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Landowner-artist collaborations promote HC conservation


Landowners across the Hill Country have invited a group of artists to spend time over a one-year period exploring 21 properties not typically open to the public, enabling the artists to interpret their experiences in nature through art.

Next April, the art will be exhibited and sold to the public as part of "Art and Conservation: Hidden Treasures," presented by the Cibolo Nature Center and the Hill Country Council for the Arts to raise awareness about and promote conservation of Hill Country animals, plants, land and water.

Established in 2007, Art and Conservation pairs conservation-minded Hill Country landowners with artists who spend time exploring and studying the natural landscapes. The project is held in two-year cycles to allow the artists to get to know the land at intervals through the seasons. Artists are selected to participate via a jury process, and the resulting artwork will be judged during the exhibit.

Judges will bestow a Best of Show award of $1,000 and two honorable mention awards of $100 and $75, respectively. Those attending the exhibition will be able to vote on a People's Choice Award of $100. All artwork included in the show will be for sale, with 20 percent of the artists' proceeds from sales going to support outdoor education and citizen science programs at the non-profit Cibolo Nature Center.

"Landowners throughout the Hill Country care deeply about the land and are working to conserve it," said Doris Perez, director of operations for the Cibolo Nature Center as well as president of the Hill Country Council for the Arts. "By allowing artists to have access to lands that aren't open to the public, the public has a chance to see something special. That's why the art show is subtitled 'Hidden Treasures'."

Perez added, "We hope that the public will gain a deeper appreciation for how important it is to conserve our precious natural resources through the opportunity to see these beautiful places through artists' eyes."

Karen and Frank Dietz are among the landowners participating in Art and Conservation. They are members of the Pantermuehl family, of Twin Oaks Pantermuehl Family Ranch in New Braunfels.

Although Government Canyon State Natural Area in northwest Bexar County is technically public land, sections of natural area are not open to the public in order to protect ecologically sensitive habitat. "When the opportunity to be a part of Art and Conservation was available to us, we jumped on it - quickly," said Nicholas Maloukis, an interpreter at the state natural area.

Other landowners participating nclude Judy and Jerry Pierce of Lonesome Hill Ranch near Medina, Jim Judson of Medina Ranch near Mico and Circle J Ranch near Sisterdale, Lynn Northrup of Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch near Pipe Creek and others.