Katy Ann Fox wanders through the West witnessing windblown mountains and sunlight to gather emotion and imagery for her landscape paintings. Her oil paintings host a feeling of peace and respect for her subject as she focuses on texture and color harmony. She grew up in north central Idaho, moved to San Francisco, California for her Masters in Fine Art degree at the Academy of Art University and now makes her art at the foot of the Teton Mountain Range. In addition to painting, she does woodblock printing and hand thrown pottery and some sewing.
Katy majored in business economics at the University of Idaho, with an art minor. She went on to study painting at San Francisco’s Academy of Fine Art where she received a master’s degree in fine art. After school, Fox moved to Jackson Hole. By 2015 she was celebrated as the Art Association’s Artist of the Year. She is noticeable figure in the region’s arts community, teaching pottery classes for the Art Association, painting a mural behind Trio Restaurant, assisting with programs and events at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and exhibiting at Altamira Fine Art and in the Center Theater Gallery.
Katy is one of five Wyoming artists selected for Women To Watch. The 2024 exhibit is the National Museum of Women in the Arts biennial exhibition series that features underrepresented and emerging women artists who create in any medium including, but not limited to, painting, sculpture, print, drawing, photography, film, digital, installation, and sound. Wyoming will participate for the first time in NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition, held in Washington, DC in 2024 and Fox is one of the five inspirational and talented artists chosen from across Wyoming to be invited to submit their work. BUT, only one will be chosen to be on exhibit in a collection at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C!
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Emy Digrappa (00:00):
Hello, my name is Emy Digrappa. Each week we bring you stories, asking our guests the question why. We learn about passion, purpose, and the human experience brought to you by Wyoming Humanities with the generous support of the Wyoming Community Foundation. This is What's Your Why.
Today we are talking to Katy Fox and she is one of five artists that were chosen for an exhibition that features unrepresented and emerging women artists in Wyoming. And this is part of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and their exhibition called Women to Watch 2024 New Worlds. When women artists envision a different world, how does that look? So the National Museum of Women in the Arts invites us to explore this question with these five artists. So welcome, Katy.
Katy Ann Fox (01:15):
Thank you. I'm so glad to be here with you today.
Emy Digrappa (01:18):
Thank you for joining me. And I have three descriptions for you, and so I kind of want you to hone in and talk about each one of these. I have you as Katy Fox, the painter, Katy Fox, the print artist, and Katy Fox, the ceramics artist.
Katy Ann Fox (01:33):
Definitely. I have a couple hats that I wear and I think it keeps me intrigued in my art practice and it helps. I feel like I'm spilling out sometimes with how much energy I have. And so I think that all of my different hats inform what I'm doing. And so as an artist, I go by Katy Ann Fox. Primarily I'm an oil painter. I make pottery to keep myself centered. And I opened an art gallery to spread the words of the talented friends I have and also have beautiful walls for my own art to hang. And so I have an art gallery called Foxtrot Fine Art. I paint and I make pots. I also make prints.
Emy Digrappa (02:15):
Wow. Well, you're doing it all. So where did you grow up, Katy?
Katy Ann Fox (02:18):
I grew up on Grangeville, Idaho, so it's just the base of the panhandle in the state of Idaho.
Emy Digrappa (02:24):
Okay. And what was your inspiration to become an artist and start working as an artist?
Katy Ann Fox (02:31):
I was just talking to one of my friends and I look at the world and I'm always looking at things and I can fix them, like I'm really spatially aware. But her screen door was closing on her and I was like, we can fix this. And so I've always been tinkering and playing with the world and observing the world and wondering how it can be better and how it's interpreted and how we interact with it. And I'm realizing how much that's informed my creativity and my processes and also just kept me interested in being an artist.
Emy Digrappa (02:59):
And where did you go to school?
Katy Ann Fox (03:00):
I went to University of Idaho and I got a business major with an art minor. And then I looked around the world and I sat at a dinner table with my parents and I was like, I got to go and I want to do art. And they totally supported me and I was able to go to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for my MFA. And so I studied for three years and I tacked on a summer because when you have that wonderful setup of, I think I kind of knew, but I didn't quite understand what a blessing it is to not have anything else going on in your life and to totally get to delve into your art practice.
And so those three years were totally developmental and amazing. And then I looked to the world and I needed a stronger connection with nature on the daily basis, but I also craved and understood how special the San Francisco art community was. And so I looked around and I checked out a bunch of western towns and I found Jackson Hole. It made sense to me, and it keeps on making sense to me. And the community that I've developed there has continued to inform my art practice and the things that I want to paint. And I have wonderful, inspiring conversations with people, and I feel so lucky to be part of that community.
Emy Digrappa (04:13):
That is really, truly inspirational to me that you went out there and kind of saw your vision, you saw your dream and you just went for it.
Katy Ann Fox (04:24):
Definitely. And I got to spend summers outside in Nevada, the state of Nevada, so these wide open spaces and the most amazing sunsets and beautiful purple mountains, and understand how important the open spaces were to me and how important mother nature and the weathering of human existence happens. And then I felt like I kind of found a little blend of my Idaho heritage with the Nevada open spaces in Wyoming, and it was kind of just the perfect blend.
Emy Digrappa (04:57):
So who has inspired your artwork and given you inspiration in the kinds of art that you are doing?
Katy Ann Fox (05:05):
I've been so lucky to be surrounded with just supportive people. My parents have been incredibly supportive. My art teacher in high school was the same as the art teacher I had in elementary school, and I remember just losing my cool over how well this girl who was a senior when I was a freshman in high school could draw. And Miss Neville just looked at me and she said, you can draw that well. And I had no clue, but I loved it. And I just knew that I loved it and I knew that I loved what others were doing as well. And so I've had encouragement from the very beginning, but then I feel really lucky that I got to go and study in San Francisco. And our studies were really rooted in the masters, but Jackson has Edgar Payne hanging in the galleries there.
Every year at the art auction, you can go and see an original Edgar Payne, and he's my favorite. I have never seen a painter that has inspired me and spoken to the souls of the mountains and to my own soul so much. But then my first painting teacher at University of Idaho is showing in my gallery in Driggs. And he's one of my best friends. And so it's my whole path, I've just collected these positive influences and been so grateful. When I moved to Jackson Hole, I just needed a place to paint, and I knew that I couldn't sleep next to oil paints because I care about my health. And so I walked into the Art Association and there was some twinkle in my eye or something, and Tom Woodhouse just took me under his wing and said, oh, Katy Fox, there's a spot for you to paint.
And just pointed to the corner in the Art Association painting studio. And that was how I made all of my friends. And then I got into the art lab to get subsidized studio space for a local artist. And so I was one, I applied and was accepted into that. And then because of that studio space, I looked around, and the wallpaper show is their biggest fundraiser. And I really loved how the printmaking medium was bringing people together, but I didn't know anything about it. I had gone to oil painting school.
And so I went and I looked at what they were using to make the prints, and I got online and I ordered all of the supplies. And then I just kind of stood there in the common area until someone it was Scotty Craig had just like took me under his wing and was like, this is how you do it. And Travis Walker was like, oh yeah, Fox, you're doing a good job. Yeah. And so it's just been along the way I've been so lucky to just have continued inspiring and encouraging conversations. And I hope that I'm providing that for others too.
Emy Digrappa (07:31):
Oh, my gosh, you're so enthusiastic about what you [inaudible 00:07:35]. It's really, I think it's contagious. I think you,
Katy Ann Fox (07:38):
I hope so because I feel so lucky.
Emy Digrappa (07:42):
That's incredible. And just that you have stayed on that path. And a lot of artists, that's why they say their starving artists have a hard time staying on the path, and they get off their path and their dream because they get discouraged, I think, because it is hard to make a living, but you've actually managed to put that all together. And now,
Katy Ann Fox (07:42):
Oh my gosh. But I've had every side job you can think of.
Emy Digrappa (07:42):
Katy Ann Fox (08:07):
And they've all been wonderful. I got to work at Aspen's Market, and then they were like, oh, but is your handwriting okay? And so I got to do all of their sandwich boards. And so all of these funny little gigs I've had along the way have been bridge jobs is what somebody called them. They've just been bridges backed onto my path, I feel like, because it's what made sense.
Emy Digrappa (08:26):
So the other thing that this exhibition is focused on is that we have these extraordinary events that happened in 2020, the global health pandemic, the intense calls for social reform, unprecedented social division, and just wanting to know from women how through their art, they're conveying those messages or working through those issues.
Katy Ann Fox (08:54):
Art is the way that the artist gets to process the world around them through the art. And then anybody who looks at it and any way that it shares, it provokes more conversation. It's a communication tool that is deeper and different than any spoken word or written word. And so yeah, the pandemic and the social reform and the fact that women were, in many ways, women were hit harder by the pandemic because they were pulled from the workforce to take care of children. And it was like we had so many step backs in history, it felt like. And so to be part of this exhibit that's labeled a new world, to look in the direction that we want to, is the way that I like to focus my art. I think that you can look into the darkness and it's never ending, or you can look into the light and it's also never ending. And so remembering to look up and focus on the things that make us work and hope. Is that an answer to that question at all?
Emy Digrappa (09:47):
I really like how you answered that question because you can look at life in two ways. You can look into the darkness, like you said, and that's an ending. And you can look into the light, and that's also an ending. So you always remember to look up and what a great metaphor to think about when you think about how you choose and make decisions and how you look at life. And it's kind of like that saying, are you a glass half full or a glass half empty? And so you just defined that in your answer to the pandemic. I agree. I think women did get hit really hard.
Katy Ann Fox (10:24):
Yeah. And we're also emotional, and I'm also emotional and empathetic. And I just remember going into that and I had a few conversations with my friends who I respected so much, my brother and one of my dear friends who's over 60, and I spoke with them and I was like, I guess I'll see you in three weeks. I think we have to hide from each other for a second. And I just felt this weight. And I don't know that everyone felt that, but I know that a lot of my female friends felt that.
Emy Digrappa (10:56):
I do think that everyone did feel it in some way or another. And even if it's just with your family relations, people you see every day, or the fact that people felt different ways about masking or not masking or vaccine or no vaccination, and these kind of polarizing things that could pull you apart if you didn't say believe in getting a vaccination. So I think there were some very interesting things that were going on that were also polarizing. I mean, even outside of just what's happening in,
Katy Ann Fox (11:30):
Oh my gosh. Yeah, it was wide. It made a huge difference, a huge path through our lives. Did you happen to catch the CBS Sunday morning special about division in America? And then they highlighted wealth in Jackson, which was one of the specials. But then they also showcased this guy who was over 100, and he's the guy who wrote, he wrote Mod and a bunch of the sitcoms for when sitcoms became popular. And they were like, do you have any other ideas? And he said, yes, we can get through this, but we need the leadership of a 13-year-old girl. And so his whole idea was to make a sitcom with a 13-year-old girl that got it, that brought her parents together, that questioned things and called people out and found humor and stuff and was just sharp.
And I thought that was really interesting. But then I also got, last summer, I got to chaperone an all girls camp up at Teton Valley Ranch Camp with GAP, Girls actively participating. It's a program that's in Jackson. And I don't think that I had ever, like that was the most inspiring and wonderful week that I spent all last summer. The girls and the youth in America do have hope, and they see the faults of the world around them, and they're hearing it, and I believe in them. We have a really cool generation. We have really cool people pushing forward.
Emy Digrappa (12:54):
What kind of things would they say about where we are right now and how they look at the world and how they see what is dark or what is light about it?
Katy Ann Fox (13:04):
It was a group of people who had grown, girls that had grown up in Jackson. And so they were all totally understanding and more well versed on climate change and all of the things that we could be doing. And they just believed in it, and there wasn't bickering. They got along so well and they were really supportive. And part of that was the organization and the temperature of the, or what's, the attitude of the organization. But it was just so inspiring to know that there were all of these young women that were getting along so well and just looking brightly into the future. So that was a wonderful way to do the last week in August last year.
Emy Digrappa (13:47):
Oh yeah, I bet. I bet that was inspirational.
Katy Ann Fox (13:47):
Yeah, it definitely, yeah it gave me new inspiration, new hope. Yeah. And I was just some strange adult that seemed kind of unattached and free to these girls, and they were like, I don't know. It was obvious that I wasn't a parent. It was like I didn't really make sense and wasn't one of the necessary categories that had always been filled in their lives. It was such a treat to attend that camp.
Emy Digrappa (14:09):
I actually think that's really fun. That must have been a lot of fun for you.
Katy Ann Fox (14:15):
It was, yeah.
Emy Digrappa (14:16):
So my last question is just to ask you to just kind of paint a picture, like you were doing the next painting of how you see yourself in the future, how you see yourself growing and expanding your horizons as an artist.
Katy Ann Fox (14:32):
I'm sitting in the house that my mom grew up in right now, and I do think that there's so many things that we can gather from the past. And a lot of my artwork is painting these weathered buildings or painting the electrical boxes and the things that hold us together and the behind the scenes things that are often overlooked. I want to go forward and remember the history and remember the major monuments that happened already, but understand that we can take this further and continue to get better. And it's not all darkness in our past. We get to bring positive things into our future, and we need to focus on the positive and focus on the things that bring us together. The telephone poles. I just got to do a solo show at my gallery, and probably the most popular painting that I did was a three-foot by three-foot of a pretty normal little sunset.
And then there was a telephone pole and a bunch of wires that made it all of a sudden kind of abstract. And it was just the connection in our lives. And I called it 1000 Metaphors, 1000 Met, I can't say that. I called it 1000 Metaphors. And it was funny how that painting stopped people. And so I think that I want to keep on trying to connect people and giving a sense of peace in my artwork where people want to spend time together and with that peace and the positive quiet moments of their life.
Emy Digrappa (16:01):
Well, how do people connect with you? How do they find you? What's the name of your gallery and what is your website?
Katy Ann Fox (16:07):
My gallery is called Foxtrot Fine Art in Driggs, Idaho, and it's on the road up to Targe. So it's just on your way to Alta, Wyoming, and it's easy to find. I'm open every day of the week, close on Mondays and Tuesdays, open in the afternoons. My website is katyannfox.com and the gallery website is foxtrotfineart.com. Both of them really easy. And you can always follow me on Instagram with Katy Ann Fox or Foxtrot Fine Art.
Emy Digrappa (16:32):
Okay, perfect. And it's been such a pleasure talking to you.
Katy Ann Fox (16:36):
So wonderful to speak with you too.
Emy Digrappa (16:39):
Yeah. And so I can't wait to visit your gallery, actually.
Katy Ann Fox (16:44):
Oh my gosh. Come. Yeah. I have a bunch of fun events coming this fall. I'm going to do like the wet plate photography, like what Lindsey Ross The Alchemistress does. And so there's a gal that lives in Alpine, Wyoming who knows that process as well. And so I think we're going to do portraits on November 4th and 5th, and then there's a storytelling event. Valley Voices is going to be hosted at the gallery on November 10th, and then I'm going to install food oriented, still lifes and food for November, and then nocturns, so nighttime paintings for December. And then a whole new set of ideas for the new year. So I'm really excited.
Emy Digrappa (17:19):
So has that been a big challenge for you, to stay focused on your artwork, but then at the same time run a business?
Katy Ann Fox (17:27):
It's been more balancing. There's 1000 problems to solve every day, which is really invigorating to my personality. And then it's also the back, I'm able to paint in the back. And so it's the nicest, cleanest, warmest studio I've ever had to make art. And so it really feels like I have all of the walls and the space to be a true professional artist. How I glorified it when I was in art school and now I'm sitting in the back of this gallery that this space demands respect. It's beautiful. There's tall walls, it's all white, it's clean, and then I'm sitting in the back painting whatever I want and getting to be face to face with people who are excited about art, whether it's my art or my friends' art, and it's really truly the best. It's really feeding my soul. It's totally challenging, but I love it.
Emy Digrappa (18:13):
I love it too. I love that you're so excited about it. So thank you so much for joining me today.
Katy Ann Fox (18:20):
No, thank you, Emy.
Emy Digrappa (18:36):
Thank you for joining us for this episode of What's Your Why brought to you by Wyoming Humanities with support from Wyoming Community Foundation and generous supporters like you. To learn more, go to Thinkwhy.org. Subscribe and never miss show.