The Kelly Fitzpatrick Center for the Arts in partnership with the Smoot Harris family, City of Wetumpka, and sponsors including the featured “Top Dog” sponsor Regions Bank, delivered a successful second annual “Art Gone Wild” exhibit and Wetumpka Wildlife Arts Festival (WEWA), during the month of November 2023.
With Historic Downtown Wetumpka and the beautiful Coosa River as its backdrop, the WEWA festival included the “Art Gone Wild” exhibit within the gallery, a series of educational classes, vendors, and expert demonstrations by award-winning artists and artisans such as Dirk Walker, Jim Denney, Chef Chris Hastings, John David Foote, Wildrose Kennels and the new addition of Dock Dogs.
This year’s festival also included the highly successful inaugural “Alabama Wildlife Fine Arts Competition”, with a major $10,000 Purchase Award co-sponsored by LIV Development and the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF), as well as three $500 merit prizes and three $500 Mayor’s Awards provided by the City of Wetumpka, which drew participation from accomplished artists throughout the Southeastern United States. AUM art professor Tony Veronese served as the final judge of the juried art competition.
Below are the Merit Prize winners with their award-winning art (in alphabetical order):
Oil on Linen
16 x 20 ″
Framed: 22.5 x 26.5 ″
Thunder in the Hills
Oil on Canvas
18 x 24 ″
2023 Oil on Canvas
32 x 84 x 3 ″
2023 Acrylic on Linen
20 x 30 ″
Framed: 26.75 x 36.75 ″
2023 Oil on Linen
8 x 10 ″
Framed: 14.25 x 16.25 ″
Coosa River Red Eye Bass caught on a Wooley Bugger
Watercolor & Gouache
14 x 18 ″
Best of Show and $10,000 purchase award winner was Jared Knox’s piece titled Bobcat and Bobwhite, a framed 36 x 24 acrylic painting on canvas.
Despite a morning that began with rainy weather, thousands turned out to enjoy the WEWA festival on November 11th, beginning with a tribute to Veterans with a flag ceremony provided by the local BSA Pack 50 and Troop 50, National Anthem performed by Gigi Hankins and a check presentation from Mid-South RC&D.
Bringing together wildlife artists, experts, and enthusiasts to an event expected to welcome thousands to the authentic arts community is also important to Alabama Blackbelt Adventures founder and chairman Thomas Harris, whose family has deep roots in the Wetumpka area. “The goal of the festival series is manifold and includes a desire to benefit the Wetumpka area by helping to increase tourism, impact economic development, expose The Kelly to a wider audience, and hopefully, create an ongoing event for this charming community as it continues to grow into a mecca for the arts.”
To learn more, please visit the organization’s website at thekelly.org.