“Despite being a full-time artist in Manhattan for seven years, I never established a meaningful relationship with an art organization. That changed completely when I moved to Victor, connected with Shari Brownfield, Todd Hanna, Chas Marsh, Mark Nowlin and The Art Association of Jackson Hole. They hosted my first show out West in the Summer of 2016, and since, I’ve witnessed the incredible impact they have made on our community. When the wonderful Jill Callahan mentioned the Whodunnit show, I was happy to contribute. I’m excited to see who ends up with my piece, and, from what I’ve heard, it’s one helluva party!”
“Greg McHuron was known to wrestle sheets of plywood through various Ice Ages just so he could stand on them without sinking into the frozen depths. But Greg was part Woolly Mammoth.” ~ Plein air painter Erin C. O’Connor
This Jackson Hole winter! Folks have mentioned a craving to chew their legs off. But if you’re an artist the show goes on, and being shut in or facing stupendously challenging weather conditions often leads to improvisation, new creative themes and awakenings of a different sort.
Plein air painter Kathy Wipfler is a true veteran of painting outdoors. Solid and sensible, her practices spring from a lifetime of ranching and hard outdoor work. A long-time member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, she knows a thing or two.
“Having painted on location here in every season for 36 years, I have a few tricks of the trade to stay as warm as possible. Painting a small format is one of them,” writes Wipfler. “Standing on Blue Board keeps the cold from my feet just a little longer than standing directly on the snow, and having the right boots is important. Painting sunlit snow is a passion, but there have been limited sunlit days so far this winter.”
Wipfler says another challenge is simply finding an accessible turnout to set up her easel and park. “Parking on the road’s shoulder is not so smart. I’ve spent time and effort shoveling out spaces whenever it’s feasible.”
Wipfler’s “Deep Winter – Jackson Hole,” pictured above, is so painterly I can almost feel the artist’s rich brushstrokes simply by looking. They convey the weight of this winter, its frigid cold, and a sense of muffled winter beauty. Wipfler’s snowdrifts are a pillow upon which the mountain rests.
Kay Stratman is experimenting with her “alter studio ego.”
Stratman’s “Natural Abstractions,” comprised of watercolor and wax works, focus on what the artist describes as “amazingly colorful natural occurances that scream for exploration/exploitation/ abstraction.”
Stratman’s work (which she says has always favored essence over traditional form) is focused on subjects ranging from Yellowstone’s brilliant hot springs to “the mysteries of stellar nebula or northern lights.”
“People are familiar with watercolor as a medium and perhaps even encaustic wax,” writes Stratman. “But I combine both media in my work to present an interesting dichotomy. Watercolor and wax shouldn’t even be able to mix, should they? However, each medium becomes obvious upon close inspection, and the view from farther away brings the suggested subject matter to light. The pieces themselves are splash and poured watercolors on rice paper, infused with encaustic wax (molten beeswax) that makes the paper translucent, allowing me to fuse layers together to create depth of color.”
Erin C. O’Connor
“I know an artist who used to work for the phone company; he swiped one of those tents that they put over utility boxes so they can work in inclement weather; now he uses it to paint outside. At 17 below zero, I’d need the tent, the Enormo-Heat-Blaster, and the heated brush handles,” reveals painter Erin C. O’Connor.
I imagine O’Connor’s “Uppity Chick” smile.
During winter months O’Connor focuses on studio work and brings unfinished “warmer months” paintings to completion. At this time last year O’Connor was in Nicaragua, and she’s “finding welcome refuge in re-exploring those scenes.”
“It all plays back to me like a tape recording ~ the warmth, the humidity, the lyrical conversations, the people I met, all the things I learned,” she says. “Color upon color upon color. This has been my antidote to grey. This has been my rebellion to the cold.”
O’Connor updates her website during winter months, and she’s just been named as the newest member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters Board of Directors. When Plein Air for the Park ” gorgeously unfolds in July, it’s because we’ve thoroughly scrutinized the acrobatics well before summer.”
Next post, we’ll hear from a few more of Jackson’s ultra-talented women artists! All strive to be the best that they can be. Transcending fads and trends, they are wicked strong rungs on Jackson’s art history ladder, and their art endures.
In national art news, it was announced earlier this month that the NEA is in dire straits. Our new administration is strongly considering budget cuts that could eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. If executed, this spells disaster for art interests across the country. Such a step even stands to cancel important exhibitions like SFMOMA’s Matisse-Diebenkorn show. Read a little about this impending legislation here.
“A new year is upon us, marking a time for reflection and anticipation. 2016 was a turbulent year, underscoring the important role art plays in encouraging dialogue between people and reflection upon ourselves.” ~ Art Advisor and Producer Camille Obering
A heads up: Viewer discretion advised. This clip contains images of a live butchering. I want to post this latest in Obering & Friends “Rural Violence” film-documented performance piece for the reasons Obering gives, and I’ve reached out to Obering with questions. At post time, the Jackson Hole Art Blog hasn’t received a response.
So I’ll put it to you, readers. The filmmakers wish to address many themes, and here’s the list, directly quoted:
– Death and destruction leading to life and enlightenment.
– Creating awareness that the luxuries many thoughtlessly consume often have a backstory (sic) many reproach (food production, electricity, transportation, cheap anything).
– Humanity’s animalistic (sic) instincts such as dominance, submission, struggle, proliferation, and acknowledging the grey area that exists separating humans from beasts.
– Persecution of the innocent.
– Tension created between what one considers natural verses amoral.
– How sanitized and curated our lives are, and how short our attention spans have become.
– Finding beauty in and meditating on what could be considered brutal.
These are themes we examine constantly; we’re a very aware generation or two; in Jackson alone we have two very fine organic food markets. That’s privilege, and we have a multitude of options when it comes to buying our food. We know that even organic meat gets butchered. How animals live their lives before butchering is most important: are they treated humanely or confined to horrific conditions? What were the circumstances for this animal? How did this creature end up as the “Rural Violence” star? Is it the “innocent?”
I’m not a vegetarian, but I do question my choices and often think about what took place before I pluck the sanitized package of meat I’ve just bought from the rack. Every day tensions between the haves and have-nots become more visible. We are a community packed with environmentalists, biologists, forestry experts, wildlife biologists, fishermen, ornithologists and conservation activists. Many hunt to feed their families.
Yet, for the touring public coming to visit Jackson Hole, any reference to how indigenous cultures survived and hunted are pretty smoothed over. Places you might find full-faced references are the J.H. Historical Society, the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Visitor Centers, the Library, the National Museum of Wildlife Art and National Geographic, just to name a few.
So what is new about these messages? I don’t think the themes are surprising; what’s new is how they’ve been treated in this piece of film. Rather than replicating, how about presenting a true indigenous group carrying out a routine life ritual? Would that get the point across? It’s the conversation I’d have. It’s a question, and raising questions is a primary goal here.
A Song Bird’s “Baby Ask”
A second locally produced video, “Baby Ask,” is in its final week of fundraising on Kickstarter, looking for dollars to offset costs of a ready-to-roll music video starring local songstress Maddy German. The video premiers at Jackson’s Center for the Arts at 6:00 pm, January 27th.
Inspired by emotional upheaval, personal growth and, as it turns out, upheaval within the film’s production group and the rupture of German’s relationship with a former beau, the flick has two goals: transferring to film the struggles we experience with our “other selves,” and help launch a larger musical career for German and her crew.
You can catch the “Baby Ask” trailer here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/497811323/baby-ask-a-music-video-from-wyoming
What percentage of artists working in Jackson Hole have pierced their immediate circle of collectors and taken their art to a new level? Branding happens when you’ve “arrived,” and nobody is a brand before that leap. Jackson’s art market is one of the strongest in the nation, recognized primarily for its historical and contemporary Western Art.
What if you’re not a native Westerner? What if you’ve moved here looking for answers, searching for a supportive venue? Perhaps you’ve been here forever, respected and recognized. Still, the art world at large doesn’t quite know it, and you’re not a household name. You’re selling, but you want to sell more. No sugar daddies (or mommies) around, no private plane connections, no trust fund….Maybe you’re shy.
Just as an improved diet and better sleep will elevate health… so too can artists empower themselves by embracing necessary entrepreneurial techniques. Competition between artists for collectors is unnecessary. ~ Borbay
Borbay and Friends to the resue!
On Friday, July 29th, 1:30 – 3:00 pm at the Art Association’s Gallery, Borbay, Ben Roth and Claudia Bueno will talk on the topic “How to Get Your Work Beyond Jackson Hole.” The session is free. Heck, I wish I could be there!
A recent article in the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported that four Art Association board members had resigned due to a lack of transparent leadership, a culture marked by economic emphasis and a muddy sense of creative direction. The fallout, now very public, occurred over a plan to relocate a portion of the Art Association’s operations to an empty Powderhorn Mall retail space. Board Chairman Dave Muskat reportedly attempted to push the move through quickly, without fully consulting board and staff. Though the books have balanced out under the current administration, it hasn’t been enough to stifle frustration.
When I read the article and Facebook comments about all this, I admit to reacting strongly. My long-standing respect and affection for the Art Association is real; so is the pain over watching it pass through such troubles. For years the Association has been reformatting its economic model and re-imagining what it wants to be to the community. All non-profits are businesses. They need to make money. But they also need to sustain a viable, dynamic mission. In a community our size, they need to generate authentic good will.
Partnering with another local arts group could make a difference. One prominent organization not only reaches out to Jackson’s community; it reaches out to tourism and a world audience. The University of Wyoming’s museum combines exciting contemporary and historically-themed exhibitions and teaching with programs that energize Laramie’s community.
The worst thing a leader can do to an organization’s image is publicly bad mouth colleagues and essentially tell everyone: “So what?” Once it’s out there, that sentiment can easily boomerang. Artists work mightily to move arts forward, and this latest development makes that effort more difficult. A value is owed to any organization’s supporters, whether those supporters offer hard financial assistance, volunteerism, positive word-of-mouth, or any other form of patronage. The Association has some new, very smart board members. I wish them all the luck in rejuvenating one of Jackson’s most important arts non-profits. With any luck recently department board members will be able to contribute their time and talents to the Association once again.
Submitted with modesty & good will ~~~ TC
Here’s some support: The Art Association’s “JURIED METALS EXHIBITION: SOLDER, RIVET, WELD” issued an open call for entries. Opening May 30th, 2014, the show will highlight new metalworks that utilize myriad metal fabrication techniques: casting, lampworking, metal clay, beading, metalsmithing, blacksmithing and welding.
Submission Deadline: Midnight MST, Monday April 28th, 2014 | Exhibition: May 30th – June 27th, 2014. Submission fee is $35.
“All work must be ready for installation. Work may be very small to large, but must be able to fit through a standard door. Work may be pedestal, wall hanging, or ceiling hung. Small jewelry pieces should have their own display form or case,” write the show’s organizers. This juried show will be judged by John Simms, Katherine Donan & Sam Dowd. Three wonderful choices!
Guidelines and instructions are lengthy, but you can find out everything you need to know by contacting Thomas Macker at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the word “Metal Submission” in the subject field.