Dwayne Harty

On a lovely July day, a rare weather window among a string of rainy ones, I headed up the Gros Ventre to the Red Rock Ranch with landscape painter and conservationist Dwayne Harty.

With 35 artists and locations to wrangle for this year’s View22 project, I’ve had a lot less “windshield time” with individual artists – and as a general rule, I try to find reasons to visit the Red Rock Ranch whenever I can – so I made sure to let Dwayne know I was available to help him get the lay of the land at the Ranch.

On the way, I heard more about Dwayne’s Yellowstone to Yukon: the Journey of Wildlife and Art project, which in a roundabout way is responsible for Dwayne joining the View22 project. An acclaimed wildlife and diorama painter (think backdrops to gazelles and bison at natural history museums), he traveled deep into the Rocky Mountain wilderness on two-track and horseback for three years to capture the beauty of these landscapes and their importance for large wildlife (sound familiar?). The resulting exhibit was shown in Jackson at the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff.

Dwayne moved to the Jackson area around the time of the Y2Y exhibit, putting down roots with friends and collectors he’s made along the way, gallery representation at Mountain Trails, joining the Art Association board, and now, View22 – which appealed to him as a locally-based art and conservation project.

Bumping up the road to the Red Rock Ranch, I had a chance to share a little bit more about the View22 Project and the Jackson Hole Land Trust, and of course, my “how I ended up in Jackson” story. The hour went by quickly and soon we were in the beautiful open valley of the Red Rock Ranch – red cliffs, lavender hills, forested mountains, and green meadows all around.

We found Carolyn MacKenzie Stimmel, part of the MacKenzie family that has owned the and operated the ranch since the 70s, out at the horse barn getting ready for a Monday morning ride with guests that had just arrived for a week of riding, hiking, fishing, relaxing, and dining – the best of the Western life. After visiting with Carolyn and introducing her to Dwayne (and an invitation to lunch at the dining hall!), Dwayne and I drove around the expanse of the 640-acre ranch, three-quarters of which the MacKenzies have conserved with JHLT, looking at some of the top spots that I had scouted last year with Kay Northup, Lee Riddell, and Travis Walker. He settled on a view alongside the aptly named “Crystal Creek”, looking to the south across the crystal-clear creek to the where the mountains get tight again. I posted up, enjoying watching Dwayne work, observing his unique style, and drinking in a moment of pause in a busy summer.

Dwayne’s meticulous attention to detail in his plein air paintings meant that he returned to this same location for another full day to finish his View22 piece, and got to spend some more time with the MacKenzie family and their guests. He was thrilled to hear that Carolyn had purchased it, and went up to personally deliver it after the picnic. I’m glad to know that he is embracing my “visit the Red Rock Ranch whenever I can” rule.

– Leslie Steen

Red Rock Ranch Painting Session – July 22, 2014


Up the Gros Ventre


July 22, a perfect summer afternoon for an excursion to the Red Rock Ranch, a very special and uniquely beautiful guest ranch property that is accessed via a (challenging) U.S. Forest Service Road. Today, I will have the fun of being in the company of Leslie Steen of JH Land Trust and View22 artists Lee Riddell and Travis Walker. The Gros Ventre River and its drainage is full of Wyoming history that adds so much to the natural beauty of the area.


My first trip to the Gros Ventre was on Thanksgiving Day, 1967 – but that’s another story. It has been years since I have been as far up the valley as Crystal Creek and the fabulous Red Rock Ranch through which it flows. To get there, the trip unfolds in unexpected gorgeous geology – lakes dammed by the largest rockslide ever, steep hillsides covered with varieties of vegetation, and most striking of all, the sudden vista of bright RED hills. And I mean that they are really, really red! Not much at all has changed since 1967 – including the state of the road.


The Ranch is a now a preserved wide vista between mountains of striking color, reds, ochres, greens, dark blues of deep pine forests, and distant ridges in warm and purple greys. The valley itself is carpeted with hayflelds in shades of brilliant greens – and is bisected by Crystal Creek, a treasured native cutthroat trout fishery.


What to paint? What to paint? There are endless choices – and time is limited! There are wonderful log ranch buildings and barns, the creek that has been enhanced for trout habitat and health, the vistas everywhere are calling my art senses. I opt for the big vista of the valley, fields and distant ranch buildings – and set up my easel adjacent to David MacKenzie’s front deck that encompasses the view.


What joy! Ignoring biting bugs, strengthening breeze and changing shadows on the hills I spend a glorious two hours “lifting some color from the landscape” and laying it down on a canvas board.


The MacKenzie family has owned and operated Red Rock Ranch since the mid 1970s – and began preserving this glorious place with the Jackson Hole Land Trust in 2001 – most recently protecting 153 new acres in 2012. Now, nearly three quarters of the 640-acre ranch has been forever protected by conservation easements donated by the MacKenzie family. As our hosts, they invite us to Happy Hour with some of their guests, and invite us to return to paint whenever we can!


It was a perfect afternoon, a glorious place and for me personally, a chance to revisit many memories of earlier times in Jackson Hole.


Kay Northup

Red Rock Ranch

Photo: David Stubbs

Photo: David Stubbs

This painting session is scheduled for July 24th, 2014. Sign up to receive email updates from us to the right so you get our blog posts right in your inbox!