This image, taken last summer of a smiling Susan Chambers, former Grand Teton Association board member and Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painter volunteer, reflects the spirit of these wonderful weeks artists have spent in Grand Teton National Park and the Jackson Hole area. So many gifted plein air painters creating work celebrating the Park, all the while inspiring one another.
Anyone watching this dedicated, close-knit group gets goosebumps. And now the big day is here: Thursday, July 18th, beginning at 7:00 pm, the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters (RMPAP) hold a grand Opening Reception at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitors Center, in Moose, WY. It’s an emotional night, a triumphant night and a night filled with promise not only for these artists, but for their partners, the Grand Teton Association (GTA) and Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). A special section devoted to the works of the late plein air painter Greg McHuron will be on view.
Last Saturday, I and dozens of others watched as three of this year’s artists—Stephen C. Datz, Kathryn Mapes Turner and Jeanne MacKenzie—conducted a free plein air demonstration at Oxbow Bend. There may not be a more beautiful GTNP overlook. And today, just prior to writing this post, I bumped into a plein air devotee who attended Saturday’s paint out. She spoke at great length about the pleasures of watching the artists paint, and how it inspires her to continue to work on her own painting.
What she and so many others experienced was watching artists take in landscape details we “mortals” notice, but don’t often register at the depth plein air painters do. We’re talking about vistas extending endless miles. The ever-changing colors of the river as clouds and sun moved across the sky. The way Mt. Moran’s reflection shifted on the water’s surface. How a mountain’s face changed as minutes ticked by. An infinite spectrum of greens reside in the grasses, sage, trees and wildflowers and riparian growth so verdant and dominant in that area. Oxbow waters are can be a perfect mirror—a moment later they ripple, sending the message that a family of geese, a pelican, or a paddle dipped in the water are nearby. Water, snowcapped mountains, wildlife, the rushes, each flower, each pine needle is a world unto itself—-unseen by so many of us, but the very exhuberance of life for artists.
These artists have had their own experiences while visiting GTNP. Storms break out, thunder claps and lightning strikes. Hail happens. Moose appear out of nowhere and charge an artist’s easel. Ravens conduct extended loud and fierce debates.
Have you had the opportunity to observe RMPAP artists at work? Watching artists paint is mesmerizing; time flies. If you’ve not had the chance, I encourage you to visit the Craig Thomas Center on the occasion of this year’s Grand Opening. Take in the myriad, painterly interpretations of this place. I’ve viewed about a third of the works—the diversity of style and perspective is impressive, and the number of works on exhibit will triple come opening night.
And don’t forget: Saturday, July 20th, beginning at 9:00 am, approximately 25 RMPAP artists will hold a two-hour Quick Draw at Menor’s Ferry, GTNP. Artists will work on site, and a fixed price sale follows immediately after, at 11:00 am. A “Grand” opportunity to watch over two dozen artists at work, recording what they see and feel around them, in the moment, in nature. Menor’s Ferry is one of the most accessible, gentle corners of GTNP, and I predict some wonderful work will result from the morning’s efforts.
ALL events are free and open to the public; all are family friendly and a portion of “Plein Air for the Park” sale proceeds benefit the GTA and GTNP. To see both RMPAP and GTA’s “Artists in the Environment” flourishing programs makes a heart swell with pride, pleasure and love. For a full list of participating artists, click here. See you there! www.rmpap.org www.grandtetonpark.org