Jen­nifer Johnson

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS -

Wide-open spa­ces

Be­tween the 1930s through the 1940s, the United States gov­ern­ment en­listed the help of un­em­ployed artists af­flicted by the Great De­pres­sion to cre­ate iconic posters em­body­ing the coun­try’s na­tional parks through the Works Progress Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Fed­eral Art Project, the largest art project from Franklin D. Roo­sevelt’s New Deal. Af­ter re­dis­cov­er­ing sev­eral screen ver­sions of these posters while clean­ing out her stu­dio two years ago, Jen­nifer Johnson de­cided to pay homage to these artists

and the mem­o­ries that shaped her child­hood with her se­ries Beauty of Our Na­tional Parks, on view at Gallery Wild in Jack­son, Wy­oming, from July 1 through 14 with an artist demo on July 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I grew up vis­it­ing the parks and there’s an end­less amount to format,” she says. Un­re­stricted by the limited color pal­ette the artists who cre­ated the orig­i­nal posters had to work with, Johnson in­cor­po­rates sim­i­lar ty­pog­ra­phy with her own ex­pan­sive color pal­ette into the works. In fact, the se­ries was born out of ul­tra-col­or­ful Grand Pris­matic Spring in Yellowston­e Na­tional Park, de­picted in the artist’s Grand Pris­matic Bison along­side Wy­oming’s state an­i­mal. “It’s na­ture’s rain­bow,” she says. “I was so in­spired af­ter paint­ing it and had so much fun that I was like, ‘Al­right, this is what I have to do.’”

An­other work in Na­tional Parks ti­tled Bryce Canyon Big Horn evokes the same sense of whimsy for Johnson as Grand Pris­matic Spring.

“It’s al­most like this fairy tale land,” she

says of the canyon. “It’s such a spe­cial and unique place, and the col­ors are so out of this world. Try­ing to get the dis­tance cor­rect and the col­ors right in this ex­tremely beau­ti­ful land­scape was a chal­lenge but I re­ally en­joyed work­ing on that piece.”

While cre­at­ing these paint­ings has been nos­tal­gic for Johnson, she’s not the only one.

“It’s kind of spark­ing [my col­lec­tors’] mem­o­ries of the parks, which I love,” she says. “I re­ally en­joy hear­ing their own sto­ries from vis­it­ing these lo­ca­tions. It’s like hav­ing a piece of some­one else’s ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Al­though so far she has painted roughly a dozen na­tional parks as part of the se­ries, this is just scratch­ing the sur­face. Johnson hopes to even­tu­ally paint every na­tional park in the coun­try, vis­it­ing as many as pos­si­ble along the way.

“It’s been so much fun to work on, and I’m proud to be able to pre­serve the mem­o­ries of these places,” she com­ments. “I hope my col­lec­tors no­tice this is some­thing dif­fer­ent, and that I’m able to bring the ex­cite­ment of the na­tional parks back.” For a direct link to the ex­hibit­ing gallery go to www.west­ernart­col­lec­

Grand Pris­matic Bison, oil, 36 x 24”

Zion - The Nar­rows, oil, 24 x 16”

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