Local Artist Celebrates Western Slope’s Ranch and Farm Life at Museum of the Mountain West
Susan Sanburg Humphrey’s show, Western Landscape & Lifestyle opened July 2nd at at Museum of the Mountain West. Humphrey, from a third-generation ranching family, is known for her digital photography and paintings depicting the world she grew up in and her breathtaking images western wild mustangs. Her show, which runs through mid-August, is part of the Museum’s month-long celebration of Western Colorado’s farm and ranch history. Humphrey also co-chaired the museum’s major fundraiser for the year, Ranch & Farm Heritage Days held July 15 & 16.
[This article originally appeared in the San Juan Silver Stage, March 2020, by Mary Menz ]
The beauty of Colorado’s Western Slope offers something for everyone—from the desert canyons, mesas, and plateaus to its foothills, mountain meadows, and high alpine tundra.
“I can’t help but be inspired by the scenery I’m surrounded by,” said award-winning Pea Green artist Susan Sanburg Humphrey. She speaks quietly and modestly about her work, yet her photographs of the Western Slope’s gorgeous landscapes, her oil paintings of ranch life, and her digitally painted portraits of wild horses speak volumes to those who view them.
Humphrey is a Colorado native, born and raised in Montrose on a Bostwick Park Hereford ranch. She grew up with the Black Canyon of the Gunnison as her backyard playground.
Humphrey’s intimate relationship with nature is obvious in her powerful artistic compositions. A predominantly self-taught artist, her talent is palpable in the way she captures the dust of a round-up, frames the clouds of an alpenglow sky, and flexes her creative muscle in digital paintings of wildflowers abloom in the high country.
Humphrey’s digital paintings, for example, apply traditional paint techniques to her photography, meshing her talents into unique and vivid compositions that reflect her familiarity with farming and ranching. The vibrant colors of a handkerchief in a rancher’s pocket or the just-right fuchsia of the rosy-paintbrush in a field of wildflowers demonstrate[compound subject, plural verb] her eye for the memorable moments in time, which she captures on her canvases.
Connie Williams at the AppleShed in Cedaredge is just one of the many fans of Humphrey’s work. “I love the freedom Susan takes in her photography and the energy and personal touch she adds when she creates digital and mixed-media pieces,” said Williams. “It’s art at its essence—and it’s so original to her.” Humphrey is one of the AppleShed’s featured artists, and several of her pieces are displayed in the gallery for purchase.
Recently retired as a career manager for City Market in Hotchkiss, Humphrey credits her work-related travel throughout the region as additional inspiration for her photography. Now that she’s not traveling or working full-time as a produce specialist, Humphrey has more time for her art and personal travel with Dan, her husband of 48 years.
These days, Humphrey spends a good amount of time photographing the wild mustangs at the Bureau of Land Management’s Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area in Moffat County. She then creates digital masterpieces of the well-documented bands, or family groupings, of wild horses sired by the same dominant stallion.
Books Based on Humphrey’s Photography of Wild Mustangs
Susan Sanburg Humphrey is author of two children’s books inspired by the wild mustangs she photographs in Northwest Colorado. Humphrey’s picture book, Family Life in the Sand Wash Basin, describes some of the more colorful and iconic horses in the area and how they are related to each other in family harems and herds. Color Me Wild is a companion coloring book based on the famed wild horses. It features 40 images for children of all ages to color and enjoy.
Susan’s artwork and books are available locally at The AppleShed in Cedaredge, The Creamery Arts Center in Hotchkiss, Montrose Center for the Arts, and the Museum of the Mountain West Gift Shop, also in Montrose. Three of her pieces have been accepted into the 2022 Alpine Artist Holiday in Ouray, and maybe viewed there during that show in August.