(Jackson, Wyo.) - Local artist Fred Kingwill is celebrating his 70th Art Fair at the 50th Anniversary Art Fair of Jackson Hole this weekend. We get it, the math doesn't add up at first.
How is that possible you ask? Well, Kingwill has done every single Jackson Hole Art Fair since he moved to Jackson in 1980. With two art fairs per summer and a perfect attendance record, he hits 70 Jackson Hole Art Fairs today.
Kingwill was raised in Michigan. He has been painting since he was young, but also loved the outdoors and natural resources, so he chose to do both. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for many years, but never stopped painting.
"At 13, I decided I was going to master watercolors, so I thought that would take just a little while," he said. "And some 60 years later, I am still trying to master watercolors."
In 1962, Kingwill took his watercolor paintings to sell at his first art fair in Michigan. He went to the fair, strung a string between trees and close pinned his art to the string.
"The first painting I sold was $2.50 during that art fair," said Kingwill. "I sold a $12.50 piece to a lady who had a gallery and I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. I couldn't believe that anybody could make money like that."
One art fair years after changed the way that Kingwill approached art fairs moving forward. He was in grad school and selling at an art fair in Michigan.
"I was on this hill and there was this fellow down below. He was in his 80s and a horrible painter," Kingwill laughed. "He was painting oils, and it was pretty rare for people to paint oils, but there he was. People were surrounding him watching and every once in a while he sold a painting. I was shocked that they would buy it."
After his second day of Kingwill not selling anything at the fair, the little old man started walking up the hill shaking his finger.
"I said, 'Oh what did I do?' So he gets up to me and points his finger and me and says 'It's guys like you who are ruining this art fair business.' the old man continued, 'you guys gotta get your paints out and show people what it's all about. That is what art fairs are for. They are to share your art with the communities,'" Kingwill told the story of the old man lecturing him.
So at his next Art Fair, Kingwill took the old man's advice. He painted at the fair and drew a crowd. He spoke to people while he painted and even sold a few. He has painted at art fairs ever since.
In 1980, he transferred to Jackson Hole to work for the Bridger-Teton National Forest. He had been looking for information on a local art fair, but never saw anything about it until the day before the art fair started.
"I was driving by the Episcapal Church and I saw two ladies doing what I thought was marking out for an art fair. I pulled over and went up and asked if it was too late to get in," he said.
The women let him into the art fair and that was Kingwill's first Art Fair of Jackson Hole.
He used to do several art fairs around the country each summer, but decided to stop traveling as much and focus on teaching beginning watercolor at the Art Association of Jackson Hole. But he still sells at every single local Art Fair.
Today, Kingwill kicked off his 36th year and 70th Art Fair of Jackson Hole.
"This is my 70th Art Fair in a row. I have never been sick or gone during the summertime," he said.
"I go to the art fair and see all my friends. I think of my paintings as children so I ask 'how my kids are doing?'" he said. "The community has been very very good to me."
Learn more about Fred Kingwill at fredkingwill.fineartstudioonline.com and check out more of his work at the 50th Annual Art Fair of Jackson Hole this weekend, August 12-14, in Miller Park.
Feature Photo: Fred Kingwill. Pitchengine Communities
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