Thursday, April 19, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on June 14th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 15

Wildling Museum exhibit features art inspired by animals of every name


Lions, tigers, and bears. Gorillas, emus, and zebras. Jackrabbits, African saddle-billed storks, and a Xerces blue butterfly.

Those are just some of the animals featured in a new exhibit called Animals A-Z showing through Oct. 9 at the Wildling Museum in Solvang. The museum set out to create a challenging new show featuring an animal for every letter of the alphabet. In addition to offering a chance to see artistic renditions of familiar and more exotic animals, the exhibit also features an educational component, highlighting the distinct environmental or physical threat each creature faces.

Animals A-Z, which features work including Ray-Mel Cornelius’ Jackrabbit Peak (pictured), is a collaboration with the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Wildling Museum Director Stacey Otte-Demangate said the exhibit features 41 works of art from 33 artists from six countries including Japan, Bhutan, Russia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S.

“We wanted to do a show that was very family friendly during the summer,” Otte-Demangate explained. “But we also feel it is important to highlight the story of endangerment.”

One of the artists on display is Ellen Jewett, a renowned Canadian sculptor whose work has been featured in dozens of publications and numerous exhibits nationwide. Her work features stunning intricate sculptures of wildlife including deer, polar bears, lions, and underwater creatures.

“Plants and animals have always been the surface on which humans have etched the foundations of culture, sustenance, and identity,” Jewett wrote in an artist’s statement on her website. “Upon closer inspection of each ‘creature,’ the viewer may discover a frieze on which themes as familiar as domestication and as abrasive as domination fall into sharp relief. ... Each sculpture is constructed using an additive technique, layered from inside to out by an accumulation of innumerable tiny components.”

Otte-Demangate found Jewett’s work through online publications and reached out to her by email. Jewett was more than happy to participate.

Artist Jessika Cardinahl started her career as an actress before transitioning to art. Her work depicting a zebra titled Surrender will complete the Wildling Museum’s Animals A-Z exhibit, on display through Oct. 9.

“I’m very excited by the work of [Jewett],” Otte-Demangate said. “I found her work through some online art magazines. Her work is super-detailed—the more you look at it, the more you see. All of a sudden you start seeing more things depicted in animal form.”

The museum also features the work of acclaimed National Geographic photographer Joel Satore. Satore, an award-winning photojournalist who has contributed to National Geographic for more than 20 years, has two photographs featured in the exhibit: Gorilla and Desert Tortoise.

One of the projects he’s most known for is his work with the Photo Ark project. Photo Ark represents years of work documenting every living species in modern animal sanctuaries to promote the preservation of wildlife through education and conservation actions.

Otte-Demangate said the museum found Satore through his website simply because they were looking for an image to illustrate “G” for gorilla, one of the species that inhabits the Santa Barbara Zoo.

“One of the reasons I wanted it was that the zoo also has gorillas,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that several of these were zoo animals because this is a collaboration with Santa Barbara Zoo.”

In addition to the human artists, works from animals participating in art therapy programs at the Santa Barbara zoo are also featured in Animals A-Z.

Some letters were challenging, such as “X.” The museum filled the tricky spot with an image of a Xerces blue, an extinct butterfly.

Not all of the artists featured in the Animals A-Z exhibit are household names, or even human for that matter. Otte-Demangate said the Santa Barbara Zoo also lent the museum works of art created by animals at the zoo.

“They offer enrichment activities to keep them mentally and physically active,” she said. “A lot of zoos are doing this. In some cases, animals such elephants and gorillas have a lot of dexterity and have some thought to bear on it.”

In addition to the work at the Wildling Museum, Otte-Demangate and staff curated a student exhibit at the Volentine Family Gallery’s Discovery Pavilion at the Santa Barbara Zoo. The exhibit features the work of 50 students from Solvang and 40 students from the Montessori Center School.

Ultimately, the exhibit is about the beauty of wildlife and the always impending threat to their longevity.

Wild as it gets
The Wildling Museum’s new exhibit Animals A-Z runs through Oct. 9. The museum is located at 1511 Mission Drive, Solvang. More info: 688-1082.

“Human population increases and expanding development have always been a danger to the habitats of animals,” Otte-Demangate said. “It was import to incorporate that.”

Arts and Lifestyle writer Rebecca Rose once hand-fed a tiger. Contact her at

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