A sense of the West
This story was featured in the February 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
In 1995, Travis Walker was studying environmental science at Virginia Tech University when he signed up for a life-drawing class. The instructor took the class to her home and studio in the mountains for an outdoor drawing session. When Walker saw the environment she shared with her husband, who was also an artist, he recalls that something just “clicked” for him. “They had so many amazing works of art from all of their friends and students,” he says. “It seemed like such an interesting life.”
Walker eventually transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University and received a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1999. Today he calls Jackson, WY, home, and the scenic town nestled in the shadow of the Grand Tetons inspires him on a daily basis. He has a passion for painting on location and a mission to capture a sense of place that is unique to Jackson. Walker considers his work a blend of post-Impressionism and regionalism, combining the colors and shapes of the post-Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh and the evocation of a specific place in the tradition of Midwestern regionalists like Grant Wood.
Last fall Walker had his first solo presentation at Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, and the show sold out. Gallery director Mark Tarrant notes that Walker brings a fresh, contemporary palette to scenes around Jackson. His subject matter includes a dilapidated house with a fence made of skis, a vintage trailer park, sweeping views of an elk refuge at dawn, and a bus lumbering toward the mountains. “I love vintage campers, especially the ones that are weathered and stranded in the fields of the West,” he says. “But I think ultimately I’m drawn to quiet landscapes, mountains, streams, warm light—the usual suspects.”
He is fond of describing Jackson as his greatest teacher because he has learned much about light and color since moving to the mountain resort. “I hope viewers feel a strong sense of place, even nostalgia, in my work,” Walker says. “I have people who move away say my work evokes Jackson Hole more than any photograph they have, and that makes me happy.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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