Lee Riddell – Field Study of the Mead Ranch

  

Having been painting for fifteen years now, I looked back recently at what I have enjoyed most about painting over this time.

The idea for View 22: Field Study is a perfect fit.

Beyond making paintings, I love to return time and again to a place as it changes with the seasons. It is exciting to learn the habits of the birds and animals that live there. I feel the rhythm of the weather patterns, and am awed by the changing light when a storm is approaching.

My favorite body of work to date was a series of pencil sketches and 6 x 8” oils of a female Calliope Hummingbird building a nest outside my studio window and raising two chicks one summer. Watching her build the nest with lichen and spider webs, sit patiently until the eggs hatched and then feed her young was fascinating. I worried about her when she was off the nest and it started to hail, and was sad when the little ones fledged. I have been wanting to create a new body of work when the View22 opportunity presented itself.

It has been very special to be the artist painting the Mead Ranch this year. Brad and Kate are people who I value very much as friends. To spend time at their ranch and to learn even a little about a lifestyle so different from my own has been a treat.

By protecting their family ranch the Mead and the Hansen families have given the world a great gift. The conservation easement preserves cattle ranching, a way of life in the West that is disappearing. The ranch with its open space, access to water and food, and safe migration routes is perfect habitat for many wild creatures who live or move through there. From time to time one can see elk, deer, moose, bald and golden eagles, hawks, coyotes and other wildlife.

Many thanks to the Mead and Hansen families for this gift.

 

– Lee Riddell

Mead/Hansen Ranch Painting Session – July 31, 2014

What a gorgeous summer day we had for the Jackson Hole Land Trust Open Space Council celebration held at the Mead / Hansen Ranch in Spring Gulch. Brad and Kate Mead were very gracious hosts for the afternoon of appreciation, storytelling, and plein air painting… Thank you Brad and Kate for sharing your beautiful ranch with all of us!!!

 

The Meads included a special guest, Frank Galey Jr. whose uncle, Frank Galey, owned and ran the Whitegrass Ranch in Grand Teton National Park until the late 1980s. Frank was full of interesting stories, not only of the ranch, but of his work as Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Wyoming. One of his special interests is to ‘cross-train’ students in Engineering and Agriculture, so that oil and gas people understand the challenges of wildlife on public and private lands, and that ranchers understand the specific needs and effects of oil and gas on their lands. Working together is always more effective than being potential adversaries.

 

This afternoon got me thinking of philanthropy, and I am certain that each of us in our community has something to give. We think of philanthropy as giving money, but other things are just as valuable. Think about it… we are all important and can contribute in many ways:

 

Positive thinking is so important at the birth of an idea, when you believe that the idea is possible to achieve.

 

Time to help comes in handy for everything from setting up events, to making phone calls, to leading outings to teach something you care about.

 

Hands to work is critical for groups like Habitat for Humanity, spring and fall county clean-up days, or for taking down barbed wire fencing on wild lands.

 

Expertise to share can be in marketing, finance, law, project management – so many different things.

 

Capital to finance is crucial, and many people have stepped up to secure conservation easements on private property in our valley, protecting wildlife habitat and open space.

 

Art to inspire – and this is how I can contribute to life in our valley. It is such a treat to be one of the View22 artists this summer, to spend time on protected properties like the Mead / Hansen Ranch and to make a painting that captures the spirit of the moment. It was great fun to share the process of ‘looking for the painting’, making a quick line drawing, starting to lay out the idea on canvas, and then to make the painting come to life.

Remember, it is important for each of us to do what we can to build our community and keep it strong!

~ Lee Carlman Riddell

Mead/Hansen Ranch

HansenRanch_TedWood_slideshowThis painting session is scheduled for July 31th, 2014. Sign up to receive email updates from us to the right so you get our blog posts right in your inbox!

Hansen Ranch History

The Hansen Ranch is a beautiful agricultural meadow that lies between East and West Gros Ventre Buttes, with Spring Creek running through it and the Cathedral Group of the Tetons rising above. The easement-protected part of the ranch is the first 211 acres of the 1,500-acre ranch right off Highway 22, and was protected by the Hansen family and the Jackson Hole Land Trust in 2001 and 2006.  The conservation values of the property include the incredible scenic views of Spring Gulch and beyond, the ranching heritage of the land, and the important wildlife habitat and migration corridors it provides for elk, mule deer, moose, and a diversity of waterfowl, songbird, and raptor species.

 

We are happy to be able to share a few stories about the Hansen Ranch and Spring Gulch, courtesy of the TravelStorysGPS smartphone app, a free app that shares vivid and engaging stories about the landscape, geology, wildlife, and colorful history along Wyoming Highway 22 (another collaborative project of the Land Trust), and Lokey Lytjen, historian and former director of the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum.

 

Here’s the story from the Hansen Ranch GPS point on TravelStorysGPS:

 

As you leave the town of Jackson, notice the brief and dramatic view of the Teton Mountains on your right, framed between two steep hills. The small valley in the foreground is called Spring Gulch. Its ranches offer a glimpse back in time. Two long-time Jackson families, the Hansen and Mead family and the Lucas family, still ranch here. Wyoming Senator Clifford Hansen’s family moved to Spring Gulch in 1918 when he was six years old, after homesteading near what is now Teton Village. His grandson Matt Mead, who is now Governor of Wyoming grew up here, too.

 

Struthers Burt, a Princeton-educated Philadelphian and author, purchased land at the north end of Spring Gulch in 1924, the same year his famous book, The Diary of a Dude Wrangler, was published. Burt was a guest rancher or “dude” rancher, so called in the West. He co-owned the JY Ranch, Jackson Hole’s first dude ranch, and later started the famous Bar BC Dude Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. He used his Spring Gulch Ranch, the Lower Bar BC Ranch, for raising hay and running cattle.

 

Here are a few audio-stories that Lokey Lytjen contributed to the TravelStorysGPS app’s Share Your Story channel:

 

Peter and Silvia Hansen and the ranching life in Spring Gulch
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Cattle drives and cowboys in the early days of Jackson Hole
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What Highway 22 used to look like back in the day
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Spring Gulch Rancher Billy Redmond and his daughter
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I hope you take a moment to listen to these stories and imagine days gone by in Jackson Hole. Lokey is a wonderful storyteller! Many thanks to TravelStorysGPS and Lokey for sharing these stories with us.

-Leslie Steen

Hansen Ranch Painting Session – June 27th, 2013

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I’m greeted by a grinning and paint-covered Kathryn Turner on the small shoulder of Spring Gulch Road. Kathryn is absolutely ecstatic as she recounts to me her day exploring eight foot tall pieces of paper and a lot of oil paint – she is covered from head to toe. After a little bit of chatting, Kathryn invites me into her car so we can look for the place she will paint out on the Hansen Ranch. We park a little further down in the road and Kathryn starts to methodically pack all her gear into one giant backpack and then proceeds to climb over a fence that leads to the large open field. What an adventure! As we trek across the field, I subconsciously wonder if this is the same place I have driven past so many times. Where I walked with Kathryn seems far from today’s society in the best way – I find myself literally surrounded by nature and open space! I begin to realize the importance of conserving properties such as this.

 

We finally reach an irrigation ditch that I had never noticed before. Kathryn tells me that as we were walking she had been looking for her inspiration for her painting subject, and her muse for this outing was how the mountains were reflected in the water. After setting up her special “on-the-go” packable easel (created in Cody, Wyoming especially for adventurous painters), paints, and other official looking equipment, she starts to make a frame with her hands in order to focus in on what she will paint. I try it out as well, using the two Ls of my index fingers and thumbs. Soon, we are joined by Leslie Steen from the Land Trust. Leslie and I sit in folding chairs as Kathryn starts her work. The conversation moves from dogs to Leslie’s intriguing snorkeling experience in irrigation ditches in Montana to anything else you can think of – with every new topic, all I can think of is how remarkable these ladies are and how lucky I am to be here.

 

Before long the light changes as the sun sets over West Gros Ventre Butte, and Kathryn has to make adjustments in order to get in the last details of the painting. Fortunately, she?s anticipated this transition and explains how the most important thing to capture is the reflection of the water; the rest would be “easy” to fill in later. It’s hard to believe how “easy” it is for Kathryn to replicate the scene in front of us onto the canvas until we see her in action. As she switches from the rolling hills of the butte, she focuses in on the Tetons.

 

Me: What is it like to be an artist here, painting the Tetons?

 

Kathryn: As a landscape artist, you end up having to figure out how to address the Tetons. They’re just a part of so many different landscapes. They’re kind of the elephant in the valley… What’s interesting is that people didn’t always love and celebrate the Tetons the way we do today. Growing up on the Triangle X, my grandmother used to tell me that before there was access in and out of the valley year-round, people used to feel resentment towards the range – that they blocked us from the rest of the world, especially after a long winter.

 

Kathryn asks us what colors the mountains are, and as Leslie and I let our eyes train on the Tetons at this time of day, we sense that they are a soft purplish-lavender, highlighted by coral. We pack up right as “mosquito-thirty” (as Leslie calls it) hit and head back to the car. As I climb back into my own car I come to the conclusion that the sunburn and mosquito bites gained from the experience are more than worth it. I’m already looking forward to next week.

 

-Mimi King

Hansen Ranch Photo by Ted Wood

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This painting session is scheduled for June 24th, 2013! Sign up to receive email updates from us to the right so you get our blog posts right in your inbox!