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Space Cowboys


A great group of IAAA artists experienced one of the most dramatic parks on the face of the Earth. Yellowstone National Park was host to the IAAA 2000 Workshop. Attending artist members were: Jackie Burns, Joy Alyssa Day, Hilda Demsky, Mark Garlick, Dave Hardy, Bill Hartmann, B.E.Johnson, Jon Ramer (and wife Terri), Anil Rao, Kara Szathmary, and Dirk Terrell.

Our September adventure began in West Yellowstone, Montana, where it was an unseasonable 85°+. After a wonderful dinner meeting new friends and reaquainting with old friends, we had a good solid rest before heading into the park early the next morning. Driving into the west entrance of the huge park, stopping at the wonderful sights of Gibbon Falls (the first of many beautiful waterfalls we would see), Norris Geyser Basin, and the Artist's Paint Pots, which we took at their word, we stopped for a while to hike around, sketch and paint. These bizarre little blurbling mounds were interesting and fun to watch in the strikingly barren landscape. After a couple of hours enjoying them, we continued on our way toward Mammoth Hot Springs.

Golden GateAs we approached Mammoth, we were greeted by the breathtaking Golden Gate Cliff, which became suddenly visible as we descended into the canyon, and stopped to sketch by a high cascade. We would later spend many hours clambering through the wildly interesting Chaotic Terrain across the valley from that beautiful mountain, and dream of how the Hudson River School Artists may have sat on these same rocks, making their inspiring paintings. It was here that the first group photo was taken. (Dirk and Anil are yet to join us.)
 The cabins that housed us at Mammoth were fun and quaint, having no connections with the outside world. We were truly transported into an oldstyle, rustic atmosphere and adventure. The following day let us take our time and truly explore the Mammoth Hot Springs - an amazing terraced landscape, made of bubbling sulfur, bleached white calcium mounds,Mammoth Hot Springs shimmering pools with incredibly intricate subterrains slowly being built from within. Astonishingly beautiful. We spent many hours investigating, admiring and being awestruck by these wonders.



Grand Canyon of the YellowstoneAs we continued our adventure, only briefly stopping into the touristy shops (what did we need with little snapshots when we had the Real Thing right outside?? ...and BJ's 4"x5" camera...), we headed toward Tower Junction and on to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This area is filled with outrageous views and abundant wildlife. We spent many hoursFall Clouds Give Way to Winter Storms reeled in by the beauty of the place, visiting the Upper and Lower Falls, Inspiration Point and, of course, Artist Point. We sketched and painted in the same footsteps where Thomas Moran created his glorious works.
 The evenings were spent dining with good friends, comparing the wonderful sights each had seen and looking over each artist's works of the day. So much learned, so much absorbed. We continued to explore the Grand Canyon areas, hiking Mount Washburn Trail, traversing the many hundreds of vertigo producing see-through steps of Uncle Bobs Trail (Yikes!!) down into the canyon at theUncle Bob's Trail base of Lower Falls--and then having to hike back UP those same steps (Ouch!!). Then headed off to see the Mud Volcano, the Sulphur Cauldron and hike around the Dragon's Mouth - an intensely cool place that was eerily suited to its name.

Heading away from the canyon we were treated to a serene view of Yellowstone Lake while eating our lunch upon its shore, then continued around the lake, winding our way up to the Old Faithful Inn, an incredible rustic log-cabin lodge that immediately put you intoOld Faithful Inn Grand Room the Old West. The cavernous entry area, five stories tall, with a lookout's cabin way up in the top of the Great Room and a clock on the chimney that is two stories tall was truly jaw-dropping. The staff has to go to the third floor and walk out on a catwalk, high above the hearth, to wind the clock! The rooms were tiny and rustic. The floors creaked and groaned as one walked and we felt like we were the gold-rushers of a hundred years ago. Right outside the Inn were more geysers than you could shake a stick at.Old Faithful Immediately to the right, not 100 steps away, was Old Faithful herself, with a countdown board, walkway and benches lined with tourists awaiting her next performance. An incredible and unreal sight to be sure, but only one of dozens that would present themselves over the coming days.
 On one glorious hike, we were treated to six previously elusive geysers going off, seemingly just for our enjoyment. One byCastle Geyser one, down the trail, they would blurble up and blast away just as we approached. (Has to be some sort of record...) We continued our journey, examining the microcosms and strange life forms that chose to live within, sidestepping bison and elk as we made ourSleeps Wherever He Likes way past sights including Castle Geyser, Anemone Geyser, Firehole Geyser, Spasmodic Geyser, Crested Pool, Scalloped Spring, Chimney Geyser, Teakettle Spring, Beehive Geyser, Grotto and Riverside Geysers, and finally the Morning Glory pool and the Grand Prismatic Springs.

Aspens in the Afternoon SunWe continued on our adventure by driving out of Yellowstone and into the Grand Tetons Park. Fall colors were abounding during the whole workshop, lending their energy to the images that we were experiencing --and would soon be creating. The majestic peaks continued for miles alongside us as we ventured farther south. Turning off the main road toward the mountain range,Mount Moran and Friends we were treated to the last rays of the setting Sun as they bathed the flanks of Mount Moran. We stopped for a while to gaze reverently at the inspiring play before us and then continued on the side road along the range until reaching our final destination of Jackson Hole - a fun little city, although extremely tourist driven. We spent a number of hours at the Wildlife Art Museum, taking in the many works displayed there. Good times were had at the localMillion Dollar Cowboy Bar Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, soaking up the old west atmosphere, complete with saddles instead of barstools. We played tourists for three days, one morning awakening to snow on the roofs of our little log cabins. The evening of the second day in Jackson our fellow workshop attendees were whisked off to the local theater to see Space Cowboys, the theme of this workshop and a fitting punctuation to a most successful time of gathering, creation and growth. (Here we are, space artists in cowboy country, the film is still playing in our last stop, Jackson, Wyoming, we've gotten everyone to the Cowboy Bar, we go to the theater and wait for someone to notice that Tommy Lee Jones wears a Million Dollar Cowboy Bar t-shirt in the film.... Suddenly, it all came together.) As the days and good times in Jackson passed, we said our goodbyes one by one to our friends as our workshop officially came to a close.

Summit Spawning CloudsIn the days following, the first winter storm began to bear down on the little town of Jackson. One last time before our flight departed, we ventured back north to capture the evolving scene that had been green and gold only yesterday.

Such an extreme number of bizarre phenomena, all jampacked into one chunk of the world. So much we saw, so much still waiting, and so many deeper friends.Taking FlightThe Storm Advances



The culmination of these glorious events is embodied in

The Yellowstone Strip Painting

The Yellowstone Strip Painting


Created by the workshop participants as a thank you gift to our workshop host, Joy Alyssa Day, it was begun within the warm walls of the Old Faithful Inn. Working with little more than candlelight, each artist added their contribution to the image to make a panoramic view of not only the features and formations that we had experienced but the vista of time and place in which astronomical artists work. The panorama begins with the terrestrial falls of Yellowstone and moves through the many features found within the park and out into space, using the analogue references found here on a satellite of Neptune. A wonderful collection of talent. A wonderful collection of memories and experience. All embodied within one image.

Thank you, one and all.

Joy Alyssa Day


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