 🙂

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

Oh…What A Difference A Day Makes

daffodills photo

WOW . . . What a difference a day makes indeed! Friday evening we were sitting out on the back porch eating supper, enjoying the sunshine and relative warmth. Night came, we went to bed and woke up the next morning to 3 inches of snow covering the ground! Whilst sleeping later that night, a strange noise woke me up and at first I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but soon realized it was the sound of sleet and crunchy snow pelting the side of our cabin! Of course we knew it was heading our way, but even so I just wasn’t prepared for winter to return with such vengeance. 

nature photograpghy

It was beautiful, but very cold, with highs in the low 20s accompanied by very strong winds, which added insult to injury. Knowing they would need extra food, we spread a lavish buffet of seeds, nuts and mealworms for the birds, and they descended on our yard in great numbers. 

tufted titmouse

Before long they had consumed nearly everything, so I suited up in my dozen or so layers to keep me warm and refilled the buffet spread. I had taken the camera out with me, found a nice sunny spot to sit nearby, and happily sat watching my numerous feathered visitors all around, whilst taking photos of them.

mourning dove photo

After awhile I headed to the back patio to see if there was a sunny spot out of the wind. I found one on the stone steps which had somehow managed to absorb and hold a wee bit of warmth from the abundant sunshine. So I plopped down there and commenced watching the many birds again. At times the wind gusts were so intense that they whipped up piles of snow, forming snow dirt devils which twisted and turned following along the tree line in the backyard, before suddenly falling to the ground. It was actually quite amazing to watch, as I had never seen a snow devil before! 

stone patio ideas

Even our gorgeous plump doves were fluffed up trying to stay warm. This couple sitting right by the fire pit appeared to be waiting for us to come out and light a fire for them to warm themselves by. 

mourning dove photo2

There were so many birds in the yard, that I could hardly resist going from window to window, once back in the house. At one point Wes exclaimed “Oh, there’s a Fox Sparrow!” So I quickly ran to the window to see this beautiful large rusty red-colored sparrow, which we have only seen twice before. I managed to get several nice photos of it through the living room window.

fox sparrow photo

Even though we aren’t finished completely with the pizza oven yet, the stone covered base got christened with snow and icicles during this past winter storm, and It was quite lovely sporting its frozen accessories! 

stone patio

This past week, Wes carefully removed the foam mould from inside the pizza oven, and it turned out great! He lit a couple of candles and let them burn inside to help finish drying out the concrete.  

pizza oven

I thought it was so neat looking inside, I had to take a photo for you! It looks like the inside of an old crypt or something, don’t you think? 

pizza oven2

We’ll probably try and carefully move it outside and sit it atop the stone base this next week. Once in place one more layer of concrete will be added, and then it has to sit and cure for a couple of weeks, before we can actually use it, and I just know it’s gonna make delicious pizza! It has been an interesting process indeed, and I look forward to being able to share photos of it completely finished.

IN THE STUDIO

Here’s my finished pet portrait commission of a beautiful black cat named “Jett”. I’ve started on my next pet portrait and am having great fun with it! I’ll be able to share it with you later. Wes and I both will also be painting on miniatures to submit to upcoming shows, and I’ll have to wait until the jury process is completed before sharing those. I’m also working on my time-lapse video of the truck painting and should have it on YouTube sometime very soon!

cat painting pet portrait

“Jett”

SEE OUR PAINTINGS IN PERSON

miniature portrait painting

Our touring exhibition Exquisite Miniatures is currently at The Evelyn Burrow Museum, located in Hanceville, AL, where you can see it now through April 21st, 2022. So if you’re in the area, plan a visit to the museum, grab a magnifying glass and be “Wowed” in person!

Society of Animal Artists 2021 Exhibition
Remaining Tour Venue:
February 5 – May 5, 2022: The Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays, KS

To see our available miniature paintings as well as some upcoming shows, please

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Thanks for following me 🙂

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle