Astoria Fine Art, September 11-20
This story was featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Astoria Fine Art celebrates the popular Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival with its eighth annual solo show for noted wildlife artist Greg Beecham. Known for his elegant and dramatic portrayals of the region’s iconic wildlife, Beecham essentially lives among his subjects, physically and creatively absorbed in his environment. The resulting artwork depicts animals in their purest state: regal, unfettered, and truly wild.
This month’s show features 10 recent oil paintings by Beecham in a variety of sizes, including five brand-new, large-scale canvases. The show opens on Friday, September 11, and runs concurrently with the Fall Arts Festival through September 20. The gallery hosts a reception on Friday, September 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. A sale-by-draw for Beecham’s paintings is scheduled for Saturday, September 19, at noon, at which time prospective buyers’ names are pulled at random and paintings awarded to those selected. Astoria Fine Art managing partner Greg Fulton anticipates a large turnout for the event. “Greg has won three of the last eight Major General and Mrs. Don D. Pittman Wildlife Awards at the Prix de West, more than any other wildlife artist today,” Fulton remarks. “He brings a lot of people into the gallery, and his shows are usually near sellouts.”
A meticulous painter, Beecham strives for “simplicity and beauty” within his work, always cognizant of striking a visually engaging balance among the elements via hard and soft edges, bright and muted colors, and varying degrees of light permeation. He is fascinated by the physical properties of paint and enjoys playing with various textures throughout his compositions. Such surface interplay explores the visceral nature of his medium, while also amplifying his naturalistic figures and giving each piece tangible depth. “I really like paint,” he says. “For me, texture is just as much an integral part of the painting process as light, color, and all the other elements.”
At home among the flora and fauna, Beecham has been painting wild animals for decades and routinely traverses the area around his rural Wyoming home in search of encounters with the bobcats, deer, wolves, foxes, elk, and mountain lions that appear in his work. “It’s important to be out in the wild as much as possible,” says the painter, who makes communicating each animal’s truest essence his first priority. “You have to know what ‘wild’ looks like in order to paint it effectively.”
Beecham scouts out his subjects in their natural environments as often as he can, observing their behavior and snapping photographs to capture nuance and suspend each moment in time and space. “There’s no substitute for wild animals,” he explains, and cites his many opportunities to observe the creatures in their natural environment as his best resource material.
Fulton looks forward to continuing the tradition of an annual show featuring Beecham at Astoria. “It’s the one show that happens here every year,” he says. “Whenever you get to host a show for your favorite painter, it’s always a treat.” —Elizabeth L. Delaney
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