Snow Goose Festival art flocks to Avenue 9 Gallery


Ringing in the New Year with a reception Friday, Jan. 24, Avenue 9 Gallery is hosting a North State winter favorite: The "Snow Goose Wildlife Art Exhibit."

Reception is 5-8 p.m. at the gallery, 180 E. Ninth Ave., and the show will be on display until Feb. 1.

This yearly Avenue 9 Gallery exhibition is designed to support the Snow Goose Festival's mission to "increase public awareness, understanding, appreciation and conservation of the diverse wildlife and unique habitats of the northern Sacramento Valley."

That's how Dawn Garcia sees it. A wildlife biologist with the Forest Service, Garcia collaborated with artists such as Ann Pierce and others to select art for the exhibition.

"The show at Avenue 9 is my favorite Snow Goose Festival event," she said, "one that brings together in a beautiful setting hundreds of people of diverse backgrounds to celebrate our Central Valley part of the Pacific Flyway."

Jurors selected more than 100 works by 35 artists — both local and as distant as Wales.

Styles range from realistic documentation to poetic dramatization. Mediums include painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, woodblock prints, fiber art and stained glass.

"Anybody from any background or taste can find something to learn or take home from this show," Garcia said.

Sporting its theatrical garb of white with black wingtips, orange legs and a "grin patch" on its beak, the Snow Goose is a favorite subject for artists. But the show is varied and also includes swans, herons, otters and other wild creatures, as well as habitats such as flooded rice fields, the Llano Seco Refuge and Sacramento River environment.

Distinctions between documentation and dramatization do not always hold.

Leslie Morris and Christie Beebe combine close observation with personal expression.

Morris, a Sacramento photographer who specializes in the Pacific Flyway, calls her entry "Elegance in Flight."

"I've always had a passion for the outdoors and birds represent freedom to me," Morris said. "They go where they want to and they are so elegant.

"I'll go out to bird watch even when it's overcast and gray, but on the day of my egret shot, it was sunny and the sky and water were turquoise. I was lucky when I took a burst of photographs and got one of an egret dipping its wing in the water. 'Thank you, God!' I exclaimed."

Beebe, a painter who teaches at the Paradise Art Center, created a scene of romantic egrets from her imagination — yet the look of the birds came from her study of them.

"I often bird watch at Llano Seco Refuge," she said. "I feel so free when I am out there, watching and listening to the birds. Egrets are among my favorites. I usually see them by day when they are so solitary in their habits. In my acrylic painting 'Flirting Under the Moonlight,' I imagined the meeting of a pair of egrets at night."

Avenue 9 Gallery's "Snow Goose Wildlife Art Exhibit" makes connections apparent between wild and human life and between the functional and the esthetic. It supports the Audubon Society's goals "to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity."

Friday's event will give guests an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, marvel at wildlife art and sample hor d'ouevres.

Wildlife artists with their powers of observation and cultivated imaginations will also be in attendance.

As an added delight, Susan Schrader and Eric Peter will perform jazz and parking for the reception is free at the Chico Nut Company's 10th and Esplanade lot for the reception.

Published in the January 20, 2014 of Chico Enterprise-Record