Category Archives: Writing

As Art and Seasons Turn

"The Connoisseur," by Norman Rockwell.

“The Connoisseur,” by Norman Rockwell. The work appears on American Art Review’s October cover.

Ahhh. It’s Fall. Lovely.

Soon I’ll be returning to Jackson, and for almost everyone this season is a time of reflection. It’s also a time of “buckling down to work” and transition.

When I’m not reading or writing about Jackson Hole’s art scene, I’m often reading about art in other corners of the world, and quite a bit about art across the country. This entry, I’d like to offer up a few stories that recently caught my eye.

The first concerns plein air painting, and a show about a collection of artists, now deceased, whose works were, in their time, considered excellent. But as their lives came to an end, so did their visibility as artists. The show is “Variations on a Theme: American Painters (1850-2000), opening next month at the Rockport Art Association and Museum in Rockport, Massachusetts.

“It is an unfortunate fact that unless an artist has a gallery or family to keep their name in the forefront of the art world, the bulk of their work can be lost in the mists of time,” writes Judith A. Curtis in the latest edition of “American Art Review.” 

Alexander Bower (1875-1952), Cottage on the River

Alexander Bower (1875-1952), Cottage on the River

This is not currently a big problem for Jackson artists~~(housing is another matter)~~a number of artists who didn’t have representation or were faced with a gallery scene refusing to show their work are now front and center. This is incredible, and perhaps because we, collectively, are the polar opposite of the small New England town’s plight, the article spoke to me.

The Rockport’s mission is to feature local painters who are not only considered excellent, but have been “the mainstay of the Association in its fledgling days.” To sum up Curtis’ point, the museum would never have survived without intense dedication, talent, and a consistent “forward momentum.” Until last year, when the Rockport mounted an all-women’s art show  and expanded its reach, the museum was unable to produce a show like “Variations.” In the article about the show (if you can find a hard copy~~I can’t find the article on line) you can read about a number of New England plein air painters who, despite their great talents and breadth of subjects, faded from view. It’s a touching look from a knowing and careful perspective.

Stanley George, proprietor, closing a gate decorated by Jessica Blowers at Stanley’s Pharmacy on Ludlow Street. Credit Santiago Mejia/The New York Times

Stanley George, proprietor, closing a gate decorated by Jessica Blowers at Stanley’s Pharmacy on Ludlow Street. Credit Santiago Mejia/The New York Times

Don’t hurt me, NYT! I loved this article. And I hope that we in Jackson Hole can figure out something like the Lower East Side’s “100 Gates Project.” 

Tamara Best wrote about a street art project that’s transforming a part of Manhattan’s dingy Lower East Side. Although we in Jackson don’t pull down metal doors when we close up for the day, we could paint some fabulous large-scale works and use them as promotion for our local artists. What about that idea for the Public Art Spot, the snaggly “banner” space that juts out over West Broadway? That needs upgrading, up-thinking. 

Or, we could place art on the streets themselves. And create/paint/build/light up huge arrows pointing to the Art Association! Once visitors arrive at the Art Association, they’d find so much affordable local art that they couldn’t help but bring some back home.

Our public art is fabulous, but I feel more thoughtful placement of work is possible. Let’s not crowd small spaces without offering a place to rest, without offering nature and true assimilation of place and object.

I’m in favor of making the Art Association more “public,” a retail operation that draws more tourism dollars. Tourists rarely, if ever, visit and we need a fresh audience. I’m in favor of another project I recently read about, and Jackson has already started: displaying local art, with prices, in every lodging location possible, AND add an artist studio space directly into the lodging structure itself. The artist is always in residence.

Read Best’s article HERE. 

sothebys7-28-16My mom gets newsletters from the Hollis Taggart Gallery in NYC. The gallery sends out an Art Market Report much like our Jackson Hole Real Estate Report. A summation of the latest report says that there has been a “rising tide” of gallery sales and an “ebb in momentum” for auction houses. People are consigning, not selling, in an erratic market. Feels safer, more control.

As the gallery went to press with their newsletter, the SEC reported a 65% reduction in Steve Cohen’s Sotheby’s stockAlmost immediately a Chinese insurer “China Guardian” bought up a 13.5% position in Sotheby’s. And now it’s Sotheby’s largest shareholder…….

“No doubt China Guardian was quietly buying Steve Cohen’s stock position!” exclaims the Report.

Invest in, support and love your local artists. We are a family. An Association.


Because I do not wish to finish on a “corporate” note, I offer some these observations on the passing of time and transition:

We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” ~Albert Einstein

“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity.”~Thich Nhat Hanh

Painting For Life: New Book Celebrates Gregory I. McHuron

"Plein Air Mentor and Master: Gregory I. McHuron," by Susan Hallsten McGarry

“Plein Air Mentor and Master: Gregory I. McHuron,” by Susan Hallsten McGarry

“If you are attaining your goals, you’ve set your goals too low. The last painting you do should be the very best.” –Greg McHuron

Words to live by. Words to paint by.

Gregory I. McHuron (1945-2012) is considered by many admirers the sole plein air painter that could stand up to the Tetons’ majestic size and power, as well as their surrounding valley. Indeed, McHuron stood for the majesty of ALL wilderness and wildlife, and he left a permanent legacy when we lost him to cancer.

Four years after his death a seminal book worthy of McHuron’s life, artistry and passion for wilderness has come to fruition: “Plein Air Mentor and Master: Gregory I. McHuron,” lovingly authored by former Southwest Art Magazine editor-in-chief Susan Hallsten McGarry,  will soon to be available through the Grand Teton Association.

McGarry says that this book, a retrospective, “is not only a story of living in the now; it is also a guide to finding what McHuron called the “WOW” that serenades your soul.”

“Painting has never been a job to me,” McHuron said. “It’s why I live.”

Greg McHuron near Menor's Ferry, Grand Teton National Park. It would be his final "Artists in the Environment" demonstration. Photo by Tammy Christel

Greg McHuron near the Chapel of the Transfiguration, Grand Teton National Park. It would be his final “Artists in the Environment” demonstration. Photo by Tammy Christel

“In the summer of 2013, Linda McHuron, Peter Ward, and I got together to discuss the idea of a book,” says McHuron’s long-time friend and fellow plein air painter Stephen C. Datz. McHuron was a member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, a group painting annually in Grand Teton National Park in support of the Grand Teton Association. Datz served as the group’s president for four years.

“We made contact with as many family, friends, colleagues, and collectors as we could and began collecting stories and remembrances. Peter began the work of gathering, collating, and cataloguing images of Greg’s work,” said Datz.

McGarry feels that this book, a retrospective, “is not only a story of living in the now; it is also a guide to finding what McHuron called the WOW” that serenades your soul.”

Gregory I. McHuron, "Seasonal Differences," Oil, 40" x 30"

Gregory I. McHuron, “Seasonal Differences,” Oil, 40″ x 30″ Photo by Tammy Christel

For the next two years, through emails, phone calls, one-on-one meetings and gatherings hosted by Peter, we accumulated a huge stash of memories of Greg and advice that he had given his students,” recalls Datz. Matt Montagne and Charlie Craighead contributed an invaluable cache of candid photos of Greg out painting and doing AIE (Artists in the Environment, an open-to-the-public plein air painting program McHuron co-founded in 1974 with Connie Schwiering and Chuck McCurdy) demos.”

McGarry notes that “true artists must live their art and paint from the heart.” McHuron’s lifestyle epitomized that philosophy, she says. His paintings expressed what he felt, and he shared those feelings with others willing to listen, including mentoring artists, in workshops or in his own “no bull*@#!” critiques.

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Wild & Precious Life: Post #541


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

Well, give my heart to all of you. That’s one thing, and after a while I’ll be doing it again. In less than a month I depart Jackson Hole for an extended stay in my New England home. I’ve been reading your emails and resisting my own default button: write a blog post! Surrounded by brown boxes, packing tape, piles and piles of stuff I didn’t know I had, and an ever-shifting list of moving chores, I’ve had to curtail writing about art. 

"Passage #39" - Dan Namhinga. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x72"

I miss it so. I will miss you deeply. You artists, you galleries, you museums and auctions, you wild and crazy fun events, salons, exhibits, Fall Arts Festivals~~~and most of all, the blissful, heavenly days spent out in Grand Teton National Park watching painters capture this beauty~~~feeling so proud to be present. To get to tell the world about your adventures, even as I’m on my own adventure. There’s so much more to learn. This website, together with soaking in the West’s stupendous art histories, has changed my life.


Thank you for your trust and respect. Thank you for allowing me to share with the world (and the world does see!) the power of Jackson Hole art. Once I’ve settled some, I’ll be back to thinking and writing about you.

I’m proud of the Jackson Hole Art Blogsix years old, plus. This is post #541.

971071_575727195817073_81363745_nI know the Blog’s mission is appreciated. It’s the first blog of its kind in Jackson. Most importantly, I love you all and am blessed by your friendship, your support and the countless projects we’ve shared. We started something! I’m grateful for my experiences and affiliations with the Grand Teton Association and Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, Artists in the Environment, Greg McHuron, Bert Raynes, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Altamira Fine Art, the Brookover Gallery, Trio Fine Art, Homestead Magazine, our newspapers, Jackson’s Chamber of Commerce, the Jackson Hole Art Auction, Wyoming ArtsWyoming Public Media and all Blog sponsors. Each and every artist!

With any luck I’ll pull my head out of the basement and see you in the coming weeks. If we miss one another, you know where to reach me, and I know where to reach you.

Look outside your immediate selves and your generation; rescue whenever possible and appropriate. Volunteer in places and for causes that aren’t “sexy.” Stay honest.

Keep sending your news. Though I can’t write about them for a while, I always want to hear what you’re doing with your wild and precious lives.

Namasté!   ~~~~ Tammy




Art Moves; 2014 J.H. Art Auction; Book Art; Callens at Mountain Trails

In a few months I will be moving back to the east coast. Family calls. The length of time I’ll be away is temporary and open-ended. I’m grateful, more than I can express, for the loving, caring and supportive messages I’ve received from so many of you. I carry you all in my heart. Posts may “spread out” for a while as I manage logistics, and the Blog may change its focus or form ~~~ but it’s not disappearing. We’re joined, and we’ll remain joined!  Okay, I might write a poem if I keep on. It wouldn’t be a good poem, so time to write about what’s happening in Jackson!

Clymer, John, (1907-1989), Buffalo Chase, oil on canvas, 10 x 20 inches

Clymer, John, (1907-1989), Buffalo Chase, oil on canvas, 10 x 20 inches

The Jackson Hole Art Auction is rapidly receiving an inventory of fine masterworks to  be auctioned off Saturday, September 14, 2014.  This John Clymer is remarkable! Something about it quickens my pulse. Important artists already represented in this year’s auction: Oscar Berninghaus, John Clymer, Bob Kuhn, Ken Riley and Richard Schmid. Schmid’s diminutive painting of carnations was the surprise star of last year’s auction, selling many times over its estimate. Kuhn’s “Resting Cat”, a 22 x 42 acrylic on board, is estimated at $250,000-$300,000.

“The painting was the last Prix de West entry the artist completed in his lifetime, and was awarded the Major General and Mrs. Don Pittman Wildlife Award,” notes the auction.

Kuhn, Bob, (1920-2007), Resting Cat, acrylic on board, 22 x 42"

Kuhn, Bob, (1920-2007), Resting Cat, acrylic on board, 22 x 42″

Auction Coordinator Jill Callahan emphasizes that the public is welcome to stop by the auction offices to learn more about this year’s event. As always, the auction is seeking fine art consignments; I expect offerings to be welcomed into the summer season. For a complimentary, confidential evaluation please call 866-549-9278, visit or stop by the offices in Trailside Galleries at 130 East Broadway, Jackson, WY — or 7330 Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, AZ.

Book cover art by Jane Lavino

Book cover art by Jane Lavino

“The Straw That Broke” is an “environmental thriller” written by Jackson’s Gregory Zeigler; the same author who brought us his recreated tale of Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie.” It’s Steinbeck’s 112th birthday as I write this. The National Museum of Wildlife Art’s own Jane Lavino created the cover art, and it’s awesome! What up, girl?  We need a Lavino exhibition! Promotional copy for Zeigler’s book sums up the plot: “A young scientist and free spirit, Lyn Burke, gets caught up in a battle between ecoterrorists and corrupt public officials over water in the drought-stricken desert Southwest. Lyn’s disappearance causes police officer Susan Brand and private investigator Jake Goddard to rush to her aid. Abduction, deceit, and murder threaten a cataclysm that places the entire region in jeopardy.” 

Wow, I’m thinking “Longmire!” If the book is as good as that TV series, it’s going to have you on the edge of your seat. Congrats to Greg and Jane! Check it out:

Tammy Callens - Through the Aspen Grove - 36x18" Oil

Tammy Callens – Through the Aspen Grove – 36×18″ Oil

Plein air painter and portraitist Tammy Callens has a show of new works at Mountain Trails Gallery, in Jackson. Callens feels these paintings break new ground for her as an artist. I’ve always been a fan. Her work is romantic, impressionistic, marked by realism and personal. Callens has another quality: she’s humble about her work. I feel her intimate landscapes are some of the most captivating in town.

Callens sparked the idea of  pro-actively inviting children to participate in plein air painting demonstrations. She did this unwittingly, two summers ago during one of our “Artists in the Environment” events in Grand Teton National Park. Callens painted a difficult scene with great skill, and her most ardent admirers were young people visiting the Park, making their own memories by painting the wilderness explored on their summer vacations. It doesn’t get better than that! 

Design Conference Changes Hands; Leine Stikkel’s “Lens to the World”



Seven-year Western Design Conference  (WDC) Events Manager Allison Merritt is now the conference’s owner; she purchased the event from Powder Horn Press and the Jackson Hole News and Guide, owners since the show moved to Jackson in 2007.

Merritt plans to expand 2014’s show and sale, she says. WDC will now include a home and interior design feature and “a larger fashion shopping experience.”  The annual, juried conference and show typically awards close to $16,000 in prize money to artisans working with Western genre works. This year’s conference, the big kickoff for Jackson’s annual Fall Arts Festival, takes place September 4-7, 2014.

“My vision is to build on the history of the show while creating an event that brings together every facet of design in the West, and to appeal to markets ranging from young, new customers to established collectors,” says Merritt. “From documented American craft to home design to fashion, we are expanding the show to encompass all aspects of the best of Western design.”

The Western Design Conference was founded 22 years ago in Cody, Wyoming, as a way to promote contemporary artists working with historical American craft methods. Contact Merritt at or phone  307-690-9719.

Photograph by Leine Stikkel

Photograph by Leine Stikkel

Oh Milky Way, what secrets of our galaxy do you hold in/ your spiraling Orion’s arm of comets and planets/and celestial beings…~Jackson Photographer Leine Stikkel. 

Jackson’s photographers are likely very familiar with Leine Stikkel’s photographs of all things natural, quixotic and wild. I’ve known Leine for a couple of years, but too rarely get to spend time with her. She’s a naturalist, a spotter, an adventurer and devoted to the art. Through her lens, she sees the world so uniquely—and I use “uniquely” in its best sense. Earlier this year she and filmmaker Jeff Hogan began a project filming beavers in Grand Teton National Park, but the project was cut short by the government shut down. The two continue working together; keep your eyes open for a new project.


Happily, I ran into Leine on the west bank dike, along the Snake River just the other day. She spotted an avalanche, and we looked at it through her binoculars for a while. She’s launched a blog, “Lens to the World,” where you can view her work and read her close-to-the-heart responses to what her camera’s eye captures. It’s beautiful. Stikkel simply wants to get her photographs and thoughts about what she sees out to the world. Hope this helps.

Photograph by Leine Stikkel

Photograph by Leine Stikkel

“The beaver pond is icing up. Their food storage spreads away from the lodge through the pond water, looking as if a small, branchy tree has fallen from atop the lodge. It will be their food throughout the winter,” writes Stikkel. “All they have to do is dive out of the lodge and right there, under the ice, grab a branch and scoot back in, mmm water chilled alder, aspen or cottonwood tree.”

Were we all able to slow ourselves down and match words to image as she does. Thank you, Leine.