Hello, Bison

In Greeting the Dawn, massive creature returns to Fall Arts poster.

By Jennifer Dorsey

Sometimes things just come together perfectly.

Members of the Fall Arts Festival Committee selecting the image for the 2016 poster image were interested in a traditional style of painting in general and a bison in particular.

After all, bison generally come to mind when you think “Jackson Hole wildlife,” but it’s been nearly twenty years since one was centerpiece of a Fall Arts Festival poster. You have to go back to 1998 and the blazing, contemporary image of Malcolm Furlow’s Galloping Bison.

“We haven’t had a bison in a really long time,” said Maureen Murphy, director of special events for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.
“And we’ve never had a traditional piece with a bison.”

The assignment suited 2016 festival featured artist Edward “Ned” Aldrich to a T.

Bison are a “fascinating creature” to paint, he said, for the texture and color subtleties of their coats and for the animals’ physical presence.

“When you stand right by them it humbles you because of their power and their massiveness,” he said.

Aldrich tried to capture all that in Greeting the Dawn, the painting selected as the 2016 Fall Arts Festival image.

The focus of the painting is a bull—a “patriarch,” Aldrich said—standing in the foreground, staring at the viewer with a watchful expression while members of his herd graze peacefully in the background.

“He’s got the potential of being threatening, but he’s not quite there yet,” Aldrich said.

In contrast to Furlow’s 1998 poster art, in which a lone bison rendered in electric colors leaped off a red background, Aldrich’s piece is all warm glow, from the browns and rust of the bisons’ coats to the autumn-yellow cottonwoods and the sunlit expanse of Mount Moran in the background.

Aldrich said he worked off a photo he took of the Tetons one morning last September. He loved the tonality of the early light, he said, and decided that Moran’s flattish top would frame the animals better than the Grand Teton.

“I thought that pointed peak would be a bit much next to this bison,” he said.

As for the style of the painting he uses the term “representational,” meaning “it looks like something but it’s not photorealistic.” He blurs edges and uses different brushes to create effects. Sometimes he wields a palette knife, as he did for the grass in the foreground of Greeting the Dawn. It makes the difference between a painting and a photograph.

“I really enjoy that sense that there’s the hand of the artist in there,” he said.

“When you stand right by them it humbles you because of their power and their massiveness.”
– Edward aldrich

Aldrich lives and works in Golden, Colorado, but is no stranger to the Jackson Hole art world. He is a longtime participant in the Western Visions show at the National Museum of Wildlife Art and is represented locally by Mountain Trails Gallery, where he has plenty of fans.

“He has this extraordinary ability to take a two-dimensional canvas and transform it into a world the viewer can engage and be a part of,” said Taryn Boals, the gallery’s creative director.

Aldrich is “one of the painters who year after year produces the highest quality work,” gallery manager David Navratil said. “Time after time we hear comments about how alive and intimate his paintings are.”

You can see for yourself at the gallery, in the Western Visions show and at the Wort Hotel, where Greeting the Dawn will hang until it is auctioned during Fall Arts Festival.

Aldrich considers it a privilege to see his bison grace the festival poster and wine bottle labels.

“I’m honored that I was chosen to be a part of this,” he said.

Plan Your Fall Arts Festival

Jewelry and Artisan Luncheon, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at The Inn at Jackson Hole Conference Center. See and purchase a broad mix of items. A percentage of sales benefits the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Tickets $135. wildlifeart.org.

Western Design Conference Opening Preview Party and Fashion Show, 6-10 p.m. at Snow King Sports and Events Center. Get first looks at one-of-a-kind functional art, including furniture, jewelry, home accessories, and fashion. Tickets $50-$125. westerndesignconference.com.

Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today and September 10-11 at Snow King Sports and Events Center. More than 130 artists present contemporary and traditional furniture, fashion, jewelry, and home décor. Tickets $15 at the door. westerndesignconference.com.

Palates and Palettes Gallery Walk, 5-8 p.m. at various locations. More than thirty art galleries pair with restaurants for receptions. Free.

Historic Ranch Tours, 2 p.m. at a selection of private properties. Visit working ranches, complete with cowboys, entertainment, and barbecue. Tickets $60. (307) 733-3316.

17th annual Takin’ It to the Streets art fair, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Town Square. Art Association of Jackson Hole’s open-air juried fair features forty local artists. Free admission.

Taste of the Tetons, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Town Square. Chefs offer bite-sized morsels alongside the Rotary Supper Club’s wine tasting and silent auction. Howdy Pardners organize live music for Picking in the Park. Taste tickets cost $1 each.

Poster signing with Edward Aldrich, 3-5 p.m. at Mountain Trails Gallery.

Art walk, 5-8 p.m. at participating galleries, mostly downtown. Free.

Western Visions Artist Party, 6-9 p.m. at National Museum of Wildlife Art. See more than 200 paintings, sculptures, and sketches in the musuem’s 28th annual show and sale, place bids and mingle with artists. $100. westernvisions.org.

Jackson Hole Showcase of Homes is today and September 17. Two-day self-guided tour of some of the valley’s most spectacular homes. Meet professionals in architecture, construction, interior design, and more. Limited tickets available. jacksonholeshowcase.com.

Jackson Hole Art Auction, noon today and September 17 at the Center for the Arts. Artworks by deceased masters and working artists are sold in two live bidding sessions. A juried Top Tier competition awards a $10,000 prize to one of these artists with the best artwork: William Acheff, Ken Carlson, Michael Coleman, Jenness Cortez, Logan Hagege, Z.S. Liang, Bonnie Marris, Mian Situ, and Tucker Smith. Find bidding information online. jacksonholeartauction.com.

Western Visions 29th Show and Sale, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at National Museum of Wildlife Art. Final opportunity to place bids before drawings for artwork purchase. Works will remain on view through October 9. Tickets $150. westernvisions.org.

21st annual QuickDraw Art Sale and Auction, 9 a.m. on Town Square. Artists paint and sculpt as spectators look on. Each fresh artwork is auctioned following the 90-minute session. Greeting the Dawn, Edward Aldrich’s featured painting, also will be auctioned. Free admission.

Art Brunch Gallery Walk, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Join galleries for brunch, Bloody Marys, and artist mingling to close out the festival. Free admission.