Wyoming inspired hues

By on June 3, 2015

For Pamela Gibson, different environs ushered her work into a new sphere


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – A lot of things changed for Pamela Gibson when she moved to Jackson from Portland, Ore., about six years ago. Gibson was a tapestry weaver who worked in the saturated colors of her Pacific Northwest home.

When she moved to Jackson she realized the light in Wyoming wasn’t right for yarn.

“I needed a medium that was more reflective,” Gibson explained.

She folded up her loom and sold it and started painting full time. Her color palette changed from the lush colors of Oregon to the dusty grays, greens and blues of Wyoming.

A show at the Center for the Arts’ Theater Gallery, which opens Friday, will feature new encaustic paintings from Gibson. The exhibit, titled “Conversations,” reflects the Wyoming landscape, as well as Gibson’s process.

When Gibson works, she often has a favorite poem running in her mind, or she listens to music, or she’s thinking about the landscape she loves.

“I feel like I’m having conversations across time and these things are influencing me as I paint,” she said.

She uses language as a pattern in her work. Sometimes she uses poems, adding them into the painting, obscured so they are unreadable, but still there.

Much of the work in the show is large, one as big as 6 feet by 7 feet, and all of it is landscape based.

Gibson’s exhibit is entirely encaustic, a medium she discovered while at a workshop in Oregon. Gibson didn’t attend formal art school until she was in her 40s when she attended Oregon College of Art and Craft. There she learned to weave. While weaving became her primary art medium, she occasionally painted to keep her skills sharp. Learning about encaustic painting, which involves using wax and creating layers, changed her art. It allowed her to add more depth to her abstract paintings.

“It’s malleable, which I love,” she said. “It allowed me to do what’s in my mind.”

150603AE-1The work belies the short time she’s been working in the medium, said Meg Daly, who represents Gibson. The show is powerful.

“I feel like she has hit her stride in the medium and is producing complex, layered paintings that are so much more than beautiful,” Daly said.

Gibson starts with a landscape photograph and begins by painting a realistic rendering.

“Then I manipulate it so it’s probably pretty unrecognizable by the end,” she said.

She adds layers upon layers that morph a classic landscape into something familiar, but unidentifiable.

Her work, no matter the medium, has always been nature based and inspired, she said. When in Oregon, her paintings were often of leaves or pebbles on the ground.

But in Wyoming, that changed. She began to paint the picture, instead of focusing on the small details of a single rock or tree. The landscape in Wyoming isn’t something she simply sees.

“You are in that landscape here,” she said. “You can’t avoid it. That bigger view is not even a choice — it’s what is there.”

She tries to capture not just what she sees, but also the experience, memory, feeling and time, she said in her artist’s statement.

Her paintings of the Wyoming landscape are also metaphors. She works with the idea of time passing and seasons changing — a metaphor for life. She also looks at space and what that means.

“I feel like in the world we’re living in now, open space is kind of a metaphor for what we should be looking for in our future and it’s becoming more and more rare,” she said.

Everything changed for Gibson in terms of her art in Wyoming. But she has no regrets about folding up her loom and taking up a paintbrush and losing herself in the landscape.

Gibson’s show hangs through June 26. She also will speak at noon June 10 at the Center for the Arts.

“Conversations,” an exhibit of encaustic paintings by Pamela Gibson, Center for the Arts’ Theater Gallery, reception is 5:30 to 7 p.m, Friday. The show hangs through June 26.

Center for the Arts

240 S Glenwood Street,

Jackson, Wyoming



About Kelsey Dayton

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