? Artists for Conservation Festival 2012, Oct. 13-21 at North Vancouver's Grouse Mountain. The majority of events are free with the purchase of a Grouse Mountain general admission or annual pass. Schedule and info: artistsforconservation. org/festival.
ART and nature lovers are once again invited to experience the art of conservation atop Grouse Mountain at a festival showcasing the world's leading wildlife artists as well as bringing a unique perspective to some of the day's most topical environmental issues.
The second annual Artists for Conservation Festival will be staged at the North Vancouver resort from Oct.
13 to 21 and boasts a variety of activities, including an art exhibition and sale, a lecture series, film screenings, live art demonstrations and art workshops for both children and adults.
"I'm proud of how well it came together functionally on one hand, but mostly how deeply it resonated with the public that came," says Jeff Whiting, the festival's executive director, on last year's inaugural event. "We were confident it would, but until we had tested it, you never knew. The testimonials that we got and what we heard from people was that this is truly something special."
Whiting is pleased with the continued support of many of the artists who participated last year and community members, including the flood of volunteers who've expressed an interest in lending a hand.
"We're able to do it again this year and make it bigger and better and hopefully more impactful in achieving our mission," he says.
Whiting, a North Vancouver resident, is the president and founder of Artists for Conservation, a non-profit organization founded in 1997 and currently comprised of approximately 500 international nature artists. The festival is the group's flagship initiative.
"Our mission is to support wildlife and habitat conservation and environmental education through art that celebrates nature," he says.
The organization offers a number of programs, with art and environmental education a key priority, as well, and supports a range of conservation organizations and causes internationally. Since 2008, the group's main event has been an annual conservation-themed art exhibition, accompanied by a virtual show and book launch. Each work has a conservation message and a portion of sale proceeds go to the environmental organization of the artist's choosing.
"It is a platform for the artists to champion and speak about the conservation issues and organizations that are closest to their hearts," says Whiting.
Out of an interest in increasing the organization's reach, and further showcasing and supporting their programs, the Artists for Conservation Festival was introduced last year, similarly held in the fall at Grouse Mountain.
"We did so many new things in terms of expanding our annual exhibit into a festival," says Whiting. "It was nerve-wracking to be doing so many new things in a new venue at once. We tested a lot of things and a lot of things really worked."
Taking a similar, albeit expanded, approach to their programming, it's hoped this year's festival proves to be even more successful.
"We have the benefit of more people knowing about us this year as well and the benefit of experience," says Whiting.
At the heart of this year's festival is the art exhibition, seeing the display of 90 original artworks by 80 artists. Among those featured is returning festival artist Robert Bateman, an acclaimed wildlife painter and longtime Artist for Conservation member. Serving as the festival patron, Bateman has once again created an original piece, an oil painting of an endangered Amur leopard.
In addition to the art exhibition, a major component of the event is a lecture series, featuring approximately 18 presentations over the course of the festival. The presenters range from "Indiana-Jones-types" to dedicated conservationists, all of whom are extremely talented artists, says Whiting, adding, "It's a really neat group, all under one roof."
Throughout the opening weekend, talks are scheduled by Bateman, Pollyanna Pickering, Mark Hobson, David Kitler and Andrew Denman.
Some lectures will relate to the organization's Flag Expeditions program, which links artists and leading conservation scientists, supporting trips to remote settings.
"The festival is a way as well for us and the artists to share their findings and to talk about what they've learned and to show some of the work that's come out of that," says Whiting.
Five films will be screened at this year's festival, including the world premiere of Artists for Conservation's second documentary, The Soysambu Legacy: Art and Conservation in Africa's Rift Valley. The film details the life of artist Simon Combes, who was killed in2004, the result of a charging Cape buffalo, and the conservation work being carried on by his son Guy, and, widow, Kat, in Kenya's Great Rift Valley. Guy and Kat will be in attendance at this year's festival.
"It's a real success story and a real personal story," says Whiting. An encore screening of last year's premiere, How an Artist Saved the Mountain Gorilla, will also be featured, along with Art for an Oil Free Coast, Into the Arctic II and This is Your Ocean: Sharks.
"This is really topical now with some of the developments with the policy changes toward banning shark finning in the area," says Whiting.
A variety of workshops are being presented for both adults ($85) and children ($30). Under the umbrella of Artists for Conservation's Adventures in Art and Environment program, which uses art as a tool to reconnect youth with the environment, school workshops for students in grades 3-10 and public youth workshops for children six and up are being offered. In partnership with Grouse Mountain, the festival has donated some tickets to allow at-risk and underserved youth to attend the festival.
A number of events have been scheduled for the opening weekend, including a by-invitation gala Oct. 12. The following morning, the festival's official opening will get underway at 10: 30 a.m. Festivities include a performance by 11-year-old singer and activist Ta'Kaiya Blaney, from the Sliammon First Nation, as well as an appearance by Bateman who will give a keynote lecture at 11: 30 a.m. The world premiere screening of The Soysambu Legacy: Art and Conservation in Africa's Rift Valley, will get underway at 12: 45 p.m. and at 1: 45 p.m., Pickering, who will receive the organization's top award this year, will give a keynote address. In the evening, a ticketed ($75 including Skyride) Meet-the-Artists Wine & Cheese will be held from 4 to 7: 30 p.m.
Funds raised from the festival, including the gala and the raffle featuring a Hobson original painting, as well as the sales of commemorative conservation prints by Ontario artist Michael Dumas and German artist Hans Kappel, will support Artist for Conservation's year-round programming.
For more information on the Artists for Conservation Festival, visit artistsforconservation.org/festival. For more information on Artists for Conservation, visit artistsforconservation.org.