Heaven Must Be Like That

Local painter Amy Ringholz shares what is uniquely inspirational about Jackson Hole

I came from the land of Ohio. One day, I got in my car, and tried to race the sun. The sun set in Jackson Hole and it was so lovely I decided to stay…

From wolves and bears, to owls and rabbits, artist Amy Ringholz fills her canvas with native subjects that simultaneously capture the wisdom and whimsy of the wild. Outpost caught up with her to explore her bond with Jackson Hole, and how this unique place influences her amazing artwork.

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What brought you here?

In 2001, I found a job online to work on a ranch right outside of Yellowstone Park, and my heart skipped a beat. When I came here, I fell in love. Jackson just happened to be the third largest Western Art market in the country. It was a match made in heaven. I’ve spent the past 15 years building my incredibly blessed career and life here.

How does Jackson Hole influence your artwork?

We probably were all brought to tears the moment we first laid eyes on the Tetons. I’m no different. I remember pulling over and getting out of my Civic at the top of Togwotee Pass so that I could take in the splendor of the valley stretched out below me. Over time, the relationships I have built with the mountains, the animals and the people of this community have grounded me to a place that I love, adore, respect and hope to always call home. The views outside my windows influence my heart and my work every morning.

Where is your favorite place to go to really connect to the land and the wild?

I like to get into Grand Teton National Park, because once you are alone under that blue sky and towering peaks, you forget about the fast-paced, goal-driven world, and sit in disbelief that you are lucky enough to call this your back yard. I love the secret lakes in the Park: ones you can only reach by walking yourself out there. Their stillness and perfection. God’s country. Wonder and beauty and gratitude surround us daily, and we are lucky to be able to live here, whether it is for a season, or a lifetime.

What is a moment that really represents your relationship with Jackson Hole?

I’m from Ohio; we grew up on golf courses and tennis courts and baseball diamonds. My love for baseball is still alive and well, especially when I get to play all summer with my friends under the mountains as the sun sets on hot pink clouds. I just drink up the pure joy of playing the game I love under the long summer sunsets. Eagles and osprey fly over the game, cotton falls onto the field like snow, and for just a few short weeks, we still have t-shirts on as night settles in.

Local animals are very important to your work. Why? 

I treat animals in my work like human portraiture. They are light and colorful characters when you first look at the paintings. But the eyes tell a different story. One of sadness or seriousness, bravery, strength, flirtation, or love. The animals are great subjects because they are loved and cherished by people far and wide. The encounter with the wild is so special and rare, that people remember those stories and tell them over and over throughout their lives. The animals are a common language for all of us. We are here to help take care of them. 

What is your dream project?

I would like to one day bring wildlife art to the MOMA. That is my dream: to become an American artist, showing our amazing country through animals, but so that all can see it and fall in love with it. The work I do is a life long pursuit. It has no end, and takes resilience and fortitude to run after unreachable potential, which can never be caught.

When you’re not creating amazing art, what are your favorite things to do here?

I have a little different story than most because I came here to fulfill a dream with my work. I came here for my job, and not for my sport. I think the byproduct of that pursuit though, is that I live among the dreamers and the risk takers. I live with the explorers, the fearless, the strong ones, and the badasses. I love to play my own sports here. Most of the winter, I practice tennis at the Pines and love the people there. The summers I spend running my softball teams and hitting the golf courses. I love the national parks with their paths through such beauty and the streams and lakes that provide so much fun with a fly rod or a paddle board. But at night, at home, on my little piece of Jackson Hole land, I love the stars. I love that the milky way is the nightlight to my dreams.

What would you be most excited to share with someone who has never been here?

I’d like to show them the real lifestyle: at the house we shoot the B.B. gun and knock cans off the fence. My record player in the living room plays Miles Davis daily. We sit and we talk about the beauty and the peace. But the absolute highlight of the Jackson Hole lifestyle comes in September, when the sky turns a shade of blue that is deep and endless like the desert sky, and beneath it, giant gorgeous elk bugle their sweet haunting anthem while tromping over crisp yellow aspen leaves. You are all nestled in your sweater, warm drink in hand, sitting on the tailgate of your truck, bathing in the wonder of Wyoming’s finest hours. Heaven must be like that.

 

To meet Amy and see her incredible work drop by the Ringholz Gallery at 140 E Broadway Suite 6

http://www.amyringholz.com/

 

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Images © Taylor Glenn