When Gallery MAR decided to host an opening reception for Jackson Hole-based visual artist Amy Ringholz during film festival week, owner Maren Mullin knew it had to be more than a typical cheese-tray refreshment showing.

So, Mullin and Ringholz put their heads together and planned an interactive event that tied into the artist's new show, "Ringholz Kingdom," which will open on Friday, Jan. 18.

"Amy doesn't do anything small, so we have a fun party set for her," Mullin said. "We will have the peppermint chocolate nonalcoholic drink and cheeses, but also have some interactive exhibits in the entryway, so there will be some fun activities to do in addition to the art."

"Ringholz's Kingdom" will include 20 new pieces of all sizes that plays on the animal-kingdom concept, Ringholz said, during a phone call from her home in Wyoming.

"There are crowns and other royalty references within the paintings," she said. "Animals are the language I have chosen to convey in my art, and I think if we didn't have animals on the planet, we would be living in a dismal place."

The idea for the crowns emerged while Ringholz was working new mediums into her ink-and-paint style.

"I've been messing around a lot with air brushing and spray paint and those things led into creating more graphic and graffiti-like paintings," she explained. "That, in turn, led me into the creation of crowns from stencils I made that would find their way onto the different animals that I have painted.


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It was an evolution into a fun concept."

All the art was created specifically for the film festival-week opening.

The works, which will include owls, lions, two black swans, and bullfrogs, reflect Ringholz's evolution from western-influenced art into more iconic images.

"My color palettes are getting more wild and my media is becoming more diverse," she said. "When I add different medium to the work, the colors automatically change. And with that, I create a new energy.

"Instead of being fearful of that change, I try to embrace the challenge and let it lead me toward the next place I need to go," Ringholz said. "That gives me more fulfilling results. It's exciting to branch out and I find I want to keep pushing the boundaries of the work."

Because Ringholz hasn't put any limits on herself, she said she can continue to dance around the animal subject matter.

"That makes it possible for me to approach my work from different angles," she said. "Even though I have painted a lot of animals in my career, I am able to continue to branch out. So, when people purchase the art and hang them on their walls, it makes a statement for them and for those who see it."

In addition to the art-on-canvas works, Ringholz has created crowns that will be handed out to the first 100 people to visit the gallery.

"Sundance is a mixed media event that features movies, fashion and music," she said. "So, I thought it would be interesting to take it to the next level and include some fashion as well."

The reception will also feature some live music.

"My brother singer and songwriter Brian Douglas Day will sing and play for the show, which will be a nice addition," Ringholz said. "And then, we'll have a cool welcoming for the guests and some interactive elements, that I think it will make it more fun for everyone."

Throughout her career, Ringholz has tried to find ways to transform her art shows into these festive events.

"I wanted create a party they will remember along with the other experiences they will have and take back to their homes," she said. "Even if my guests don't take home a painting, they won't forget the night."

"We have been representing Amy for four years and have enjoyed her an artist," Mullin said. "Her animals find that connection with the people who see her work. It's almost as if the animals' eyes are reaching out to them.

"That's something that we want to happen at Gallery MAR," she said. "It's the most important thing that we do and happens often with her work."

Mullin discovered Ringholz during an art festival in Jackson Hole.

"I called her right away and asked her to be in my gallery," Mullin remembered. "Amy told me that she was going to Africa for a few months, but would send me some work when she got back."

Mullin thought Ringholz was going on safari.

"I later found out she had volunteered at an orphanage for children with AIDS," Mullin said. "It really started our relationship off on a wonderful foot. Not only is she a great artist, but she is a beautiful person as well."

Ringholz's opening reception next week will also mark Gallery MAR's one-year anniversary at the new location at 436 Main St.

"Usually we close during the Film Festival, but this year, since we were celebrating our anniversary, we wanted to be here during the Film Festival for our clients and guests," Mullin said. "So many of our collectors are here for the movies and enjoy the other side of culture that Sundance brings, and we felt it would be the perfect time for Amy's show. Like I said, Amy doesn't do anything small. It's going to be a fun one."

The Gallery MAR, 436 Main St., will host an opening reception for Amy Ringholz's new show "Ringholz's Kingdom" on Friday, Jan. 18, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.gallerymar.com.