By on August 9, 2017

The Art Fair’s “local emerging artist” joins an esteemed crew of creatives this weekend.

‘Moran’ by Natalie Connell

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Make no mistake—the Art Association’s summer art fairs aren’t some last-minute craft fair, or backyard sale where anyone can set up a booth. “It’s legit,” artist Natalie Connell said.

Indeed, the event is selective and competitive and draws incredible artists from around the country. It’s why Connell almost didn’t apply for a juried show—she was a little intimidated. But knowing she had nothing to lose, Connell submitted her work and was accepted. Then the deal got sweeter: through another application process she was named the Local Emerging Artist for the fair.

Connell is one of 145 artists who will show work in the fair. It will feature artists from 25 states selling jewelry, ceramics, paintings and metal work, each selected by a jury of professional artists, curators and gallery owners.

This is the 51st year the Art of Association of Jackson Hole has presented the art fair. According to a press release from the Art Association, the July art fair drew more than 5,500 people. The August fair will feature activities for all ages throughout the weekend, including yoga, an obstacle course and a performance from the Grand Teton Music Festival, as well as other musicians like Aspen Dawn Jacquet, Coburn Larsen, Rob Bass and DJ Bdubz. There also will be face painting and henna tattoos for kids, as well as a creative hands-on project.

The August art fair features 98 different artists from the July event, including Connell. The Emerging Artist designation is meant for artists who have limited experience exhibiting and selling work. With the title, Connell receives assistance and a mentor to guide her through her first Art Fair of Jackson Hole.

A jury selected Connell as emerging artist, noting her work in the last year and a half using ink, acrylic and watercolor on wood to create distinctive pieces.

For Connell, this award is emblematic of a lifelong affair. As a child, she told her mother she was going to draw a picture a day and if she kept with it, when she grew up she’d be an artist.

“Art has always been there in various forms my entire life,” she said.

Connell actually stuck to the schedule for several years. But as she got older, she viewed art more as a hobby, listening to the voices that said she could never make a living doing something so creative.

She eventually taught herself graphic design and found a creative outlet in her work. It reignited the creative part of her brain and when she wasn’t working as a designer, she was painting, she said. In 2015, she found herself established as a graphic designer, no longer spending hours trying to find work, and she took a daylong painting class in the Tetons. It reminded her how much she loved to paint and she decided she wanted to devote more time to art.

In the last few years she’s shown work at small shows and she’s pushed her paintings in new directions and experimented with various mediums.

“I’ve realized if you want to do watercolor, acrylics and paint in the same piece and still call it fine art, that’s fine,” she said.

Most recently she’s experimented with watercolor painting on wood. She’s magnetized to capturing the things she knows best—nature and the mountains. Her work currently explores fleeting but intense moments outside, like the few seconds you see an animal in the wild and make eye contact, or that moment when you are on an early morning ski tour and the sun finally breaks the darkness and you see your objective for the first time. “Those are the moments I’m trying to capture in a painting,” she said.

Connell will bring about 20 paintings, most watercolors on wood, but a few acrylics on canvas, to the art fair. She’ll also have some prints and notecards.

“And whatever else I can finish in the next week,” she said.

She is going into it without expectations. Of course, she wants to sell work, but she hopes to find, as her mentor did, that she starts conversations with art lovers that turn into relationships that last years. And she hopes this showing at the art fair is just the beginning. PJH

Art Fair of Jackson Hole, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, August 13 at Miller Park in downtown Jackson, $5; free for kids 10 and under and Art Association members.

About Kelsey Dayton

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