When a person is an artist, their life becomes their magnum opus. This is the principle that Park City artist Bridgette Meinhold has used to intertwine two distinctly different disciplines.
Bridgette holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from San Diego State University and an MS in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. When examining the first half of her career, you might assume that this accomplished local painter would be best suited to working in a STEM-related field. For a while Bridgette did just that. In 2007, with a special focus on wind energy, she advised companies in Summit County on how to incorporate sustainable business practices.
During this time, she practiced painting on the side. “I knew from a young age I wanted to make art, but I always thought I would only keep it as a hobby,” Bridgette says.
Prior to graduate school, the Oklahoma native wanted to try out the ski bum lifestyle and first moved to Utah in 2004. She felt drawn to the Wasatch Range and returned for good in 2007 to settle with her husband and dog in an A-frame cabin. Travel in their small Summit County community of about 30 people is only possible by snowmobile during the winter.
When the 2008 US economic crisis hit, Bridgette’s sustainability consulting client base declined drastically, and her career took an unexpected turn.
“I suddenly had a lot more free time on my hands, and I used pretty much of all of it to paint,” she says. The dreamlike quality of her foggy evergreen landscapes frequently earn her work descriptions such as “ethereal” and “moody.”
While Bridgette was content with painting as a personal expression for the Utah landscape she loved, it wasn’t until she attended an encaustic hot wax/paint workshop in 2009 that she realized she wanted to create a career from her art. Her husband built her a dedicated studio out of a shipping container and she began painting full-time. Bridgette showed her first works at Gallery MAR in Park City in 2010, and now her encaustic and watercolor paintings are also shown in Colorado galleries as well.
As an established local artist, Bridgette also conducts annual outdoor watercolor workshops. “I find that a lot of people get hung up on the definition of ‘outdoorsy,’” she explains. “I want to show people that there are many ways to enjoy being outside, including simply bringing your art outside. You don’t have to be a person who skis or mountain bikes all the time to enjoy the outdoors rusbank.net.
“Most of my paintings are inspired by Utah, specifically the Wasatch Range, and I’m an advocate for open spaces and conserving our landscapes,” she says. “I literally live in an aspen grove, and the trees are a big part of my world. It’s important to me to work toward stopping deforestation and to educate people about climate change.”
The title of her newest show at Gallery MAR is “Among the Trees,” inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem, When I Am Among The Trees. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to TreeUtah by Bridgette and matched by Gallery MAR.