As if defying gravity, “Capra Ibex,” a bronze sculpture of a wild goat perched on a mountaintop, fetched the top prize in the 9th Annual Nature & Wildlife Art Exhibition, on display at the St. Augustine Art Association through August 26.
The artist, Jeff Jones of Niceville, Florida, accepted the $2,000 Best in Show-Bradley/Mayer Award during the Opening Reception on July 21. He was among twelve artists recognized for their outstanding artistic achievements. “I’m fascinated by the traits these powerful animals have developed to survive in their environment,” said Jones, an aerospace engineer who combines his technical expertise, love of wildlife and artistry to create sculptures reminiscent of 19th century American Western Art. “I feel a strong sense of obligation to honor and protect the vanishing wilderness around us,” Jones reflected, “and I hope this recognition helps raise awareness about the fragility of our magnificent world.”
The $1,000 First Place/LeShane CPA Award was given to Vickie McMillan-Hayes of Katy, Texas for “Rivalry,” a large-scale painting of dueling tigers. Beverly Davis of Dartmouth, Mass., won Second Place for “Ambassador of the Wild Silverback,” a 70-pound bronze guerrilla. Sergei Orgunov, Orange Park, won Third Place for his waterscape painting, “The Beauty of Paradise,” and Walter Cartategui of Yulee, was given the 97Park Excellence Award for “Mystical Aspen Forest,” a finely detailed watercolor night scene of owls.
Artistic Merit awards were presented to Julia Bacon of Brattleboro, Vermont for “The Ibis King,” Xi Guo of St. Augustine, for “Tangle # 8,” Omar Porras of Tampa, for “Catarata Escondida,” and Matthias Fischer of Gordonsville, Virginia for “Watchful Repose.” Rusty Frentner of Ypsilanti, Mich., Brandon Gibbs of St. Johns, Fla. and Martin Gates of Micanopy received Honorable Mention prizes.
Leigh Murphy, an award-winning watercolor artist and Signature Member of the American Watercolor Society, judged the exhibit, which is made up of 130 diverse pieces that depict the beauty and wonder of the natural world. “This is a prestigious world-class exhibition,” said Murphy. “Exploring these high-quality works of art up close and personal was like meeting a room full of amazing and interesting people.”
Activities planned during the exhibit will engage children and adults. Kids can win prizes finding clues in a free “Go Wild for Art Scavenger Hunt,” sponsored by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. “Wild St. Augustine: Musings on Art” is an evening of artistic storytelling and historic imagery with a recycled twist. Re-enactors bring artists Jacques LeMoyne, Martin Heade and John James Audubon to life as they muse on the flora, fauna, and folklore of wild St. Augustine that inspired their iconic works of art. The free event takes place on Friday, August 24, at 7 p.m. Reservations are required. Call (904) 824-2310.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4pm and Sunday, 2 to 5pm. Admission is free. For more information, go to www.staaa.org or call (904) 824-2310.