CREATIVE PEAKS: Capturing a Feeling

By on August 2, 2017

Kathryn Turner hangs new art and turns on the mic to celebrate.

‘The View From Home’ by Kathryn Turner

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Kathryn Turner is no stranger to Wyoming’s majesty, in fact, she has made a career of painting it. But she wants to understand how artists of different mediums draw inspiration from the mountains so she’s inviting them to her gallery for an “Ode to Wyoming” open mic night.

“I really want to collaborate with people who are inspired by this place,” Turner said, “to create this opportunity for us to sort of share our inspiration when it comes to Wyoming, in once place, in one night.”

The place? Turner’s gallery, Trio Fine Art. The night? Thursday. The event coincides with the opening of Turner’s new exhibition of the same title: Ode to Wyoming.

“Really, that’s all of my work,” she said. “It describes all of what I do, always. I paint about my passion for this place.”

Turner grew up in awe of Jackson’s landscapes. It’s what made her an artist. And it’s no wonder, she said, other artists are as inspired as she is. “There’s a dynamic nature of the mountains I think that is a really key element to creativity,” Turner said. “It shapes us into being dynamic thinkers.” Indeed, Turner says she can never visit the same place twice. The landscape is always changing.

And then there are the sheer dramatics, the undeniable power, of this area’s landscapes. They are humbling, inspiring, and intimidating, even to the most experienced artists.

“Anyone who has the audacity to try and paint the beauty of these mountains…” Turner said. “It really does, it takes audacity. I fall short every time.” But she’s always working to do the mountains justice.

Turner is a fourth-generation Jacksonite. She recalls her grandmother’s resentment for the same mountains she loves so much. Back then, she said, the mountains were a hindrance. “The mountains isolated them,” Turner said. “They represented this obstacle, this barrier to the rest of the world.”

Of course, infrastructure and technology have allowed us to soften our relationships with the mountains. Now, artists and spectators can share in Turner’s awe and admiration. But, Turner said, they have never lost their wonder.

“We all have a relationship with the mountains, whether it’s that you like to recreate, are intimidated by heights, or understand and are humbled by their sheer power,” Turner said. “It’s definitely an intimidating subject matter for artists.”

But where the mountains are intimidating, they are also nurturing. In a sense, they helped raise Turner as a woman and as an artist. “I feel personally like they hold us in this embrace,” she said. “We’re surrounded by them. To me it just feels comforting.”

When surrounded by something so big, and subsequently feeling so small, it’s nearly impossible not to feel inspired. As an artist, Turner said it forces her to shift her perspective, to eschew reason and make room for wonder. It’s a near-religious experience.

“We’re humbled into that place. We’re left to search for some other expression than the rational day-to-day things.” The challenge, she said, is to “paint in a way that makes it your own, that retains your own voice and imagery. That’s not easy to do.”

For this exhibition, as with much of her work, Turner split her time between plein-air painting, where she can react directly to the landscape and working in her studio. Often, Turner starts a piece on-site, then brings it inside so she can finish it from “an expressive place, rather than a responsive place.”

Her paintings are the backdrop for her open mic night, but lyrics and melodies will bring them to life. Turner has invited a handful of writers and musicians to perform their art as it is inspired by Wyoming. Included in the line-up is classical guitarist Byron Tomingas, whose grandfather worked alongside Turner’s great-grandfather, and whose father worked with Turner’s grandfather. “Generations ago, we were collaborating and working together,” Turner said. “I’m really excited to have him come.”
Tina Welling will also read from her new book Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature. Singer-songwriter Madelaine German will bring a more “pop” sound to the evening. “Then everybody in between,” Turner said. “Matt Montaine; Peter Chandler of Chanman Roots Band.” And whoever else feels inspired to share their work with an audience.

“I’m calling it a celebration of Wyoming as it inspires art, and music and poetry,” Turner said. “I want to hear from everybody,” PJH

The evening begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, August 3 at Trio Fine Art and goes “until everybody’s done sharing.” It’s free and light refreshments will be provided. Turner’s exhibition will hang through August 6. 

About Shannon Sollitt

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