The creation of a Tree Hugging Cowgirl.

My “Tree Hugging Cowgirl” series explores the impact of fracking and other damaging events on the environment. Earlier this year, I saw that more parcels were up for oil and gas extraction near where I live and I wanted to do something about it. I did the usual letter and email sending but wanted to do something that I was good at. I saw the BLM map (at my town’s July Fourth celebration called Cherry Days) of the parcels up for lease sale at the Western Slope Conservation Center booth. I decided right then and there to go out to as many of them as I could and paint what I saw. I am familiar with the areas as I have ridden horseback through a lot of it and other areas I’ve gone into to do search and rescue. I wanted to do this Tree Hugging Cowgirl series to inform people of the places that will be affected if gas and oil production is allowed to occur and expand. I was also inspired and influenced to paint the smoke-filled West I experienced on a vacation this summer.

Chipko movement in India in the 1970’s following a tradition since 1730.

According to Earth Island Journal, “The first tree huggers were 294 men and 69 women belonging to the Bishnois branch of Hinduism, who, in 1730, died while trying to protect the trees in their village from being turned into the raw material for building a palace. They literally clung to the trees, while being slaughtered by the royal foresters. But their action led to a royal decree prohibiting the cutting of trees in any Bishnoi village. And now those villages are virtual wooded oases amidst an otherwise desert landscape. Not only that, the Bishnois inspired the Chipko movement (chipko means “to cling” in Hindi) that started in the 1970s, when a group of peasant women in the Himalayan hills of northern India threw their arms around trees designated to be cut down. Within a few years, this tactic, also known as tree satyagraha, had spread across India, ultimately forcing reforms in forestry and a moratorium on tree felling in Himalayan regions.”

I’m not that brave, but I did decide to go out to areas where there would be gas and oil production workers. They are not usually know for their delicate ways or polite manners.

I’ve been making art since I was small. When I was about 5 years old I remember being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”I said, “A cowboy and an artist”. I later learned I was a cowgirl. And I have always loved trees! They are some of my best models and I love painting them.

I went out and created sketches, plein air (French for outdoors or outside) paintings and photographed the scenes. Many of the plein air paintings are here tonight. Some were used as sketches to form the inspiration for many of my studio pieces. I also collaborated with WSCC and they helped me with advice and technical support. I am donating 50% of the profits from the sale of the paintings in the Tree Hugging Cowgirl series during the 2 exhibits to the WSCC.

I went out and painted places on BLM land, in the National Forest and looking over fences onto private lands. Some of the landscapes were beautiful. Some were not, as the gas production was already occurring there and marred the natural beauty of the area as well as affected its health. I am not sure how many people have gone out to areas already being extracted. Gas and oil production tears up Mother Earth. There are sets of pipelines bringing water in and taking gas out. I wondered who sold their water rights to the gas and oil companies? I wondered how safe are the pipelines going out? They are everywhere if you drive out Colbran Road off of Hwy 133 just outside of Paoina, CO. So are green tanks on their sterile graveled rectangles. Do they spray Round Up on those gravel pads to keep the plants from growing? There are also green gates with welded pipe fences connected to them. No rancher I know would spend that kind of money on gates and fences. Barbed wire is just fine. Who put those up and did they have permission?

I noticed a sign in this heavily extracted area put up by the Forest Service saying that shooting cattle was a crime. I wondered when that went up as I hadn’t seen it before. I used to ride horses and mules in these areas in the past 8 years. I figured all the new roads into the area was bringing in a surly sort that shot at cow calf pairs for some cruel reason.

When I was out painting by myself, with my dog and some bear spray for protection, I thought about my safety but not a lot. I can’t say anything exciting or dramatic happened while I was outside doing my plein air painting for Tree Hugging Cowgirl. I spent a lot of time looking at the landscapes.

Why did I create Tree Hugging Cowgirl? I want to have people become aware of the areas that are up for fracking. Most people worry that some abstract concept of Nature is going to be destroyed. Some people go out on hikes or back country skiing or hunting in the forest. But most people look at the images of these places on a screen or magazine page. I went out and looked for hours at a time. I want to share my experience with others. I believe that looking at a painting will raise peoples’ awareness in a positive way. I want people to feel good about helping. I am hoping people will be inspired to do good for Mother Earth after looking at these paintings. I want people to advocate for Nature and be moved to do healthful action.

I am a Tree Hugging Cowgirl. I always have been.


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Tree Hugging Cowgirl exhibit in Paonia, CO

My series “Tree Hugging Cowgirl” will be exhibited next week, Nov 30 from 5 to 8 at the Western Slope Conservation Center. That’s at 204 Poplar in Paonia, CO. I’ll be giving an artist talk at 6pm.

This series explores the impact of fracking and other events on the environment. My plein air and studio oil paintings follow my journey this past year (2018) where I went to sites that are up for oil and gas exploration in the North Fork of the Gunnison area in Western Colorado. This series also includes my journey from Colorado to British Columbia and Alberta and back and the fires I experienced while on this journey. I collaborated with the Western Slope Conservation Center in this series. They were so very generous in helping me put on this exhibit for our community.

I look forward to sharing my paintings and the experiences I had while creating them with you. I hope to see you all there!

I’ve sent out a MailChimp postcard, which you can view by clicking on the following link: Cedar’s Postcard. Thanks!

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, Part 11

I’ve been working on my series, Tree Hugging Cowgirl, and have been doing a few paintings of these green gates that keep popping up in the areas of forest and grazing lands near where I live. The gates are always these big green ones and there are welded pipe fence on either side of the gates. Some of the pipe fences go for a long ways, others go for 20 feet or so. Either way, these are expensive. Ranchers might put up a gate but it would be a stretched barbed wire gate over a cattle guard. With a little side gate where a truck, ATV or people on horses could get through. They just don’t fool around with fancy expensive gates like that. Who belongs to these gates? And why do they seem big enough to let a semi trailer carrying extraction materials through? A lot of them have new wire fences with a really wide road cut running along it and disappearing into the forest or over a ridge.  These and other questions are needing answers.

My plein air and studio paintings were scheduled to be show in Paonia and Crested Butte during December (yes, that is less than 3 weeks away). However the owner of the space, The Cirque, where I was supposed to hang about 25 paintings and have an opening on November 30th called me earlier this week to say she had made a terrible mistake and double booked the date and space. We had agreed about a show early this summer and I’d kept going in there, measuring wall space, asking questions, etc. She had already signed a contract with the other artist just recently and didn’t know what to do. I suggested that the other artist (who makes willow stick frames with a piece of flat rock with a petroglyph painted on it inserted in the center of these stick frames) collaborate with me. We could hang half our works, each taking 1 of the 2 wall spaces. We could do that in December and in January switch wall spaces and bring in the other half of our work. The other artist refused to collaborate. And the owner of the Cirque told me I could have January or a month during the summer instead. I had already started marketing for the show and was glad I didn’t give the go-ahead on any printing or ads. I have been working with the Western Slope Conservation Center, they helped with maps, suggestions where to go, and were excited to be a part of the opening and exhibit. I was also going to donate a percentage of the profits to them from the sale of the paintings during the run of the exhibit. I was pretty upset but figured when live gives me lemons, I just make a Kamikaze.

My new showing will be one night only at WSCC’s offices in Paonia.  Here is the press release with the details. It was great that the staff and the Board of Directors from the Western Slope Conservation Center jumped into help. And my friends were very encouraging as well.

Cedar Keshet’s “Tree Hugging Cowgirl” series explores the impact of fracking and other events on the environment. Her plein air and studio oil paintings follow her journey this past year (2018) going to sites that are up for oil and gas exploration in the North Fork of the Gunnison area in Western Colorado. This series also includes her journey from Colorado to British Columbia & Alberta and back and the fires she experienced while on this journey. Cedar collaborated with the Western Slope Conservation Center in this series.

Join Cedar on Friday November 30, 2018 from 5-8 p.m. at the Western Slope Conservation Center’s offices, 206 Poplar in Paonia. Artist’s Talk will start at 6 with WSCC information and Q&A to follow. Light refreshments will be served. 50% of the profits from this one night’s exhibit will be donated by Keshet to the Western Slope Conservation Center.

I hope to see a lot of you on Nov. 30. That is also our town’s Final Friday, so other galleries will be open. Including the Cirque where I was supposed to be exhibiting. Not like I’m bitter, but just saying its been a challenge. Glad I am a positive person and have found a way to share my art adventures with the community.

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 6

So this has been kind of depressing for me, going out to areas up for lease sale and plein air painting. I paint and think about fracking and destroying our environment and the disrespectful treatment of our Mother Earth.

I have decided to share some images of some of the silly things that go on when I go out to paint. I had to wear a bug net at one place because the mosquitoes were so thick. Then later on in the morning, I had to tuck my sleeves into my gloves to keep out the biting deer flies.

My dog is my best plein air assistant anyone could ask for. She has been faithfully laying on my gear and in the shade of my umbrellas for years now. She is getting kinda gray but with that comes her experience. And of course, being summer in Colorado, there is always some road construction. But a look in my rear view window shows more than a long line of waiting vehicles. There is a great view of the Ragged Range.

Keep up with the latest on Tree Hugging Cowgirl on my Instagram page at Plein Air Cedar

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 5

I went plein air painting near lease sale area 8320. The end of the road was not very welcoming so I went back to the Hawsapple campground by the Paonia Reservoir. It was empty of people. The boat ramp was closed and I did see one person with a fishing boat driving out as I was going in on the road. But the water was so low in the reservoir that I don’t think it was safe for boating, thus the closure.

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 4

I went plein air painting up Stevens Gulch. That is near lease sale area 8390. There was a lot of trash and a couple of elk skeletons scattered about. But I got a pretty good painting. It was a great day, weather wise. No bugs or high winds and not too hot or cold. That helped lift my spirits. I was thinking about how people treat Mother Earth so poorly. I hope they don’t treat their biological mothers that bad, but I know some do.

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 3

I went plein air painting up Hubbard Creek. It is near lease sale area 8389. No one was there that morning. But lots of people had been. There was a big rock that was shot up at close range. That kinda freaked me out. But I plan to return to paint Hubbard Creek. We did have a big storm with flash floods and I think the one sketchy part of the road may have been washed out. I’ll take the truck up there next time to make sure I can get by that part.

Tree Hugging Cowgirl, 2

FrackMap

This is a map of the BLM land up for lease sale December 2018. I live very near here. In fact my home is just off the bottom left of the map.

I want to document what the areas are like before they are forever altered by fracking. As the map shows, much of the area is already under production or will be. It really makes me sad and keeps me from sleeping at night when I think about the environmental damage done to many of these beautiful areas. I am doing what I can to raise people’s awareness through this series of paintings and my posts on Instagram. Follow me at Plein Air Cedar to see the latest place I have been plein air painting.

I am also going to go into the studio with the plein air studies and create larger pieces. Both plein air and studio pieces will be in my December 2018 exhibits in Paonia at the Cirque and in Crested Butte at the Piper gallery in the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. I also plan to include the Western Slope Conservation Center at the Cirque. I am still waiting for some one from Crested Butte to get back to me regarding the ranchland conservation plein air paintings I want to do there.

Do what you can to make our world a cleaner, safer and kinder place. Take some form of positive action, how ever you can. I paint and then blog and post on Instagram. I am hoping you will do what you can.

Tree Hugging Cowgirl

I have started a new series of paintings in a group called “Tree Hugging Cowgirl”. I collaborating with the Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia.

I am planning on going to places that are up for a lease sale by the BLM in December. These leases are for gas and oil drilling a.k.a. Fracking. They are very near where I live in Paonia. I am also going to go over to Crested Butte and paint the ranchlands areas that are in need of conservation as well as the ones that are already protected.

Not all of these areas are welcoming.

2StevensGulchKeepout

This is up Steven’s Gulch

3BearRanch2

Obviously no one is welcome here

1HubbardCreekSign

At least there is a trailhead at Hubbard Creek.

2StevensGulchTRash

Not everyone is respectful of our outdoors

I haven’t been thrown out of anywhere yet. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even seen anyone at these areas. I am going to post when I go out on Instagram, hopefully I’ll remember to blog, too. But I do get busy and overwhelmed at times.