You have art hounds and coon hounds. Fine art hunters and big game hunters.
Seems like an odd combination but it all works out at Game Fair over two weekends every August in Minnesota.
They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows and that seemed to be the case in 2008 when the arts and outdoors were joined together in a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment to raise the state sales tax a small fraction to benefit the two.
Four years later and millions of dollars have been put to good use by both the arts and the outdoors...but that's not what this blog is all about.
I contend that the arts and outdoors are no strangers to each other. The obvious reason is that most outdoors lovers also possess a fair amount of art that reminds them of the outdoors. Paintings, sculptures, photography, pottery, carvings and more are quite commonplace even at the shabbiest of shacks. Taxidermy is not just something dead mounted on a hunk of wood, well some of it is, but the finest taxidermy is definitely a work of art. Snooty art hounds might disagree, but when they realize how much work goes into properly mounting an animal (not to mention how much money is costs), they definitely respect the artistry of a taxidermist.
All of those things converge in one place each year--the Game Fair held this year from August 10-12 and 17-19 at Armstrong Ranch Kennels in Ramsey, MN. In addition to all the exhibits related to hunting, dogs and other outdoor pursuits there is a lot of art. Enough to fill a barn and then some.
No really. The Game Fair Art Barn is a very popular destination that has long been a draw. There's sculpture, paintings and taxidermy all under one roof. The Wildfowl and Decoy Carvers conduct daily demonstrations of their woodcarvings, and there are antler carvings created by Game Fair hostess Loral I Delaney herself.
Some of the finest artists in the country come to the Game Fair to meet their biggest fans (and customers). Attendees to Game Fair are thrilled to meet the artist of the print on their wall and the conservation stamp in their pocket. The person who has brought all of these renowned artists to Game Fair each year is Chris Knutson, owner of "Art Barbarians" in Rogers, Minnesota. Not only does he bring them out to chat with Game Fair attendees, he tells them to bring their brushes and canvas and let the paint fly.
This year, Knutson will have renowned artists Scot Storm and Tom Moen in the Art Barn all six days of Game Fair. These guys are highly respected wildlife artists with numerous awards and publications of their artwork. Both are Minnesota artists and Knutson has worked hard over the years to especially promote Minnesota artists. Visit his www.artbarbarians.com website to see some of the galleries he has and videos with numerous artists.
Storm has won the Federal Duck Stamp contest as well as numerous state duck stamp contests, including the Minnesota Duck Stamp in 2009 and 2004. Moen has won the state MN Duck Stamp contest twice as well in 1998 and again in 2007. Come to the Game Fair, look at their work and you'll know you've seen their work. Both guys are very nice, down to Earth and are there to chat with the public so come on out and meet them. They paint because they love to capture the moments in the field they experiences themselves and share with the world.
Also in the Art Barn is the United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) Taxidermy Competition. Game Fair attendees can vote for their favorite taxidermy mounts and support the USSA as they raise money to grant fishing and hunting trips to children and veterans with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses. Taxidermists will be on hand throughout the six days demonstrating their unique and highly skilled craft. Like painters, taxidermists capture the moments in the field so people can live them over again and again.
Check out www.GameFair.com and be sure to follow GameFairUSA on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on who is out at the Game Fair. Other artists routinely drop by for the day and updates will be posted as developments occur.
Since we cannot always be in the outdoors, we purchase art to remind us.
Since we are not always successful in bagging our quarry, we purchase art so we can dream.
Because we want to remember our successes, we preserve our trophies as we define them.
Art and hunting are quite comfortable together indeed.