Wild Matrimony

By on July 25, 2018

Newlywed artist transforms art show into a wedding soiree with animal guests

JACKSON HOLE, WY – About six weeks ago artist Amy Ringholz “ran away to Maui” and married Kent Shippen. Later this year the couple will host a party for family and friends. But Ringholz also wants to celebrate with the community and her collectors with her new exhibit “Ever After.”

The 12 new works are wedding-themed. When Ringholz creates animal characters, she lets “the pieces become who they are,” she said. In Ever After, there are rabbits as flower girls and donkeys as groomsmen. The handsome best man is and oil-painted wolf.

A bear cub that looks “adorably bashful and nervous about his job” serves as the ring bearer and a large proud, beautiful bear stands as mother of the bride, Ringholz said. The centerpiece of the show is a horse she describes as “simple, peaceful and stunning.” That piece is called “The One.”

There is even a small 12-inch piece featuring a rabbit titled “The Ex.”

“It has this funny expression, like ‘What? You got married?’” Ringholz said. “It’s hilarious. It’s lighthearted and fun.”

Ever After features a range of work in a variety of styles, sizes and mediums.

Ringholz plans to serve wedding cake at the flower-decorated art opening and an all-girl rock band will play music. It will be whimsical and fun—a wedding but with art, she said.

“I love coming up with a new way to make a body of work,” Ringholz said. “When I put a theme around it, I’m inspired.”

Ringholz is always trying to push her art in new directions. Lately she’s been working with drawings on wood, as well as her oil paintings. and creating hybrid works that combine the two. Her work is always evolving, which keeps it fresh for her collectors, but also for herself as an artist.

“I am constantly dancing around my subject matter,” she said.  

What she has kept consistent is her signature eyes she creates for the animals. They appear three-dimensional and give each animal personality.

“People love that and they connect through the art with those eyes,” she said. “I try to incorporate that connection for now in every piece. That’s where I really, especially for this show, create characters.”

Ringholz grew up in Ohio and in art school she focused on figure drawing and painting. As a child, the animal lover remembered designing a wagon she could use to wheel her pet hamsters around the neighborhood. So moving from figure drawing to painting animals was a natural step. Her previous experience in portraiture and figure drawing led her to keep a distinct human element in her animal and wildlife work—particularly in the expression held within the subject’s eyes.

In Jackson, where she’s lived since 2002, Ringholz sees a broad spectrum of wildlife painting. There are highly realistic renderings of animals with earth tones and a serious aura, as well as extremely contemporary works with fun colors that feel dreamy and light. Her work falls somewhere in the middle, she said.

“At first glance it comes off very lighthearted and happy,” she said. “Then when you look closer, into the eyes of each creature, they show all kinds of different emotions—there’s seriousness and sadness and this whole dreamer expression.” A lot of Ringholz’s work has “a serious undertone” too, she said.

That also is a fitting description of the artist herself. Ringholz is friendly and outgoing, but she’s also driven, and in touch with her emotions on a deep level. That translates into her work, she said. Those layers give her work depth.

“This mix up and partnership makes my work unique,” she said. “When you hang one of my works alone, I think it becomes a focal point and a moving piece because it stands on its own.”

Ringholz never tires of her subject matter and embraces the challenge of trying to translate it in new ways. She’s constantly moving toward a more modern style, she said.

Ever After continues that evolution. The show will hang for a month in the gallery. Ringholz will debut a new show for the Fall Arts Festival in September.

Ever After, an Amy Ringholz art exhibit, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at 140 E. Broadway.


About Kelsey Dayton

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