Slopes of Nostalgia — Big Sky, 1973 | Oil on Canvas | 40 x 30 inches


An art show featuring nearly 20 new paintings by Jennifer Johnson, titled Timeless Icons, opens at Montana Trails Gallery in downtown Bozeman, Montana, on August 8. The exhibition is Johnson’s first solo show at the gallery. Her love of American National Parks, which began in childhood, inspired the paintings.

“I was fascinated with those screen-printed posters of the National Parks and actually collected them when I was a kid,” says Johnson, who now maintains a home and studio outside Denver, Colorado. “This last year, I did quite a bit of hiking and backpacking with my three boys, and just soaked it all in, and was inspired by the landscapes I saw out there.”

Timeless Icons includes examples of Johnson’s poster series, which pairs her love of wildlife with her focus on design and vintage printmaking. “It’s a cool concept that I’ve been working on for about 10 years now,” says Johnson.

“I was recently asked by a collector how I would describe my work, and I told him that it is the Modern West. I am authentic to my subject matter and location, but by including hand-painted typography, it gives the work that look of 1930s and ’40s vintage Americana, when our National Parks really started becoming popular places to visit.”

Icons of the West

Oil on Canvas | 40 x 30 inches

Lately, Johnson has also added other elements to her paintings, including vintage automobiles, signs, and people. She refers to her new work, with bold colors and designs of the natural world, as “nature’s neons.”

“I feel that this gives the work a modern look that you haven’t seen wildlife painters do before,” says Johnson. “My paintings could be hung in a super modern home or a beautiful and classic log cabin. This attracts both seasoned and new, younger collectors to the work. For this new collection at Montana Trails, I’m kicking up my palette a bit and going bold.”

Nature’s Neon

Oil on Canvas | 48 x 36 inches

One painting in this exhibition, titled Slopes of Nostalgia — Big Sky, 1973, represents Johnson’s new theme and style. The painting depicts a couple descending the mountain on a ski lift with a St. Bernard standing in front of a pair of vintage skis sticking out of the snow.

“Those are vintage 1970s K2 competition skis in USA red, white, and blue,” says Johnson. “Those were the most popular skis, and 1973 is when Big Sky first opened. My dad had a pair of those back then, and they were the coolest skis you could have. I put in the St. Bernard because when I was a ski patroller in high school, dogs were very popular to use.”

Johnson is represented by Montana Trails Gallery in Bozeman, Montana; Dick Idol Signature Gallery in Whitefish, Montana; and West Lives On Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming.

— Joshua Rose

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