Tag Archives: Kathy Wipfler

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.


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’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


Wherever We Go, Art is the Heart

I was going to tell you that if I could live on art, I would. Then I realized I already do. And so do we all, in some way or another. Art is, literally, all around us. The keyboard I’m typing on is someone’s imaginiative creation. The lamp on my desk, the paintings on my wall, my books, the clothes I wear (though in my case I have to fall short of calling what I wear “wearable art.” It’s more like “wearable earrings and sweatshirts.”).

Outstanding in her field: Kathy Wipfler.

Recipes are art, the chairs we sit on. Loving one another and sticking by the Golden Rule is an art. That particular rule is, for some reason so difficult to follow. Why is that? It’s so simple to do the right thing. One of the most obvious “right things” is to respond to friends and colleagues when they reach out. When we don’t respond, the thing we remember IS the non-response. That’s not what you want people to remember, professionally or otherwise.

Todd Kosharek at work. Todd’s passion, work ethic and kindness are the best of Jackson Hole’s art heart.

My wish for us this year is to always try to do the right thing. Think it out. Be honest, but balanced. Who are your mentors? Who do you hold up as a hero amongst us? When trying to decide how to act, what choices to make, how to respond, how to walk this earth, I implore you: Do the right thing.

Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters’ Quick Draw” at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitors Center in Grand Teton National Park.

One “compassion researcher” I know of says this: “We are taught that there is a right and wrong way to behave, to act and to think. Stepping outside this construct is a big shift. Non-judgmental acceptance of what it means to embrace all suffering on the planet takes development.”

Plein Air Cowboy Bar!

I’m not religious, but I try to find the good path, make choices that align my soul and help me towards peace and contentment. So often that effort winds up involving huge, ongoing struggles. Breaking things down to day-to-day triumphs is a better choice. Much of the time our thoughts are of the future, one dream after another. I can be guilty of spending more time dreaming than doing, especially during these challenging winter months.

Today my goal is to break that pattern up a little and re-start this blog! I will begin my book in earnest this year. I will work and produce positively to the benefit of arts here as they are related to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s phenomenal beauty and the wealth of art in our galleries and superb new generation of artists.

Bronwyn Minton, for “View 22.” I purchased my first “Bronwyn” this year!

I will try to present all forms of Jackson’s visual arts to the best of my ability; none of us relates to EVERY SINGLE work of art, but we can appreciate every effort, love that it exists, discuss art and feel lucky our particular creative vortex is so powerful.

Borbay and Friend. Connecting with this guy was a highlight of the year! He’s really a softie.

And so this first post of 2017 contains some of my favorite images and moments from 2016’s Jackson Hole art offerings and events. Just a very few~~there were SO many! To see more images from the past year, visit my Art Blog Facebook Page .  If you enjoy those posts, please “Like” the page and tell your friends! 

Dean Cornwell (1892–1960)
Portrait,1929. The Jackson Hole Art Auction had some exquisite works.

As ever, my deepest gratitude to everyone who appreciates and reads The Jackson Hole Art Blog. I’m thankful and proud.

David Michael Slonim at Altamira Fine Art.

The Jackson Hole Art Blog’s new header image: Detail from David Michael Slonim’s “Bailando,” at Altamira Fine Art.  


Wipfler: How to Paint Roping, Beaverslides & Nature

Hereford Ranch - Kathy Wipfler

This is the second of two posts about the life, times and art of Kathy Wipfler. All paintings by Kathy Wipfler. 

So much arts writing is hyperbole, don’t you think? Reading it is like hacking your way through dense jungle. A small percentage of artists seem conscious of what their art is really about. I viewed an exhibition this year that I felt was a room full of minimal, abstract sculptures of female genitalia. When I mentioned my observation to the artist, her face went blank. For her, she was simply experimenting with natural forms and materials.

Maybe it’s me.  Everyone sees something different in art. That’s why it’s so damn refreshing to talk to painter Kathy Wipfler. She knows exactly what her subject is, and exactly why she’s painting it. Zero hyperbole; after all, she did grow up at the end of a dirt road. Wipfler paints the outdoors and scenes from ranching life. She’s worked on ranches for decades, and she’s observant. She can paint the hell out of farm machinery.

“I’d be out there painting, and Robert (Gill) would yell to me, “What are ya doing later?” and I’d say “Nothing,” recalls Wipfler. “He’d say, ‘You want to run that buck rake?’ That’s what they used to gather hay when it was still put up in loose stacks. It’s an old car, they turned the steering around so the radiator isn’t up front—because it would catch too much hay and get plugged! The other thing you learn when you know about haying is how to stay out of the way! You don’t set up your easel right between their hay rows because they’re going to need you to move, you’ll slow everything up.”

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Clymer Museum Hosts Kathy Wipfler

"Sun Patch" Oil Kathy Wipfler

This is the first of two posts about Kathy Wipfler’s upcoming solo exhibition and the practices, history and special knowledge inspiring Wipfler’s work.

By her own admission Kathy Wipfler is a solitary sort, and she’s built a solid core of dedicated collectors. Her masterful painting “Lower Falls of the Yellowstone” hangs beside works by Moran and Bierstadt at the BBHC’s Whitney Gallery of Western Art. Recently she hit the road and headed to John Clymer’s hometown of Ellensberg, Washington. There, the John Clymer Museum is mounting a solo show for Wipfler in June, 2013. As no Clymer Museum artists knew Clymer, and Wipfler did, the museum’s curator invited her to do an exhibition. “Art of the West” is doing a piece Wiplfer’s studio for their September/October issue–great timing for the Fall Arts Festival and Wipfler’s fall gallery events in Cody, Wyoming.

“The Clymer has a lot of John’s early work, his illustrations,” says Wipfler. “It has pictures of John’s and many descriptions written in his words–and the words of other artist friends about John. He was a such a gentleman. I visited him in his studio in Teton Village. Nobody ever had anything crummy to say about John. And of course when he lived here, he was on his own. He was not doing his illustrations anymore, he was researching Western history with his wife Doris. I had great respect for what he was doing.”

If she was going to be in a show at John’s museum, then Wipfler should paint the country where he grew up. Wipfler drove out to see it and make studies; the Clymer has given Wipfler a generous 18 months to prepare. The region is beautiful country, marked by its position east of the Cascade Range. The area’s surrounding Kittitas Valley  is known round the world for its prodigious hay production.

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Trailside’s Wildlife Discovery

February 1-28, 2009, Jackson Hole’s Trailside Galleries presents its annual Wildlife Discovery Show.   As always, the gallery pulls out all the stops to feature works by an impressive list of artists.   Included are Nicholas Coleman, Andrew Denman, Nancy Glazier, Veryl Goodnight, Matthew Hillier, Grant Macdonald, Bonnie Marris, Jim Morgan, Ralph Oberg, Dino Paravano, Sherry Sander, Lindsay Scott, John Seerey-Lester, Kyle Sims, Ryan Skidmore, Adam Smith, Daniel Smith, Linda St. Clair, Richard D. Thomas, Kathy Wipfler and Sarah Woods.

Presentation is everything.  If you’ve yet to experience Trailside’s new space on West Broadway, walk that way.  The gallery’s extensive artist portfolio provides something for everyone, and meandering through Trailside’s nooks and crannies is endlessly rewarding.   The gallery feels like a post-and-beam rustic lodge, with its massive rock fireplaces, Western furnishings and high ceilings. Upstairs, it’s possible to preview works that will be up for sale at the 2009 Jackson Hole Art Auction, produced in conjunction with the Gerald Peters Gallery.

Nancy Glazier’s new works are a February feature; I did not find a direct link to a website for this artist, but Glazier is known for her paintings of North American wildlife in their natural habitat.  She is a conservationist, as many wildlife artists are, recommitting her pledge to protect and study our earth’s wild inhabitants.

For information about Trailside and its exhibitions, email cara@trailsidegalleries.com, or phone 307-733-3186.   Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ; Sunday – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm