Dale Weiler, Sculptor of Stone:
As a “late bloomer,” I waited until my mid 40s before immersing myself in my passion for sculpting stone. I had honored my father’s wishes not to pursue art since he believed it to be a financially unviable profession. However the desire to sculpt, fueled by the artistic DNA inherited from both of my parents, was too great a force to resist and I ultimately embraced my destiny in the mid 1990s.
After graduating from Lehigh University with a B.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering, I entered the military in 1969. While attending the US Naval Flight Program, I earned a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Systems ultimately piloting the A-4 attack jet. Following a one year tour in Vietnam aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Kitty Hawk, I retired from the service and returned to school earning an MBA from Boston University in 1973.
My business career took off when I joined the consulting firm Arthur D. Little and was able to draw from my engineering and aerospace background to assist clients employing advanced materials and systems technology. Subsequently establishing my own practice, I worked worldwide to assist companies in strategic planning, marketing and partnering disciplines.
But after 20+ years in the consulting field, I recognized the need for a career change. The first time I touched chisel to stone I knew sculpting is what I was born to do. Over the past twenty years, my sculptures have focused on wildlife subjects including North American and African mammals, migratory birds and endangered species. Some of my favorite sculptures are polar bears, owls and hawks, sea turtles, elephants, and gorillas. They reside in numerous museums including The Woodson Art Museum, Brookgreen Gardens, and the Ward Museum; corporations and private collections throughout the world. I am an elected member of The National Sculpture Society and a Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists, Artists for Conservation and the American Society of Marine Artists.
Loti Woods, Outdoor Conservationist:
After graduating from Vanderbilt/Peabody University with a dual degree in Special Education and Elementary Education, I briefly taught special education in Hendersonville, TN. While looking for a summer job to supplement my teaching career, I unexpectedly landed a job as a commercial property insurance underwriter in 1978. For the next 20 years I moved from underwriting to marketing to management, often as the first woman to hold the position within the company.
In 1991 I joined a wholesale insurance broker in the Southeast before cofounding my own firm in Palm Beach four years later, specializing in hard-to-place international property and casualty insurance. Writing accounts including the property insurance for the City of Miami (after Hurricane Andrew devastated the area) helped our firm grow to one of the largest boutique wholesale companies in the country. And as one of the few woman CEOs in the industry, I was also able to mentor young women just coming out of college, a number of which have gone on to have outstanding insurance careers.
An opportunity to sell the company presented itself in 2010 and after working another 5 years, I decided to take early retirement so I could spend more time outdoors with nature and the wildlife I have always loved. Moving to the foothills of NC to be closer to family, I quickly became involved in my newly adopted hometown of Tryon. Within a year, I co-organized and brought the first TEDX talks to our town and worked with our local land conservancy to fund, establish and maintain three Monarch butterfly gardens through out the county to help protect our pollinators.
Dale Weiler and Loti Woods Together
We met in late 2015 at one of Dale’s art openings and married 5 months later. That fateful initial encounter enabled us to combine our broad range of international experiences, our business and organizational skills and our first hand knowledge of the art world along with our shared love for the environment and wildlife to embark on a new, exciting journey together.
Collectively, we have travelled the world visiting over 100 countries. Dale, along with 8 other international artists, toured national parks in Tanzania to photograph and then create sculptures of endangered and threatened species to increase global awareness of the plight facing African animals. In countries such as India, China, Guatemala, and throughout the US, we have seen first hand the accelerating degradation of our environment and the subsequent detrimental effect on our wildlife.
Moving forward, we are educating ourselves and others on making a positive impact on conservation issues. We are presently partnering with land preservation groups, museums, research institutions and zoos with national as well as international field programs. Dale’s sculptures will continue to be available to private art collectors; our goal, however, is to use art to raise awareness and funds for protecting wildlife and their habitat.