Behind the scenes look as artists set up for SEWE

Charleston, S.C.—Soon you will be able to see all of the breathtaking artwork of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE). You see the magnificent finished product, but a lot of hard work goes into getting to that place. On Wednesday we got a behind the scenes look as the artists set up in the Charleston Place Hotel for SEWE 2017.

The Library is this year’s new exhibit. It will feature things like smaller studies or sketches, rough draft oil paintings and smaller replicas—all from the artists who have larger pieces in the ballroom. “There may be a 4×4 in here and then you can walk into the ballroom and see a 30×40,” says SEWE Art Director Natalie Henderson.

Henderson says the pieces in the library cater to the avid collector who wants to get their hands on all types of art, and also to the first time collector. “You might be able to pick up a piece in here for $300, so it is very affordable,” says Henderson. “That being said, there might be a $1,000 piece in here as well, but it’s definitely a lower price point. If you’re someone who is interested in starting an art collection, this is a great place to look.”

We talked to artists on Wednesday as they set up their booths. First, we talked to painter Thomas Brooks who travels from Lakeland Florida with his primarily oil paintings of wild turkeys and quails. Brooks joked about the hard work that goes into setting up all the artwork. “So many times I think—It’d be nice to bring some of our collectors in so they can help us out so they can have a clue! This is the behind the scenes. You get to see the real work.”

This is Brooks’ 16th year coming back to SEWE. “It’s just a wonderful show,” says Brooks. “We just love coming to Charleston. It’s a fun time and we just have a blast.”

Artist: Thomas Brooks

Next we talked to Stefan Savides who was a taxidermist for 53 years before he turned to sculpting. “What better way to leave your mark on the world of art than through sculpture,” says Savides, “because this stuff will be around for the next 5,000 years. We do give a 5,000 year guarantee,” he said with a laugh.

Artist: Stefan Savides

Savides comes all the way from Southern Oregan and getting his sculptures to the Lowcountry is quite the arduous process. “We have to bring a tiny home with all of our sculpture in here,” Savides described. “We ship these huge crates to a storage facility, then we fly out…it’s worth it.”

These artists come back to Charleston year after year.
“They’re just wonderful people. They lay out the Southern hospitality,” says Brooks.
And Savides says, “If you don’t want to come back to Charleston after the first time you visit—there’s something wrong with you.”

For VIP ticket holders, there are private viewing hours of the gallery on Thursday February 16 from 1-5PM. For general admission ticket holders, the gallery opens on Friday February 17 at 10AM.

CLICK HERE to buy tickets to SEWE.

CLICK HERE to view the full event schedule.

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