December 4, 2013

Coon Hunts, Boar Hunts, and the Wildlife Exhibition of Orangeburg County

Today the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center hung opened an exhibition which hopefully will become a new annual tradition: work by local artists featuring wildlife. The idea behind the exhibition was to piggy back (or should I say wild piggy back) on Orangeburg County’s very popular annual coon hunt festival, which happens in early January every year.

I have never been to the great American Coon hunt but have always been curious about it. Not being a hunter or hunting inclined I’ve tended to avoid such events here in South Carolina. But even for non-hunters the event may be worth a look. For one thing, no animals, racoons or others, are actually killed. The sport is to test the ability of hunting dogs (aka the coon dog) to rustle up racoons and have them run up into a tree. Apparently the dog that gets the most racoons up a tree wins the contest.

In order to participate in the call to local artists to create and lend work for the coon hunt/wild life exhibition I ransacked my domestic oeuvre to find paintings or drawings that might feature wildlife. There was a cavernous space to fill and not many contributions of artwork so I lent a total of eight pieces to the exhibition, seven my own and an eighth a work by the Chinese painter, Gao Guan-hua that features an insect. I didn’t want to be a hog. I just didn’t want the show to open with a blank wall or two. In addition to my own work I rustled up a nice wildlife photograph from my husband, Nat Wallace, and some beautiful ceramic plates by Jeri Burdick featuring various amphibians. The ceramic plates are my favorite art works in this exhibition. They are the only pieces that are sculptural and I am certain will be the highlight of the show.

Some of the work I put in this exhibition was new, but some of it went back a few decades. The picture of the wild boar depicted with this blog was an ink painting on a long horizontal scroll that I did while a graduate student in Chinese art back in the 1980's. I chose this piece because it was life size and therefore filled a wall, and depicted an animal that had some relevance to the South Carolina hunting scene. I had read an article some time ago about wild boars in South Carolina and their sporting interest to hunters. I don’t know if boar hunting has been maintained since I read that article but if so, then the submission was apropos. I hope that someone enjoys it.

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