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The Artist - Kathryn Mapes Turner

Plein Air painter Kathryn Turner pulls out her iPhone to share the subtle beauty of winter in the Tetons. She looks for images like fence posts sticking out of the snow, a storm hazing over the jagged Tetons, or snow eroding along the Snake River to capture a new perspective.
Kathryn Mapes Turner Artist

Kathryn Turner is a fourth generation Jackson Hole native who grew up on her family’s ranch in the heart of Grand Teton National Park and has never lost the gaze of a first timer here. She is inspired by the natural beauty of the Tetons and the wildlife they protect. Watercolors, oil, and canvas are the tools she uses to weave the history of the wilderness she grew up with into her plein air paintings. She owns Trio Fine Art Gallery with fellow artists Bill Sawczuk and Jennifer Hoffman.

Plein Air painter Kathryn Turner pulls out her iPhone to share the subtle beauty of winter in the Tetons. She looks for images like fence posts sticking out of the snow, a storm hazing over the jagged Tetons, or snow eroding along the Snake River to capture a new perspective. During the short days of winter with high contrast between the snow and the shadows, she mostly paints indoors from photographs. But she loves to get out to the playground in which she grew up. “I really love the landscape in winter because it is so simplified,” she says. “It is so peaceful and quiet.”

Her ideal day in winter would be to:

  • Go to a yoga class at Inversion Yoga or Physique 22.
  • Get a massage at the Body Sage Spa.
  • Cross-country ski in Grand Teton National Park.

What to Eat?

She would order a Bombay Bowl with cod, nutty brown rice, veggies, and mango at Lotus Cafe, grab a gluten free cashew cookie for the road, and head toward her old stomping grounds, the national park that surrounds the Triangle X Ranch. The dude ranch is the only operating guest ranch in the national park system and is open from December 26-March in the winter.

Where to Stay?

Triangle X is really her home, so Kathryn would stay at the Amangani, which means “the peaceful home,” on Spring Gulch Rd. Head toward Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis off Route 89 from the airport and you will travel by another landscape that Kathryn loves to paint. While the rooms are pricey ($900 + a night), the unexpected view offers “a unique sense of space,” and “the service is incredible,” she says. A soak in the outdoor hot tub next to the heated infinity pool and a gourmet dinner in their dining room would top off her perfect day.

Oxbow Bend Grand Teton National Park

Best Place to take a photograph

Oxbow Bend - “I feel like the Oxbow Bend has raised me,” she says. “Every time you get there something magical happens. You see a bear, moose, swans. Even if it’s just the view. It’s like clockwork. I never get tired of it.” Before they plowed the road, her grandparents used to take horse and sleigh rides to Oxbow Bend and spend the night in the old town of Moran. As a child, her parents took her cross- country skiing on the unique stretch of the Snake River where the water freezes. An oxbow is a  U-shaped body of still water that forms when a wide meander from the main stem of a river is cut off. This location is not far from the site where Ansel Adams took his famous photograph of the Snake River in 1942.

What to look for?

As she skis gingerly along the riverbed crust, Kathy likes to look for animal tracks, a sign that the ice is frozen enough to traverse. She often sees coyotes, ermines, beavers, muskrats, and otters playing in slides that they have created as a shortcut back to the still water. “You can see when the bank is muddy, that is where they have crawled out of holes,” she says. “It is a bustling riparian ecosystem with bird tracks and coyote tracks. Because it is such a manageable area you can watch the animals’ activity.” In the early spring when the sun bakes the snow and forms a thicker crust, your skis really glide on the surface in a local’s favorite activity known as “crust cruising.”

Local Tips on How to Stay Warm and Be Well

A wool layer has always helped Kathy stay warm in the Jackson winter. She is also a big believer in lots of sunscreen and good sunglasses to protect against the reflective nature of the snow. Whenever she is doing something outdoors, Kathy packs a thermos of hot tea with local honey. The local honey, which she buys at The Whole Grocer, has helped her overcome her seasonal allergies. She recommends Dragon Lady’s Be Well blend. Finally, she says, “keep moving. We are lucky because it’s dry here. As long as you are moving you will be fine.”

About our Author: Julie Kling is a freelance writer who lives in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Jackson Hole, WY. She teaches skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, practices yoga almost every day and is the mother of two children who love to go fast and take chances.