Grand Teton National Park is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and artists know it. So the chance to paint its beauty and raise funds for its protection pulls professionals from thousands of miles away. In mid-July, nearly 40 painters gathered in the Jackson Hole area for the 2016 Plein Air for the Park event.
The plein air event, in which artists donate 39 percent of sales to the Grand Teton Association — the non-profit associated with Grand Teton National Park — raised $25,000 this year, bringing the total over the event’s five-year history to $127,000.
Crowds at the Quick Draw
Susan Hallsten McGarry served as judge for the competition. She picked Shanna Kunz’s “Pillars of the Community II” as Best of Show. Best Body of Work went to Wes Newton. The Greg McHuron Memorial Award was won by Lanny Grant for “Along the Gros Ventre.” Cindy Baron’s “Storm Clouds” won an Award of Excellence, as did Stephen C. Datz’s “Evening Murmurs.”
“Pillars of the Community II,” by Shanna Kunz, 2016, oil, 10 x 10 in. Best of Show
The Michael Harding Oil Colors Award of Excellence was won by Michele Byrne for “Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.” The Grand Teton Association Director’s Award went to Bill Davidson for “Standing Tall.” Greg McHuron won the Grand Teton National Park Superintendent’s Award posthumously for “Burnished Season.” Gary Huber and Jennifer L. Hoffman won Honorable Mention.
Datz, the president of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, had this to say about the event: “Plein Air for the Park began in 2012, and has grown steadily since then. The park had been looking for a way to add some sort of art exhibition to their program schedule as a way to enhance visitor experience, and for RMPAP, working with the park offered an opportunity for public outreach, which is one of the group’s aims, on a scale we have never had before.
“Evening Murmurs,” by Stephen C. Datz, 2016, oil, 8 x 12 in. Award of Excellence
“The show is a professional exhibition composed of members of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters and invited guest artists. Participating artists have 10 full days to paint for the show, and ample opportunity to interact with the public during what is Grand Teton National Park’s busiest season. Participants offer a number of public painting demonstrations each year, and are part of GTA’s Artists in the Environment program, a monthly summer program that puts artists in various locations around the park to demonstrate their techniques and talk about how and why the landscape of Grand Teton National Park inspires them.”
Michele Byrne, Carol Swinney, and Walter Porter
Hoffman always looks forward to this chance to pay it forward. “We as plein air artists get so much from being out in nature, absorbing inspiration and energy from the outdoors,” she says. “This event is special because we have the opportunity to not only enjoy the beauty of Grand Teton National Park and surrounds, but to give back, to help ensure that the educational programs and outreach of the Grand Teton Association reach as many people as possible. I feel honored to be able to use my passions to benefit such a worthy cause.”
“Along the Gros Ventre,” by Lanny Grant, 2016, oil, 11 x 14 in. Winner Greg McHuron Memorial Award
It’s a love fest all around. The benefiting organization enjoys Plein Air for the Park, too. “Plein Air for the Park is our favorite event, and we are fortunate to be working with such a talented, professional group as RMPAP,” says Jan Lynch, executive director of the Grand Teton Association. “The caliber of their work gets better each year, and gives park visitors a unique and beautiful perspective on Grand Teton NP.”