Haley Badenhop has more tricks up her sleeves than painting large-scale, public murals. For the art portion of Mountain Story, Badenhop is hanging some of her lesser-known acrylic work in Teton County Library’s Ordway Gallery.
The show, titled “Light Play,” is made up of small, 4-by-4-inch photorealistic paintings of the mountains. For inspiration, Badenhop took images from some of her favorite mountain photographers on Instagram — namely, local cameraman Stephen Shelesky and the Montana shutterbug Kurtis Minster — and repainted them with her own color palette.
In dawn or dusk, under sunrises or sunsets, mountains are ever evolving. For painters like Badenhop these diurnal shape-shifters present endless opportunities for new, colorful paintings.
“I really wanted that dynamic feel of the light hitting the mountains,” Badenhop said. “I like the varied ways you can look at the mountains and they appear different.”
In addition to the small acrylics, Badenhop also created a temporary mural for the library that is more in line with the style of her other murals around town, like the ones in Solitude Station at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Orangetheory Fitness.
The library’s adult programs coordinator, Leah Shlachter, was tipped off by a friend about Badenhop’s work.
“Haley’s exhibit is playful and fun,” Shlachter said. “Her work has texture, color, and range in scale from a large hand-drawn mural to tiny 4-by-4-inch paintings, which draw you in and invite you to look and experience mountains in a new way — the grandness and awe of mountains still translate when represented on a tiny scale.”
Badenhop hopes the show inspires people “to wake up early to see the sunrise over the mountains, stay up late to watch the shadows dance, or just get out and play in them” — something she has made a conscious effort to do more of in the past year.
Badenhop has always been a workhorse, hustling hard to promote her artwork and advance her career. The hard work has paid off: She has painted numerous murals in Jackson, and this year she added three international murals to her resume in Shanghai and Mexico City. She also made the leap to becoming a full-time artist, quitting her travel-friendly job at the airport this summer.
Her artistic determination, however, sometimes got in the way of making the most of living in Jackson.
This past year Badenhop has spent an unprecedented amount of time in the mountains, encouraged in part by her boyfriend, Owen Leeper, a big-mountain skier. Looking back on this past year, she realized that spending more time playing and enjoying her home actually unlocked new possibilities in her art career.
“I was going over my past year and realized there was just more of a creative flow that happened and I didn’t even realize,” she said. “It was almost like a creative freedom that came from allowing myself more space and not trying so hard and pushing it. In turn, that made everything just flow easier.”
Her favorite mountain memory from 2019? A birthday camping trip with Leeper in Grand Teton National Park.
“The sunset was amazing,” she said. “And then waking up to the sunrise, you just have such an awesome view of the Tetons up there.”
Badenhop’s work will be on display at the Teton County Library until the end of the month.