Jackson, WY, August 9-19
This story was featured in the August 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art magazine August 2012 print edition here, or purchase the Southwest Art magazine August 2012 digital download here. Or simply click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
The mountain man era in American history has always fascinated Brad Richardson, owner of Legacy Gallery. This month Richardson and the gallery pay homage to this period, as well as to the intrepid 19th-century explorers and trappers who discovered Wyoming’s South Pass 200 years ago. Mountain Men and Their Legacy, which opens with a reception on August 9 from 6 to 8 p.m., features 25 new paintings by 14 gallery and guest artists portraying this legendary time. “The significance of South Pass was that it provided a way for wagons to go all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast,” Richardson says. “That was a significant event in our history because it enabled settlers to travel to Oregon, Washington, and upper California. They could now come through the South Pass.”
The mountain man era was short-lived, lasting only about 40 years. But as Richardson points out, it was characterized by many discoveries, and today towns sprinkled across the West, such as Jackson Hole, WY, are named after these early adventurers. “I think it is a subject matter that gives artists an opportunity to create stories and narratives about the time,” Richardson says.
David Wright, a well-respected Tennessee painter known for historical paintings that depict explorers, hunters, trappers, settlers, and soldiers, has three works in the show, including TRAPPING GOD’S COUNTRY, which portrays trappers braving cold, snowy conditions to reach their destinations. “The history of the area, the grandeur of the landscape, and the challenges that these people faced are all things I try to paint,” Wright says. “I like to capture the heroism of these people. The trappers reached out beyond what was safe and beyond their safety networks to live life to the fullest.”
Montana painter Charles Fritz, like Wright and the other artists featured in the show, makes a point of researching the subject matter he paints. A deep knowledge of history informs Fritz’s works, such as his painting titled THE FIRST WAGONS TO CROSS SOUTH PASS—CAPTAIN BONNEVILLE’S EXPEDITION—JULY 1832. Benjamin Bonneville [1796-1878] was an officer in the United States Army, a fur trapper, and an explorer noted for blazing portions of the Oregon Trail. “In this painting Bonneville is coming from Missouri and bringing trade goods and supplies to an 1832 rendezvous on the Green River in Wyoming,” Fritz says. “This was the first time wagons crossed over South Pass, and this expedition proved it could be done. By the 1840s, immigrants from the East were starting to go on the Oregon Trail over South Pass and moving West.”
In addition to works by Wright and Fritz, the show also presents paintings by other top western artists, including Roy Andersen, Michael Coleman, Ron Riddick, David Mann, Kyle Polzin, William Ahrendt, Michael C. Poulsen, Michael Dudash, Karin Hollebeke, John Fawcett, Joseph Trakimas, and Gary Lynn Roberts. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the August 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine August 2012 digital download
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