We make it to Wyoming and our map reads, “A Land of Firsts.” The landscape, color and history bring America’s heartland to shame. We walk the wagon ruts in Guernsey and stop to watch young bison nurse from their mothers. At Buffalo Bill Dam, a liquid mirror reflects blue skies and cotton clouds. We pass through ghost towns full of wooden saloons and rusty wagon wheels. The entrances to private ranches are framed in antlers and steel arches. We stop to visit the world’s largest hot springs in Thermopolis, but refrain from swimming in the manmade pool. Like many other sites we visit, tourism has bastardized this genuine piece of American landscape. A black moose is our source of entertainment as we crawl through traffic and construction to finally arrive at the entrance of Yellowstone, America’s first National Park.
Excited to have made it to the ever-changing super volcano we step out of the car to hear a hissing sound. However, it isn’t the steam rising up around grazing buffalo that emits the noise; it is our right front tire. We find the park’s service center, but it is still closed for the season, so Alfonso digs in the back of the truck for our spare. Since we still have 29 more states to get through, we can’t afford to leave it too long so we backtrack 85 miles to Cody to have our tire patched and spend the night parked in a Wal-mart parking lot. It’s a little setback but we make the best of it.
Re-entering Yellowstone the next morning proves to be just as rewarding as the day before. Yellowstone lake, Inspiration Point, Steamboat Geyser, Mammoth Springs, Grand Prismatic, and so much more. It seems a cliché, but the wonders of this land are enough to push any artist into creation. It feels as if we have entered another time or even planet. This land is not like any I’ve seen before. While traversing the many boardwalks along hydrothermal features, your imagination can easily envision a fierce sea creature emerging from the boiling springs. Approaching a hissing cave, a dragon emerges through the heavy steam. Along the bank of a gurgling mud pond, a fairy sits silently.
The colors of Yellowstone are vibrant and iridescent. Every turn is host to new beauty. A clear sky illuminates florescent green moss and turquoise pools. Then suddenly, a shifting wind generates a ceiling of gray. Deep pigments turn pastel as they transcend the thickening fog. The land is alive.
It is true that Yellowstone National Park has a mythological ambience, but Wyoming emits another spirit as well. Aside from being home to the first National Park, Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote (1869), and to have a female judge. It becomes obvious to illustrate this mystical land through a female portrait. In the Wyoming-inspired canvas, a brave woman, amongst moss and mud-pots finds her wings. Off to throw ice boulders in the Grand Tetons and to display the Nebraska painting at the Center for the Arts in Jackson Hole.