Big Horn, WY
Brinton Museum, June 15-September 7
This story was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Oil painter Gregory Packard lived near Big Horn, WY, for six years before settling in western Colorado. During that time he developed close ties with the Brinton Museum, which was established in 1960 and is dedicated to showcasing Native American art and culture, American fine and decorative art, and the work of talented local artists. On June 15 the museum opens its 25,000-square-foot Forrest E. Mars Jr. Building as its new main facility. Featured there in a solo show are close to four dozen paintings by Packard. “Greg is not only talented but a really good friend of the museum and like a little brother to me,” says director and chief curator Ken Schuster, who has been affiliated with the museum since 1990. “We’re delighted to present his work as the first show in our new building.”
Running from June 15 through September 7, with a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 12, Packard’s show includes landscapes of places that are close to the artist’s heart, including a number of works depicting the Big Horn area. “I still go back to Big Horn to visit, and I always carry my sketch pad and camera with me,” explains Packard, who now calls the Colorado town of Montrose home. “I feel intimately connected to Big Horn and the land around it.”
Scenes from western Colorado also are prominently featured in the show. In THE QUIET BEAUTY OF SURRENDER, aspen trees cling to their last golden leaves while autumn’s first snow forms a blanket on the ground beneath them. “I love trees,” says Packard. “After moving to Colorado, I discovered the big aspen groves in the area. Fall is the obviously beautiful time of the year for them, but there is something wonderful about the first snow and the heavy littering of leaves under the trees.” Apple orchards northeast of Montrose inspired ABUNDANCE, which depicts a tree laden with red fruit.
Two seascapes capture scenes around California, where Packard and his family spent a monthlong vacation driving up and down the Pacific coast between Big Sur and the Oregon border. A handful of floral paintings celebrate Packard’s love for flowers. “I’m not a big gardener, but I do grow sunflowers, peonies, daffodils, and roses,” he says. “Most of the flowers in my paintings are ones that have grown around my home.”
In preparation for this show, Packard spent time thinking about what he wanted to say through his paintings. For him, a flower is not simply a flower; a tree, not simply a tree. “All my works have deeper significance for me,” he explains. “I try to represent the physical character of the natural world and yet not neglect to bring out the real but often indefinable connections I have with her. Nature is really good at shedding light on what it means to be alive.” —Emily Van Cleve
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