“The West represents the quest for self, for meaning, and for happiness and camaraderie.” ~ Donna Howell-Sickles
“Some artists look for composition or light, but what inspires me is a kind of love of nature, more so than any artistic element. I just had to find a way to express how I felt about wildlife and the environment. I’m blessed in that I can express that through painting.” ~ Mary Roberson
Two of the best and brightest Western women artists open their new shows at Altamira Fine Art on Friday, September 6, 5:00-8:00 p.m., during the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival Palates & Palettes Gallery Walk. Each show is on exhibition at Altamira August 26th – September 7th; please note that THIS opening reception takes place before the final day of Roberson’s and Howell-Sickles’ shows.
Donna Howell-Sickles’ exuberant, poster-bright paintings and mixed-media works were some of the first examples of contemporary Western art I discovered. Immediately, she was my hero. How could she not be? Howell-Sickles’ Western cowgirls toss their hats, seem to drop from the heavens, and speak the language of every Western ranch critter and wild animal. Animals, the sky, and even the lassos these cowgirls swing are an extension of the Western woman. If we could choose the most free and confident feminine identity, would not the hearts and souls of Howell-Sickles’ cowgirls be sublime to inhabit?
“The cowgirl is an accomplished and gutsy rider balanced on potential danger. On another level, she’s every woman constantly readjusting the balance of her own circumstances,” writes Howell-Sickles. “As an archetype, she is a blend of past memories, present joys and future dreams.”
Howell-Sickles is the Queen of the Cowgirls. Her works on paper—-mixes of charcoal, pastel and acrylic—-often allow viewers to see the artist’s initial sketching and drawing beneath her primary media.
“Her work is rich with symbolism and allusions to classical mythology,” writes the gallery. “The color red is always present in her work, as it symbolizes life and energy to the artist. Animals often stand for an obstacle overcome as well as inner strength.”
Through the years, Howell-Sickles’ perception of the Western woman evolved; she progressed from depicting her women as faceless and fictional to rendering them as defined, strong individuals. And she realized that the West’s true draw is how it prizes individualism as well as friendship. It’s no surprise that she has been inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, and her work is part of numerous prestigious museum and private collections. Each work is Western emblem.
Contemporary painter Mary Roberson’s new impressionistic paintings express the artist’s soft, tranquil romance with wildlife. Her faith as an artist is that all animals are totems, powerful creatures embodying universal messages and meaning.
Her new show, “The Nature of Contemporary Impressionism,” continues Roberson’s probing of the natural world. A native Californian, she makes her home in Idaho, explores Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and, recently, accompanied a photography safari into Africa. There she experienced Africa’s light and atmosphere, as well as its magnificent and exotic wildlife—imagine feeling more in awe of wildlife than what we experience in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If possible, Roberson believes more fully that all species are universal symbols. Wildlife, she says, chooses her.
Layers of paint and muted, earthy colors make Roberson’s wildlife paintings seem like mirages. In the desert, we search for water; for Roberson, animals are the water. She drives her masterful paintings with a muted palette to highlight composition. The understated effect, says the gallery, hints at meanings seen and unseen. Authors Jamie Sams and David Carson have written that it is through nature that [animal medicine] teachings come, and it is to nature that we will all return.
As well known as she is, Roberson’s profile as an important artist continues to grow. She was the featured painter at the 2010 Western Visions Show & Sale at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Her painting, “The Mystic Forest,” is part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Altamira Fine Art plans an exciting and full calendar of Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival events! Make sure to stop in for these gallery openings and receptions:
Wednesday, September 11th: Opening Reception for John Nieto: Forces of Color and Spirit, 5-8:00 pm. A dynamic show of new works by one of America’s most ground-breaking artists!
Thursday, September 12th – Meet the Artists: R. Tom Gilleon and Greg Woodard. The two artists will be at the gallery for informal and open conversation. 1-3:00 pm.
Friday, September 13th: Meet the Artists – Mary Roberson and September Vhay. Two renowned women artists with a passion for, and connection to, natural creatures. 1-3:00 pm.
Saturday, September 14th: Meet the Artists – Amy Ringholz, Duke Beardsley and Jared Sanders, a trio of contemporary, visionary artists! 1-3:00 pm.
Sunday, September 15th: Art Brunch Gallery Walk – Stop in to Altamira to toast 2013’s Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival! 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.
AND…the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival Calendar is next up on the Jackson Hole Art Blog!