Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Charleston welcomes SEWE artists






With a high wind advisory blowing through the magnolias, live oaks and palmetto trees of the Charleston peninsula, the twenty-seventh annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition opened with the Featured Artist's Reception at the Mills House Hotel downtown on Meeting Street. Featured artist Thomas Brooks grew up near Green Swamp, Florida and does most of his painting these days while traveling through Florida and the Carolinas. Brooks said, "I paint wading birds the most, and I have hundreds of photographs of turkeys." Brooks added that he does not depict alligators much, even though they infest the swamps of Florida. Brooks has never harvested an Osceola turkey, found only in Florida, but he is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation and has found success hunting in the S.C. Lowcountry at Gallivant's Ferry. The Benefactors and Patrons that came out Wednesday night were treated to a wild game feast that included southern fried quail, alligator fritters, wild boar cranberry sausage, smoked duck sausage, carolina crab cakes, wild boar barbecue and caviar new potatoes.
Ernie Muehlmatt from Salisbury, Maryland is a sculpter who displays his art at the Mills house during SEWE, and this year is the 26th year (out of 27) that he has participated! Muehlmatt said, "I have been sculpting 50 years and its a fun way to make a living." He lives on the water and makes a point to go fishing every day, where he has become familiar with the presence of the osprey, or fish hawk. Muehlmatt has been commissioned to produce a life size bald eagle sculpture for President George W. Bush in 2004, and also made a special Easter egg for Nancy Reagan, in time for the annual White House Easter egg roll. When the artist was approached by sisters Kelly and Karen Bieganousky (pronounced Biganuski) he asked them to identify the bird in a certain print, and when they correctly guessed Carolina Chickadee, he awarded them with the artwork. The two MUSC nurses were very grateful and could not believe their good fortune, because even though they were SEWE veterans, his generosity was uncommon. The pictures show Callie and Walter Smith and the SEWE ice sculpture, artist Ernie Muehlmatt and his osprey carving, Kelly and Karen Bieganousky with a special print, a red-headed woodpecker (Sold!) by carver Chuck Robertson of Linvaill Falls, N.C., and media magnates Steve Judy, Robert Smith, Rick Howze and Steve Cordina sharing a laugh.

For a past blog entry on 2009 SEWE click here.

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