From Staff Reports
The rugged and majestic beauty of Grand Teton National Park attracts thousands of professional and amateur photographers each year who work to capture that perfect image worthy of the park’s natural splendor. But a different kind of creative set has been working in the park over the first half of July to capture creative and visionary images of Grand Teton, and they did it one brushstroke at a time.
A group of fine artists working in the open air around Grand Teton National Park helped raise thousands of dollars for art and education programs in the park, as the first Plein Air for the Park fine art exhibition and sale wrapped up last week.
Co-hosted by the Grand Teton Association and Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, the event saw 44 fine artists from across the region take their palettes and easels into the open air — or plein air — to produce original works inspired by landscapes, wildlife, wildflowers and more.
Plein air art shows and sales have been used as fundraisers for a wide range of charitable causes over the years, but this was the first such event benefiting Grand Teton.
“The ‘Plein Air in the Park’ reminds us of the legacy of the Teton landscape as inspiration for artistic expression,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “We hope this year’s event generates a new tradition.”
The event culminated last week with a quick draw event where artists are asked to complete an original work, start-to-finish, on site. A special gala reception and award ceremony followed, where close to 140 pieces of artwork created during the two-week event were displayed for sale.
The sold-out event generated a total of approximately $50,000 in sales, according to information provided by the Grand Teton public affairs office. Forty percent of total sales will be donated through the Grand Teton Association to support art and educational programs in the park.
“It was an outstanding response for our inaugural event,” said Jan Lynch, GTA executive director. “Visitors and locals appreciated seeing so many artists scattered about the park, painting timeless scenes.”
Lynch said some park visitors showed up at the sale to “purchase the very piece they watched an artist create” just days ago.
The event highlighted GTA’s 75th anniversary as an educational, nonprofit partner for Grand Teton National Park. The group operates bookstores at visitor centers in support of the missions of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and other partners such as the National Elk Refuge and surrounding national forests.
Painter Greg McHuron, a former National Park Service employee who frequently paints in Grand Teton, was honored for his commitment to the arts and his passion for painting in the park in all weather and throughout all seasons. McHuron, a longtime member of Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, was unable to attend due to a health issue. But his painting “Jackson Lake Mirror” was the first sale of the show, and sold for $10,500.
Several awards were given to participating painters, including:
- Best of Show to Kathryn Turner for “Lily Pads”
- Award of Excellence to Dave Santillanes for “String Lake”
- Award of Excellence to Kathy Anderson for “Aspen Beauty”
- Award of Excellence to Beahanne Kinsella Cople for “Cool Morning”
- Superintendent’s Award to Erin O’Conner for “And Evening Ensues”
- Sharlene Milligan Scholarship Award to Carol Swinney for “Mt. Moran”
- GTA Board of Directors’ Award to Stephen C. Datz for “Greeting the Dawn”
- GTA Executive Director Award to Jeanne Mackenzie for “Menor’s Ferry, Longing for the Snake”
- Artists’ Choice Best Painting to Kathryn Turner and Jeanne Mackenzie
- Artists’ Choice Award Best Body of Work to Kathryn Turner and Stephen C. Datz
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