2014 - A Year in Review

January 9, 2015 share
Artists for Conservation

2014 was another very exciting year in the growth and development of the world's leading artist group supporting the environment - Artists for Conservation. We saw a new Flag Expedition, AFC's 7th exhibit and 4th festival, a new annual event pilot in South Florida, a group expedition to the Caymans, a conservation symposium, the establishment of International Bear Day, a new Christmas exhibit and much more, not the least of which was another beautiful hardcover book and wall calendar.

Following is a brief recap of highlights from 2014...

AFC's 15th Flag Expedition

In April, AFC artist Patricia Latas journeyed to a remote Island in New Zealand to study the critically endangered Kakapo the world's only flightless species of parrot. The species is on the brink with less than 100 individuals in existence and none in captivity. If you haven't done so, be sure to read Pat's blog about this fascinating and urgent project to save a species from extinction.


New Event in South Florida

In May, with the support of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, BBX Capital Foundation and Nova Southeastern University, AFC piloted an exciting new event featuring AFC's annual tour plus a selection of artwork by artists from AFC's Marine Explorer's Program. Plans are underway for scaling up the event in 2015 and 2016. Building upon AFC's ongoing educational programming base around its Vancouver Festival, a major part of the pilot event comprised an educational program involving 1300 local students from Broward County - most of which were inner-city and underserved. The response from the community was amazing and we look forward to returning.


Into the Deep - AFC's Marine Explorer's Program

The 2014 Marine Explorers Program brought together a group of eight AFC artists for an incredible week of scuba diving and coastal exploration with internationally acclaimed artist and marine conservationist, Dr. Guy Harvey. Other artists included Brent Cooke, David Gallup, Rick Geib, Dr. Guy Harvey, Dianne Munkittrick, Ed Spera, Frank Walsh and Jeff Whiting. Highlights included interacting with South Atlantic Stingray, culling invasive Lionfish and close-up encounters with endangered sea turtles, groupers, eagle rays, moray eels, barracuda, tarpon, angelfish, parrotfish and countless other smaller species. The expedition also involved a privileged visit to a protected nesting colony of Red-footed Boobies, courtesy of the National Trust of the Cayman Islands, on neighboring Little Cayman Island. Read Brent Cooke's blog article about the expedition.

In the summer months, preparations were made for AFC's marquee event - the AFC Festival, but that didn't stop us from getting out with the AFC tent to promote the event at West Vancouver's Coho Festival.

AFC Symposium and International Bear Day

In September, AFC held its second annual BC Conservation Symposium at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia. The theme was "Bears". Founded in 2013, the symposium is an annual event coinciding with the AFC Festival, and brings together conservation professionals to share information and insights, with a special emphasis on synergies between the arts and sciences. In addition to an art exhibit and film presentation about bears, unique to this year's Symposium, AFC declared the first ever International Bear Day. Conservation leaders led a dialogue around the critical role bears play in our ecosystem, their economic and cultural value. Starting in 2015, the first Saturday of April will be recognized annually as International Bear Day. Read the full article about International Bear Day and the Symposium.


AFC's 4th Festival & 7th Exhibit

In October, AFC wrapped up its 4th annual marquee event - the Artists for Conservation Festival with a spectacular art exhibit, featuring 85 original paintings and sculptures representing 80 artists from 14 countries, and a host of inspiring art and environmental education programs. An estimated 12,000 visitors viewed the gallery over the 10-day festival hosted at Grouse Mountain Resort, in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. The event welcomed public of all ages with a variety of interests - fine art, environment and conservation. It also brought together over forty AFC artists, a small army of dedicated volunteers, and supporters including RE/MAX, Deeley Harley Davidson Canada, our gracious host, Grouse Mountain and many other supporters and patrons.

Among some 30 AFC artists, UK's Pollyanna Pickering, joined us as 2014 Festival Patron, over the 10-day event. Most generously contributed their time to give presentations, lead workshops, and provide painting demonstrations. Throughout the week AFC focused on providing a wildlife and art experience for Vancouver's at-risk and underserved youth. Despite complications from a province-wide teacher's strike, nearly 200 students participated in art and environment field-trips.

For a full recap of AFC's 2014 Festival in Vancouver, be sure to read the blog article "2014 AFC Festival in ReviewThe 200 works accepted this year can now be viewed on the AFC Virtual Exhibit.

AFC Gala

AFC's annual fundraising gala offered attendees a chance to rub shoulders with artists from around the world and a sneak-peak at the 2014 exhibit. The night included a First Nation's cultural performance, silent auction, awards ceremony, gourmet dinner, and musical performance. Acclaimed artist couple, John and Suzie Seerey-Lester travelled from Florida to jointly receive AFC's highest honor - the Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award - a particularly special presentation as it also marked the 10 year anniversary of Simon's passing.

The featured fundraising event at the Gala evening was the "Live Raptor Quick Draw". An all-star cast of artists had only one hour to complete a painting from a live subject, from start to finish. This year's artist participants included, Pollyanna Pickering, David Kitler and John & Suzie Seerey-Lester. OWL Wildlife Rehabilitation and Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge for Endangered Wildlife participated with handlers and avian companions, which included a Barred Owl, Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle and a Barn Owl as subjects. Each work was placed into the silent auction in order to raise funds for programs associated with the festival. Thank you to the participating artists and organization as well as supporters for running the gauntlet for conservation generosity.


AFC Christmas Show with Infiniti

Only weeks after the AFC Festival at Grouse Mountain, AFC made an encore appearance at OpenRoad Infiniti in Langley, BC - approximately 45 minutes from Vancouver. Free to the community, the public had one last chance to admire and purchase work from the exhibit before it headed on tour to Arizona. Accompanying the four-day exhibit was live music by guitarist John Gilliat, live birds of prey from OWL Rehabilitation Society, and a chance to mingle with some of the artists. The model was a new one - a world-class art show in a luxury car showroom. And it worked. In four days 10 paintings were sold and over $9,000 was raised for conservation and education. The show looked fantastic with the showroom transformed into an elegant and contemporary looking art gallery. Read the blog article about the event.


To Arizona, Florida and Beyond

At the time of writing, AFC's Exhibit is set to open in one of the most remarkable art/science institutions on the planet - the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) - a facility that uniquely combines a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium over 98 acres of desert habitat. On January 10, the 2014 AFC Exhibit tour premieres in the Museum's Ironwood Gallery. The museum also has a large conservation and research program that work towards the conservation of the Sonora Desert region. The museum's Art Institute fosters an appreciation in the use of fine art as a vehicle for conservation awareness and support.

Following the tour to Arizona, the exhibit is tentatively slated to travel to South Florida in April with a portion continuing to Ontario during the summer. More details, including dates and times will be released as they are finalized. Read more about the AFC tour to the ASDM.


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