Category Archives: Conservation

Tale of Bert and Two Tammies

Tammy Callens, "Bert."  Oil, 20" x 18"

Tammy Callens, “Bert.” Oil, 20″ x 18″

Last summer artist Tammy Callens and I went to visit Bert Raynes. I’d posted an image of Bert on Facebook. Bert, a distinctive bird, caught Callens’ eye. Callens paints portraits, and minutes after spying Bert on my Facebook page she contacted me to find out who this extraordinary man might be.

Callens wanted to paint Bert’s portrait.

“Brilliant,” I thought. Why hadn’t I come up with this? Callens and Bert had never met, but as soon as she expressed interest, my mind leapt at the possibilities. Of all Jackson’s special citizens, who was more deserving of a Callens portrait? Nobody. A “Bert” portrait might raise excellent funds for his beloved non-profit, The Meg and Bert Raynes Foundation.

A year later Callens’ portrait is complete. It’s a stunner. And it’s up for sale as of Friday, June 26th, at Mountain Trails Gallery in Jackson. An opening reception takes place Saturday, June 27th, 4-6:00 pm at the gallery. Callens is donating a significant portion of “Bert” sales proceeds to his foundation. The exhibition, entitled “Soliloquy,” remains on display through July 2nd. 

“The sad thing is, it looks like me,” says Raynes.

Boy, does it. Witty self-deprecation is pure Bert. In fact, he couldn’t be more thrilled. Callens’ spot-on portrait captures Bert as he was the day they met~~handsome in his signature red sweater and suspenders, Bert posed for Callens. Within minutes she’d sketched a lively impression and began playing with color.

“I love painting Bert as he was exactly on the day we met,” Callens recalls. “His life, compassion, knowledge and contributions extend far beyond those of most folks; most of us can’t imagine doing a fraction of his work. I felt his energy immediately and fell completely in love.”

Tammy Callens. "Foghorn Leghorn," Oil.  8 "X 14" Oil

Tammy Callens. “Foghorn Leghorn,” Oil.
8 “X 14”

Callens’ portrait depicts Bert surrounded with jars, bowls and bottles; symbols of a wellness campaign. Birds, Bert’s life’s work and extended family, are present too. Most importantly, the painting IS Bert. Any “F.O.B.,” (Friend of Bert) sees this immediately. When we’re with Bert, intelligence and sparky conversation are impressed upon us. We learn. He listens. We have a democratic, lifetime experience.

Want to be an F.O.B.? Make a beeline for Mountain Trails Gallery. Get there first. Be the “Bert” buyer. Be the first Jackson Hole “nature mapping” citizen to contribute to Bert’s foundation. Be the first person, as far as I know, to support a worthy cause by bringing home a portrait of a most distinguished bird. ,



A Wildlife Art “Staycation” & Big Strategic Plans



Vacation, all I ever wanted; Vacation, have to get away~~Love that song, but I can’t find a video of Belinda Carlisle actually sounding GOOD singing that song. Hmm.

“Staycation!” If you’re having one of those, and Hill Climb vroom-vroom reverberates endlessly in your brain, escape. The National Museum of Wildlife Art is a nice place to visit. Friends and I recently enjoyed a terrific gallery talk on art’s “conservation” timeline. How did artists understand the concept of conservation in Darwin’s era, and how do they understand it now? You may be up on the subject, but listening to an excellent talk on the works comprising “Darwin’s Legacy,” all the way to Carl Rungius work and provided fresh knowledge.

Image from January, 2014's NMWA "Mix'd Media" Event

Image from January, 2014’s NMWA “Mix’d Media” Event

One woman, well versed on the topics of wildlife migration, habitat and wildlife art history, kept interrupting our guide. Without bothering to raise her hand she repeatedly cut into the lecture. DON’T do that, people! Despite her static, we thoroughly enjoyed the talk, which was simultaneously informal and informative.

The museum’s next “First Sunday” event takes place April 6, 11am – 5pm. Entry is free, and the public can “can step outside their everyday experience,” watch wildlife-themed films and explore the galleries.

“With exhibitions displaying larger than life depictions of lions, tigers and cheetahs, and films that include cougar tracking in Jackson’s own Tetons backyard, our April ‘First Sundays’ program offers a sort of exotic getaway right here in Jackson Hole,” says Director of Programming and Exhibitions Becky Kimmel. “Films on view include “North America: Born to be Wild,” a journey through some of the exotic wildlife at large in North American backyards; “American Cougar,”  taking a look at Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project and “Animal Odd Couples.”  The latter film delves into entertaining and affecting cross-species relationships. Films are shown courtesy of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. 

The night we visited, we witnessed at least 50 deer grazing the museum’s dusty, windblown bluffs. Miraculous!

Robert Batema -Rocky Wilderness Cougar - Collection National Museum of Wildlife Art

Robert Bateman – Rocky Wilderness Cougar – Collection National Museum of Wildlife Art

The National Museum of Wildlife Art has issued a statement regarding the institution’s adopted strategic plan. Details should be available in a few months, but for now you can plan on the museum continuing to work to build financial stability and a strong endowment, further develop its permanent collection and create high-quality visitor experiences.

Perhaps most interestingly, a reallocation of building space will occur. “Trustees, staff and volunteers have engaged in several planning exercises to address particular elements of the strategic plan, and the Museum has engaged architects and other planning and programming professionals to determine the feasibility of particular elements,” says the museum. “The Board of Trustees will discuss all the current components of the strategic plan at their forthcoming retreat and board meeting in May.”



“Conservation Gallery”; Pipe Up on Public Art; Global Photography at Intencions


Some press materials are simply so perfect and complete, it’s hard to up their message. That’s the case today! Here’s some information on the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s new exhibition, “Conservation Gallery,” which explores conservation themes by comparing and contrasting those themes as explored through artwork created from the 1800’s to today. The show opened November 16th, and will remain on display through April 13, 2014.

“American wildlife artists have helped to capture the positive and negative results of humanity’s interactions with wildlife still found today, as well as those that are simply a memory. In some instances, paintings and illustrations are the only record of certain species that we have,” says the museum’s Petersen Curator of Art and Research Adam Duncan Harris. Harris notes that artists’ interpretations of wildlife run the gamut from that of early American artist William Jacob Hays, who, says Harris, depicted the animals he saw on exploratory expeditions to the American West, visually preserving them for future generations—-to more conscious conservation messages, such as Steve Kestrel’s “Silent Messenger” (2005), that, in the artist’s own words, “mourn[s] the destruction and degradation of ecosystems worldwide and the tragic loss of unique animal species.”

Steve Kestrel - Silent Messenger - 2005. Courtesy

Steve Kestrel – Silent Messenger – 2005. Courtesy

Natural histories such as the rebound of bison populations lead to “tales of wildlife across the globe.” The tiger is well represented, and displays engage viewers with information that’s often revelatory. For instance, did you know that in the U.S. more tigers are currently owned by private individuals, not zoos, than exist in the wild? Approximately 5,000 tigers are in the U.S., according to the World Wildlife Foundation. 

“Artworks depicting endangered species, whether historical or contemporary, raise pointed questions about humanity’s role in species survival or extinction. We hope that Conservation Gallery will help spark some of those discussions with our visitors,” says Harris.

Images, top of page:  From “Conservation Gallery”: Wilhelm Kuhnert, Resting Tiger, 1912. JKM Collection©, National Museum of Wildlife Art (left), and Gwynn Murrill (United States, b. 1942), Tiger 2, 2012 -2013. Bronze. 42 x 62 x 31 inches. Dr. Lee W. Lenz, National Museum of Wildlife Art. © Gwynn Murrill (right)

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TreeBall Tales & SHIFT’s 20/20; Available Wildlife Art

David Gonzales

David Gonzales

(Note: This post was set to run a few days ago–its publishing is slightly delayed due to the sudden news about Masters Studio.)

A text I sent to TreeFight founder/photographer/activist David Gonzales (on YouTube) let him know I’d be attending Treeball, Gonzales’ inaugural jamboree to raise funds for his cause: saving our forests from the mountain pine beetle. I cautioned Gonzales he would have to give me a Tree Dance. David didn’t respond, but that’s because he was so busy Tree Planning. Attendance was awesome—it would be difficult to fit many more people in the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s lobby; that night the space was occupied by a big band, serious cameras rolling, wicked sharp axes swinging and lively Contemporary Dance Wyoming dancers. “Tree Tights,” images of beautiful women in filmy gowns perched aloft in pine branches, and “bendy” young ladies were a big lure. Next year, as our dear host heard way more than he wanted to, we women demand gorgeous Tree Men, scantily clad, and some Tree Chippendales.

Tree Tight Dancers

Tree Tight Dancers-Courtesy TreeFight

Gonzales’ passionate, detailed speech provided the party’s heart. Most surprising was the diversity of attendees’ age. Energy was up and expectant; people dressed beautifully! That week curtains of rain, snow and plunging temperatures threatened to sink people’s energy, and there was some concern Treeball could end up a Tree Coffee Klatch.

trgreenlogoBut Jacksonites have a habit of making last minute decisions, and true to form big numbers of Treeball guests pledged their $50 entry fee, a reasonable ticket price offering a big night. Result: bankers, lawyers, architects, doctors, artists, administrators, conservationists, political operatives, journalists, outfitters, athletes and more poured in. Ice is breaking between our creative generations, and sincere, affectionate regard prevailed. Jackson’s healthily rebellious, super-smart 20 and 30-somethings are weaving themselves into Jackson’s established art galleries and institutions, and vice versa. Such trends stimulate innovation, empowering both (or three, maybe four) generations towards exciting new ideas with potential to become tradition. It’s not such a bad word, “tradition.” All traditions—and sustained activism—begin as something new.

Several TreeFight auction items were still available earlier this week: check them out at

We Tree Fought, we Tree Hugged. Gonzales may tweak a few details for Treeball 2, but I hope he felt the power. The power was there, and its roots are David Gonzales. Axes away!

Tree Fighters - Courtesy TreeFight

Tree Fighters – Courtesy TreeFight


Ten bucks. That’s all it costs to attend SHIFT’s 20/20 presentation, “Me, JH & Nature,” 6-9:00 pm, at the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Cook Auditorium on Sunday, October 13th. On SHIFT’s website, a $2 “processing” fee is mentioned, an add-on to your ticket price, but when I paid for my ticket online I got away without the $2 fee. Or so it seems.

This 20/20 (20 images, each with a 20 second narrative life span, also known as Pecha Kucha) once again shines a light on ourselves, and what we do to celebrate Jackson Hole’s “natural capital.”  Will the films affect change or action? TBD. May we witness Jacksonites displaying efforts in the name of conservation and preservation; may 20/20’s protagonists be inquisitive, probing and exploring new ground, initiating new research—like David Gonzales! The images will be fun to watch; they’ll be creative. A People’s Choice Award  of $1,000 will be given for the best presentation. Another $1,000 somehow makes its way to a non-profit; whether the money is distributed directly or through the winning filmmaker is unclear….but find out more!  Visit or email

Andrea Rich - Ravens.  Original Print, Woodcut,  Edition of 30

Andrea Rich – Ravens.
Original Print, Woodcut, Edition of 30

On the Western Visions “Still Available” website page the number of items still for sale at this writing is 93. Works remain on exhibit through October 27th, 2013.

Collectors may obtain works by “bidding and buying.” Works include sketches, sculptures, paintings, lithographs, etchings and woodcut prints, all depicting wildlife. You can find all the works on display at the National Museum of Wildlife Art!  





Portal Tracs; Cougar Power


Portal Tracs.187U - Rocky Hawkins

Portal Tracs.187U – Rocky Hawkins

An artist’s work is particularly powerful when it embraces the other side of what many consider real time and space. Communication and reverence for supernatural beings is at the heart of life. Sometimes, the human form itself is transformed, becoming divine and omnipotent.

To me, Rocky Hawkins’ paintings explore the intersection between heaven and earth. His figures are spirits, simultaneously sending and absorbing messages. Composed with brushes and palette knives, Hawkins’ paintings constantly explore new spaces and concepts. His latest body of work, on exhibition at Altamira Fine Art through June 30th, includes large and small-scale works. In each painting Hawkins delves ever deeper into abstraction using bold strokes, a full array of color and superb composition.

"Sky Dance Rider" - Rocky Hawkins.

“Sky Dance Rider” – Rocky Hawkins.

The primary focus of these new works is a group of paintings—the “Portal Tracs” series. In each work Hawkins depicts rectangular shapes representing gateways into another dimension. Time is fluid. Geometric fields overlap and intersect, distinct but amorphous. It is Hawkins’ broad spaces—a vast universe—painted in above his figures that draw the viewer in. We are pulled towards clusters of riders, grouped and solitary figures. As you move through the exhibit, notice Hawkins’ use of numbers and letters in his titles. Each letter —T, R, A, C and S—refers to a form visible within the painting. The letters, together, spell “tracs.” I will tell you about the “U” shape, turned towards the heavens and connected to figures’ heads: it represents the unknown, and it reaches out “like an antenna, ready to receive new experience.”

"Portal Tracs.385U" - Rocky Hawkins

“Portal Tracs.385U” – Rocky Hawkins

Hawkins’ palette runs the gamut from electric to earthy. Every choice is correct. In this grouping of works there is something for everyone. The smallest canvases I saw measured 6 x 8″. These make wonderful collection starters and are as intensely wrought as Hawkins’ large canvases. “Portal Tracs.923U” measures 60 x 48″.

Hawkins also revisits his “Archer” and “Horse and Rider” series themes. They are as bold, sacred and intriguing as ever, and Hawkins is a master at depicting points of tension amidst rich, painterly strokes of color. As has been said, Hawkins is an artist choosing not to stay in one place for too long.

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