March 1st, 2023
Here in Park City, Utah we are thrilled to be experiencing our best winter in nearly 20 years. Scientifically speaking, Utah’s water equivalent of snowpack is 195% of its normal winter’s total accumulation. It also means that the Great Salt Lake has risen by a foot — an event that brings relief not only to the 1 million+ residents of the Great Salt Lake Valley, but to everyone aware of the importance of saving the Great Salt Lake from drying up. As much-needed and essential as all of this snow is for our earth and environment, it also comes with the added benefit of some of the best skiing conditions that many skiers have seen in their entire lifetime. We here at Gallery MAR always look forward to seeing you in the gallery after a day spent skiing powder on the slopes.
We love the ways in which all of this snow has affected our environment and our collectors but we wondered, how has this endless snow affected our local Park City artists and their work? Here we’ve reached out to several of our local Gallery MAR artists to see how this year’s “Snowmaggedon” (or rather, “SnowMARggedon”) has impacted and inspired them:
“This year’s snowfall has been epic so far! The fresh powder offers great inspiration and will help inform my work for the rest of the year. I love the way the colors in the landscape all seem to pop against the white backdrop of winter and how the atmosphere blankets the landscape during and after a storm.
It is beautiful in the evenings, under the cool canopy of winter, how the lights glow and are reflected all around. As evident in a lot of my paintings, the seasons are an essential part, so the heavy snow has offered a great winter season for me to be inspired and create!
However, shoveling is a constant nuisance and traveling is limited through the mountain passes sometimes because of the heavy snowfall. Sometimes it seems there is no more space to put all the snow!” – Aaron Memmott
So far, this year has been a challenging winter in Guardsman’s Pass. A lot of snow has fallen – more than I’ve ever seen at our cabin. Over the last 4 weeks, we spent almost every day shoveling anywhere from 1-5 hours, digging out the cabin, studio, snowmobiles, cars, and also helping neighbors. Dealing with the snow is a part time job in a normal winter, but a lot of extra work this year. We ended up buying a snow blower to help us move snow out and away from the house, so we have more room to shovel the snow to get in and out.
Currently, the snow reaches the top of my shipping container studio, which is 9 feet tall. Our full size truck has been completely buried multiple times. I can’t say this is a record year when compared to historical data, but it feels like a record year for me in the 18 years I’ve been here. On the plus side, I am pretty strong and in shape, although my back is always a little sore.
We’ve also had some added complications with our neighborhood plow being down for maintenance for a month. Right now, we are in a bit of high pressure, which is giving us a little break to recover, dig out fully, get our equipment back up and running, and get some sun. I’d almost forgotten that it could be sunny. Otherwise though, the skiing has been good, and we have had many great powder days in the backcountry and on the resort. We bought ourselves fat bikes for Christmas, but haven’t been able to use them yet.
Winter is usually a time of reset for me. I work a little slower on projects as I make sure to not schedule myself heavily in case of good snow for skiing. It’s nice to see the mountains completely covered in snow, and it feels good to know that our reservoirs and the Great Salt Lake will be getting some of the water it deserves come spring. Even though these big years are hard on our backs, I hope we have more in the future as I am greatly concerned about drought, climate change, and if this state can provide enough water for everyone who lives here or wants to live here.” – Bridgette Meinhold
“The storms have been kind of designer storms in a way. It’s been a river of moisture straight in from the Pacific. They haven’t been super cold, so the valleys have had rain while the mountains have had snow.
The mountains are at 170-210% of normal for this time of year. We were almost at this point last year at this time and then the storms just shut off. I hope that we will continue with the storms and we can have an outrageous winter.
From a farmer perspective, we have been in a drought situation for quite a few years now, so we can use all we can get! From a ski perspective, it’s looking good and hopefully we will have a good, long season.
For me on the artwork side, I have been able to see some great dramatic landscapes. Also, the snow tends to group up wildlife in areas where they can get food, water, and shelter. This helps to get some great views of wildlife.” – Ron Russon
“I grew up in the shadow of the Grand Teton Mountain Range on the Idaho side in the early 80’s. Snowfall back then was more consistent with what we’ve been seeing this year, so it’s brought back a lot of great, nostalgic memories for me.
During my childhood winters, all fence lines, both short and tall disappeared under the snow and our playground no longer had boundaries. Neighborhood sidewalks would disappear and you just had to guess where you were walking.
On a more dangerous note, the roads through farmer’s lands would also disappear, so you just had to hope that you wouldn’t drift off into a sinking field. One time I was walking home from school, and I heard a metal sound under my feet and realized that someone didn’t move their car before the snow buried it.
As a teenager I prided myself on becoming an expert “snow and ice” driver. I learned how to perfectly fishtail around every corner and how to “read the road” to find the best traction.
Now as an artist, I have found myself particularly loving the creation process of a particular commission through Gallery MAR this year. It was just the right color palette to allow me to lean into the vibe of a large snowy mountain range. The white paint was particularly fluid on this piece and if one didn’t look up close, they might not ever realize that beneath this “snow” layer is one of the brightest and most vibrant backgrounds I’ve ever made. But that to me is one of the magic traits of a heavy snowfall: it hides the familiar world & gives you the adventure of a new life for a time.
It’s also well known at this point that the Great Salt Lake is in imminent danger of drying up, which would be an irreversible catastrophe. This year’s record snowfall is providing us with a rare opportunity to refill the lake & avert a near crisis. I hope that this year’s snowfall doesn’t end with the season, but lives on in the Great Lake & provides this area with safe longevity.” – Havoc Hendricks
“The familiar becomes beautifully unfamiliar – a triple white palette. The light, the colors, the shadows, the subtleties, the textures and patterns, the everything, take on a fresh, new,
other-worldly aesthetic while living life in a snow globe. Sunrise and sunset are sublime. The only thing that is more prolific than the snowfall in a winter like this one is the creative opportunities it presents.
For me, less time painting is the direct result of more time shooting pictures. Some photographs will be used for painting reference and some will live as photographs alone. That’s a pure labor-of-love in my book.
Snowmageddon Wisdom: Never ever, for any reason, be standing under a roof avalanche. It won’t injure you, it will kill you. (See Pictures I sent that illustrate the point)
Snowmageddon Truth: When your whole physical world turns into a white canvas, it’s hard to go inside and work on a two-dimensional one.
Snowmageddon Truth: Shooting images of my Black Lab, Ranger, in a triple white snowscape is one of my most favorite things to do.” – Kevin Kehoe
“I’ve lived in Park City for almost 18 years and there is only one other winter I can recall that comes close to this much snow. I think it’s good for the drought and for the skiers who come to town because the town does rely on tourism, but I’m not a fan of the difficulties it poses when it comes to getting around. Postponing errands and outings has been a constant this winter, which adds to the isolation leftover from Covid that I’m working to overcome. My neighborhood streets have been a one-lane trail at times.
It’s lovely if you don’t have to go anywhere. I always try to remember when I’m annoyed by it that we need the water.” – Sara Edgar
“I live in the Salt Lake Valley, 5 minutes from the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. We got some snow but not to the extent of Park City. Nonetheless, it felt like we were living up in the mountains. For three days we decided to not leave the house. This made for good working conditions.
Almost two years ago my wife — who is also a painter — and I bought a home that was once owned by professional dancers. They took down some walls, installed wooden floors and converted half the house into a dance studio. This is now where we paint. Such a space makes it easy for us to make art throughout the day or to paint during a storm, so that’s what we did – made work, ate soup, and stayed cozy. We didn’t shovel our driveway or make any plans. Everything outside was white. It was absolutely gorgeous. I felt like we had a studio in the mountains.
In the second week of January, the snow started to melt. I realized that I hadn’t taken many reference photos for my paintings. Taking reference photos for my ski paintings is not something I ever did in the valley. However, there was loads of content all around me: photos of weighed-down pine trees would be great references for my snow landscapes.
I took this picture on January 4th, a few days after a storm. It reminded me of a tree I had already painted last year in one of my pieces titled “Snow Park Glow.” I realized how fantastic and ideal it is to live in a space that could be depicted in one of your paintings. These snow storms in December and January made that a reality.” – Jonathan Julien
We would like to extend our gratitude to our Gallery MAR artists for their thoughtful insights into this year’s snowfall and the impact and inspiration it’s had on their life and work. Find their latest work, inspired by this year’s winter on our website or in the gallery today.
Written by Veronica Vale and Gallery MAR artists