Category Archives: Exhibitions

A Closer Look at Plein Air

Bill Sawczuk, from "A Closer Look."

Bill Sawczuk, from “A Closer Look.”

Why take “a closer look?” What does it mean, relative to plein air painting, to examine the world more closely?

Summer is the season, and Jackson Hole is the place to find out. The summer brings a multitude of artists into the open, where they mingle with wilderness, wildlife and, this year, a blockbuster number of tourists. Like the good people working for the postal service, neither sleet nor snow nor bears eating easels can keep plein air painters from delivering the plein air “mail.”

Plein air painter and partner at Jackson gallery Trio Fine Art, Bill Sawczuk is set to host his summer solo exhibition “A Closer Look.”  The show, says the artist, will explore the [myriad talents] of an experienced eye. In partnership with a well-weilded paintbrush, an artist’s eye may take very close examination at its surrounding beauty.

Sawczuk’s work has been largely traditional, primarily broad landscapes, directly translated. “A Closer Look” searches out what doesn’t immediately catch the eye. Seemingly static scenes change, and Sawczuk wants to see what’s new.

“Old cabins in Grand Teton National Park are picturesque to be sure, but there is more to be seen and felt. [I have] tried to express the loneliness and melancholy [I] feel when describing these cabins in a painting. It can take very little to say a lot, to explore the material, and to convey [my] feelings to the viewer.” says the artist.

Bill Sawczuk at work.

Bill Sawczuk at work.

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The Red Road: Valkyries and Medicine Men at Altamira Fine Art

R. Tom Gilleon, Valkyrie. Oil, 32 x 24 inches

R. Tom Gilleon, Valkyrie. Oil, 32 x 24″. At Altamira Fine Art.

Valkyries. Often portrayed as beneficent creatures, their role as the God Odin’s daughters (or female assistants) in Norse mythology is deciding which warriors die and which survive great battles. Those who perish are flown to Odin’s Valhalla by the valkyries, so that he may watch over them.

“Whether in their loving or bloodthirsty modalities, the valkyries are best understood as part of the extensive and dynamic complex of shamanism that permeates pre-Christian Germanic religion,” notes the web page Norse Mythology for Smart People.

R. Tom Gilleon’s “Valkyrie” elicits a tumbling mass of confliciting emotion. Is this a wise and beneficent angel of Odin or a bloodthirsty footman? Is she grounded or hovering? Is she watching over a particualar soldier or pensive? And how does this mythological Norse shaman legend translate to Native American symbols and culture?

How many battles were waged as white men overtook Indian lands, livelihood and very soul? Too many to count. Gilleon uses an ancient character to make a statement about today’s world crises, too many to count. But I choose to believe Gilleon’s valkyrie is a compassionate, helping spirit, ready to protect. Ready to carry our souls to safety.

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Shadows: Castle & Hicks at Tayloe Piggott; Daly News

James Castle, CAS11-0171 Untitled (black form), n.d. Found paper, soot, color of unknown origin, string, 6 1/4 x 8 3/8 in.

James Castle, Untitled (black form), n.d. Found paper, soot, color of unknown origin, string, 6 1/4 x 8 3/8 in.

In the new double show at Jackson’s Tayloe Piggott Gallery, there’s a complementary and slightly chilling collection of works by James Castle and Nicola Hicks. Castle was a profoundly deaf, self-taught artist. His mother was a midwife and his father ran the Garden Valley, Idaho post office.

James Castle, CAS09-0324 Untitled (flamingo) n.d., Found paper, soot, color of unknown origin, string. James Castle, CAS09-0324 Untitled (flamingo), n.d. Found paper, soot, color of unknown origin, string, 28 3/4 x 10 in.

James Castle, Untitled (flamingo)
n.d., Found paper, soot, color of unknown origin, string. Found paper, soot, color of unknown origin, string, 28 3/4 x 10 in.

Always poor, often on subsistence, Castle came to know a little sign language and developed a love for lettering. He “…is known for the skill of his draftsmanship,…subject matter and for his use of found and homemade materials. His recurrent and diverse themes tell an intimate story of a life lived in rural Idaho during the 20th century.”

Looking at Castle’s work I experience guilt as if I’ve broken into a child’s secret diary. It’s slightly agonizing, albeit fascinating, to study a Castle work; they’re heartrending. Eternally enigmatic, but with glimpses of a compromised soul’s joy in creating art. Displaying a man-child’s heart, Castle’s works seem stuffed in tiny boxes. Imagine, too, the drawings of an unborn child tucked in a dark, warm space, sensing fuzzy edges of the outside world.

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Nicola Hicks’ electric, recumbent bear prompted an email to friends much more familiar with bears’ private behavior. “Would a bear lie in this position on its own accord,” I asked. “Or would it only roll over on its back, belly exposed, if it was coerced by humans?”

Nicola Hicks, Untitled (Bear laying down), 2010 Charcoal and chalk on brown paper, 66 x 82 in.

Nicola Hicks, Untitled (Bear laying down), 2010 Charcoal and chalk on brown paper, 66 x 82 in.

Bears do lie around tummy up. “They’re like dogs,” one of my experts explained. “They can be spotted rolling around in dense forest glens or by a body of water, cooling off.”

Nicola Hicks, Owl, ed. 1/1, 2014. Monoprint, 29 3/4 x 22 1/8 in. (75.6 x 56.2 cm)

Nicola Hicks, Owl, ed. 1/1, 2014. Monoprint, 29 3/4 x 22 1/8 in. (75.6 x 56.2 cm)

All this goes along with what seems to be Hicks’ core artist statement: Creatures of the earth are “…animalistic in form and body, yet uncannily human.” She’s on the anthropomorphism train.

Hicks’ show includes plaster casts (ultimately brass sculptures) of animals—seemingly locked in suffocating, snare-like dried mud pierced by sharp objects—and works on paper. It’s tempting to grab a sledgehammer and free these entombed creatures. Something new, an exercise in “different.” Hicks’ chalk, charcoal and monoprints depict wild and domestic animals, extended and sinewy. A portrait of a big sleeping dog has real heft. You feel the weight of the animal’s massive head.

The bear wins!

The exhibition remains on display through August 16th, 2015. www.tayloepiggottgallery.com

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Katy Ann Fox, "On the Way to Breakfast." 12x12" Oil on Panel

Katy Ann Fox, “On the Way to Breakfast.” 12×12″ Oil on Panel

Together or Separate: New Works by Eleanor Anderson and Katy Ann Fox, opens at the Daly Gallery-Daly Project on Thursday, July 9, with a reception from 5-7:00pm. Anderson’s bright, whimsical ceramics and Fox’s airy, well-composed canvases are on view through July 24th.

We strive to be open Tuesday through Saturday, 1o AM to 6 PM. Or by appointment, 307-699-7933,” notes the gallery. http://www.dalyartistrep.com

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And don’t forget: Catch up with more Jackson Hole art scene goings-on by logging on to https://funthingstodoinjacksonhole.wordpress.com. This week: “Plein Air for the Park!”  

Erin C. O'Connor. On Evening's Edge. Oil on Linen.

Erin C. O’Connor. On Evening’s Edge. Oil on Linen.

Art is Fine!

Howdy! I’m back. The Jackson Hole Art Blog is up again! We’ll be writing brief (up to 500 words) weekly posts about Jackson Hole Arts. Summer traffic is turning up early this year, so let’s get going! Send me your news! Email me at tammy@jacksonholearttours.com OR tammychristel@gmail.com.  

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One of Jackson’s most eclectic, sophisticated galleries, Heather James Fine Art, has two locations. Their home gallery is in Palm Springs, California, and its second gallery is here in Jackson. Currently featured is “Arts of Asia,” a stunning artifacts collection.

“Antiquities loaded with historical, ritual, and cultural richness weave an intricate story of centuries of dynasties and eras in Arts of Asia,” says the gallery. “Spanning 2,000 years, the objects in the show are organized by geography: China, Japan, and India & Southeast Asia.”

Heather James’ new series of online catalogs are beautifully composed. View catalogs of this and other Heather James collections at www.heatherjames.com 

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Brent Cotton VALLEY EVENING oil on linen 20 x 24 in

Brent Cotton
VALLEY EVENING
oil on linen
20 x 24 in

Jackson’s Trailside Galleries presents “Fleeting Effects of Light,” a show of new works by Brent Cotton. Light is the thing in our valley. Our light wears infinite guises, an artist’s eternal muse.

“Raised on his family’s cattle ranch in Idaho, Brent’s first lessons in art were taught by his grandmother, a talented watercolorist. He grew up sketching the cowboys and horses he observed every day. In high school an influential instructor encouraged him to pursue a career in art,” says Trailside. “Cotton attended workshops and studied with some of the best known names in wildlife and Western art, including world-renowned Western artist Howard Terpning.”

“Fleeting Effects of Light” runs June 1 – June 30, 2015 at Trailside. An Open House and ArtWalk (which includes many galleries around town) takes place June 18, 5-7 pm.  www.trailsidegalleries.com 

A Wildlife Art “Staycation” & Big Strategic Plans

 

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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!  www.wildlifeart.org

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.”