Still Waters Run Deep
Clark Kelley Price’s studio speaks volumes about who he truly is, and what is important to this talented, tranquil man. Built years ago by Clark and his sons as a family room, in recent years it has been taken over by easels, paints, sketch pads, saddles, chaps, elk horns, buffalo robe and Indian artifacts. Its focal point is a beautiful stone fireplace that is part of a poignant, family story which warms the room as much as the flames from the hearth. While having the fireplace built, a strange connection was discovered between Clark’s great-great-grandfather, who starved to death coming to settle the west in 1856, and the modern young stonemason who built Price’s studio fireplace. A distant ancestor of the stone mason, Ephraim Hanks, saved Clark’s great-great-grandmother from her husband’s same fate, by providing fresh buffalo meat to her during a freezing Wyoming winter. Chance, across time joined this new friend to the Price family.
Painting since a boy, on every paper, book, or as his mother’s story goes, any wall he could find, Clark always thought of himself as an artist, and eventually earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from BYU. In his early 20’s, Clark took his paintings and drove hundreds of miles in -10 degree weather, to the Leaning Tree Card Co, without an appointment, to try and convince Ed Trumble to buy his paintings for greeting cards. Trumble kindly offered the young artist some pointers and encouragement, while showing him paintings by Charlie Dye and Bill Moyers, which helped inspire the young artist to keep painting.
A few years later, after working a roundup, and still painting part time, Clark walked into the Jensen Gallery, which later merged into Trailside Gallery, in Jackson Hole and boldly told Bill Jensen he was a painter and he wanted the gallery to represent him and sell his art. Jensen smiled at the dusty cowboy, asked how many hours a day he painted, and Clark’s answer of two hours humored the gallery owner. A beautiful John Clymer painting was the example used by Jensen to teach young Price what 8-10 hours of painting every day, year after year, might produce. Understanding flooded Clark as he realized how little he knew about painting. Floating out of the gallery with $450 in his pocket from art sold to Jensen, Clark went home, followed the owner’s advice to quit his job, and began painting 8 to 10 hours every day. That advice must have paid off, as Trailside Gallery continues to represent Price to this day, over 35 years later.
With his usual modest, serene style, Price talks about strongly held feelings he digs deeply for when he paints ranch life. Emotions not easy for him to express in words are painted onto his canvases, from memories of how he felt while on roundups, brandings or hunting trips. Clark works by a quote he heard that Bill Moyers once said, “painting from the richness of personal experiences produces the best art, and the most emotional connection to your collectors”. With passion and grace he paints the beauty of God’s vast, diverse, lush and often stark landscapes of the West, and fills them with stories about independent, hard working, honorable people who developed this country.
Join Clark in his studio and you will know the man who unassumingly shines forth through his surroundings and his paintings. “Still waters run deep”, so says an old Scottish proverb, which tells us that the calmest among us, often has the strongest and deepest character; so lives Clark Kelly Price.
~written by Merry Nebeker