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On the Town: Evolving Art

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

(Clockwise from left) Private Dancer by Ezra Tucker, Under an Open Sky by Kathryn Mapes Turner, and Symphony by Cecilia Murray; images (3) courtesy of Southeastern Wildlife Exposition

February 15, 2017

Evolving Art
The Southeastern Wildlife Expo returns this weekend with a fine art exhibit that’s bigger, brighter, and more diverse

written by Mary Scott Hardaway

Splashing DockDogs and soaring birds of prey, exotic-creature showcases (welcome back, Jeff Corwin!) and evening oyster roasts: the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, aka SEWE, includes so many attractions today that the average attendee—and there are 40,000 of them—might never guess the event first hatched as an art show in 1983.

Yet the Fine Art Gallery remains a centerpiece of the expo, celebrating its 35th installment from February 17 to 19. This year, 100 painters and sculptors from all over the country display their works at Charleston Place, with “every single one in attendance to talk with guests,” says artist director Natalie Wooten Henderson. Many artists return season after season, forging lasting relationships with collectors. “There’s so much energy and camaraderie in the gallery; it’s like a reunion,” she notes.

And though old friends may be honored, so are new. Since stepping into her role with SEWE six years ago, Henderson has successfully recruited more artists working in contemporary styles. Take, for example, Washington State sculptor Chris Maynard, who carves feathers into intricate works displayed shadow-box style. “We’re holding true to the origin of the program while reaching a wider and more varied demographic,” Henderson explains.

Other evolutions are taking place, too: artist display spaces are not only larger this year, but equipped with LED track lighting that dramatically enhances the art-gallery atmosphere. For the first time, an in-house curator, wildlife art expert Carolyn “Charlie” Bogusz, will be on hand to answer questions for attendees, whether they’re brand-new buyers or making serious investments for established collections.

To give a behind-the-scenes peek into the creative process, a fresh exhibit dubbed “The Library” features studies created by participating artists in preparation for larger pieces (psst: this a great place to snag original works at lower price points). Find more details at

To read more articles from our February issue, click here.