Here in Jackson, it is said, the concept of “America the Beautiful” leaps to life. Images of the Teton Range are everywhere in the media. Yellowstone cups us in its palm, then pushes waves of exploring visitors our way. Our wildlife and landscape beauty are unmatched.
But I think much of our beauty remains beautiful because of women. We nurture and we lead. I dedicate this post to the late Shelley Simonton, one of our greatest role models. Thank you, Shelley.
Two great American women can be found at Altamira Fine Art this month. September Vhay has a show of new works,“Passages,” and the artist Robert Townsend’s American muse, “American Girl” is a huge presence on the gallery’s exhibition walls and in the artist’s heart.
“Every painting is a series of passages through color, values, edges and composition. I think of each one as a carefully choreographed dance that comes together to create a whole. The magic lies in the mystery of the expression of the final piece.” – September Vhay
September Vhay is everywhere, and nowhere…she is seldom seen. Vhay is an artist whose innate skills are matched only by her dedication to work. Even when I spot September, it’s usually at an arts-related event. She’s the quiet, centered and beautiful presence in the room at Altamira’s openings, she’s the silent observer when taking in other artists’ work, and she’s the one who can express, with the fewest words, her admiration for her peers.
These qualities permeate her paintings of horses,~~her steadfast passion~~bison, deer, grizzlies and birds. Still and mysterious, each of her subjects are wild, wonderous animal talismen. As Indians believe, all animals have messages for us. Offering lessons, they ask only that we be open to receive. In so many ways, they reflect our souls, and no anthropomorphism is required. These new works are no exception. Each painting invites you to stand, be still and to listen.
An architect by training, with a remarkable American heritage, she considers the building blocks of every painting. “Color, values, edges and composition,” she says. “I think of each (painting) as a carefully choreographed dance that comes together to create a whole. The magic lies in the mystery of the expression of the final piece.”
“Passages” opens with an artist’s reception on Thursday, June 22nd, 5:30 – 7:30 pm at Altamira. The exhibition runs June 19 – July 1, 2017.
“This project is perfect for what I connect with emotionally…I think she’s teaching a lesson to me about celebrating life.” ~ Robert Townsend
The other woman of the moment at Altamira is artist Robert Townsend’s “American Girl,” a portrait of “Helen.”
“Citing American painters Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Bechtle as primary influences, Townsend’s work is a mixture of pop, photo-realism, surrealism and representational interpretations of largely mid-century subject matter,” notes the gallery. His paintings are marked by photographic precision. It’s funny-peculiar, but while the labels “pop,” “photo-realism” and “surrealism” relate to Townsend’s work, so much more lies beneath.
I didn’t FEEL that until I heard Townsend’s story. His vernacular springs from a SoCal upbringing and the icons and trends of that era. Anyone can latch on to a theme or aesthetic because it feels like a money-maker, but Townsend’s story about discovering this woman is a love story. He found a lifetime, as the trailer to a new documentary about the project notes. Finding and buying a set of old slides depicting the life of a family he’d never met, Townsend fell head over heels for the people he saw, particularly his muse, Helen. He tracked the family down, and the rest is cultural pop art history.
“This project is perfect for what I connect with emotionally…I think she’s teaching a lesson to me about celebrating life.” says the artist.
See for yourself. Watch the clip. www.altamiraart.com
Art Notes this Week:
“Found Space,” an open-air art installation and celebration takes place this Friday, June 9th, 5-8:00 pm at Hardeman North, in Wilson, Wyoming, adjacent to the Wilson Centennial Ponds. It’s a great family event, filled with outdoor art inspired by place, and creative contributors include Ben Roth, Matt Daly, Bland Hoke, Bronwyn Minton, and Jenny Dowd. Create your own art alongside these noted local artists! Live music on site, and the project is a partnership between the Jackson Hole Land Trust and Jackson Hole Public Art. Open to all! www.jhpublicart.org www.jhlandtrust.org
It’s the final push for fine art consignments at the Jackson Hole Art Auction! This year’s auction takes place September 15 & 16 at Jackson Hole’s Center for the Arts. The last and vastly popular event of Jackson’s annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, the auction may be reached by visiting their website: www.jacksonholeartauction.com or by phoning (866) 549-9278.