Plein Air For The Park Event Showcases Best Of Grand Teton National Park Through Artists' Eyes

Keith Bond was one of more than 40 artists from throughout the country who participated in the 2nd annual Plein Air for the Park competition at Grand Teton National Park. He won an Award of Excellence for his painting, Aspen Light, as well as Best Body of Work. NPS photo by Jackie Skaggs.

The beauty of Grand Teton National Park recently was captured by more than 40 artists from throughout the country who gathered in the park for the 2nd annual Plein Air For the Park exhibition and show.

The two-week event last month was jointly organized and co-hosted by the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters and the Grand Teton Association. The participating artists spent their time capturing on canvas the spectacular scenery, wildlife, and wildflowers of the Teton landscape. The event brought 30 percent more in sales over the maiden Plein Air for the Park event of 2012.

Plein Air for the Park 2013 included several elements: educational sessions, artist demonstrations, preview of new art, a gala reception, and a quick draw.

The first educational session kicked off July 13 with a three-hour “Artists in the Environment” art demonstration at the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River. This session featured Kathryn Mapes-Turner, Jeanne Mackenzie, and Stephen C. Datz.

An additional 15 artist demos were offered throughout the park during the following week. A preview of new works from show artists went on display at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center on July 15. The fine art exhibition opened with a reception Thursday evening, July 18, at the Discovery Center with all event artists in attendance. A quick draw at historic Menor’s Ferry along the Snake River served as the finalé event on Saturday morning, July 20.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott, GTA Executive Director Jan Lynch, and RMPAP President Stephen C. Datz welcomed a standing-room-only crowd to the artist’s reception at the Discovery Center on July 18. This gala launched a weekend of art sales that totaled about $63,000, and raised nearly $25,000 (40 percent of the sales) for the GTA’s educational, interpretive, and research programs that support the park. Established in 1937 as cooperating association for Grand Teton, GTA has been an essential non-profit partner for 76 years.

"This show turned out even better than last year,” said Jan Lynch, GTA executive director. “There were so many great paintings, it was a real challenge to choose our purchase award recipients."

RMPAP President Stephen C. Datz added, “The artists really brought their ‘A game’ this year and the quality of their work was tremendous. It was gratifying to see such an enthusiastic effort rewarded by a keen interest and strong sales.”

Greg McHuron, who was a longtime RMPAP member, passed away shortly after the 2012 Plein Air for the Park. McHuron was honored at the show with a memorial wall that featured three of his plein air paintings. An award in his honor, the Greg McHuron Memorial Award, was established to recognize a piece of work that best represented McHuron’s ideals and reflected those elements of plein air art that he felt were most important.

The awards judge for the fine art exhibition was Chris Moran, proprietor of Christopher J. Moran Fine Art Appraisals and former administrator of the Arts for the Parks contest and show. After completing the judging, Mr. Moran noted that, “This was a very tough show to judge because there is so much outstanding work, I felt honored to be here.”

Awards presented for the 2013 Plein Air for the Park include:

* Best of Show — Dave Santillanes, "The Sound of Taggart Creek"

* Best Body of Work — Keith Bond

* Award of Excellence — Carol Swinney, "Spirit of the Tetons"

* Award of Excellence — Kathryn Mapes Turner, "Nothing Lost"

* Award of Excellence — Keith Bond, "Aspen Light"

* Artists’ Choice Award for Best Painting — Jennifer L. Hoffman, “Sweet Valley Light”

* Artists’ Choice Award Best Body of Work — Carol Jenkins

Honorable Mentions

* Bill Sawczuk, “Summer”

* Ann Larsen, “Early Jackson”

* Erin O’Connor, “Prospector’s Light”

Greg McHuron Memorial Award

* Patti Andre, “Evening Light”

The following works will become part of the Grand Teton NP Permanent Collection:

* Grand Teton National Park Superintendent’s Award — Bill Davidson, "Teton Heights"

* GTA Board of Directors’ Award — Dave Santillanes, "The Sound of Taggart Creek"

* GTA Executive Director Award — Kim Casebeer, "From Spring Creek Ranch"

“For centuries artists have shared their passion for, and impressions of, this Teton landscape. We are able to support that tradition through the works of today’s artists and events such as this organized by the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters and our very own Grand Teton Association," said Superintendent Scott. "We are grateful to share the artistic expressions or these plein air painters with our park visitors and local residents and provide a unique, but historic, dimension to the value of this national park."