Local Artists Create Ornaments for the Official White House Holiday Tree

November 30, 2007

First Lady Laura Bush invited Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, among other national park units, to provide special ornaments for this year’s official White House Christmas tree. The 2007 White House tree is the centerpiece of elaborate decorations that pay tribute to the beauty and individual character of national parks while celebrating the theme of “Holiday in the National Parks.” In response to Mrs. Bush’s request, Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott selected two acclaimed local artists—Jim Wilcox and Greg McHuron—to paint specialty ornaments for the White House tree.

“It is an amazing honor for the National Park Service to be selected as the theme for the White House holiday decorations by the President and Mrs. Bush,” said National Park Service Director Mary Bomar. “Each ornament on the magnificent 18-foot Fraser fir was designed by an artist selected by the park. These ornaments tell the stories of our parks, just as our parks tell the stories of our nation,” said Bomar.

The “Holiday in the National Parks” ornament artists joined Mrs. Bush at the White House in Washington, D.C. for a special reception as she unveiled the tree to begin the holiday season on Wednesday, November 28. The tree, located in the Blue Room, displays artistic ornaments representing the country’s 391 National Park Service sites.

As part of the official invitation to participate in this year’s national parks theme, each park was allowed to select an artist to paint or decorate a large gold ball ornament about the size of a grapefruit. Any medium that did not alter the size and shape of the ornament was allowed, and the subject was to be the most recognizable feature representing the individual park. These original works of art will become part of the White House permanent ornament collection.

Jim Wilcox painted an ornament depicting Grand Teton National Park’s iconic scenery. Wilcox, namesake and founder of the Wilcox Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming, is a well-known painter of dramatic landscapes that often focus on the beauty and tranquility of the Teton Range and the park. Once a high school art teacher, Wilcox decided to pursue his craft full time following a successful show of his paintings at Jackson Lake Lodge. Working in oils and acrylics, Wilcox uses light to create different moods as he strives to capture the Teton scenes that first inspired him. Wilcox has received numerous awards for his art over the years.

Greg McHuron created an ornament portraying the charismatic wildlife found in the park and parkway. McHuron, a plein-air artist who works outdoors in oils and watercolors, moved to Jackson in 1973 to be close to the subjects that inspire his art; he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Art in 1968 and has been painting full time since 1975. McHuron’s work has been displayed in numerous major shows and purchased for prestigious collections, including the National Museum of Wildlife Art. McHuron has received many awards and been featured in trade magazines such as Art of the West Magazine, Wildlife Art News, and Southwest Art Magazine. His work is on view at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center and National Museum of Wildlife Art. A spectacular 13-piece wildlife mural painted by McHuron can be seen at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center on North Cache in Jackson, Wyoming.