As the beginning of the Fall Arts Festival neared, featured artist Kathryn Mapes Turner was nervous.

“This is my hometown,” she said. “I don’t want to tank.”

She has spent the better part of the past year working long hours to prepare her “Along an Unseen Path” exhibition. It’s been a special year for Turner, who grew up on the Triangle X Ranch immersed in nature and always admiring the featured artists whose work she saw on the posters.

“I had all of them up on such a pedestal, because they were my inspiration, my art heroes,” she said. “So to think that fast forward all these years, I’m blessed to be able to work as an artist.”

She has painted the valley for over 20 years and has opened an exhibition every year at Turner Fine Art.

“Every time I do a show, it’s kind of a culmination of where I’ve come, and what I’ve learned, and who I am at that point in time.”

Turner believes this is her best work. And she has to hope that’s enough.

“It’s been amazing to share my work each year along the way, because I feel like this community has shared in my artistic process and layer and my growth as an artist. So the fact that they’ve asked me to be the featured artist, you know, it’s really part of a continuum, is how I feel. I’m at a very exciting milestone in this continuum, and I’m pinching myself, you know, that this is my life It’s such a dream come true.”

Turner does paint landscapes, though as of late her attention has been on wildlife. She grew up in close proximity to animals and has a deep reverence for who they are. She hopes her paintings reflect that.

Whether she’s painting a horse kicking up dust or an owl preparing to take off, she tries to capture their essence. Turner has little interest in trying to paint a photorealistic painting. As an artist she seeks to explore techniques that capture something a photograph can’t.

“I’m always trying to paint them in a way that shows the vitality in their movement, and that’s achieved through a certain level of abstraction and simplification,” she said. “So I’m always working on distilling it, always working on softening certain angles, edges, things like that, that would imply a sense of movement.

“So the horse pieces that I have shown, I try and almost lose as much as I can’t let go of, as much as I can, and still retain the essence of the horse.”

Turner is keenly aware she’s not the only painter in the valley who paints animals. Even within her gallery her work hangs alongside painters she admires and who inspire her. But she is interested in having something to say that’s fresh and creating a contribution that’s new. That’s what her Fall Arts Festival show is about.

“I’m not called to be a portrait painter, or a still-life painter, or a political satirist,” Turner said. “I am called to make art about the natural world that stirs something — it could be primal, it could be poetic, it could be spiritual — something about who we are that makes us human. There’s something about nature and something about art that brings us home to ourselves.”

Turner is being spotlighted for Fall Arts Festival, but her gallery will also display work from other artists during her “Along an Unseen Path” exhibition.

Jacob Aguiar paints pastel landscapes, often inspired by the marshes and rocky coast near his home in Scarborough, Maine, where he lives with his wife and dog and works as an integrative naturopathic physician.

Aguiar came to know and paint Wyoming during an artist residency at the Brinton Museum in Big Horn. His ethereal renderings of landscapes reflect a drive, similar to Turner’s, to portray an aspect of nature that isn’t be rendered best through photorealist techniques.

Turner’s work is in good company. Aguiar’s accolades include the Award of Excellence in the 2018 Pastel 100 and third place in the 2017 Annual Plein Air Salon, and the Pastel Society of America International Exhibition in New York has honored him.

Throughout the Fall Arts Festival, Turner will be in the gallery doing painting demonstrations in order to lift the curtain on how her work gets made.

“The process really is miraculous. It’s like watching a baby be born. You know, people are always like, ‘It’s like magic.’ It’s something we take for granted all the time. But it is magical.”

Turner will offer a tour of her family’s Triangle X Ranch on Sept. 7. She’s excited to give people a chance to see where her inspiration for her horse paintings came from, the stunning backdrop that her provided her constant inspiration over the decades.

“I’m just really excited to share my home with people,” she said. “It’s where I started painting.” 

Contact Leonor Grave at fallarts@jhnewsandguide.com.

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