“It was fun and inspiring.”
That’s how Bighorn Canyon NRA Chief of Interpretation Christy Fleming summed up two weekends of “art in the park” events.
Amanda Palmer of Upstate New York spent Sept. 21 through Oct. 4 as Bighorn Canyon’s latest artist in residence with her wood block printing method of artwork. She showed visitors how to cut the wood blocks on the afternoon of Sept. 26, then demonstrated the printing as one of four artists who participated in a “Find Your Park Through Art” event Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 3-4, at the Ewing-Snell Ranch.
An intimate group of artists including students of Northwest College art professor John Giarrizzo gathered at the Ewing-Snell Ranch at 3 p.m. Saturday for presentations by former Park Service ranger Doug Leen and painter Stephanie Rose.
Leen, who calls Alaska home, spoke about his efforts to save Work Projects
Administration artwork that was produced in the 1930s and ‘40s as posters to promote national parks and his work to preserve the works and prevent improper replication and distribution of the artwork.
The WPA produced a series of 14 posters to promote national parks, and Leen came across one of the posters while cleaning out a garage during his time working as a mountain ranger at Grand Teton National Park. He was given the poster, then set it aside as he followed a career path into dentistry.
About 20 years later, Leen began his mission to find out more about the WPA posters and realized how rare they are due to their fragile nature. He began a project to find and save the works and educate the public about the rare and special artwork, produced through the fledgling silkscreen process.
Calling himself Ranger of the Lost Art, Fleming said Leen has collected 12 of the 14 original posters and is able to reproduce prints of the 12 with a goal of finding the remaining two posters and return them to the National Park Service. He has worked with the National Park Service archives in Harper’s Ferry, W.Va.
As part of his preserve and educate mission, Leen has started reproducing the prints and is selling the reproductions, as well as producing more posters for parks in the style of the WPA works.
Leen came to Ewing-Snell with his Airstream trailer, which has a local connection. Janet Bedford of Powell painted National Park murals inside the camper, and Lester Santos of Cody did the inside furnishing in the Molesworth style. Leen is conducting talks around the country.
Painter Stephanie Rose of the Heart Mountain area gave a painting demonstration Saturday afternoon at the Ewing-Snell Ranch, following Leen’s talk, as part of her four-season study of Big Horn Canyon, Fleming said, noting that Rose is spending one week in the park during each of the four seasons.
Having completed her spring and summer studies, Rose will return on Oct. 19 for her fall study, then begin her winter study on Feb. 22, 2016.
Rose demonstrated the “en plein air” method of painting for interested artists and students from the back porch of the Ewing-Snell, painting a scene of the old ranch school house.
“Her style is interesting to me,” Fleming said. “She first does a black and white painting to explore the light and dark values of her subject, then paints a second rendition in color.”
A third session was scheduled for Saturday night with Powell photographer Lynn Richardson at the Lockhart Ranch. Fleming said it was cloudy, so no starscape photos could be taken. The group returned to Ewing-Snell, where Richardson demonstrated the technique of “ghost photography.”
Sunday began with a sunrise photography session at Devil’s Canyon Overlook with photographer Marilyn Feather of Michigan. Fleming said the morning brought cold, windy and cloudy conditions, and while there was good color and interesting clouds, there was no sunrise.
An art hike followed at Hillsboro, led by Palmer, who provided tips for the artists, who then broke off and worked with photography, painting and drawing.
Palmer then led a workshop on wood block printing back at the Ewing-Snell Ranch at 1 p.m., showing an audience of artists and Lovell citizens who made the trip to the ranch how she applies ink to the carved wood block, rolls it smooth, applies special paper
made in Japan, smoothes the paper and pulls it back to produce a finished print of a scene from the Lockhart Ranch.
Feather is continuing her photography work in the park through Oct. 15 as the last of the five Artists in Residence for the year (see related story).
By David Peck