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Posts Tagged ‘Greg McHuron’




“This pairing, RMPAP and the GTA, is so special to me. Grand Teton National Park is a monument to the majesty and fragility of the natural world. Getting to capture that beauty with other artists I admire and respect, all for the benefit of the park I love – what an honor and a treat!”  - Jennifer Hoffman

So many lovers of plein air painting, artists, fans and the very fine representatives of Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Association (GTA) have been looking forward to this: The Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters (RMPAP) return to Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) this month to present “Plein Air for the Park 2013: National Paint Out & Show.”  July 8-21, 2013, over 40 of the country’s most distinguished, recognized plein air painters gather in GTNP and the Jackson Hole area to execute countless free plein air demonstrations, a Quick Draw at Menor’s Ferry, and put on a highly anticipated  three-day “wet painting” show and sale at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitors Center in Moose, Wyoming.

Kathryn Turner - "Morning at the Oxbow"

Kathryn Turner – “Morning at the Oxbow”

Participating Jackson Hole artists include “poster artist” Erin C. O’Connor (it is her portrayal of Mt. Moran gracing RMPAP promotional materials), Kathryn Mapes Turner, Jennifer L. Hoffman and Bill Sawczuck. Each RMPAP artist will create myriad new plein air works; selected paintings will be exhibited and offered for sale in the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor’s Center (CTDC) beginning July 15th. This year’s Show & Sale Opening Reception takes place at CTDC on Thursday, July 18th, beginning at 7:00 pm. Awards will be presented by this year’s judge, Chris Moran. As they did last year, 40% of proceeds benefit GTA, supporting that organization’s educational, interpretive and scientific programs. 

“This exhibition is celebrating Grand Teton National Park through art. Plein air painting captures the spirit of a place at a moment in time,” says Turner. “The Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters are a committed, highly skilled group of artists who work hard to bring the essence of this valley to light. The result is a stunning show that benefits the Park and all who love it.”

Bill Davidson - "Rocky Mountains."

Bill Davidson – “Rocky Mountains.”

Last year’s event, a spectacular success, raised significant funds for GTA, introduced new artists to the GTNP region, and introduced plein air collectors to new artists. The extended residency also underlines each artist’s great talent; the number of new, exquisite works depicting this region’s beauty were astounding. All RMPAP events are free, and open to the public, including July 18th’s opening reception!  The setting couldn’t be better, spirits could not be higher, and the party—which includes participating artists—is charged with excitement!  Oh, and then there’s the fine food and drink…An announcement of awards begins at 7:45 pm.

The late, great plein air artist Greg McHuron, who was a member of RMPAP, passed away last year. His contribution to plein air painting in this region cannot be over-estimated. July 18th’s sale and celebration will include a tribute to McHuron, and a special space will be dedicated to the man and his work. It is bittersweet, says RMPAP President Stephen C. Datz, that this is the first time McHuron won’t be with his colleagues and friends in the field. Giving back to the Park is a wonderfully appropriate way to honor McHuron’s life and principles.

Greg McHuron

Greg McHuron

“It is always a pleasure to return to Grand Teton National Park. It is a painter’s paradise, and we have enjoyed a warm welcome from the Grand Teton Association, the Park, and the community. I am really looking forward to seeing what our artists come up with this year,” says Datz.” “Though the Park’s grandeur is obviously appealing, I think many of us will also be exploring it a little more deeply, attempting to bring its subtler charms to life in our work. I anticipate a very exciting show.”

Stephen C. Datz - "Greeting the Dawn"

Stephen C. Datz – “Greeting the Dawn”

A great number of RMPAP events take place between July 8th and July 21st. They are:

Saturday, July 13th, RMPAP joins the Grand Teton Association’s “Artists in the Environment” program for a 3-hour painting demonstration at Oxbow Bend, GTNP. Times are 2:00-5:00 pm. Participating artists are RMPAP President Stephen C. Datz, Kathryn Mapes Turner and Jeanne MacKenzie. The artists will also conduct an informal Q&A session during their demonstration. Look for the “Artists Demonstration” banner!

A Quick Draw takes place Saturday, July 20, beginning at 9:00 am, at Menor’s Ferry in GTNP. The public is invited to watch paintings being created start-to-finish and may purchase paintings at the Quick Draw fixed-price sale immediately following, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Jeanne MacKenzie - Menor's Ferry

Jeanne MacKenzie – Menor’s Ferry

Scheduled artists demonstrations take place July 13th to July 19th. A full listing of those demonstrations may be found here. Artists will be painting at Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake Lodge, Oxbow Bend, Taggart Lake, the Jackson Hole Visitor’s Center and the CTDC. Throughout their visit, RMPAP artists may also be spotted just about anywhere in GTNP, so keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, July 15th, paintings will be available to preview at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitors Center. Works are available for sale beginning July 15th; the Opening Gala & Reception takes place at the Visitors Center on Thursday, July 18th, beginning at 7:00 pm. The show remains up through July 21st, when the event comes to a close.

David Schwindt - "Tetons and Sage"

David Schwindt – “Tetons and Sage”

Datz points out that the term “plein air” derives from the French “en plein air,” which translates as “in open air.” Our current usage of the term originated with the Impressionists, he notes, though the technique traces its origins back to the seventeenth century.

“In their quest to capture the effects of outdoor light and seasonal weather, the Impressionists insisted that only through careful observation coupled with working on location, in the moment they were observing, could they hope to accurately render effects of light and weather,” says Datz. “This ideal remains the central premise of plein air painting. Just working out of doors is not enough – observation is the key element of the plein air method. Artists must experience their subject directly – the information they translate into their painting comes in real time, with no intervening or distorting implements. It is a discipline firmly rooted in seeing and hearing, breathing the air, feeling the weather, and channeling all those immediate sensations to the canvas. The best plein air works show us more than just the visual truth and beauty of a place – they give us a sense of what it felt like being there in the moment.”

A full list of participating artists is available at Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painter’s website:

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Image by Taylor Glenn

Image by Taylor Glenn

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

On Sunday, May 12th, National Geographic photographer Wade Davis makes an appearance at Jackson’s first annual Mountain Story Festival, courtesy of the Murie Center. There’s no getting away from the fact that climbing treacherous, challenging peaks here—and anywhere in the world—is a huge part of our culture. Climbers take in the outdoors in a mind-bending way. The closest I’ve come to being that high, with a few thousand feet between me and flat ground is the year I skydived, on a dare, at college. I’d do that again before I’d climb the Grand or any other giant, jagged, craggy mountain!

Others have infinitely more guts. These extreme personalities can’t keep themselves from climbing; they climb in their sleep. Which is why Davis’ talk on his new book “Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest” should be packed. Mothers, be warned! Content may be nerve racking!  7:00 pm start, Pink Garter Theater, downtown Jackson.

Wednesday, May 15th, the Murie Center’s Mardy’s Conservation Collection Book Club meets to discuss the Murie’s book, Wapiti Wilderness.

“In this autobiographical tale…Olaus and Mardy describe their life together, raising a family in the mountainous wilderness of the Tetons, while Olaus worked for the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey,” says the Center. The gathering takes place at the the Murie’s original home, Murie Ranch, in Moose, WY, at 6:30 pm. Lively discussion, reflection and inspiration are a promise.

Tammy Callens, AIE 2012

The Grand Teton Association (GTA) has announced its line-up of plein air artists for this summer’s “Artists in the Environment”  (AIE) series, taking place the second Saturday of every month, June – September, in Grand Teton National Park(GTNP). Each of those weekends, regional plein air painters provide free painting demonstrations at locations throughout GTNP.  Founded by the late, great plein air artists Greg McHuron and Conrad Schwiering, the program has offered countless visitors and art lovers a free chance to see artists capturing the beauty surrounding us.

I have a personal passion for this program~~I believe the history of plein air painting in this valley, and in the Greater Yellowstone Region, is one of America’s most important art history stories. Its tradition is unbreakable; the artists’ bonds are like steel.

For fifty years, the GTA has celebrated GTNP via the arts. All proceeds realized by the GTA serve to broaden education, research and interpretation of GTNP.

Times and locations are TBA, but participating artists for 2013 are:  Dwayne Harty – June 15th;  Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters & Co., – July 13th; Wendell Field - August 10th;  and Fred Kingwill - September 14th.  More on all these artists as summer progresses!

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Winter can take its best shot, but even the frosty old man can’t hold off thoughts of summer plein air painting. A friend and I have been talking about Greg McHuron, and what he represented as an artist and influence. He is still sorely missed. Feelings about Greg run deep.

“We honor Greg by doing what Greg loved most – going out, painting, and sharing our experience and knowledge with other people,” says my painting friend. “Painting outdoors, either with a group or on our own is the best way to honor his spirit.”

There’s talk of a grant being established in Greg’s name. I’m not up to date on how that effort is proceeding. A “massive retrospective” would be one appropriate way to honor his memory, said my friend. An appropriate arts organization might purchase a substantial portion of his work, and publish a catalog.

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In the deep fall

don’t you imagine the leaves think how

comfortable it will be to touch

the earth instead of the

nothingness of air and the endless

freshets of wind? And don’t you think

the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,

warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep

inside their bodies? And don’t you hear

the goldenrod whispering goodbye,

the everlasting being crowned with the first

tuffets of snow? The pond

vanishes, and the white field over which

the fox runs so quickly brings out

its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its

bellows. And at evening especially,

the piled firewood shifts a little,

longing to be on its way.

~~ Mary Oliver

Oh, my dear friends, supporters, artists, peace-makers, writers, family, conservationists: ‘Tis time to prepare for Autumn. What a summer it has been. I do not think I will ever forget this season. The power of watching art created all around Grand Teton National Park, getting to watch and herald such wonder for days and days~~~learning more secret places in our valley~~~seeing new artists venture further into new and exciting arenas~~~meeting creative, thoughtful people I’d not yet met, giving our beloved Greg McHuron over to the void and helping his spirit move to the mountains and rivers, another gleeful Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival~~~knowing fire.  I am on my way to a place where Autumn is beautiful, to see my parents and family—-New England. I’ll be back next month.

Until then….Shannon Troxler Thal tells me her show, “Illumination,” opens at the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts on Friday, September 21st, 5- 7:00 pm. Glowing, colorful orbs will decorate the setting, be suspended like moons, from the ceiling. As will silk banners of ink and wax drawings of dancers. Contemporary Dance Wyoming will perform improvisational dance. An informal gallery talk will also take place.  307-733-0378.




Natural  Transfiguration~~If he were here, Greg McHuron would try to soothe my grief over his passing by telling me it’s all part of natural transfiguration, and I should not be sad. He’d probably scold me a little. I’d take whatever he dished out and more. Gladly.

Greg McHuron was a giant. A giant of a man, a giant of an artist, a giant of mission and activism, iconic. Even his name, Mc”Great Lake” is big. Nobody did more to lift up this valley’s tradition of plein air painting. Nobody was happier to teach. His desire to paint Jackson, Grand Teton National Park, the Southwest and Northwest regions of our country was what he woke up to every morning. To enter his studio was to enter a church—a place of worship, a cathedral of light filled with the glittering hues of his grand paintings, kaleidoscopic in color—-practically alive. My last visit, Greg’s glacier-sized painting of harbor seals gathered on a rocky outcrop occupied half his studio. The eyes of those seals looked into my soul—the coast’s rugged sparkle took my breath away.

Greg embodied artistic environmentalism. Everything he painted–he was also a master carver of northwest totems and symbols—reflected his unwavering belief that the place where he lived is precious beyond comprehension. He painted the West from Alaska–venturing above the Arctic Circle–to the Southwest, doing whatever it takes to “get the painting.” Ever the explorer, Greg was fearless in his quest to create. As Greg said, he’d stand in rivers, on the edge of cliffs, balance himself in a bobbing raft down the Grand Canyon or on a ship along the coast up to Alaska, ride horseback into wilderness areas, or find himself in the middle of a buffalo stampede.

He jumped at the chance to talk to anyone wishing to learn, as long as they knew there would be “no bullshit.” He hated bullshit. His art was never “product.” It was always signature.

And he was tender. Who else but a tender man could partner up with Bert Raynes, one of Jackson’s great teachers, and create “Birds of Sage and Scree”?  Less than a week before he died, I was looking for a gift to give a friend visiting the valley. Walking through the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitors Center, my eyes fell on that book. It was right. I bought my fourth copy and presented it to my friend, making sure she was aware of the special status of the book’s authors.

I first met Greg close to a decade ago, in my first days as a green arts reporter. He’d just completed his magnificent mural at the Jackson Hole Visitors Center, on the north end of town, adjacent to the National Elk Refuge. My assignment was to interview him about the project. I’d heard Greg was particular, didn’t suffer fools, and that approaching him my first time might prove intimidating. I was cowed. Here was this towering figure, taller still because of his cowboy boots and major big Western hat, bearing down on me. I introduced myself and asked if I could speak with him for a few minutes about the mural. He drew himself up, and asked me if I knew anything at all about art. He kept questioning me until he was satisfied I would not mis-quote him, not write any bullshit. And a friendship began. He may not have realized it, but Greg became one of my most cherished mentors.

My memories of Greg include walking with him through the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s King Gallery, admiring a show of wildlife paintings. Greg’s paintings were part of the show, as were Bob Kuhn’s, Bill Sawczuck’s, Conrad Schwiering and so many others. Greg stopped in front of Bob Kuhn’s painting of a red fox lying in a field filled of white flowers. The painting triggered memories for Greg, memories that brought tears to his eyes.

“Very few people know that those flowers were not there the day that painting was done,” said Greg. “I know they weren’t there, and I know the reason Bob painted them in. But I can’t tell you, it’s a secret.”

He liked beer. Last summer, my first as moderator for the Grand Teton Association’s program “Artists in the Environment,” Greg, his wife Linda and I went to Dornan’s for beer and pizza after Greg’s painting demonstration; that day he began the painting you see at the top of this page, “Natural Transfiguration.”  Greg co-founded “Artists in the Environment” with his close friend Conrad Schwiering. The day had been cool and cloudy, with the threat of rain–even snow–in the air. I’d been a bit worried, and emailed Greg and the GTA staff to ask if the demonstration should be moved indoors to the Craig Thomas Center.

If an artist roars through an email, can you hear him?  YES. “We will NOT be indoors, Tammy!  The WHOLE POINT,” wrote Greg, “is to be OUTDOORS!  I don’t care what’s going on out there, we will be outdoors, at the Chapel, as planned! Why are you even asking me this?”

So we set up. And the rough weather stayed away. And a wonderful crowd of admirers and students showed up to watch Greg paint for three full hours, chilly as it was. All were hypnotized. Greg gained new disciples. He stayed to talk as long as people had questions. He loved the closeness of the wildlife and plein air painting community. To Greg, it is was–and is–a sacred circle. His greatest artistic tenant was that landscape paintings should be painted on site, always. It’s the only way to capture “the WOW” of wilderness and wildlife, light’s fleeting nature, shifting clouds, the color of snow, the depth of cold, alpine lakes.

Some people you can imagine not seeing again. Greg is not one of those people~~~he’s so big. He is in our skin, in the sage, in the granite, the canyons, forever one of our great historic arts figures, a monument, a heart as big as the mountain ranges and oceans he painted. He’s a symbol, a lion, our sun. I’m deeply proud to have been a part of what Greg most cared about. He’s a top artist in the Western Art history Hall of Fame. This summer, the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters dedicated their National Paint Out and Show to Greg.

I didn’t want to ever have to write this, and now I am falling apart at the thought that I have to stop writing out my love for Greg McHuron. At least for today. To Linda and all Greg’s family~~~~we embrace you. Thank you.

Greg, you were THERE. You are forever our WOW. I’ll continue to honor you in my own ways—but I might not talk to many folks about it. It’s our secret.