On January 14, 2012, AFC's annual exhibit travelled to Tucson, Arizona to open at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Art Museum. The opening day broke all-time attendance records for an art exhibit opening at the museum. Susan Fisher, Director of the ASDM Art Institute commented: "Wow! What a turnout we had. There was a record number of attendees topping all previous records for Gallery receptions here at the museum. Visitors were very impressed with the quality of the show and really seemed to enjoy looking at the works... As one visitor said, ‘You knew people were really enjoying the art because it was quiet in there...except for the food line!"
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a natural history museum, and accredited zoo, focused primarily on the ecology of the unique Sonora Desert ecosystem. The ASDM Art Institute is an international leader in promoting conservation through art. The opening included a cocktail reception, and a special film screening of AFC's first documentary film, titled "How an Artist Saved the Mountain Gorilla".
The event in Arizona represented the culmination of nearly a year's worth of intense work by a dedicated team. As we look ahead to 2012, it's worth also looking back on the Festival's beginnings nearly one year ago.
2011 Festival Re-Cap
In March 2011, AFC committed to launching the first annual Artists for Conservation Festival at Grouse Mountain, perched nearly 4000 feet elevation overlooking Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean. Building upon AFC's annual juried exhibit, the first international Artists For Conservation Festival was a major international cultural event, involving ten extraordinary days of nature and wildlife inspired art and environmental education. The event including lectures, films, live painting demos, youth workshops (for school groups). If you haven't visited the festival website or visited AFC on Facebook you should take the few minutes to do so.(links are below).
Over a short-span of only 7 months, we assembled a dedicated volunteer planning team, and a small army of volunteers to fill 274 four-hour shifts during the festival itself. In addition to this, dozens of our members volunteered to help realize this event, including lecturers, leading field trips and live demonstrators. We successfully launched a youth outreach and environmental program, AFC's first annual fundraising event, with auction, awards dinner, and an artist appreciation night.
The Festival was a major step in reaching out to the broader community, and youth as well, with a goal of capture their imaginations and to kindle greater interest in the natural world. AFC's first documentary "How an Artist Saved the Mountain Gorilla", featuring Stephen Quinn produced in association with the American Museum of Natural History, was extremely well received.
We were also very proud to host the Canadian premier screening of Dr. Guy Harvey's documentary, "This is Your Ocean - Sharks" co-produced with recently inducted AFC member, Wyland. Hundreds participated in the workshops and attended the movies and presentations.
Joining the festivities were some of the biggest names in the nature/wildlife art genres, including featured artist Robert Bateman - who donated prints and proceeds from an original painting "Deep Winter-Wolves" to raise funds for the event - and Dr. Guy Harvey, recipient of the 2011 Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award. AFC Members, Guy Combes, Sheila Ballantyne, Robert Bateman, Roy Caretta, Brent Cooke, David Kitler, Kelly Dodge, Linda Dupuis-Rosen, Guy Harvey, Mark Hobson, Terry Isaac, Kim Middleton, Alison Nicholls, Steve Quinn, Val Warner, Terry Woodall all generously contributed their time to give presentations, lead workshops, or offer live painting demos. In addition, we were proud to have had the support and involvement of renowned Coast-Salish First Nations artists and cultural leaders William Nahanee, Hoya and Hwlactun and renowned explorers and conservationists Pat and Rosemarie Keough and Danny Catt.
Several of our members travelled a great distance to participate, including renowned UK sculptor, Martin Hayward-Harris, who is writing an article about the event to be featured in Wildscape Magazine.
The AFC Festival will return to Grouse Mountain in 2012 between October 12 through 21st. Save the date. Details to follow shortly!
Jeff Whiting, President & Founder
Artists for Conservation