Tag Archives: Plein Air

Laguna Beach’s Sawdust Art Festival; Rocket Science & Plein Air!

1235327_10201862646150037_273817503_n“All art shows….contribute to our creative sides.”  ~ Tom Klingenmeier, General Manager, Sawdust Art Festival

California Roll.

Thanks to good friends, I was recently lucky enough to visit the city of Laguna Beach, CA . It’s a wonderful arts city, crowded with tourists and locals alike, just as Jackson is during our high summer season. We went to an art fair I’ll never forget: the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival on Laguna Canyon Road. Set against a cliff in a eucalyptus grove, Sawdust is a world unto itself, wildly creative, funky and welcoming. A waterfall splashes off the cliff into a rocky pool.

Sawdust is open two full months during the summer, late June through early September. Participating artists must be from Laguna. Close to 200 artists build their own booths each year. Booths must be constructed of wood frame and roofs, built strictly to code, and they can be as imaginative as artists wish, resulting in a fair that feels like a pop-up fantasy art village. Booth spaces differ in size, so Sawdust artists must scale to fit. Artists are responsible for taking booths down and restoring the three acre grove to its original natural state. Booths come down after Sawdust’s Winter Fantasy Show; a holiday-themed show taking place the last two weekends in November and the first two in December. Offices, meeting rooms, a glass-blowing center and arts education “classrooms” remain up year-round.

A very broad array of price points means there’s affordable art for everyone.

Sawdust blew me away! From the moment I walked in (entry fees for adults are in the $7-$8 range) I wondered how Laguna pulls this fair off; it’s 47 years old. I made a note to contact Sawdust, ask pesky questions about its structure and history, and report to you! Tom Klingenmeier, Sawdust’s general manager sent a generous response. I’ve edited my questions and Tom’s replies for length.


Tammy Christel: How did Laguna Beach galleries initially respond to Sawdust? Was there trepidation? How do galleries feel about Sawdust today?

Tom Klingenmeier:  When we began only about a third of  the galleries Laguna currently has existed, and there was some resentment. Soon, though, gallery owners, hotels and restaurants realized that Sawdust generated over a half-million visitors in a short time. They quickly adapted and embraced the shows. They now rely heavily on the traffic we generate. Some of our galleries collaborate, featuring local artists in Laguna’s three summer festivals. Some artists conduct co-ops, taking turns being in their space to cut down on sales personnel. It also affords the artists more time to share art experiences with visitors, leading to more affordable art and knowledge for the buyer.

TC: How is Sawdust paid for?

TK: We sell tickets, and if you saw all three shows you had the chance to buy our “Passport to the Arts” ticket for all those shows, all summer long; it includes one-time parking in a large lot served by free tram service that goes all over town. We charge very nominal booth fees, have a retail shop that sells only Sawdust T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, and we charge rent for the five food concessions we lease. We have a saloon, selling wine and beer.

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Altamira Presents Travis Walker; $8.39 Million at JHAA

Travis Walker - Ski Fence

Travis Walker – Ski Fence

I’ve been rooting for Travis Walker and Altamira Fine Art to find each other on “ArtMatch.com” and now they have!

Walker is the latest Jackson artist to have a show at Altamira. His exhibition of new works, “In Such an Hour: New Views of Jackson Hole,” runs September 23 – October 6, 2013, and an Opening Reception takes place at Altamira on Friday, September 27th, 5-7:00 pm.

Walker not only makes art; he’s an arts force. If Walker had not landed in Jackson a decade ago, it’s my belief many grass roots arts initiatives would not exist. Artists don’t often take on community leadership roles, but Walker has, and now he’s reaping extraordinary rewards.

“A common subject in my work is the road, which represents our journey through life. We start off staring down the lines of a road, and our entire lives we continue to follow the road to new places. My fascination with roads led me to another symbol in my work: the trailer home,” says Walker. “I have found so many trailers scattered throughout the West that I have come to view them as representations of the American Dream, full of hope, uncertainty, and memory.”

Travis Walker - Saddle Butte (Pink)

Travis Walker – Saddle Butte (Pink)

From the moment he arrived in Jackson Walker began painting it. Most on-location artists (I think we can go ahead and list Walker as a plein air painter—he’s in the “Artists in the Environment” hall of fame and was the first truly non-traditional artist to take part in that program) can be found out in Grand Teton National Park, or anywhere out in nature –and Walker can be found there too. But he also spends much of his time painting the Town of Jackson, essentially creating new iconic images of Jackson. All these subjects entice the artist: an old salon (the former Gai Mode), a decaying house with a fence made of skis (so many have lived there!) and a vintage trailer park.

Walker’s work, notes the gallery, is influenced by American regionalists Edward Hopper and Grant Wood (“American Gothic”), and by Japanese printmaking and German Expressionism.

It often takes years of hard, consistent work to make it in the art world; it’s a challenging, competitive and sometimes heartbreaking life pursuit. But, as we’ve said, arts enthusiasts constantly keep their eyes open, and Altamira director Mark Tarrant has been tracking Walker.

Travis Walker

Travis Walker

“Travis creates very interesting interpretations of local scenes, from his views of Snow King to sweeping views of Flat Creek and the Elk Refuge,” Tarrant observes. “He is a sophisticated painter with a fresh, contemporary palette. We are pleased to present an exhibition of Walker’s work here at the gallery.”

Years ago I wrote a forward for a book about his art that Walker published. Revisiting it, it still feels relevant:

“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.”

Born in Tokyo, Japan and a child of the military, Walker is well acquainted with transience. Place is crucial. Now, at age 37, he’s settled in Jackson with a family of his own. He received his BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University, and he’s had numerous shows and exhibits over the years. Walker is founder of  Teton Artlab, a non-profit providing studio space for artists. As we’ve reported, Walker was a 2013 panelist for the National Endowment for the Art’ Artists Communities Grant and a 2013 Artist in Residence at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. In 2012, he won the “Rising Star Award” from the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole.

And risen he has. www.altamiraart.com 

Martin Grelle - Scouts on the Buffalo Fork, 2013

Martin Grelle – Scouts on the Buffalo Fork, 2013

$8.39 million…

…is the official total sales amount of this year’s Jackson Hole Art Auction (produced by Trailside Galleries and Santa Fe’s Gerald Peters Gallery), held September 14th, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 85% of 284 lots were sold, with 200 phone bidders vigorously participating. The estate of James Grisebaum contributed many important works, and all but one of the 32 works from his estate were sold.

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Painter Bill Sawczuk’s Heart; Public Art Comings!

Bill Sawczuck - Moran in March

Bill Sawczuk – Moran in March

Bill Sawczuk cuts a great figure—who can miss that man’s towering stance, bright eyes and ever-present Western cowboy hat? Always impeccably dressed, he’s the very picture of Western spirit. When you see Bill, it’s also likely he’ll be carrying his easel, palette, and a host of plein air painting supplies. Well, if they’re not in hand, they’re somewhere quite close by. That’s because painting is Sawczuk’s heart and soul. He is a valley plein air fixture—and much more. Sawczuk’s work is part of the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s permanent collection.

“Heart and Soul” might be an alternative title for Sawczuk’s next show, opening at Trio Fine Art with an artists’ reception on Thursday, August 1st, 5-8:00 pm; Sawczuk will make remarks at 6:30 pm.  The exhibition is on display July 31st – August 17th. The true title for his new show, “From Heart and Hand,” is a literal description of the kind of art Sawczuk produces. The artist recently took part in the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters “Plein Air for the Park,” and there is one small landscape of his that, using a phrase coined by a friend, I will dream about for a long time.

Bill Sawczuck - Moon Over TV Ranch

Bill Sawczuk – Moon Over TV Ranch

“Everything in the show will be new work painted in and around Jackson Hole and Yellowstone,” says Sawczuk. “I hope to have a few surprises if the work turns out well. The show is titled [as it is] because heart and hand are the sources of these paintings. I have tried to make a connection with folks [through] the variation of subject matter, so I sure hope it works!”

I believe it will work.  A few weeks ago I witnessed a couple visiting Jackson purchase a fully abstract painting Sawczuk had painted. The scene was set near Mt. Moran, but those familiar with Sawczuk’s strong, vigorous representational style and palette would never have recognized the painting as a Sawczuk. It was such a surprising canvas I posted it on Facebook and asked people to guess whose work it was. Nobody succeeded. There are subtle shifts in Sawczuk’s painting style; he is flirting with abstraction, constructing skies, foliage and earth in a more interpretive fashion. He accomplishes these changes with confidence, the sign of a master painter.  www.triofineart.com 

Now may also be a good time to mention that Trio Fine Art has landed a big partnership fish: The Jackson Hole Land Trust. Together these two entities (one for-profit, the other non-profit) will host a series of events highlighting Trio’s artists works and extending a very long tradition of connecting art and landscape.  View22 is the project’s name, and you can see the list of events here

161True to the community ethos of her public art project, artist Bronwyn Minton’s creative process is collaborative.

Conceptually, Minton’s Cairn Project will engage passersby in the continual reconstruction of larger-than-life cairns inspired by the mounds that serve as trail markers or memorials. But even before the Cairn Project is installed in August on the Center for the Arts campus, many people will have pitched in to help make her vision a reality.  To aid in her construction of the smaller cairns – slated to encircle the central tower – Minton is recruiting local artists and friends to help carve interchangeable components out of balsa wood. Ever-inspired by nature, Minton has designed stackable organic shapes – smooth angles, sculptural surfaces – that ultimately will be finished in red or black stain. Artist Owen Ashley is lending his screenprinting skills and setup to help create limited-edition Cairn Project t-shirts.

Saw the t-shirts!  They’re selling at Skinny Skis—store display window, front n’ center, along with a mock up of Minton’s sculpture. These tees are all over town; keep your eyes open! Of course, this is all part of Jackson Hole Public Art’s ever-growing presence.  www.jhpublicart.org.


spot_r_clip_art_26500Public artist Randy Walker is coming to town, courtesy of the Center of Wonder, to install the new ArtSpot—and you can help him. Group installation hug!  Walker will be here July 29-August 1st. An artist’s reception and chat takes place at The Rose on Wednesday, July 31, 5:30 – 7:00 pm.  Meg Daly hosts!  Free and open to the public!

Walker, says the Center of Wonder, is a Minneapolis award winning public art artist. His installation, Passages, was selected by Americans for the Arts Year in Review as one of the 50 top public artworks in the United States in 2012. To schedule your 30 to 60 minutes of installation fame, contact jen@centerofwonder.org!

Portrait of Artist.Randy Walker




Big, Bad RMPAP Schedule! Lost Birds; Art Fair Poster Pick



Have I got some Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters (RMPAP)  dates for YOU! You’ve heard that over 40 artists will converge next month in Grand Teton National Park for two weeks of plein air painting, demonstrations and events; all culminating in July 18th’s Grand Opening Gala and Sale at the Craig Thomas Discovery  & Visitors Center.  Now, a full artist demonstration schedule is available—-go out there and watch these amazing artists at work!  These are scheduled, set location, events:

SATURDAY, July 13:  ARTISTS IN THE ENVIRONMENT, Oxbow Bend, 2-5 PM.  Artists: Kathryn Turner, Stephen C. Datz, Jeanne Mackenzie.

TUESDAY, July 16: MORNING – 9 AM:  Erin O’Connor (oils) – Jenny Lake Boat Dock area & Michael McClure (oils) – Taggart Lake Trailhead.  AFTERNOON – 4 PM: Bill Davidson (oils)- Jackson Lake Lodge &  Bill Sawczuk (oils)- Craig Thomas Visitor Center.

David Schwindt_Tetons and Sage_8x10oil small

WEDNESDAY, July 17:  MORNING – 9 AM: Stacey Peterson (oils) – Craig Thomas Visitor Center  & Patti Andre (pastel) – Jenny Lake Boat Dock area.  AFTERNOON – 4 PM: Jake Gaedtke (oils) – Jackson Hole Visitor Information Center (north end of town, overlooking the Elk Refuge)  &  Cople / Swinney / Arndt (oils) – Jackson Lake Lodge.

FRIDAY, July 19:  MORNING – 9 AM:  Jennifer Hoffman (pastel) – Jackson Hole Visitor Information Center  &  David Schwindt (oils) – Jackson Lake Lodge. MORNING – 9 AM:  John Hughes (oils) – Craig Thomas Visitor Center.  AFTERNOON – 4 PM: Keith Bond (oils) – Taggart Lake Trailhead & Ruth Rawhouser (oils) – Jenny Lake Boat Dock area.

(QUICK DRAW:  July 20th, 9:00 am at Menor’s Ferry, Grand Teton National Park!  All are welcome!  Many artists, many paintings, all for sale after the paint-out!) 

INDIAN PAINTBRUSH AND ASPENS by Carol Swinney  12 x 12  Oil on canvas small

All this in addition to the Gala Opening Show & Sale, taking place at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitors Center on July 18th, beginning at 7:00 pm. This show and sale benefits Grand Teton National Park through the Grand Teton Association. All are welcome!  Dozens and dozens of newly painted works by RMPAP artists will be on exhibition, and for sale. It’s one heck of a party! Arrive early to get a good look! Previews begin July 15th, and the show concludes July 21st.   www.pleinairforthepark.org.

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One Nest ~ Many Fish!


It’s been in the Western winds: Jackson Hole artist Kathryn Mapes Turner and her brother, sustainable builder Mark Turner, have launched an innovative project. Though the siblings are Jackson-based, they’ve deep roots in the Washington D.C. area, owing to their family’s political legacy.

They’re smart, these two.

936841_531964873509082_141157465_nTheir “One Nest” collaborative project combines sustainable building design and broadly embraced aesthetic with art created in one of the West’s most prominent art markets. In “the heart of Virgina horse and wine country,” near Shenandoah National Park, is a home designed by Mark, filled with artwork by his sister Kathryn. On Saturday, May 18th, 4-8:00 pm, and Sunday, May 19th, 2-6:00 pm, the public is invited to tour the structure, survey the land and take in the art.

Mark’s company, Greenspur, Inc., is, says the builder, inspired in part by Wallace Stegner’s words: “There it was, there it is, the PLACE where during the best of our lives friendship had its home and happiness had its headquarters.” Kathryn’s plein air and studio paintings are inspired by the natural world, light and “wide open spaces.”

It’s a great concept, and how much more fulfilling could it be than to co-create such a complete project with family you love?

May’s open house is in fact the project’s Grand Opening, and though it is free reservations are necessary; if you wish to attend, I’d sign up quick!  The D.C. crowd will descend! The link to reserve a visit can be found here. Links: http://onenestproject.com/2013/03/21/space-greenspur-inc/    www.turnerfineart.com   “One Nest” address:  3322 Carrington Road, Delaplane, VA 20144.  

Pinedale's Winning Entry, "Time to Make Waves."

Pinedale’s Winning Entry, “Time to Make Waves.”

 “If children are a measure of our future, Wyoming’s future will follow a path of creativity and imagination.” ~ Wyoming Representative Tim Stubson, Casper. 

Imagination and creativity link all of us. Creativity bridges the often times daunting distances between Wyoming’s citizens, and it takes special care and effort to send the message to our children that those distances can be vaporized. Like a morning meditation zeroing in on awakening creativity and imagining our potential, we must strive to dissolve what we believe are our limits. And we must show the rest of the country what we are making here. What can we be to the big wide world? Hundreds, if  not thousands, of miles may lie between Wyoming’s creativity and other, larger arts centers and communities. Every reach counts.

Photo Courtesy Kevin Wittig and Mountain Pulse

Photo Courtesy Kevin Wittig and Mountain Pulse

Fifteen years ago a Chicago art exhibit, “Cows on Parade,” made history. The idea behind the exhibit was to get as many artists, celebrities, designers and other creative personalities to decorate fiberglass cows and spread them out across the city. The show was a great tourism draw and has been emulated many times over; all the cows were auctioned off for charity.

“Traveling Trout” is a big school of artistically designed fiberglass fish; 37 Wyoming schools took part in a fish-art competition, and winners were announced late last month. The entire exhibit is on display at the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s outdoor sculpture garden and trail through October 6, 2013. You can see them from the road, breaching and diving, snagging fireflies. Thousands of dollars in cash prizes were awarded to the winning students and schools, and that’s a great cause. Later this fall, the exhibit will travel around the rest of the state. www.wildlifeart.org