Category Archives: Tammy Christel

A Painter’s Dream; Culture Front’s “Art & Risk”; Art Walk

“The subject of my works is paint, the motif is the image, the illusions, the beauty of landscape. I never want to forget that what I am looking at is paint on canvas.” ~ Louisa McElwain

Altamira Fine Art opens its summer arts season with Louisa McElwain’s “A Painters Dream,” an exhibition of 19 new paintings by the renowned landscapist. The show runs May 23rd – June 5th, 2012; an artist’s reception takes place Friday, May 25th, 2012.

McElwain, a New Mexico native, describes herself as an abstract artist. This new show advances that claim; and it’s a correct claim. But, as I write this, and as I view her new canvases, I can’t help but think, “Damn, these are radically charged, super-painted works! And they remind me of Vincent Van Gogh’s foaming, tumultuous and emotive paintings.” One of my favorite reference books describes abstract painting as “having artistic content that depends on intrinsic form rather than on pictorial representation.”  McElwain is representing these landscapes; we can see them. But a vortex—must be that New Mexico magic—of energy churns up place, color and light in each of her works. In “Extraterrestrial,” pictured above, a supernatural form volcanically takes off from the earth–it’s in the sky, becoming the sky.

Continue reading

Art for Jackson Hole’s V-Day

Heartfelt and huge thanks to all Jackson Hole area artists, galleries and organizations donating time and art to February 19th’s V-Day Silent Auction, supporting Teton County’s victims of domestic violence.  We’re a rich county, in the first state to give women the right to vote.  Even so, the need to support women and girls in dire domestic crises is great.  Your efforts and talent are deeply appreciated.

Brookover Photography

Eliot Goss

Ed Lavino

Wyoming Gallery

A Horse of a Different Color Gallery

Mountain Trails Gallery

Crazy Horse

Trio Fine Art

Kathryn Mapes Turner

September Vhay

Lee Carlman Riddell

Kay Stratman

Valerie Seaberg

Laurie Thal

Miga Rosetti

Shannon Troxler Thal

Ben Roth

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Alissa Davies

Abbie Miller

Lisa Miller

David Swift

Troutwater Gallery

A.D. Maddox

Grand Teton Association

Your donations are even more meaningful, as we find ourselves in the trying times we do.  We are all being tested, but women with lives beset by the overwhelming circumstance of violence often find no exit.  Your gifts lend them a hand, providing greater chances for finding a new home, new work, new pride.  If you would like to participate, please email, or phone 307-690-1983, by end of the day February 4th.   Thank you.

Tammy Christel

Nomination for Lyndsay McCandless’ Creativity Award

Lyndsay is known as Jackson’s most influential person in the arts scene.  Her undimmed passion has enriched us for a decade and a half, beginning with her years at the Martin Harris Gallery.   As Kate Balog noted, Lyndsay has “…brought dialogue, philosophy, social commentary… and contemporary artists to the small mountain town known for its traditional Western art, and helped pave the way for the newer art venues.”

Lyndsay simultaneously honors our region’s rich art history, a history grounded in parks conservation, and pushes boundaries to discover and promote all manner of contemporary art.

She has overturned our traditional concept of art galleries by turning hers into a welcoming ‘home’ for countless worthy initiatives. Her energy and commitment are unmatched.  Through her exhibits and events Lyndsay provides venues for women’s initiatives, conservation, Latino resources, children and more.  Lyndsay McCandless Contemporary Gallery does so much more than support the arts; there are few concepts Lyndsay won’t consider.  Artists are activists, and Lyndsay’s personal brand of activism furthers and supports our ever-diversifying arts community.

To walk into Lyndsay McCandless Contemporary is to enter a place of wonder.  Through Lyndsay’s efforts we all have the opportunity to learn not only about art, but also about the ties that bind us as a community, and about our role as passengers on the boat, Planet Earth.

Tammy Christel, July 2008

Frans Lanting at the National Museum of Wildlife Art

(This “Call of the Wild” cover story was published by the National Museum of Wildlife Art)

Innate gifts, properly nurtured, blossom. A garden of artistic aptitude flourishes when inspiration is supplied. Nature photographer Frans Lanting is a case in point.

Lanting grew up in a small Netherlands village, which, over time, was given over to petrochemical and industrial interests. Lanting came to the United States to study environmental planning, in hopes of reversing such erosive trends. The field frustrated Lanting; bureaucracy walled him off even more from the natural world he loved. He moved to California, where that state’s seductive, wild beauty took hold of his soul. Lanting’s passions and artistic gifts found their inspiration, and the photographer set upon the path that has made him one of the world’s most recognized nature photographers.

Frans Lanting’s photographic artistry is described by Thomas Kennedy, National Geographic’s former Director of Photography, as encapsulating “… the mind of a scientist, the heart of a hunter, and the eyes of a poet.”

And, it’s true. Lanting is a naturalist, an explorer, a bit of a scientist, and of course, a master photographer. This fall, his exhibition, “Jungles,” comes to the National Museum of Wildlife Art. His extraordinary collection of photographs, taken around the globe over a period of 20 years, is an impassioned endeavor to depict the “kaleidoscopic nature” of jungles. To capture for his audience the “…glimpses of faces that melt into shadows, the bursts of color and shimmering light.”

But, let’s add another element, “ a conductor’s orchestration,” to Kennedy’s list. Because Lanting’s work is full of music…

Tammy Christel: “In your book “Jungles,” you describe your first night in the jungle as a sleepless one, because of the “tinkling, honking, and whistling” of hundreds of frogs; you use the words ‘crescendo,’ and ‘rhythms.’ Are you thinking of music as you photograph?”

Frans Lanting: “Yes, I often do. I look at images not just as single entities but also in sequences. “Jungles” is an example of that, where these images are strung together, and it becomes a visual experience for people in an impressionistic sense; the book isn’t so much about the science, but about the feel of it, as a sequence of a body of work.”

TC: “And “Jungles’” four sections-Water & Light, Color & Camouflage, Anarchy & Order, and Form & Evolution- are separate movements within a single composition.”

FL: “Right. It is interesting you ask about it, because we are in the midst of an ambitious new audio visual production that involves the music of Philip Glass, to be combined from images from a new project called “The Evolution of Life.” The world premier, an orchestral performance combined with a sequence of images, will take place here in California at the end of July.”

TC: “What about Kennedy’s description of you as scientist, hunter and poet?”

FL: “I think there are aspects of all three identities in what I do. I have to know the significance of a place or subject, and scientists are my best friends. They go on field trips with me, I talk to them, and I read what they write. But, I need to get out in the field myself, and make things work on the basis of solo encounters.

A hunter’s mindset is important, in terms of being opportunistic, but you must also be very responsive to your subject. You have to get within range, you have to gain trust. All apply, and not only when you are working with animals. You encounter similar circumstances with landscapes, or with people.

Ultimately, an image has to work. Timing, preparation, the logistics of going into a place and finding things potentially worth photographing, it has to come together as a final image. It has to do something to people. Move them.

That is where the lyricism–the poetry–comes in, in an image’s metaphorical and symbolic quality. I like to think of my work not just as capturing things specifically, but allegorically, and conceptually.”

TC: “I am struck by your discovery of graphic detail–the minute textures and patterns of the jungle. Many of your photographs remind me of abstract art, or textiles. This is true whether we are looking at ‘Raindrops on a Leaf ‘in Peru, climbing vines, red and green macaws–all are alive in themselves. Everything is, in a way, interchangeable. In your jungles, the Amazon Basin’s Rio Torre is a slithering, creamy snake, a pale tendril. A rain forest at sunrise could just as well be vaporous, sun-kissed cumuli. Bird of Paradise feathers are cockleshells. A glass-winged butterfly is from Tiffany.”

FL: “Yes, absolutely. What I’ve tried to do with ‘Jungles’ is summarize and interpret the experience of being in a rain forest. The overwhelming sensation when you are there yourself. There is texture and detail everywhere–photographically, however, it is very difficult to capture in its totality. So the images are often impressions of details, and from that we build a larger view of the forest.”

And then, there is the human element. Lanting exposes humanity in the natural world. As a chimpanzee stretches, we see a dancer’s warm-up exercise. A fairy tern is an ascending spirit; a chameleon’s eyes hold Aristotle’s wisdom.

Lanting agrees that he is trying to connect people with nature in a positive way, via composition, and universal artistic principles.

“We can’t deny that connection,” says Lanting. “It is really the reason we like anything that has to do with animals. I try to express a creature’s individuality, so people think that this is not just any ape, any frog–this is an individual creature with its own existence and spirit.”

Going out on a lowland forest limb, I tell Lanting that his camera’s eye brings us so intimately close with Jungles’ creatures, it seems we are nesting with them, verging on entering their very beings.

“I’ll leave that particular interpretation to you!” laughs Lanting. But I appreciate what you are saying. I regard it as a great compliment. I try to be a portrayer of creatures needing an interpreter. So that is good.”


“Dreaming of Tibet” – Tibet World News

World Tibet Network News
Published by the Canada Tibet Committee
Wednesday, October 6, 2004

7. “Dreaming of Tibet”– Jackson Hole Film Festival

By Tammy Christel, Arts Columnist
Planet Jackson Hole
October 6, 2004

Jackson, Wyoming

Watching “Dreaming of Tibet” this past Sunday afternoon, I worried how I might sum up its gripping message. Still worried, I dive in.

Diving into the life of a refugee is what hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have done in the wake of their homeland becoming occupied by the Chinese government. Director Will Parrinello has skillfully intertwined the history of Tibet’s agony with the personal journeys of individual Tibetans relocated to Nepal and the U.S.

“Dreaming of Tibet” explores the spiritual strength and hardships of a people faced with impossible decisions: whether to stay in their beloved homeland, now overtaken by a repressive Chinese government, a government with an aim to obliterate Tibetan culture; or to take the desperate step of fleeing Tibet, splitting themselves off from family and traditions centuries old. The trek takes them over the frozen Himalayas; some traverse the passes in tennis shoes, some die of pulmonary edema, some lose body parts to frostbite.

Parrinello devotes much of the film to the Tibetan’s Buddhist wisdom; such strength is the only explanation for the Tibetan refugees survival and optimistic spirit. Despite towering obstacles the people portrayed in this educational, moving film believe their fate is divined by past failures; that their current plight is a result of that history, to be accepted and solved. Their exile has become their inspiration, the rock upon which to rebuild their traditions and families in foreign lands. “Dreaming of Tibet” is a clear and compelling account of one of our world’s most desperate dilemmas.

Upcoming Screenings

“Dreaming of Tibet” will screen at the 2004 Orinda Film Festival. The film will be shown on Sunday, October 17 at 12:00pm. The film screens with “Sipay Khorlo: The Wheel of Life,” directed by Liz Smith, USA, 8 minutes. For tickets contact: (Tel)-925-258-0758 or

Barcelona International Film Festival of Human Rights, October 20 at 9:30pm and October 24 at 12:00pm at Casa Asia, Palau Bar de Quadras, Av. Diagonal, 373 08008 Barcelona (Spain). For tickets contact: T +34 93 238 73 37.

Amnesty International Film Festival (Vancouver, Canada), Sunday, November 7 at 1pm at Pacific Cinematheque.
For tickets contact: