“If you are attaining your goals, you’ve set your goals too low. The last painting you do should be the very best.” –Greg McHuron
Words to live by. Words to paint by.
Gregory I. McHuron (1945-2012) is considered by many admirers the sole plein air painter that could stand up to the Tetons’ majestic size and power, as well as their surrounding valley. Indeed, McHuron stood for the majesty of ALL wilderness and wildlife, and he left a permanent legacy when we lost him to cancer.
Four years after his death a seminal book worthy of McHuron’s life, artistry and passion for wilderness has come to fruition: “Plein Air Mentor and Master: Gregory I. McHuron,” lovingly authored by former Southwest Art Magazine editor-in-chief Susan Hallsten McGarry, will soon to be available through the Grand Teton Association.
McGarry says that this book, a retrospective, “is not only a story of living in the now; it is also a guide to finding what McHuron called the “WOW” that serenades your soul.”
“Painting has never been a job to me,” McHuron said. “It’s why I live.”
“In the summer of 2013, Linda McHuron, Peter Ward, and I got together to discuss the idea of a book,” says McHuron’s long-time friend and fellow plein air painter Stephen C. Datz. McHuron was a member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, a group painting annually in Grand Teton National Park in support of the Grand Teton Association. Datz served as the group’s president for four years.
“We made contact with as many family, friends, colleagues, and collectors as we could and began collecting stories and remembrances. Peter began the work of gathering, collating, and cataloguing images of Greg’s work,” said Datz.
McGarry feels that this book, a retrospective, “is not only a story of living in the now; it is also a guide to finding what McHuron called the “WOW” that serenades your soul.”
For the next two years, through emails, phone calls, one-on-one meetings and gatherings hosted by Peter, we accumulated a huge stash of memories of Greg and advice that he had given his students,” recalls Datz. “Matt Montagne and Charlie Craighead contributed an invaluable cache of candid photos of Greg out painting and doing AIE (“Artists in the Environment,“ an open-to-the-public plein air painting program McHuron co-founded in 1974 with Connie Schwiering and Chuck McCurdy) demos.”
McGarry notes that “true artists must live their art and paint from the heart.” McHuron’s lifestyle epitomized that philosophy, she says. His paintings expressed what he felt, and he shared those feelings with others willing to listen, including mentoring artists, in workshops or in his own “no bull*@#!” critiques.
As I wrote about Greg in the Jackson Hole Art Blog, Greg embodied artistic environmentalism. Everything he painted–he was also a master carver of northwest totems and symbols—reflected his unwavering belief that the place where he lived is precious beyond comprehension. His creed injected undeniable tenderness into the heart of an outwardly gruff and irrascible guy.
McHuron’s (I liked to call him “McGreat Lake”) fiery fall landscape “Burnished Season” won the Grand Teton National Park Superintendent’s Award posthumously at this year’s “Plein Air for the Park,” a noted paint-out, show and sale supporting the GTA. The work was personally selected by Park Superintendent David Vela.
Now, word arrives that Greg’s beloved wife, Linda McHuron, has passed. All who knew Linda give thanks for her beautiful life, her love and devotion, her strength. Always at Greg’s side, ever his champion.
“I knew Linda for over 32 years and always admired her dedication to Greg and his career, her job with the Park Service and her family,” notes plein air painter and long-time friend Carol Swinney. “She was dedicated and so excited about Greg’s new book [chronicling] his life as a wildlife artist. I will miss her.”
Linda McHuron lived to see this book project succeed; it was her greatest wish to cement her husband’s artistic legacy. To every soul who contributed to this marvelous project, our deepest thanks.
This book’s for you, Linda. Greg, we love you, you Big Moose.