Note: We are delighted to have ICL Artist in Residence Josh Udesen on board with us. Josh’s passion for the Idaho outdoors is obvious in the way he lives his life as well as in his artwork. You can find out more about Josh on our artist in residence page, online at his website tightlinestudio.com, on Facebook at Josh Udesen – Tightline Studio, and on Instagram @tightlinestudio. But first, here’s Josh in his own words…
Thank you to the Idaho Conservation League for selecting me as your 2016 artist in residence.
As a relatively new "professional" artist I am still in a state of awe when a vision I put to paper, canvas or wood resonates with someone else. With that said, the invitation by the Idaho Conservation League to be this year’s artist in residence is profoundly humbling and truly exciting. As someone drawn to everything under an open sky, to represent what I love about a state I call home is the ultimate assignment. The knowledge that my art may connect with people who share my appreciation for the outside world will easily propel my enthusiasm for each new Idaho painting I create-and it’s the new high-water mark for me as an artist.
My route to being both artist and Idahoan is far from direct. Originally from Minnesota, college brought me west and my connection to the Northwest solidified as I built a career as a high school history teacher and fly fishing guide in both Alaska and Oregon for over a decade. While living in Oregon, I made a road trip to Idaho to kayak and fish. As I drove up the Payette River I picked up a hitchhiker needing a ride to Banks. That hitchhiker eventually became my wife, and Idaho became my home.
Once settled in Idaho, I rediscovered a set of paints from a college class a decade prior-and on a whim, decided to create a painting of a rainbow trout. The seed was planted. In short order, my full time job as a high school teacher was complemented with two more jobs as a new parent and a budding artist. While my wife trudged through a grueling grad school program, I taught all day, tended to my new daughter, and began to paint to pass the time as she napped and slept. Seven years later, I continue to teach part time, chase my daughter through the woods, follow my wife down rivers, and build an ever-expanding portfolio of art focused on my love of being outside.
Although I’ve lived in Idaho for over a decade, I consider myself a relatively new Idahoan. To the average observer, my escapades hiking, biking, floating, fishing, wandering, hunting, skiing and traversing wide swaths of the state may appear to border on obsessive-yet I still feel like I’ve only just begun the exploration. I am drawn to being outside and truly feel unsettled when a week goes by and I do not feel a hint of the wildness of Idaho. Be it the trails in the Boise foothills or the remote reaches of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, I need my Idaho fix and I need it regularly. My forays into the woods consistently remind me of the exceptional nature of what we have as Idahoans.
The upcoming year as ICL artist in residence will likely highlight a particular aspect of Idaho dear to me: rivers. I am drawn to moving water, and Idaho is a state of rivers. My focus will be on watersheds, rivers, the areas they represent, and what we find when we are floating, fishing and exploring. In a state dominated by moving water, we need to be reminded that the water we have is something we cannot take for granted.
I hope my art will provoke a response in each of us. What I love about being an Idahoan is the intangibility of being connected to a place that is profoundly intimate, yet collectively shared. There is a multitude of places in Idaho that we cherish individually for the memories they embed and collectively for what they represent about our remarkable state. I hope the art I create in conjunction with the Idaho Conservation League will connect and remind us of both.
– Josh Udesen, ICL 2016 Artist in Residence
View a small slideshow of Josh’s artwork here.