Hosting classes and offering studio time since 1998
By Amber Schumacher
EDGEMONT - When you walk through the garden level door leading into Audrey Manke’s art studio in Edgemont, you are confronted with wall to wall displays of meticulously painted art works. Ranging in genre from cowboy culture to plants and animals and seemingly everything in between.
In the center of this explosion of art, sits the artist’s tables with easels, oil paint, paint brushes and half painted canvases on their way to masterpieces. Artists sit around the u shaped tables, working tirelessly on their paintings and taking constructive criticism and direction from Gerald Neff, affectionately referred to as “Grizz”.
Grizz, a self-taught painter, ex-outfitter and guide out of Idaho, retired and came back to the area he grew up in about 10 years ago. He has had his art featured in galleries in Jackson Hole, Custer and various other places throughout his ongoing painting career. Three years ago Grizz stepped into the open teaching spot at Manke’s art studio, hosting classes and guiding painters every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Manke completed her first painting in 1969 and aside from a period of time when Manke and her husband focused on their business in Edgemont, she’s been painting ever since. If you get the pleasure of taking a tour through her house, you can see the years of paintings proudly displayed across her home and covering the walls of her studio.
Manke started hosting these art classes twice a week back in 1998 and has been going strong ever since. Manke offers her studio and Grizz offers his expertise and guidance at no cost to local artists. Although paint and materials are provided in the studio, Manke’s only monetary request is that artists cover the cost of the materials they use. A fair trade off for studio space and eight hours a week of guided instruction.
Manke takes her artist’s studio so seriously, when they sold their former house in Edgemont and built their new home along the Old Hwy right outside Edgemont, the art studio was figured into the blue print of the home from day one!
Although the art classes and studio time are open to the public, Manke has a committed and regular group of ladies that show up most every week. Stephanie Clark, who has been working on a colorful horse painting, has been showing up to Manke’s studio for the past 20 years. Janet Boortz, who has been working on a portrait of horses, has been painting at the studio since around 2004. Two additional artists, Bev McBride and Tommy Kuhl are also regular faces at the Manke art studio.
The artists use a heat sensitive oil paint called Genesis Oil. Genesis Oil only dries when heat is directly applied to it, with something such as a hair dryer. This type of oil allows the group to work on a painting, cover their pains and brushes and return the next week to pick up where they left off. Other paints, such as acrylics and water based paints tend to dry out too fast and wouldn’t be as conducive to the class’ schedule. Although the class’ leader, Grizz, prefers traditional oil paints, the rest of the class uses Genesis.
The wall to wall art belongs to Manke herself, as the other artists are encouraged to take their own art with them. Some artists keep their paintings while others gift them or sell them. Manke alone could open and host her own art gallery with the amount of colorful, carefully painted masterpieces hanging in her home, her talent is obvious when you look at her art.
But Manke isn’t alone in the talent department. If you walk into the studio on a Tuesday or Thursday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. you will be awestruck with the talent before you. If the ladies and Grizz’s paintings are any indication of their individual artistic abilities, there is no doubt the studio is bursting with talent.
Nakina Hair / Fall River County Herald
Stephanie Clark works on her art at Audrey Manke’s studio in Edgemont. Clark has been painting here for 20 years.