Hockaday Museum of Art
Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation
Flathead National Forest Service
Hungry Horse Ranger District
ARTIST • WILDERNESS • CONNECTION
Artists Gini Ogle and Francesca Droll partnered in the Artist • Wilderness • Connection (A•W•C) program during July of 2017. The A•W•C is a program that grants artists time in a remote forest service cabin, to be inspired by their wilderness surroundings, and practice their craft. Every year 1–2 artists, either individually or in partnership, are chosen for this experience. These artists are from various disciplines and come from all over the country.
Volunteer horse packers transport the gear in and drop it off and then come back later to pack it out. We artists, however, have to tough it out and hike in.
Our common goals were to spend an extended period of time in a wilderness setting, to inform and influence our work. We wanted to fully focus on our painting and be free from life’s daily distractions.
We were given a choice of 5 forest service cabins to work from. We chose Granite cabin located in the Great Bear Wilderness, part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. We hiked in 7 miles and stayed 11 days. Our cabin was situated on a large granite outcropping overlooking the middle fork of the Flathead River.
A requirement of being part of the A•W•C experience is that the participants are asked to put together a public program. Our program will include an exhibit of our paintings at the Hockaday Museum of Art along with a talk and a showing of our video for the opening reception on August 2, 2018.
Because we are plein air artists with two different perspectives, working in the same landscape in two different media, Gini in oils and Francesca in pastels, Gini came up with the very appropriate title for our program: “2 Sides to Every Story.”
Gini Ogle and Francesca Droll’s 2017 Artist • Wilderness • Connection Video
The year 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of both the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act. In 1968, many positive events happened: a manned spacecraft first orbited the moon, the Paris Peace talks, and the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War. It was also in this year that the word “sustainability” entered our vocabulary through the publication of The Population Bomb and The Whole Earth Catalog. During this year, six new national park units were established and over 800,000 acres of wilderness were protected.
We celebrate with our country the 50th Anniversary of both these acts that protect our rivers and streams and maintain our trails throughout the United States. With these protections, we have access to our backcountry wilderness areas where we can observe nature in its untrammeled state. For artists to have an opportunity to spend time outdoors contemplating and interpreting nature in their art is not only a gift for the artist but for all those who view the art created. It fosters a respect for the value of untouched lands and its wildlife that can be appreciated for generations to come.
Home Away from Home
The location of our adventure started with turning off on Skyland Road from Highway 2. The paved road soon turned to gravel as we wound through hills, slowly descending into a canyon. We were graced with an abundance of wildflowers along the road and stopped often to take photos. It was early in the morning and the sun had just peaked over the mountains when we arrived at the parking area at the trailhead.
Although we were told that the trail was mostly downhill, it was apparent early on that there was going to be a lot of hiking up and down. We followed the trail along mountainsides, often going down into gullies and hiking back up again. We often had to cross the small streams using stepping stones and logs to keep our boots dry. Only once did we have to take off our hiking boots and wear our water sandals to cross a river at the beginning of the hike. We covered a lot of ground and after awhile we could tell we were hiking around a mountain and slowly descending into the canyon where the middle fork of the Flathead River flows.
The day was a hot one, probably in the upper 80s F. We were fortunate to have stretches of shaded forest but there were plenty of times we were hiking in the blazing sun. It was a tough hike for us and we both felt that we should have been in better shape. The trail was 6.9 miles to Granite Creek Cabin and we were so happy when we finally made it.
The hike out was a piece of cake in comparison. After 11 days of climbing down to the river from our perch on the big granite outcropping and up again hauling 2 5-gallon buckets of water numerous times a day, hauling our painting gear up and down the trail and along the river side, and doing numerous chores that required a lot of deep knee bends, we were in the best shape and feeling like we earned our self-proclaimed monikers of “Wilderness Women.” Hiking out from Granite Cabin was definitely more uphill then the hike in. Although we were tired when we reached the parking area, we couldn’t believe how quickly we got there and how much easier on our bodies the almost 7 mile hike had been.