Tag Archives: Fine Art

Your Plein Air Roots

Thomas McGlynne  Blossoms  1878 – 1966  20 x 24 inches  Medium: Oil on board   Available at Karges Fine Art.

“I aspire to become an inhabitant, one who knows and honors the land…I follow various and sometimes crooked paths, yet I am always driven by a single desire, that of learning to be at home.” ~ Scott Russell Sanders

What are your plein air “roots?”

We dug in the dirt. Light was miraculous. During my California youth, down on hands and knees to touch, smell and fondle beach flowers tendrils, pungent and squishy succulents, inhaling the scent of tiny cliff side scrub, peeling puzzle-shaped eucalyptus bark, running my fingers along those arrow-like leaves was a daily ritual. Every canyon trail was fair game.

There’s something from every art movement to love, but before I even knew what it was, plein air painting was in my blood.

Sullivan Canyon Trail

Childhood years were a nirvana of clamoring, swimming and hiking in and around the Santa Monica-Pacific Palisades-Malibu landscapes. We lived on a Sullivan Canyon hillside, on Old Ranch Road, in a Cliff May home. At the foot of our long, winding driveway was a large open field, and we called it… “the Field.” Cross the Field and you found yourself on Sullivan Canyon Road. Open and dusty, we kids played, and people rode horses, picnicked, threw frisbees. Now the Field is an established riding arena, and its scrubby oak tree terrain seems shrunken.

But the Field was where I first saw plein air painters at work.

I was 10, my brother six when, one morning, we walked down to the Field. A group of plein air painters had gathered under the eucalyptus. Their clothes, easels, hats…all were “foreign” to us, figures materialized from another era. My brother and I made our way over to the group.

One artist focused on a view oriented toward our house. Holding hands, we watched as the artist suddenly painted us–I with my white blonde hair and John a carrot-topped red-head–into the scene. Two tiny children dwarfed by ancient oaks, eucalyptus, wading in wildflowers, California’s hills sweeping skyward behind us. Nature is the master, we are only suggested.

Dennis M. Doheny “Late Light Poppies, Oil on Linen, 24 x 30”

I’m still in contact with California grade school friends. One of my classmates is the great California landscape Impressionist Dennis M. Doheny. His paintings are among the most awarded and sought after works by a living California plein air painter. He’s represented by another classmate, Karges Fine Art’s Whitney Ganz.

Jim Wodark, “Night Spirit,” Oil on Linen, 12 x 12″

I discovered Jim Wodark’s work at last summer’s Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters “Plein Air for the Park” event. The paint-out is back this summer, a fine venue for meeting and cultivating your plein air palette. So many artists, so many painting styles. Wodark, I think, is a master. His works emit Western dry heat and that silver, scented light permeats the sage.

Lamya Deeb, also new to “Plein Air for the Park” last summer, caught many art lovers’ attention. A quiet presence, she lives and works near Boulder, Colorado. Her paintings are soft whispering masses of color, form and light. Floating, sometimes bordering on the abstract, her paintings represent a departure from more representative plein air styles.

Lamya Deeb, Billowing, Oil on Panel, 8 x 10″   “My aim is to convey the unique essence and beauty of a particular moment and place, and to share the feeling of that experience with the viewer,” says Deeb.

Whenever a plein air work feels so rich that I can “smell” the landscape, I’m a goner.

Plein Air season approaches! It’s my favorite time of year here in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and the Greater Yellowstone region. Artists are out painting everywhere, offering new work fresh from a session on Antelope Flats, Jenny Lake, Mormon Row, Oxbow, the Elk Refuge, the Teton Village area, Moose, Moran Junction, Spring Gulch Road and Hardeman Ranch .

This summer’s major plein air events in the Jackson Hole/Grand Teton National Park/Greater Yellowstone/Teton Valley, Idaho include: Plein Air for the Park, the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Plein Air Fest (which includes artists creating works other than plein air paintings), Artists in the Environment, Driggs Plein Air, the Teton Plein Air Painters, and during the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, artists spread out for the “Quick Draw,” a festival favorite!

The Jackson Hole Art Blog is full of plein air stories! Just enter the words “plein air” in the search box to find dozens of stories on Jackson Hole artists and their work! See you out there!

Travis Walker, “Niko.”

Fresh Lots at J.H. Art Auction; A Kansas Art Tale

Edgar Payne, Navajo Scouting Party, 24×38″ Oil. Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000

Fresh to the art market: no matter how important an artist’s work, if passed around the auction circuit too often, its value tarnishes. Flip city. That’s why the 2017 Jackson Hole Art Auction   elation over works new to the market is understandable: six oils by American illustrator W.H.D. Koerner. The works come straight from a private collection “with direct descent from the artist.”

W.H.D. Koerner (1878–1938) Citizens of the Law (1931) oil on canvas, 30 x 36″  Estimate: $75,000–$125,000

Koerner works include “Citizens of the Law,” shown above, and “New Horizons,” a “classic pioneer scene.” Both works estimate at $75,000 – $125,000. Koerner’s “Fly Fishing,” “The Bullring,” “The Price of the Old Northwest,” and “Indian Territory Demand for Tribute” round out the Koerner lots. Together these works comprise a vivid and compelling profile of the characters, times, challenges and passions of the Old West.

Edgar Payne, Carl Rungius, Robert Bateman, Tucker Smith; you’ll find works by all these iconic Western artists on the Jackson Hole Art Auction website.   No matter where they set up their easels, countless contemporary artists list the great Edgar Payne as a significant influence in their own work. 

The Jackson Hole Art Auction caps Jackson’s annual Fall Arts Festival, and is a co-production of the Gerald Peters and Trailside Galleries. A phenomenal Western Art market success, this will be the auction’s 11th year offering the finest works by living and deceased masters. The auction, now a destination in itself, continues to invite fine art consignments. Once again, the auction takes place over the course of two consecutive days: September 15th and 16th, 2017, at the Center for the Arts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. For information, contact Auction Coordinator Madison Webb, via Tel: 866-549-9278 | Fax: 307-732-1600 or at www.jacksonholeartauction.com.  

Now, a brief “return from vacation” note. If you read the New York Times  Arts Section, you may have seen March 25th’s article “Arts Without Funding? It Can Be Done, Kansas Says.” 

Courtesy Hays Arts Council

Journalist Mitch Smith’s  article tells the story of Kansas’ Hays Arts Council. Its director, Brenda Meder, cuts corners wherever possible in order to save money and funnel cash into the arts. She scrubs the toilets, she makes the reception appetizers, she’s increased membership and organizes quarterly art walks “in the brick-paved downtown, where storefronts transform into makeshift galleries that draw hundreds of spectators from Hays and beyond.”

In Hays, support comes from Democrats and Republicans. It is, says one politically involved citizen, “part of our DNA here. And that’s hard to replicate in other communities.”

This is a story about a Midwest arts community making concessions, but their arts scene remains strong. It’s a great profile. And, man, look at this art! It’s fantastic! Read the story here.

Courtesy Hays Arts Council

Landscapes As Muse

Susan Vecsey Untitled (Yellow) Oil. 36x44"

Susan Vecsey Untitled (Yellow) Oil. 36×44″


“Susan Vecsey: A Selection of Paintings” opens at the Tayloe Piggott Gallery on August 20th. An opening reception will be held that evening, 6-8:00pm, and the show remains on display through October 10th, 2015.

American artist Susan Vecsey was born in 1971 (so young!) and during her (to we “boomers”) short time on earth she’s developed a gorgeous liquid painting style. In this show, only one painting I can recall contains hard color field delineations. A person could gaze at Vecsey’s work a long, peaceful while.

These works are the sort we used to see at Piggott’s Gallery on a regular basis, in its former life as the J.H. Muse Gallery. We’re back in the land of exciting color, color, color! Hooray!

Helen Frankenthaler immediately comes to mind. It turns out she’s on Vecsey’s mind, too.

Susan Vecsey "Study for Morning Light at Northwest Harbor, East Hampton. 2012" Oil on Paper, 11.5 x14.5"

Susan Vecsey “Study for Morning Light at Northwest Harbor, East Hampton. 2012″ Oil on Paper, 11.5 x 14.5”


“The reflection of the 1960s New York art movement of Color Field painting is very present in her work. In particular, the work of Helen Frankenthaler is a major influence and inspiration,” writes Piggott. “Color Field painters apply color in large one dimensional swaths across a large canvas, or ‘field’…. (Her) work takes a cue from “Lyrical Abstraction”, which situates abstraction in a landscape context. The allusion of landscape—hills, fields, horizon lines, seas and skies is suggested in the abstract form of her work.”

Susan Vecsey, Untitled (Pink) 2013, Oil on linen

Susan Vecsey, Untitled (Pink) 2013, Oil on linen


The works feel “large scale”~~however, Vescey’s paintings vary in size.

Richly pigmented, Vescey’s paintings emerge one at a time, “single file.” Interesting linen textures are allowed to emerge. And although her paintings are a compilation of small selections of color, Vecsey makes extreme effort to reach the intensity of color she wants.

Enchanting. We are thirsty for this level of work, and like a mirage it will disappear. Walk towards it. www.tayloepiggottgallery.com

Susan Vecsey, Untitled (Orange / Pink) 2014, Oil on linen

Susan Vecsey, Untitled (Orange / Pink) 2014, Oil on linen


A very different kind of landscape show is on exhibit, beginning this week at Trio Fine Art. Please visit my author’s page, https://funthingstodoinjacksonhole.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/bill-sawczuks-big-country/  to read about Bill Sawczuk’s new show, “The Way I See It.”  

Art Applications; Soul Spot; Christensen Workshops

Layout 1Tuesday, May 14th, I attended the Town and County funding appeals session at the Teton County Commissioners chamber. Civic process is fascinating. That day the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole defended its appeal to both bodies for greater arts funding. I think it went well!  With our ever-changing leadership, it’s difficult for new civic leaders to be up to speed on the Arts Council’s function. On Tuesday that role was clarified, I hope to the group’s benefit.

Many grant applicants receive funding from other sources. For the Arts Council, that’s not so. Town and County funding is their sole support. Cynthia Huyffer and Lisa Samford made oral presentations to the panel, making several points: Funding for the Arts Council has sunk 40% in recent years; “Americans for the Arts” comprehensive study of the economic impact of the arts here in Teton County stresses art’s key role in our community’s health; tourism is bolstered by a strong arts presence (true in EVERY city!); arts are not “icing on the cake”–they foster new ideas, keep cities exciting and dynamic, reflect history and new arts initiatives, are language tools, build self-esteem, create memorable high-impact experiences; and that the Cultural Council is a “re-granting” group. They use monies provided by Town and County to fund grant requests.


The Arts Council had, by far, the greatest number of supporters in the room. That sends a strong message in itself, doesn’t it? In addition to the speakers named above, these individuals were present: Cathy Wikoff, Alissa Davies, Emy diGrappa, Gary Silberberg, Carrie Geraci, Amanda Flosbach, Pontier Sackrey, Rachel Pettingill and Mary Lee White. Apologies if I’ve left any names out.

The Arts Council requested $50,000 from the County and $20,000 from the Town. Last year, total funding was approximately $34,000. As the group pointed out, that money has to be distributed, most often, to 20-25 arts groups approved for funding by the Arts Council.

Now that the Arts Council has made its appeal, it’s time for Jackson’s artists to send in their applications. These grants are available to arts and culture organizations as well as individual artists. Your project should be creative, dynamic and beneficial to a broad portion of the community. Ask yourself this: Would I feel confident presenting my request directly to the Town Council or Teton County Commissioners? How would they respond? 


This is a two-way street, so read your application out loud to yourself. How does it sound? It’s a gift to have the Council go to bat for artists that may not wish to be in chambers; and our civic leaders, overwhelmed with agendas, recognize that the Cultural Council does a huge service by working with arts organizations directly.

alissa-davies-pods-02Grants are now available on the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole website. Here are guidelines: The program distributes social service tax dollars from the Town of Jackson and Teton County for arts education, producing and presenting opportunities, and public projects by individual artists that have strong community benefit. Requests may be up to $6,000, and must be cash-matched at least 1:1 by each applicant. Applications are due June 1, 2013.  No support will be provided to any entity already receiving public support from Town or County funds. 

You can find Arts for All application forms, guidelines and budget at www.culturalcounciljh.org. Contact Alissa Davies at culturalcounciljh@gmail.com. And Alissa: Thank you for your years of balanced, constant, thoughtful and energetic work on behalf of “Arts for All!”  You are one of Jackson’s finest arts representatives. 

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“Arts for All” Appeal; Artistic Celebration of Boredom; Voces Latinas


“I asked the earth. I asked the sea and the deeps, among the living animals, the things that creep. I asked the winds that blow. I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, and to all things that stand at the doors of my flesh…My question was the gaze I turned to them. Their answer was their beauty.” ~ St. Augustine


Public Art is thriving here in Jackson Hole. Installations spring up all over town. But what about non-public arts initiatives?  To an extent all art is public; people can go see it or hear it.  True public art is free for us to enjoy—by definition a public service. But other art projects and exhibitions, theatrical plays, music experiences, children’s art projects and even arts curriculum rely in part — sometimes fully—on turnstile dollars and funding. Art access is not always free, and arts groups need money to make projects happen: to create costumes, rent space, purchase materials, advertise, provide refreshments, update websites, create curriculum, pay talent, staff and travel costs….the list goes on.

The Jackson Hole Cultural Council’s “Arts for All” program has received limited funding dollars from the Town and County. How the amount is arrived at is unclear. I assume the amount would be part of a budget request from the Town and County, available in pubic records. Given the number of non-profit arts groups and individuals requesting grants, it stands to reason that amounts the Cultural Council receives from a limited fund would leave arts organizations a bit hog-tied.

WSAnyone requesting grant money from any source must be aware grants are evaluated in multiple ways. Usually there are clear rules about submission processes. Hence, all requests should be submitted only when they are as polished and thorough as possible. We do have an astounding number of arts organizations for a town our size. The message of how much the Town of Jackson’s arts scene means to its profile is clearer each year.

The Cultural Council of Jackson Hole plans to go before Town and County officials on Tuesday, May 14, at 9:40 am, to defend this year’s “Arts for All” funding application.  Whatever amount the Council is requesting (I don’t have that number) your voice (here is mine!) matters. Attend the meeting that day and help the Council get their message across. The meeting takes place at County Commissioner Chambers on Simpson Street. For information contact Alissa Davies at culturalcounciljh@gmail.com.    

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