Sisters sculptor Gary Cooley has survived his trek to this year’s Safari Club International Show in Las Vegas with intriguing tales from the convention floor. Cooley and his wife, Karen, traveled to Nevada with a selection of African sculptures in early February to participate in the travel, hunting, and leisure organization’s annual convention at the Mandalay Bay Resort.
“The show was great, it was about as well attended as 2014, I think there were about 20,000 patrons,” he said. “I believe there were nearly 1,500 display booths and we sold fifteen major pieces in the four-day period. The people were very happy with my new pieces: a roan antelope bust and a running rhino sculpture. “I also sold one of my two-foot by five-foot Cape Buffalo reliefs. It’s always a fun time because we get to see and reconnect with so many past customers and get to eat dinner at some amazing Las Vegas restaurants, and that makes the trip so much more eventful. It’s kind of like a big reunion.”
Cooley uses the time to initiate new relationships with clients and hear their ideas for future art projects, such as one woman who’s been after him for years to do African children in bronze.
“We had a fantastic location, a nice 10 by 30-foot booth and because of my ever-expanding artwork, next year we’re going to go to a 20 by 20-foot display area. Everywhere you look there’s something unusual or interesting to catch your eye. There are some of the greatest painters in the world there and I really enjoy seeing their new art. “The show also features some amazing taxidermy and fabulously large diorama scenes created for customers. Some are like huge freestanding islands with trees, boulders, and deer or elk and are quite striking.”
The Safari Club show also schedules nightly banquet dinners, talks and seminars, but Cooley is usually too busy to attend. Besides the overwhelming presence of artists, outfitters and travel agencies, the show features a whole range of authors promoting, selling and signing copies of their new books.
Now back in Central Oregon at their Collection Gallery in downtown Sisters, Cooley and his wife are hard at work unpacking and reintegrated their works with the gallery’s showcased artists like Cindy Briggs, Clarke Berryman, Sharyl McCulloch, Jennifer Lake, Marietta Bajer and Barbara Berry.
Gary Cooley’s The Collection Gallery
353 West Hood Avenue in downtown Sisters