Though the trees outside the west-facing windows are naked, and the fields between town and the Big Hole Mountains are blanketed in snow, Katy Ann Fox’s art studio is like stepping into the soft light of a summer morning. The space is as welcoming and distinctive as her perspective on the West. On the top floor of a home built in 1930, the high ceiling and pale walls seem to draw the natural light in through a series of window panes that are both haphazard and deeply charming.
All around the room are Fox’s paintings – some hung in neat rows on the walls, some patiently leaning against makeshift stands, waiting their turn for frames and transport to her upcoming show. Some canvases still unfinished. Emblematic, really, as the show she’s anticipating is titled Some Assembly Required.
“In one way, it’s a shoutout of gratitude to so much around me,” Fox explains – the support of her community, her recent acquisition of this unique home, the beauty that’s all around.
It’s that simple, harmonious beauty that regularly catches Fox’s eye and ends up on her canvas. Her images frequently showcase older buildings that are easy to overlook, and the compelling balance of horizon lines and natural open expanses. She feels that her work captures the pace of life in the West, a slow-flowing sense of harmony and peace. “The Western experience is pretty solitary in many ways, but when people come together, it is really powerful. My painting is a way to invest in and understand the beauty that surrounds us.”
Fox’s images frequently showcase older structures, and the natural world that frames them. She relishes moments of subtle irony, like that captured in the painting leaning near the doorway. She smiles as she gestures towards the canvas. “It’s a windowless building. But what’s in front of it? A giant stack of windows.” She loves to employ shades of pink, and uses shadows and strong lines to reveal the elegant geometry of the everyday.
“A lot of these are things that you drive by all the time, but I want you to stop and notice,” Fox explains. She’s drawn to the way in which Western architecture is rooted in functionality and simplicity, and she wants to inspire others to pause and enjoy. “It’s about giving people permission to move slower and appreciate. And to feel good about themselves in that moment, too.” There’s unrivaled authenticity and peace in just stopping. Seeing.
Fox’s show is a celebration of these places and people who have helped her on her journey. From a childhood in Grangeville, Idaho – where the Snake and Columbia Rivers combine – to the San Francisco Academy of Art, to the Tetons, Fox sees this show as an assembly of the steps on her journey.
Opening this Friday, March 13th, Some Assembly Required will be available for viewing at the Turner Fine Art Gallery. That evening, the opening will feature a custom-designed cocktail from Jackson Hole Stillworks, gourmet pizzas, and will be an opportunity to meet Fox and explore her work.
Photos by Lindley Rust