Tag Archives: Montana

Painting to Listen; John Potter’s Dream

John Potter “Walking Tall in the Beartooths,” Oil 7×10″

“Painting for me is a form of communication with our Creator, and of gratitude as well; for the life and beauty brought forth on this Earth, especially in our remaining wild places. Because of this, I feel a sense of responsibility for the privilege of painting, for the gift of the craft. Many painters are out there trying to be heard – I paint to listen.” – John Potter

Stay tuned, please, for this important message.

Plein air painter John Potter doesn’t reside in Jackson Holehe’s a Montana man and an Ojibwe. But his presence here is strong. He has many deep friendships, and though he doesn’t like to be the center of attention, his clear spirit, gorgeous paintings, humor, consideration, and deep connection to Nature often make him so. He dedicates his life to celebrating the land and what it provides.

Unfortunately, all too often Nature’s voice falls on deaf ears, even when calling out to us with all its majestic power. We urgently need to practice listening. We need to hear those who Nature has chosen to pass on its messages, and messages often appear as dreams.

Recently, Potter had an apocolyptic dream; a nightmare. He’s graciously given permission to share it with you. Potter’s dream is Mother Earth (She is simply the mother; there is nothing separate from her. All things come from her, return to her, and are her.- Encyclopedia Britannica) calling us to bear witness.

Miigwetch, John.

John Potter, “Walking Among Giants.” Oil 14×48″

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Two Wests: Naminghas & Waddell at Altamira Fine Art

"Passage #39" - Dan Namhinga. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x72"

“Passage #39″ – Dan Namhinga. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 72”

Dan and Arlo Namingha; Theodore Waddell. What a pairing. Altamira Fine Art is the gallery to connect these dynamic, sublime artists in a double show, opening with an artists’ reception Thursday, June 6th, 5-7:00 pm. The Naminghas’ “Form & Symbolism” and Waddell’s “Abstract Angus” are ultimately about interpretation of place. All three artists’ native territories’ images and landscapes course through their veins, exploding on canvas and permeating sculptures.

How exhilirating for Thomas Hoving to compile his can’t-put-it-down biography “The Art of Dan Namingha.” The Namingha family’s history begins with Dan’s great-great-grandmother, famed Tewa/Hopi potter Nampeyo (photographed by Edward S. Curtis, c. 1905). The family tree is an arts dynasty. That’s a regal word to describe a creative clan so rooted in landscape and indigenous culture, but it’s an undeniable accreditation.

How to begin to describe Dan’s remarkable journey as an artist? Namingha’s initial influence was Hekytwi Mesa near the Hopi reservation where Namingha was born. Namingha’s work is phenomenally diverse, the breath of his artistic style is almost impossible to comprehend; he moves from complex arrangements of Hopi mesas, kachinas, spirals, sun and depictions of dual cultures he inhabits to minimalist, graphic, geometric landscapes. As a child, Hekytwi Mesa was the dominant landmark beyond Namingha’s grandparents’ door. Its presence left an endurable mark on the artist’s soul, and some version of Hekytwi Mesa appears in almost every Dan Namingha work.

"West of Oraibi" - D. Namhinga

“West of Oraibi” – D. Namhinga

“The presence of two cultures, he believes, also makes him sensitive to the dual nature of all things—night and day, past and future, then and now,” writes Hoving. Ultimately, Namingha’s exposure to his native culture, wise and encouraging mentors, and 20th century abstract modernism are melded in this remarkable body of work.

"Cultural Images #10" - Arlo Namingha

“Cultural Images #10” – Arlo Namingha

Sculptor Arlo Namingha, Dan’s eldest son, became involved with carving at an early age. Surrounded by his family’s legacy and practices, his first carvings of Katsina dolls manifested early in life. Positive and negative space, geometric design, cosmology and Hopi/Tewa identity are interwoven in Arlo’s wood, clay, stone, fabricated and cast bronze sculptures.

“Using the idea of design, form and movement, I minimize these literal images not to recreate them but to draw from them and my personal experiences,” writes Arlo Namingha. “My work not only reflects the figurative aspect of my native people and cultural deities but also the idea of scenery and landscape as well as symbolism.”

"Horizon Horses #4" - Theodore Waddell

“Horizon Horses #4” – Theodore Waddell

Theodore Waddell’s comment to “American Art Collector” about his work and this show is delectable. “Well, the modern guys didn’t like me because I used subject matter,” said Waddell. “And then Western guys didn’t like me because I was too modern.”

Somebody liked him. Waddell’s work is highly influenced by the Abstract Expressionist school. Though the artist didn’t initially realize how important those artists were to his vision, he continues to relate fully to the sense that paint has its own identity.

"Angus DR#24" - Theodore Waddell

“Angus DR#24” – Theodore Waddell

In this show, we recognize the Montana artist and rancher’s signature painterly landscapes dotted with horses—often so abstracted as to resemble animal tracks rather than mature species. Waddell’s horses, cattle and bison—often black as coal—leave their mark below the thin blue line of Waddell’s mountain skylines. In Montana’s sky, clouds softly wave, like the sea. Waddell has expanded depth and range of color, suggestive of seasonal shifts in atmosphere, foliage and the earth’s tendancy to morph from fertile browns into hardened, impenetrable surfaces.

Alongside these works are fully abstract and interpretational works on paper from Waddell’s “Abstract Angus” series, recently exhibited at the Denver Art Museum. DeKooning is the expressionist I see most reflected in these illusive, amorphic works. They do, as the gallery has said, suggest the drift of grazing animals.

Western art encompasses so much more than the realism many of us associate with the term. But in the West, notes Waddell, we are a part of it all. This exhibition remains on display through June 15th.  To view all of Altamira’s artists, click on their website, www.altamiraart.com .

Camus Prairie Angus | 40/40" - Theodore Waddell

Camus Prairie Angus | 40/40″ – Theodore Waddell











Hot, Cool: Noice’s Expressionism & Jen Hoffman’s “Intrinsic Nature”; Cayuse Show

Marshall Noice’s paintings, wildly and emotionally vibrant, link contemporary Western art to early 20th century Fauvism. Those artists were known as “Les Fauves,” or “Wild Beasts.”

This I knew. But I’m finding out new and very cool things about Montana-based Expressionist painter Marshall Noice, whose new show of works Shadows & Light, opens at Altamira Fine Art on August 16, 2011.  The show runs through August 30, 2011 and and opening reception will be held Thursday, August 18, 5-8:00 pm.

If you have an aptitude for rhythm memory and a fine sense of pitch, you may very well also be an excellent photographer or painter. Noice’s creative path includes music, photography and, most successfully, painting.  In a former life he was a drummer, touring and opening for acts as big as the Allman Brothers Band, Cheap Trick, and Tower of Power. Eventually Noice quit the road, moved to Montana and discovered the great photography of Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams.

Noice the photographer came upon the paintings of fellow Montanan Theodore Waddell. Riveted, Noice c0mmenced 100 paintings of Blackfeet artifacts. “After those 100 paintings, I’d found what I was looking for in terms of an art process,” Noice says. “Color doesn’t trump composition in my work. They’re pretty much on equal footing….I have spent a lifetime relating to the landscape in one way or another…I get direct inspiration from being in nature.”


Jackson Hole artist Jennifer L. Hoffman opens her new show of works, Intrinsic Nature, at Trio Fine Art on Thursday, August 17, 2011. The show runs through September 3, 2011, and an artist’s reception takes place at Trio on Thursday, August 18th, 5-8:00 pm. Twenty-four new works will be included; most are pastels but Hoffman plans to include oil paintings and at least one drawing.

Hoffman says she’s never felt such energy for exploration and pushing her artistic envelope. Noted forher soft, tonalist light and muted palette, Hoffman’s paintings evoke real emotion. This show embraces the artist’s love and examination of “close-in” places: aspen trunks, winding streams and channels, ridgelines, snow and her exquisite, cloud-soft skies.

Nobody does Wyoming sky like Hoffman. Violet cumulus clouds reflect purple winter mountains and bare trees. She’s a lover of shadow, of rubbing nature’s elements together, rich with texture, spare of detail. A delicate, misty scrim floats over Hoffman’s landscapes.

“Sometimes I find myself noodling around, adding branches and twigs, putting in more and more,” Hoffman notes. “The next day, I come back to the studio and wipe it all back down. It’s not always easy to make things say a lot simply, but that is what I find I want in my paintings. That is what the title of my show is about – trying to extract the essential inspiration from all the detail of nature, and of life….The more I paint, the more I want to paint.”

A final note: Hoffman’s landscapes are part of New York’s Salmagundi 34th Annual Juried Painting & Sculpture Exhibition, featuring works by non-members. View her work there through August 19, 2011. Congrats, Jen!     www.triofineart.com

Cayuse Western Americana “has assembled a fun assortment of maps from Jackson Hole, Grand Teton Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and more.” Artists include Jo Mora, Jolly Lingren and Tom Carrigen. Western jeweler Dawn Bryfogle will be there, too; she’s expanded her range and plans to show big pieces, made of sterling, 14K gold fill and semi precious stones, all with her signature attention to detail.

Stop in to Cayuse (guess when?) Thursday, August 18th, 5-8:00 pm.  307.739.1940  www.cayusewa.com.

Bonnema-Leslie at Center St. Gallery

This article appeared in the Jackson Hole News & Guide, August 2008

What: New Works by Kathy Bonnema-Leslie
When: Opening Reception Saturday, August 23 4-7 pm
Where: Center Street Gallery, 30 Center Street
Telephone: 733-1115

A first glance at Montana artist Kathy Bonnema-Leslie’s work triggers this response: “Wow, that girl does good woodblock!”

“We hear that a lot,” says Center Street Gallery’s Ryan Wright. “Kathy pays extreme attention to countless, individually defined shapes. Her watercolors and serigraphs are fashioned in an exact manner and easily taken for woodblock. All that detail means time spent on the work increases significantly.”

Bonnema-Leslie wants to deliver details, but she she’s also exhilarated by the air standing between her and the mountains, aspen trees and bodies of water she paints; that air creates atmosphere and space; it also brings energy. Primarily portraits of Montana’s country, her watercolors are often landscape series, visual chapters in a book about favorite locations that more fully explore feelings about place.

Even as the artist invites space, her compositions are flattened by the use of large, geometric color fields. Children’s first art lessons often include cutting up colored construction paper to create design. Bonnema-Leslie’s watercolors ultimately do produce the feel of a Japanese woodblock print; the art form is common and long-standing in Japan, as well as in the west. Painters such as Matisse, Monet and Vincent Van Gogh were some of the most influential western artists to incorporate woodblock; this exhibit wraps its arms around that tradition.

One woodblock style, Ukiyo-e, translates to “scenes of the floating world.”

Let’s talk about the color! To say that these skies are blue is like saying Robert Downey Jr. is cute. This artist’s color palette exaggerates every hue. Her blues! Indigo, sapphire, ultra-marine, and electric blue are right; robin’s egg blue, baby blue and sky-blue are wrong. Bonnema-Leslie’s ‘the water is bluer at the bottom’ blue surrounds foaming, bubbly aspen leaves. They buoyantly crown and surround long, leggy aspen tree trunks.

Regardless of medium, the artist favors using intense glazing or layering techniques to produce rich, saturated colors. Generating Montana’s landscapes sparkling hues and dimensional light are a priority.

Clouds, often rendered amorphously, now resemble flying oyster shells. They’re arced, rippled; shadows are as clearly defined as tree rings. “Piper #11,” an autumn landscape, depicts distant mountain peaks and golden fields pushed down by the sheer pressure of a procession of marching clouds—they come towards us, flying over and past us, an onslaught of nature-friendly UFO’s.

Bonnema-Leslie’s serigraphs are created by hand, as opposed to relying on film and computer imaging to mechanically produce a finished product. This artist lays linen stencils down, applying them with watercolors. In any given work, each stencil represents a single color. When multiple layers of stenciling are completed, a finished image results. Bonnema-Leslie’s serigraphs are all unique, but the artist does produce compact series of her works.

“For some of her smaller serigraphs, Kathy might do 50 editions,” notes Wright. “Larger prints may warrant 15 editions. But all are original. Serigraphs are a more affordable option, with prices ranging from $175 – $800.” Watercolor prices begin at $800. The show includes 25 works now on display; an additional dozen will be added.

In his last decade of life, Matisse found renewal through his bright and playful cutouts. Using paper, he designed stained glass windows for the Chapelle du Rosaire. Bonnema-Leslie could work big; her paintings feel as if she wants to. She should push past her current parameters. If Montana is the church, its mountains the steeple, then her aspens, lakes, clouds and wildflowers are surely the people.

Tammy Christel

Jackson, Wyoming