Kathy Wipfler – Hatchet Meadows

Kathy Wipfler_Hatchet Meadows Views

I moved to Jackson Hole in 1980 to pursue a career in fine art. In my first years here, I did lots of part time work for some of the descendants of the homesteaders of the valley. I was graced by their myriad stories of the struggles to survive in very hard times & a harsh climate. One of those families worked the lands of the Hatchet Ranch, using horse power & human grit to succeed in making the land productive enough to raise their families & keep the Hatchet & surrounding land open.

When I am on location painting these places, the stories I have heard help to inform me of the recent human connection to this amazing place.

– Kathy Wipfler

Todd Kosharek, Hatchet Ranch

I worked at the Hatchet Resort in 2000 and 2001, my first foray into living in this valley. I see Mount Moran in my mind when I picture the Tetons. The Grand has always been that other mountain off in the distance.

During my second summer in the valley I got a side job cleaning the guest cabins at Hatchet Ranch. This was a dream job because it meant I got to see the inside of the incredibly beautiful cabins at the top of the hill at Hatchet Ranch. I drove and ran past these cabins daily, the large barn looming at the top of the hill like a beacon to the past. It felt like history was preserved behind that gate and I was thrilled to have the privilege to spend time there.

I was cleaning the cabins the night President Bush spoke after 911. There had been rumors amongst my friends that they would restart the draft, that war was inevitable and we would all be at risk being in our early twenties. There was no validity behind this rumor but that did not matter. It made me nervous regardless. I remember washing the kitchen floor listening to the radio that night, listening to our president and the descriptions of the horror that our nation had just faced. I wrote in my journal about what Wyoming was to me and how looking around the Hatchet Ranch made me wonder how evil could exist anywhere with such profound beauty in the world.

When the opportunity came about for me to paint for View 22 for Jackson Hole Land Trust, I became very excited that maybe the Hatchet Ranch would once again be a place I could visit. It had been fourteen years since I had been on the property.

I got word that it was a go at the end of May and made plans to go as soon as I could. I spent a total of 12 hours on the property over two days. The first day was overcast, which was great for me painting outdoors; the light stayed the same all eight hours I was out painting. I set up right in front of the main house to paint the view that to me is the quintessential view from the Ranch; rolling sage, then ranch land and then, in the distance, the towering Mount Moran. I spent the day layering and layering, as I tend to do painting in acrylic, taking breaks here and there to walk around and soak in the property. As one does returning to something you have not been to in a great length of time, I reflected on all that has changed for me since cleaning those cabins in 2001. My two summers of working in the Tetons turned into never really leaving. I was married here, my son was born here and I will celebrate my ten-year wedding anniversary here this summer. My art career has ebbed and flowed here, my friends are here, my family knows where to visit when they desire to. And they do often. Who can blame them.

Painting at Hatchet Ranch was a gift. I felt I was painting more a portrait of who I was the last time I saw that view than I was painting a landscape. I felt I was painting that overly ambitious, ignorant innocence we all have in our early twenties. Older and more bruised now, the landscape has not changed even though in so many ways I felt I had. That is what nature is best at – reminding us how quickly we come, live and go – while it continues on and on and on.

– Todd Kosharek