Tag Archives: Travis Walker

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.”

Well Done, “Wallpaper!”; Sanders and McCauley at Altamira-Scottsdale

Art by Travis Walker

After a long winter’s lull, Spring is around the corner. If you can’t feel it in the air, you can feel it in Jackson’s art scene. In the past two weeks, art happenings popped up like crocus in 50- degree weather!

Teton Art Lab’s “Wallpaper” show was extraordinary. The Lab’s combination gallery-and-artists’ work space packed up like sardines for the show, and by the time I arrived at least two-thirds of the art had sold.

You might as well call it “The Red Dot Show.”

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Erin C. O’Connor Paints for Morocco; Walker at Altamira

Erin C. O'Connor - Untitled

Erin C. O’Connor – Untitled

“The mission of the Atlas Cultural Foundation is to help underserved Moroccans, especially women and children, and improve their quality of life through locally determined development projects.” Cloe Erickson, Founder

“The people are living exactly they way they have for hundreds and hundreds of years. Stone houses, sheep, goats, a very marginal existence. They are agricultural, but it’s extremely sparse terrain. You can’t truly realize how lush and beautiful it is here until you visit places like these.” – Jackson Artist Erin C. O’Connor

Even the briefest of visits to the Morocco-based  Atlas Cultural Foundation will take your breath away. People, music, swirling rainbows of cloth, smiling children, the purity of souls, laughter, donkeys loaded with grains making their way up steep mountainsides on paths as wide as piece of thread, stone houses seemingly impossible to build…African light on high cliffs, solitary townspeople under tents, illuminated by candlelight.

By Erin C. O'Connor

By Erin C. O’Connor

“These villages,” says plein air painter Erin O’Connor, “are in the High Atlas Mountains, in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dirt road that probably should have ended 60 miles before it does. It’s unimaginable. The area was the last place for the French Foreign Legion to access, it is so remote.”

Recently O’Connor and a colleague landed the chance to go to Morocco, visit the Atlas Mountains and spend time in the ancient city of Medina, as part of an Atlas awareness-raising initiative. A Montana patron with a strong interest in the organization’s mission financed the trip. O’Connor’s paintings and works by other artists will be offered for sale on February 6th, at a private event in Bozeman, Montana.

“I’d always wanted to go to Morocco. EVERYTHING there is art: the wrought iron on the windows, the tile work, the architecture, the doors, I wanted to paint it all,” says O’Connor. “This opportunity came up,  andI had to say ‘yes.’ It was serendipitous. The funny thing is, I have always considered myself a plein air landscape painter, but being in Marrakesh, in the oldest part the Medina, 8,ooo years old, it was all small alley ways, souks (marketplaces), so many people in such a small place. I was forced to paint in really tight corners! I had two jobs every day: one was to go out and prove just how much my French sucks and the other was to get lost! You go through humbly.”

O’Connor began her trek in the Medina, where she spent almost a week on her own, painting. One day she found herself wedged up in a small souk corner, people pushing by her in huge throngs, very intense for a solitary outdoor artist.

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Robert Bateman on Plein Air; An Artist’s Work; Walker Joins Altamira

Robert Bateman & "Chief"

Robert Bateman & “Chief”

A recent Plein Air Magazine newsletter highlighted the presence of world-renowned artist Robert Bateman at the Susan K. Black Foundation’s Dubois, Wyoming workshop, where Bateman spoke at length on the subject of plein air painting. And, to quote the OutdoorPainter.com on-line article, Bateman is “at the point where his level of success and experience frees him to be very outspoken.” Ah, freedom! At what point do artists begin to feel that freedom? The tipping point differs for everyone. If members of Jackson’s arts community made the trip to Dubois perhaps you’ll let us know how it went.

Bateman discussed plein air from two perspectives: as a tool to better our lives by improving our minds and connecting ourselves to the world around us, whatever our immediate world may be; and as an art form in itself. Bateman, perhaps most well known for his iconic painting “Chief,” part of the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s permanent collection, “ruffled some feathers (and smoothed others) with his praise for certain abstract expressionist artists and his criticism of wildlife art tropes. Bateman stressed the need for mystery in a painting.”

Robert Bateman-Roseate Spoonbill - Courtesy National Museum of Wildlife Art

Robert Bateman-Roseate Spoonbill – Courtesy National Museum of Wildlife Art

“Chief,” a massive painting ( 71 x 98″) depicts an American bison emerging from a mist; brown prairie grasses or  late-season sage is suggested in the painting’s background. Bateman’s early art was abstract, but, says the museum, after being inspired by the works of Andrew Wyeth, Bateman turned to realism; his art was mentioned prominently by Fine Art Connoisseur’s editor Peter Trippi. Read the OutdoorPainter.com article and view their Youtube Video interview with Bateman here.

Wendell Field, on location in Grand Teton National Park

Wendell Field, on location in Grand Teton National Park

“Wendell Field: An Artist’s Work,” Jackson Hole painter Wendell Field’s first solo show of works this year, opens on Friday, October 18th, 4:30 – 8:30 pm, at Teton Art Lab, 130 South Jackson Street~~that cute yellow house that cradles artists so perfectly. Field plans on exhibiting a dozen paintings, many of them created near Field’s home in Kelly, Wyoming.

“I’ll have a new print based off drawings I did on Static Divide, looking north in Grand Teton National Park; it’s a woodblock reproduction print—a carved block printed with a mixture of pigment, rice paste and mica dust. Then it’s carved again, printed until the block is destroyed, and the print complete,” says Field. “Each print is a good study base for paintings, and for art fans it’s affordable, original, hand-made art.”

Wendell Field - Mormon Row, Toward Jackson Peak

Wendell Field – Mormon Row, Toward Jackson Peak

During Travis Walker’s über successful art exhibition at Altamira Fine Art, Field and I had a chance to talk about some of the gallery’s artists. Specifically we looked closely at Glenn Dean’s paintings, an artist Field says “speaks to him.”  He considers Dean’s work out of the ordinary, even “surprising” in style. Comparing Dean’s work to another artist’s, Field said that the former’s rendition of landscapes was a choice Field understood. Dean, of course, recently won the very prestigious Maynard Dixon Gold Thunderbird Award—so Field’s estimation of Dean’s work is not unwarranted.

Wendell Field - Western Motel

Wendell Field – Western Motel

Though their painting styles differ, the two artists would enjoy each other’s company. Field’s images of mountains, snow, clouds, and structures are voluminous, rolling towards us, exhibiting a fairytale-like quality. He has developed a distinct color palette that turns real locations into magical destinations, and his paintings reflect his printmaking proficiency.

I’m looking forward to seeing Wendell Field’s new work!  www.wendellfield.com

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Here comes the magic Altamira Fine Art bus! Late last week the gallery announced that Jackson artist Travis Walker is the newest addition to the gallery’s roster of fine artists.

Prior to Walker’s recent inaugural Altamira exhibition, gallery director Mark Tarrant remarked on Walker’s fresh and wholly unique color palette and compositions. Walker’s images of Jackson—downtown scenes as well as depictions of the region’s great natural landscapes and landmarks—have truly become iconic, big markers on Jackson’s arts timeline. That first show, “In Such an Hour: New Views of Jackson Hole,” sold out.

Tarrant noted that the gallery is slow and deliberate in its approach to adding artists, inviting a new artist on board perhaps once a year.

“Travis’ innovative artwork is a welcome addition to the gallery,” Tarrant said. “We are all extremely pleased, and we are excited to see what he does next. Collectors from Jackson and around the nation expressed their appreciation of Walker’s unique style and vision.”

“ArtMatch.com” is a registered trademark now. I KNEW it. Yay!!!  www.altamiraart.com 

 

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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