5 Wyoming Artists Go to Georgia
A new exhibition showcases the Western art of these Jackson Hole artists
You don’t need to be Western to love the West. That’s why the Booth Museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate located in Cartersville, Georgia, is celebrating “The Jackson Hole 5: Important Painters from the West,” through June 7.
The exhibition features creations by a quintet of Wyoming artists: Amy Lay, Amy Ringholz, Kathryn Mapes Turner, September Vhay and Kathy Wipfler. “Each has a spiritual connection to the natural environment and it is reflected in their paintings,” says Booth Museum curator Lisa Wheeler. Plus, the five have been friends for so many years that a collaboration just comes naturally.
When Kathy Wipfler, a California native, arrived in Jackson in 1979, she worked as a window washer, house painter and polo horse groom to support her artistic dreams.
Wipfler lived in a log cabin for 20 years, and her majestic images are informed by her own explorations of Wyoming’s wilderness and ranch country. “I work outdoors in all seasons, and I paint small and large pieces on location,” she says.
“My biggest hope is to bring a scene to life for the viewer, and somehow show my reverence for the land, animals and people that make their living in the great outdoors.”
A MYSTERIOUS INTENSITY
Oregon-born Amy Lay grew up on her family’s five-generation mountain ranch. “I think an appreciation for animals, wild vistas and wild seasons has helped me to understand the flow of the natural world,” she says.”
The West for me is not a romanticized icon; it’s sacred, it’s home,” Today, Lay is raising her own children on a Wyoming ranch, where she gathers artistic inspiration from her natural surroundings.
The creatures in her semi-abstract paintings resonate with a mysterious intensity. “Animals can represent our intuitions, our instincts or our passions,” she says. “They can represent our fear- less nature or our timid hearts.”
CAPTURING THE ESSENCE
Raised on a ranch in Nevada, September Vhay earned a degree in architecture before turning toward painting when she moved to Jackson Hole. Art is in her genes: Vhay’s great-grandfather was Gutzon Borglum, renowned sculptor of Mount Rushmore.
Her own work, in both watercolor and oil, often focuses meticulous attention on horses. “I hope to capture a moment in time during which the essence of an animal’s spirit surfaces,” she explains. “There are moments when animals express a signature gesture, such as a horse with one ear forward and one ear back surveying its environment, which are unique to that animal.”
WONDER AND AWE
Kathryn Mapes Turner is the fourth generation living on her family’s Triangle X Ranch, in the heart of Grand Teton National Park. “The Wyoming high desert landscape is intense, extreme and unapologetic, and the wide-open spaces support rich wildlife habitat,” she says. “All of this fills me with wonder and awe.”
Turner’s love for the beauty of the land and its inhabitants shines through her plein-air paintings of creatures rendered with a quiet sensitivity.
“Perhaps my images will allow the viewer to ground themselves in a moment and find the same sense of peace that I experienced while painting it,” she says.
EMPATHY AND TRUTH
“The drama of the mountains, the magnificence of the sky and the untamed landscape and wildness of the animals is what drew me to the West and out of Ohio,” Amy Ringholz explains.
“I feel so alive in Wyoming, and free—that independence, and rawness, of living so close with Mother Nature inspires my heart, which translates into my work.”
Her color-splashed portraits of animals are undeniably bold. “At first glance my work comes off lively and fun and lighthearted,” Ringholz admits. “But in the eyes of my animals is a depth, a knowledge, a hurt, a wisdom, a clue to the piece.”