Tag Archives: Wyoming

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.”

Over the Rooftops; Letscher Lands at Tayloe Piggott

Bobbi Miller, “Over the Rooftop,” 6×6″ oil

Moran, Wyoming lies 30 miles north of the Town of Jackson. Last month Moran received almost 40 inches of snow, 10 inches above normal. Jackson has received almost the same amount, but Moran’s isolated location lends itself to days of being no other place than Moran.

It’s a singularly beautiful, remote and a Grand Teton National Park gateway. If you are a plein air painter, Moran offers an infinite number of beautiful locations and constant inspiration.

A Moran resident, Teton Plein Air Painter Bobbi Miller this winter has left her in awe of the Park’s forefathers who battled intense winter conditions without any of the modern conveniences we enjoy today. Confined to painting indoors this winter, Miller’s painting style has veered towards abstraction; quick work and impressions of landscape are intriguing.

“I must admit to putting those foot warmers in my boots when DRIVING to Dubois, Wyoming recently,” Miller confesses. Dubois lies approximately 75 miles east of Moran, and to get there one must travel over the spectacular but potentially very dangerous Togwotee Pass.

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Terry Tempest Williams’ Wyoming Art Stories

 For Annie~~Eleven Years. 

Terry Tempest Williams - Courtesy Coyote Clan

Terry Tempest Williams – Courtesy Coyote Clan

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy.” ~~Terry Tempest Williams

The Wyoming Arts Council’s annual conference came to Jackson Hole this year, and attendees were treated to a closing keynote by Terry Tempest Williams. She was intimately present, and if you were lucky enough to hear her that afternoon you’ll carry the occasion in your heart a long while.

Williams had thought to read from her latest book, “When Women Were Birds.” Instead, she chose to address a question put to her by the Wyoming Art Council’s Karen Stewart: “How have the arts affected your life?” 

"When Women Were Birds" by Terry Tempest Williams

“When Women Were Birds” by Terry Tempest Williams

Our cavernous conference room became an intimate campfire gathering. A place to hear stories, a place to have your heart stirred. Williams’ childhood summers were spent in Wyoming; in remembering those family traditions and travels, Williams said that Wyoming winds, time and the freedom of open spaces that create open minds shaped her. Days and nights spent curled up Mardy Murie’s feet, inhaling the wisdom of ages, breathing in stories, creating memory.

A trail of Wyoming art winds its way through Williams’ life. Each of her books began and ended in Wyoming. “Refuge” took its first breaths at UCross. Williams spoke of discovering works by legendary Wyoming artists like Jackson and Rungius. Her climate-themed collaboration with Jackson artists Ben Roth and Felicia Resor, “Council of Pronghorn,” elicited deep emotion (Roth drove the installation to NYC in a van, arriving just as one of the biggest storms that city has known was preparing to land. Roth had never been to NYC, and he found the streets empty. He was, said Williams, a messenger.) She reminded us that the best literary art is local; Hemingway, Faulkner—it’s all about place. We migrate, but ultimately we are a place-based species. Wyoming artist Neltje’s fluid brushstrokes inspired Williams to sweep her own sumi brushstrokes across blank paper before beginning any book.

Literature will always matter, Williams said, and art has always been waking us up. Early in her writing career, a mentor encouraged Williams to “sharpen her writing pencil,” to boldly speak about the essential nature of beauty and art in our lives.

“My wish for art education is that it continue to be taught. Arts create wholesome citizens, and we should weave art into other education disciplines and institutions. Conversation and the arts can lead to policy, and government should support the arts with no strings attached, no censorship. Trust artists; what they create is part of the roots of free speech,” Williams told the audience.

Neltje - Audible Breath Triptych - Acrylic

Neltje – Audible Breath Triptych – Acrylic

The Wyoming Arts Council blogged on Williams’ “Weather Report” project, a series of meetings Williams took with UW students and students around the state gathering and sharing stories of what it is like to live in Wyoming; to talk, as Williams described it this week, about “What keeps you up at night? What is your own ‘weather report?’ “

As Boomerang reporter Eve Newman wrote: “The energy boom in Wyoming means watching development taking over open spaces. It means jobs that keep families together. It means oil and gas executives feeling vilified. It means dead cottonwoods across ranch land.

Wyoming Arts Logo - Detail

Wyoming Arts Logo – Detail

Every Wyoming resident has a story about living in Wyoming. For many, those stories have to do with the latest boom cycle and the unprecedented change that’s affecting the land and the people. For others, their stories are about displacement, loss, love, racism, isolation, tolerance or opportunity.”

Newman also quoted Williams as saying that she believed students were able to bear witness to the power of stories, and heard the force of their own voices.

At the Aspen Institute, Williams participated in the Story Swap Project, an international interaction of citizens telling one another their stories, swapping roles, and building “bridges of understanding.”

Throughout her WAC keynote, Williams’ voice captured our hearts and minds. Throughout, she remained emotional, excited, open, receiving. We received. I know no other writers as eminent as Williams possessing an instinct to share so unselfishly, or who provide such lasting gifts inside an hour’s lecture. We are grateful.

“Once upon a time, when women were birds….”

Dove

 

Musings: Jackson Hole’s Creative Journeys

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Beginning with the end in mind is about examining why life is worth living and being true to your own values and dreams,” says Acton’s MBA Entrepreneurship. “If you have trouble uncovering these fundamental goals and values, it is time to go back to your basic foundations. Query people you trust and admire. Read great literary works and books on philosophy. Spend time alone in a quiet place. If you are religious, reexamine the fundamentals of your religion. Question, examine assumptions, reflect, and question again.”

In recent weeks I’ve listened as artists and non-artists spoke on the subject of embracing failure as it relates to success; the conversation began at last month’s Culture Front forum. It’s so in the air!  How do we stay afloat? It’s so easy, even comfortable, to allow our values and true wishes to take a back seat to daily demands. We want the public to invest in us, yet we often avoid digging in to the very problems we must solve in order for that to happen. It’s a conscious effort every day, and it’s a tough go. I’m reading a wonderful book that says the typical mindset of “success” is about “getting.” And “getting” is a fight.

A friend recently said that Jackson is full of wonderful people, and she’s right. We’re a persistent, well-meaning, cause-driven population. In all things creative, we’re on the hunt for that “groove,” and the unknowns are…unknown.

A positive development: Vertical Harvest was unanimously supported by Jackson’s Town Council!  The next step is sending that proposal to Teton County’s Wyoming Business Council Representative Roger Bower, Wyoming’s West Central Region Representative. Bower’s office is in Riverton, Wyoming. Word is, he does not like the project. However, he’s the man who will approve appropriations. I’ve emailed Mr. Bower a question or two; if he responds, you’ll see it here. If not, assume “no comment” by post time.

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Artist Mark Nowlin’s Road Trip Stops at TCLIB

Mark Nowlin - Landscape, Mixed Media on Paper

“These are all landscapes, I made them on the spot, off the highway, during my drive from Portland, Oregon to Jackson,” says Jackson Hole artist and purveyor of arts supplies Mark Nowlin. Last Sunday, Knowlin took his turn showing and creating art at the new Teton County Library, where—lest you live in a cave—you know that Filament Mind, the huge art installation by conceptual artist Brian Brush has just been completed.

Under the filament tent, a fine cross-section of Jackson’s local artists brought their work to the library. “Stumble on Art in the Afternoons” began by hosting Travis Walker, who blipped on his Facebook page that “the best art I’ve ever seen in Jackson is at the Teton County Library.” Catch any sass, Travis?  (I’m teasing…)

Nowlin, so well known in our arts community, is a great proponent of contemporary art. He owns and operates Master’s Studio, a Jackson arts supply and framing store.  His creativity and knowledge of art history, perspective on Jackson’s art scene and where it might be trending and the region’s arts influences, are topics you should talk to him about sometime.

Nowlin does not exhibit often, but he should. Each of his compositions I viewed last week were dynamic, swinging with motion, affected by place, and wholly recognizable even as they embraced abstraction. Nowlin lined up dozens of works, a visual diary of his travels.

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