Passion for snow: Truckee artist looks to show in 2002 Olympic Games
In the cast of Olympic hopefuls for the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Tahoe already has a long list of potential players such as Alpine racers Daron Rahlves of Truckee and Jonna Mendes of South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City freestyle skier Shannon Bahrke, to name a few.But Carolyn Keigley is another name you can add to the list of people whose interaction with snow is as graceful as it is artistic.Although she’s a skier, Keigley’s not interested in a gold medal. You won’t see her competing. Whether or not she’ll actually attend the Games is questionable. The single mother of four adult children just wants to go to Antarctica.The 51-year-old Truckee artist, Glenshire Elementary School teacher and college instructor has been invited to exhibit as many as 30 of her pastel drawings at Park City Mountain Resort’s Legacy Lodge in Park City, Utah, starting sometime this summer and running through the 2002 Olympics.Already displaying her depictions of Alpine Meadows and its white winter surroundings in Alpine’s day lodge, Keigley isn’t looking for endorsement deals or even to sell her work, though she wouldn’t refuse interested parties. The first- and second-grade teacher simply wants more exposure.While Keigley, whose treatments of snow and other topics have shown in ARTour and exhibited at Truckee Bagel Company, is excited about the possibility of showing her art to the sporting world, she hopes to use the Park City/Olympic exhibit as a springboard to Antarctica in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004.A gold-medal finish for Keigley in Salt Lake City would mean an acceptance by the National Science Foundation to participate in its Antarctic Artists & Writers Program (Austral summer 2002-2003) and Teachers Experiencing Antarctica program (Austral summer 2003-2004).The separate entities place qualified artists and teachers, respectively, on the southernmost continent with scientists for one research season. The artists’ task is to document the United States’ heritage as a result of its involvement there and to increase understanding of the great ice sheet; the teacher position assists in field research.Keigley heard about the programs from Ken Taylor, a climatologist with Nevada’s Desert Research Institute, who saw her work during ARTour last summer.”He said, ‘I’ve never seen anyone draw snow like you before,'” Keigley said, adding Taylor encouraged her to learn more about the Antarctic programs.”I have to prove to (the National Science Foundation) that my work can be seen in public,” Keigley said, hence the push to hang her work on the 20 to 30 walls of the Legacy Lodge.She is in the process of completing her application and hopes the Park City exhibit will be the latest jewel on her resume. Melinda Plumbridge, vice president of programs and director of public relations for the Sierra Artists’ Network, which sponsors the Tahoe ARTour, believes such an exhibit might be the crown jewel for Keigley.”That’s a pretty big feather in your hat,” Plumbridge, who works with acrylics, said. “As a fellow artist sometimes you like someone else’s works and sometimes you don’t. I think her work is gorgeous.”The strength of her Alpine Meadows renderings, which she began displaying last December, along with her overall portfolio and contacts at Alpine Meadows, helped garner the invite. But Keigley also has familial roots that extend deep into the history of the Wasatch Front area. The Utah native’s ancestors settled valleys north of Salt Lake City in Smithfield, Utah. Brighton, Utah, is named after relatives who settled that area.If accepted, Keigley’s trip would necessitate sacrifices. Her quest for the Olympics already has. Keigley took a leave of absence the last three months of school to dedicate herself exclusively to completing a sufficient amount of drawings to fill the wall space of the lodge (she’s still volunteering once a week at the school) and she’s refinanced the house as a result.Keigley sells her drawings to recover her costs and maintain exposure. She is also paying for the Park City costs out of pocket because of her desired exposure, including framing, transportation of her work and her original reconnaissance trip when she traveled to Utah to photograph the Wasatch range (she works from photos generally).”It’s too labor intensive to do that and teach at the same time,” Keigley said.One of her drawings takes between 50 and 100 hours to complete (“I’m very slow. It’s a slow process,” she said.) That doesn’t necessarily include the time she takes to be in the field, scouting landscapes and taking photographs. A typical winter research day may begin at 3 a.m. preparing for a trip up Tallac or the backside of Alpine Meadows to catch the sunrise – her preferred time of day to capture her subject matter – before school.Keigley believes her biggest sacrifice is the time lost in the classroom, from which she’ll also be away from for periods of the next two winters if chosen. It’s a gamble for her as she has to leave the kids with whom she’s developed a strong and thick bond. But she thinks this pursuit of her dream sets a positive example for her students.It’s worth it, Keigley said, both for the experiences she’ll have that will end up as part of her classroom teachings and for her own enjoyment and artistic sensibilities.”It’s an experience I can give to the kids at school … Snow is my passion. It’s a beautiful way the world is renewed each winter when it sleeps. My inspiration starts when winter begins.”
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