Tag Archives: Duke Beardsley

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.

Cowboys & Hip Wildlife Art; Photograph Tuscany,Yellowstone with Edward Riddell

Amy Ringholz - MOD

Amy Ringholz – MOD

“Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space” – Steppenwolf

Whenever Amy Ringholz has a new show of works “Born to be Wild” revs up in my brain. Steppenwolf’s anthem has nothing to do with wildlife, but it has everything to do with fearless spirit and fire. And when contemporary cowboy artist Duke Beardsley rides into town, I hear this:

“Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ / Though the streams are swollen / Keep them dogies rollin’ / Rawhide! / Rain and wind and weather / Hell-bent for leather /Wishin’ my gal was by my side….All the things I’m missin’, / Good vittles, love, and kissin’, / Are waiting at the end of my ride.

Duke Beardsley - Getting Choosy

Duke Beardsley – Getting Choosy

Ned Washington wrote the lyrics to “Rawhide,” and if you want a taste of the Wild, Wild West, contemporary style, saddle up your mount and ride on over to Altamira Fine Art, where Ringholz and Beardsley open a joint new show, “Squaring Off.”  The exhibit is on display July 29-August 10th, and an artists’ opening reception takes place Thursday, August 1, 5-7:00 pm.

Beardsley’s mysterious cowboys ride their steeds against graphic, brightly colored and undefined backgrounds; in at least one work he’s set a rider and horse against a spiraled, blue field that resembles curvilinear embossed saddle tack; I’m also reminded of Matisse’s whimsical interiors. He truly blends the contemporary with Western tradition, and he emphasizes line with boldened, fine strokes of black acrylic. To gain depth and rich texture Beardsley contrasts his shadowy foreground figures with their background, glazing the figure with oil. Temperatures are hot, cool, and everything in between. Stars in the Western skies are that way–flaming red, new blue, warm yellow.

Ringholz’s signature calligraphic wildlife images remain fully recognizable, but with each show she switches things up a little bit, keeping her audience surprised. Recently, says Altamira, the artist’s paintings have gained a narrative element, “combining images of several different animals into a single painting, which heightens the sense that even disparate elements of nature are connected and intertwined.”

In Ringholz’s works, the eyes have it. Those wild eyes, infinitely wiser and more cunning than ours, immediately draw viewers to Amy Ringholz’s myriad creatures. I particularly love her sapphire blue backgrounds. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and so are her expressionistic, bold paintings.  www.altamiraart.com 

Riddell Tuscany

“Inspiring, well-scouted locations, thorough classroom sessions, and great group camaraderie made this [photography workshop] an unforgettable experience,” writes one Edward Riddell Photography Workshop student. “Ed Riddell is an outstanding instructor, photographer and leader, unmatched in his preparation and organization.”

Due to a last-minute cancellation, one space is now open in Edward Riddell’s extraordinary  “Secrets of Tuscany” workshop, taking place October 18-24th, 2013. Yes, you go to Tuscany!  Additionally, Riddell’s “Magic of Yellowstone” workshop, heading into that national park September 26-29th, has three spaces remaining. It’s important to contact Riddell immediately to speak to him about these workshops  — email him at ed@edwardriddell.com, leave your phone contact information, and he will respond to you with great alacrity.


“Secrets of Tuscany” explores, as only Riddell can, the landscapes, architecture and people of Tuscany. The landscapes are iconic, the experience unforgettable. Riddell’s teaching groups are small, and Riddell has spent “thousands of hours over the last seven years exploring and photographing the hilltowns and landscapes of Tuscany, Italy in preparation for his next book,” discovering ‘undiscovered’ locations and views most tourists never see. Riddell is deeply immersed in Italian culture. His knowledge of the area is just about as thorough as a Tuscan native’s, and because he speaks the language, this workshop flows. Nothing is lost in translation.

Riddell’s October Yellowstone workshop takes place at a perfect time of year.

“Below-freezing mornings create frost and mist in the geyser basins that results in exquisite light. Grasses, aspens and other bushes turn beautiful shades of gold, red and orange,” says Riddell. “Our goal is to take advantage of these beautiful conditions.”

You can find out about BOTH workshops by clicking here. Workshops are intimate and, as another student has testified, “guide people back to themselves and to their love for taking pictures.” www.edwardriddell.com 



Travis Walker at NMWA; Howell-Sickles & Beardsley’s “Open Range”

Jackson artist Travis Walker (yes, Teton Art Lab’s and Factory Studios’ Travis Walker!) is the next National Museum of Wildlife (NMWA) Art Lanford Monroe Memorial Artist-in-Residence!  I love this.

Friday, August 5, 10:00 am-2:00 pm, Walker will demonstrate his painting techniques and make some fun art at the Museum, setting up in the Museum’s expanisive lobby area, across from the admissions desk. From 2:30-3:00 pm, spend time with Walker as he leads a tour of the Museum’s Rungius Drypoints exhibit.

Walker is a satellite, zooming in and out of our landscapes, freezing vast spaces and solitary formations. We’re light years away from a moment just captured. Flaxen parachutes float forever. Still purple evening shadows never give way to night. These landscapes are our ideal; they’re uninhabited, but histories are embedded. Deserted cabins hold the energy and sadness of generations. Blank windows and headlights, eyes of the universe. Beneath Walker’s surfaces is an extraterrestrial glow he never quite paints down, a light peeking out from behind closed doors.

Walker has moved his studio space into town. He’s painting his giant trailer paintings upstairs from Jackson eatery E Leaven. And he’s the artist-of-choice for Jackson’s newest “Glamping” grounds, Fireside Resort. For information, phone (307) 732-5438.

Altamira Fine Art winds up its summer show series with two “Best of the West” artists—perpetual cowgirl Donna Howell-Sickles and iconic contemporary cowboy artist Duke Beardsley. Open Range is on exhibit August 2-15, with an artists’ reception on Thursday, August 4, 6-8 pm.

Howell-Sickles’ heroic cowgirl images were among the first contemporary Western Art works to catch my eye. What gal wouldn’t want to feel the way her Cowgirl does? Howell-Sickles looks a lot like her muse, a figure inspired by the image on a c. 1935 postcard. “Greetings from a Real Cowgirl from the Ole Southwest,” said the card, which depicted a cowgirl on her horse.

“The image spoke to me and I had no idea why,” says Howell-Sickles. “I surrendered to the attraction, and as I used the Cowgirl in my art I slowly filled in the blanks about my fascination with the imagery.” All manner of Western critter are in love with this Cowgirl, and she returns the affection. Paintings are banners of zestful primary color; this Cowgirl is mythical, often encircled by a Resistol’s round white brim.

I’ll have what she’s having!

Beardsley “has been drawing and painting images of the American West most of his life,” says the gallery. “Duke’s work blends modern artistic elements with the traditional icons of the west. The result has made him a consistently popular favorite among fans of contemporary western art.” Iconic and romantic, Beardsley’s contemporary paintings of cowboys and their horses harken back to the West’s earliest pride-of-place and sense of  purpose. These guys are independent and strong; so are their horses. Trust them, ride with them.

Beardsley also paints landscapes. Check them out. Beautiful.