Jackson gallery offers views of protected private lands

Dec 6, 2013

Ladd Property. Bill Sawczuk. 16 x 20. Oil on linen.
Ladd Property. Bill Sawczuk. 16 x 20. Oil on linen.
Credit Trio Fine Art

A new exhibit offers three painters’ views of protected private lands in Jackson Hole. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer reports on the first-ever collaboration between the Jackson Hole Land Trust and artists, called View 22.

MICAH SCHWEIZER: Landscape artists—by definition—paint landscapes. So painter Kathryn Turner, one of the partners at the Trio Fine Art gallery in Jackson, had the idea to celebrate her muse—some of the private land that’s protected from any kind of development. She and the two other gallery owners spent the summer and fall painting on location.

KATHRYN TURNER: “Our hope was that art could serve as a way of bringing awareness to the value of these lands for our community.”

SCHWEIZER: The non-profit Jackson Hole Land Trust works with landowners to put protective easements in place. So far, the tally is 20 thousand acres of private land protected in Teton County alone. The View 22 exhibit—named for the views in county 22—features paintings from 19 properties, including the nearly 400 acre Jenkins Ranch. It’s been in Mike Wardell’s family for 75 years. The family started protecting the land from development in the 70’s.

MIKE WARDELL: “For being 10 minutes from the town square, it’s sort of a pristine, primeval place…”

SCHWEIZER: …with old growth forests, two streams, and all sorts of wildlife. On a misty fall day, elk kept Jennifer Hoffman company as she painted.

JENNIFER HOFFMAN: “And this huge bull elk started bugling, and it was so close to us! It was absolutely incredible. I could actually feel it vibrating in my chest when he bugled. It was just incredible.”

SCHWEIZER: Hoffman calls painting in nature a spiritual experience. Her Trio Fine Art colleague Bill Sawczuk says art can capture that sense of the land.

BILL SAWCZUK: “You can kind of refine it to its purest form: Why is this valuable? Why is this so appealing to look at?”

SCHWEIZER: The paintings give the viewer a glimpse of Jackson Hole vistas through the artists’ eyes. For landowner Mike Wardell,

WARDELL: “It intensifies the meaning of conservation to me and the beauty of the property. Puts it in a different light.”

SCHWEIZER: Lori Andrews is the executive director of the Jackson Hole Land Trust. She says the paintings make the organization’s work more tangible to the public, since most people don’t get to stroll around Harrison Ford’s property, for instance.

LORI ANDREWS: “Not everyone gets to touch it and feel it and see it every day, so this brings it into a closer view, if you would, for more people to connect to it.”

SCHWEIZER: Andrews says the paintings are a validation of the Trust’s work.

ANDREWS: “The landowners are also feeling a sense of pride of ‘Look at what I did. Look at the gift in perpetuity I’ve given to this community.’”

SCHWEIZER: View 22 is on display through December 21 at Trio Fine Art in Jackson. The paintings also can be seen online. For Wyoming Public Radio, I’m Micah Schweizer.