During that nocturnal lull at Local, Amy Ringholz painted a carousing pair of creatures: a hare and a fox, eyeing each other across the bar like the two twentysomethings. Far from cute, the animals are sophisticated, classy in their courtship. While working, she imagined the room filled with barflies, milling and talking, with the two faces floating above the flirtations.
The quick creation was made possible by spray paint – a graffiti-tied medium and street-art style new to Ringholz’s repertoire. Back in May, for an exhibit in Sante Fe, Ringholz proposed sketching on the gallery walls. When she arrived, the gallery presented her with spray cans in place of charcoals. She spent the night YouTubing spray painting.
A creature of color, Ringholz had explored nearly every hue possible in oil paints. Spray paint offers an entirely fresh palette; the Montana Gold brand boasts 120 bold and bright colors.
“It’s so exciting to make art with new colors,” Ringholz said. “It’s like getting a new wardrobe.”
And it’s a new approach to movement and art making. “I like the freedom of spray paint,” Ringholz said. The freedom to make “super tight to super wide” lines. The freedom “to make decisions on the fly.” “Stopping is the hardest part,” she said.
Breaking from her usual use of black to sketch the animals, Ringholz let the colored lines define her subjects. At Local, she only used black to add intensity to their eyes.
The urban feel of spray paint suits Local’s sleek interior design, Ringholz said. The vivid colors – from neon pink to loden green – enliven the otherwise neutral palette.
Ringholz painted the hare and the fox in late July, on the eve of her exhibit opening at Altamira Fine Art, just in time to host an after-party at Local. The pair joins the four paintings Ringholz created last spring for the locally owned restaurant – a menagerie that offers great exposure for the artist.
The Local installation follows in the footsteps of Ringholz’s first foray into a food setting. Last spring, she realized Cowboy Coffee needed a creative intervention: the café’s white walls diluted the barnwood beauty of the ceiling and the floors. She approached the owners with the pitch: “You have to let me come in here and transform this place.”
Working again at night, she painted a midnight background and then dipped her brush into clear glaze to add a subtle string of animals on the move – wolves blending into elk into fish.
In art and life, Ringholz pushes herself and her audience. Exactly a year ago, she was the toast of the town as the Fall Arts Festival 2012 Featured Artist, a hometown honor made all the more glorious considering she was the youngest artist ever chosen, and the first woman feted in 13 years. Channeling the wakeful wisdom of her Fall Arts Festival painting “Dreamers Don’t Sleep,” Ringholz did not rest until she had fulfilled her dream of raising the Teton bar for art. “I peaked in Jackson Hole last year,” she said.
A year ago Saturday, Ringholz hosted “Something Wild This Way Comes,” a theatrical circus of a bash staged as a thank-you to the community that had supported her art all along. “Something Wild” delighted hundreds of people, as did her Fall Arts Festival exhibition-cum-experience at Altamira. The show featured 34 paintings with one creature per canvas, all hung from the ceiling, all racing toward viewers and trailing words of wisdom. The installation made Ringholz realize she must always involve her audience in her work.
Now, with a year’s worth of reflection, Ringholz dreams of new “big plans” based in Jackson but oriented elsewhere. “I want to move my art to the coasts,” she said. “It’s time to take the love of Jackson Hole out to Miami, L.A. and San Francisco.”
“How do I show the love of the West, but make someone in Miami care about that?”
The hare and the wolf face this new frontier, a world melding fine art, interior design and fashion. “Jackson Hole will always be the base for my life, but I will take my work around the country and hopefully the world,” Ringholz said.
Hear more from Ringholz on Saturday at Altamira Fine Art, where she will speak – surrounded by her new work – after the QuickDraw.