SHERIDAN — A recently-installed show at SAGE Community Arts features one artist’s depiction of landscapes in the Sheridan area.

The exhibit spotlights the work of John W. Taft, a nationally known artist who has received several awards, most recently the “Best Signature Award of Excellence” from the 2018 Oil Painters of American National Exhibit.

The show, titled “Bighorns and Beyond,” features 20 oil paintings that feature the Bighorn Mountains and the surrounding landscapes.

SAGE Executive Director Kendra Heimbuck said she began working with Taft during the second week of her new job, but the two worked to but the exhibit together relatively quickly.

During an artist reception at SAGE last week, Taft said he stumbled on his subject by accident. When he was younger, Taft, who grew up in Buffalo, New York, and went to school in Los Angeles, was making a cross-country trip that went through Wyoming when he saw a road sign for Buffalo. Taft said he stopped there for lunch because the city shared a name with his hometown; that stop offered his first glimpse at the Bighorns.

“I had this passing thought, ‘Maybe I should not do this job, get a job on a ranch out here and start painting,’” Taft said.

He continued his trip, but Taft said the idea stuck. About 15 years ago, Taft said he and his family moved to Colorado so he could focus on painting. Before that, Taft worked in New York City, which he said gave him an appreciation for uncluttered landscapes.

“Every time we would leave the city to drive upstate, where my folks were, the landscape was like an orchestra,” Taft said. “…New York City made me a landscape painter, before that I was thinking figuratively.”

The idea of painting the local landscapes returned to Taft when he traveled to Sheridan last year to attend an artist reception for Sheridan-native T. Allen Lawson, a former teacher of his.

While at the reception, Taft connected with one of the SAGE board members about working with the local nonprofit, and the exhibit began to take shape.

Taft will continue working with SAGE going forward. He will be the juror in SAGE’s 10th annual National Juried Art Show in May and teach a class on landscape painting at SAGE this summer.

The “Bighorns and Beyond” exhibit will be on display at SAGE through Jan. 18.

Matthew Gaston, The Sheridan Press | Artist John W. Taft talks about his journey from finger painting as child to his process as a landscape painter in the Bighorn Mountains at SAGE Community Arts during an exclusive Press Pass event Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2019.