This September 29 through October 5, AFC completed its 6th annual Artists for Conservation Festival, celebrating nature's beauty and diversity, with a spectacular art exhibit and a host of inspiring art and environmental education programs. 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 Group Canada, our gracious host, Grouse Mountain and many other supporters and patrons.
Acclaimed artist and ardent supporter, Robert Bateman, attended as 2016 Festival Patron - the fourth time for that designation. For the event, Robert, created a spectacular large-scale painting of vultures titled "Feast", to benefit the Festival and it's public education programs. Legendary American wildlife artist, Guy Coheleach travelled from Florida to receive AFC's highest honor - the Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award.
Many AFC artist members joined us during a 5-day event, for the opening of the exhibit and generously contributed their time to give presentations, lead workshops, and provide painting demonstrations. We were proud to once again have had the blessings, support and active involvement of renowned Coast-Salish First Nations artists and conservation leaders William Nahanee, Xwalacktun, James Harry, Splash and serveral other Coast Salish performers, plus Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge, and OWL Refuge. This year, for the first time, a portion of festival programming was delivered at the base of Grouse Mountain, affording free and easy access to the general public to enjoy a segment of the festival without the need to ascend to the peak. Activities at the base included a First Nations totem and other carving demonstrations, live Birds of Prey, First Nations dance, drumming and song, and art demos.
A remarkable roster of musical performers, including John Gilliat, Russell Schumsky, Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos, Andrew Kim and Avia Trio elevated the festival experience for all. AFC's volunteer team of volunteers played a pivotal role in the success of the festival covering many shifts over the 10 days on Grouse Mountain.
Notably, violist and composer, Thomas Beckman created a 16-minute piece to accompany a choreographed slide show of all artwork in the exhibit (including all 200 peices featured in the virtual exhibit). See the video at the bottom of this article.
For an idea of the full range of public activities and participants that transpired during the Festival, visit the AFC Festival site and for all other programs continue browse this site. Stay tuned for 2017 AFC Festival dates.
This year the 9th Annual Live Exhibit featured 84 artworks, including a combination of wall hangings and sculptures representing 81 artists from 14 different countries. An estimated 12,500 visitors viewed the gallery over the 5-day festival hosted at Grouse Mountain Resort, in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. AFC would like to thank RE/MAX for their continued sponsorship and Grouse Mountain for hosting the festival. The 200 works accepted this year can now be viewed on the AFC Virtual Exhibit.
As in the past, the Festival brought like-minded artists from around the world to Vancouver to celebrate a commitment to artistic excellence and support for conservation. Some of this year's special guests included Guy Coheleach (USA) this year's recipient of the Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award, along with previous Simon Combes Award winners Robert Bateman. Many other artists travelled long distances to attend.
Nearly 40 AFC Signature Members attended the festival, some of whom are featured in the annual group photo below.
The Festival kicked off the with an evening Wine & Cheese celebration that welcomed a sold-out crowd of attendees and AFC artists, festival sponsors, and special guests. It was an elegant evening on the peak of a mountain overlooking the downtown Vancouver area. The night included a First Nation's cultural presentation, a silent auction, an awards ceremony dinner, and musical performance. The goal of the gala event was to raise awareness and funds for AFC's programming goals in 2015.
As has become tradition, the featured fundraising event at the Gala evening was the "Live Raptor Quick Draw". Guy Combes and David Kitler bravely performed under pressure in front of a packed theatre with only one hour to complete a painting from a live subject, from start to finish. We were proud to have OWL Wildlife Rehabilitation involved once again, with 3 handlers with their avian companions, which included a Bald Eagle, Barn Owl and Great Horned Owl. Each work was placed into the silent auction in order to raise funds for programs associated with the festival.
The opening weekend engaged visitors in a First Nations cultural presentation, a series of artist lectures, live art demonstrations, wildlife encounters with Birds of Prey courtesy of OWL rehabilitation centre and a series of lectures by AFC artists. Lecturers included Guy Coheleach, Becci Crowe, Guy Combes, Patricia Banks, Sharon Schafer and AFC President Jeffrey Whiting. In addition, the weekend featured a premiere of the new artistically created film about art, nature and culture in the Salish Sea region - "The Perfect State" - produced by AFC artist and renowned naturalist, Dr. Rob Butler and filmmaker Mike McKinlay.
For three days, extending beyond the public festival activities, AFC focused on providing a wildlife and art experience for students including nearly 250 of Vancouver's at-risk and underserved youth. The day-long field trips featured a unique and inspiring combination of art and environment immersion that included: AFC documentaries, meeting Cleo the Barn Owl (Grouse Mountain's wildlife ambassado)r, a guided gallery tour, a presentation on bronze casting, an eco-walk around Grouse Lake with visit to see live Grizzly Bears, a one hour hands on workshop with AFC's Jeffrey Whiting and Murray Phillips, and a First Nations dance, drumming and spoken word.
A heartfelt thankyou to the sponsors and supporters of the festival, including a special thanks to RE/MAX, Grouse Mountain, Deeley Group, Sewell's Marina, RBC Foundation, Joyce Trygg Art, Murray Phillips Art, Vancouver's North Shore Tourism, Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, CTV, QMFM Radio, North Shore Recreation & Culture, City and District of North Vancouver, BrixMedia PR, Lonsdale Quay Hotel, Lonsdale Rentals, Arabella Magazine, ISCAPE, Arts-BC and Think Mint Media.
Most of the photos above are courtesy of Paul Moldovanos who generously gave his time and expertise to record key parts of the Festival and gala. Lastly, AFC would like to send out an enormous thank you to Rosslyn Shipp and all of our volunteer leads and volunteers who dedicated their time, efforts and enthusiasm throughout the festival. We couldn't have done it without you!