A Wolf Walked Into a Bar: Photographer David Yarrow at WRJ

David Yarrow, The Wolf of Main Street  Hahnemühle photo rag Baryta paper

“I have worked a great deal in two ghost towns in Montana. The result has been conceptual staged shots which have proved hugely popular in America. I wanted to capture the visual feast represented by the old Wild West. The images require a double take in terms of the proximity of man and animal. I love to tell stories that ask questions with no consensual answer.” ~ David Yarrow

There are wolves in Yellowstone. There are wolves in Grand Teton National Park, on the National Elk Refuge, and in Rafter J!

And now there’s a wolf walking down a bar, looking for you.

David Yarrow, Hello 56 x 91″  Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta Paper

Wildly popular European photographer David Yarrow has a new exhibition opening at WRJ Design in Jackson, Wyoming. Dramatic and startling, Yarrow’s “The Most Amazing View” will be on view, open to the public, at WRJ’s King Street showroom February 20 – March 4, 2017. Visions West, Jackson’s newest art venue, partnered with WRJ to bring Yarrow’s internationally raved-about photography to our region.

My premonition: Visitors, prepare for goosebumps. You will walk into surprisingly wild and engulfing new territory. Around every corner, in front of you and behind you, animals of the world feel within reach.

Yarrow believes what his muse, the war photographer Robert Capa felt: If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

This exhibit goes hand-in-hand with WRJ’s acclaimed history of mounting some of the world’s most stunning exhibits; the count includes more than 40 just for Sotheby’s New York. WRJ plans on transforming their showroom, pairing Yarrow’s photographs with carefully selected furniture, fabrics and lighting to showcase Yarrow’s work. Plan on learning a thing or two about the juxtaposition of good interior design and large-scale artwork.

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Over the Rooftops; Letscher Lands at Tayloe Piggott

Bobbi Miller, “Over the Rooftop,” 6×6″ oil

Moran, Wyoming lies 30 miles north of the Town of Jackson. Last month Moran received almost 40 inches of snow, 10 inches above normal. Jackson has received almost the same amount, but Moran’s isolated location lends itself to days of being no other place than Moran.

It’s a singularly beautiful, remote and a Grand Teton National Park gateway. If you are a plein air painter, Moran offers an infinite number of beautiful locations and constant inspiration.

A Moran resident, Teton Plein Air Painter Bobbi Miller this winter has left her in awe of the Park’s forefathers who battled intense winter conditions without any of the modern conveniences we enjoy today. Confined to painting indoors this winter, Miller’s painting style has veered towards abstraction; quick work and impressions of landscape are intriguing.

“I must admit to putting those foot warmers in my boots when DRIVING to Dubois, Wyoming recently,” Miller confesses. Dubois lies approximately 75 miles east of Moran, and to get there one must travel over the spectacular but potentially very dangerous Togwotee Pass.

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Lee Carlman Riddell’s Winter Wonders; Jivan Lee in Scottsdale

Lee Carlman Riddell, “Cold and Clearing”

“Truth be told, I do not paint outside in the winter. I tried it once, thinking that if Greg McHuron could do it, so could I.” ~ Lee Carlman Riddell 

Greg McHuron, you have no idea the shoes you’ve left to fill. How can we channel your inner snow beast and brave this snarling, ice-jamming winter? There is just one Gregory I. McHuron, and that’s you, dear friend. We miss you, and we are eternally grateful to Susan H. McGarry, who saw the publication of your book through.

Lee Carlman Riddell joyfully participates in countless plein air events in during warmer months. In the winter time she’s a studio girl. Carlman’s work is on constant exhibit at WRJ Associates  (as is her husband’s, photographer Edward Riddell) in downtown Jackson, and her gentle paintings, so elegant in their simplicity and color palette, are immediately identifiable.

Lee Carlman Riddell. “Cottonwoods For Monet.”

WRJ not only understands Riddell’s work; they treasure it. Step through their doors on King Street and her paintings, hung throughout the space, beckon like jewels. Softened jewels~~~colors that understand time and nature’s effects.

“Whenever she ventures outdoors, she sees something new, particularly on routes she knows well; a stand of cottonwoods, passed countless times before, suddenly appears as if plucked from Monet’s Rouen Cathedral paintings,” writes the design group. “Her paintings thus bear witness to her distinctly wide vision, her rare instinct for finding ephemeral beauty.”

As for winter…..after valiant efforts, Riddell prefers the warmth of studio work.

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What Has Winter Wrought?

Kathy Wipfler  “Deep Winter – Jackson Hole”   7 x 11″   field study

“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.

I contacted some legendary badass women artists and asked them how winter has affected their work. This post, we hear from  Kathy Wipfler, Kay Stratman and Erin C. O’Connor.

KATHY WIPFLER

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.

Read more about Kathy Wipfler in this Jackson Hole Art Blog post, “Kathy Wipfler & the Boys!” 

KAY STRATMAN

Kay Stratman’s new abstract works are charged with color.

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 – “El Gato Negro.”

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.

Erin C. O’Connor in her studio.

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

 

Take Your Broken Heart and Make it Art

 

Sue Sommers’ “001-1111-16,” Watercolor pencil and crayon on Magnani Pescia paper, 11 x 11″. From Sommers’ “Sibling” series.

In this week’s Jackson Hole News & Guide, editors ran a short letter about “clowns” demonstrating on Jackson’s Town Square the afternoon of January 15th. The letter could be taken as a thinly veiled threat: get those “clowns” off the streets of Jackson, or we’ll take our business elsewhere. Presenting all points of view is important, but placing that particular letter ahead of all others is astounding.

It’s a new town, a new year. Luckily, we can take our broken hearts and still make art!

Wyoming’s Pipeline Art Project artist Sue Sommers recently wrote a great piece for Wyofile, and she’s also come out with lots of new art and a new website. Her art explores different subjects, all close to home. Two of my favorites are her “Sibling” and “Willows” series. Though Sommers doesn’t specifically say so, these works draw from the same well, a source of roots and connection.

Sue Sommers, “Willow 2.” Intaglio on Rives Cream, plate size 9 x 12″, edition of 6.

Think of a tree’s branches as fingers, reaching to the sky, beckoning sun, rain and wildlife to its limbs. Think of families — most of Sommers’ abstract “Siblings” resemble fingers — as hands connected by fingers.

She could, she says, use a word like “meditation” to describe the “Sibling Series'” origins. But the real origin is terror.

“I call them (the Sibling Series) because they look like related organisms moving around in a confined space – like a family,” writes Sommers. “Thinking about my own siblings while I draw liberates me. I know (but didn’t when I was growing up) that I have to let the shapes be what they want.”

Sue Sommers. A landscape, “Fenceline 0615″ Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas, 48 x 48 x 1.5”

Sommers writes about process rather than “content” or “meaning.”

She could, she says, use a word like “meditation” to describe the “Sibling Series'” origins. But the real origin is terror.

“This would be embarrassing if I didn’t know lots of other artists fighting messy tides of dread and self-doubt. Do I have anything interesting to say? Am I any good? Is there any point to the sacrifices I make? After nearly 40 years of valiant battle, I felt like the terror was winning. My way out was to make marks. Any marks.”

Sue Sommers. Stripes sketchbook green yellow. Watercolor and crayon in handmade sketchbook, 4 x 6 inches open. NFS

Sommers started with square pieces of scrap paper and a children’s watercolor set. Working slowly, she pressed her nose almost to the paper, her brush dragging incrementally across the paper’s tooth as pigment soaked in and spread.

“Every inch of every strip of color I laid down was my choice: I choose to make this now. And this. And this. I made dozens of these stripe pieces. Eventually they started changing, and I started changing.”

You can view Sommers’ new work and new website here

Duke Beardsley, Hangtown. Mixed Media on Collage 40 x 52.”  At Altamira Fine Art, Scottsdale.

Altamira Fine Art’s Scottsdale gallery welcomes a new solo show, “Range Monitor,” by contemporary Western artist Duke Beardsley. 

“A highly anticipated new body of work will be highlighted in this new show, which centers on the idea of transparencies and visual plays on overlapping realities and falsehoods,” writes the gallery.

Artist Reception & Opening: January 26, 6:30 – 9:00 pm, in Scottsdale. 

This appears to be an excellent show. Find out more about it by visiting Altamira’s exhibition description here.