Artist Biographies

Interested in learning more about the artists guiding the Arts in the Parks programs? Read on to learn a little more about each one. Perhaps you'll find a similar path to becoming an artist!


Shirl Ireland

Visiting Yellowstone for the first time when she was 4, Shirl Ireland’s love of nature and wildlife started young. Combining that Yellowstone experience with her initial introduction to the ‘art cart’ in first grade – she found her passions very early in life!

In college, she studied fine art, design, and education. After graduation, she moved to the Adirondack Mountains to indulge her love of the outdoors. There, she painted from her kayak and hiked with her easel. Painting outdoors was a perfect combination of learning, adventure, art and nature and became (and still is) her obsession.

Now, as a professional artist for over 2 decades, she lives and works beside Yellowstone National Park at the edge of the Yellowstone River. Here, she studies dramatic landscapes and amazing wildlife right out the windows of her studio and gallery.

Designed and created by herself and her artist partner John Stacy, Elk River Art: Studio, Gallery & Lodge, showcases their work in an amazing setting overlooking Yellowstone. The ultimate venue for combining her early passions of nature and wildlife with her Art.


Jennifer Armstrong

Since 1998, Jennifer has taught college courses in American literature, U.S. ethnic literature, women’s literature, film studies, documentary studies, and writing. She holds a B.A. in English and psychology from Sewanee: The University of the South; an M.A. in English from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English; and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Now that Jennifer lives in Yellowstone National Park, she welcomes opportunities to teach informally and to encourage others to engage their sense of wonder. She is also launching Lantern & Quill, a writing and editing platform, writing personal essays, and working on a multi-media documentary project centered on the theme of American belonging.


Jim Peaco

Jim Peaco has been the National Park Service Photographer in Yellowstone for 30 years. He has photographed many natural, cultural, and historic events such as the 1988 fire season, wolf reintroduction, and presidential visits.


Bernie Quetchenbach

Bernard Quetchenbach’s latest books are Accidental Gravity (2017), an essay collection from Oregon State University Press, and The Hermit’s Place (2010), a poetry collection from Wild Leaf Press. He has published poetry, articles, and essays, often concerning nature and the environment, in various periodicals and anthologies, including Poems Across the Big Sky II, Unearthing Paradise, Birdsong, Yellowstone Color it Wild, Animals and the Environment, and The Ecopoetry Anthology.

He teaches courses in writing and literature, including nature and environmental literature, at Montana State University Billings. He is an instructor and advisory board member with Big Sky Writing Workshops and is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers. Exploring Yellowstone has been a favorite activity of his for decades.


James Weikert

James Philip Weikert is an oil painter and architectural designer living and working in Bozeman, Montana. He was born in Florida in 1977, but he and his family soon moved to a small town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This rural environment allowed him the opportunity to spend countless hours exploring the surrounding forests, lakes, and rivers.

James attended Norwich University in central Vermont, where he earned a Bachelor of Architecture and Minor in Art. It was while at Norwich University that James first developed an interest in oil painting. Drawing on his background in architecture and love of the outdoors, he created a painting style that blended elements taken from both the built and natural environment. Most of his early work is a reflection of the New England landscapes he grew up in.

After spending several years living near the New Hampshire seacoast, James moved to Montana in the fall of 2003. His work was immediately influenced by the dramatic landscapes of the northern Rocky Mountains. This new inspiration compelled James to focus on improving and progressing his technique in the hopes of becoming a full-time artist. He recently completed the Montana Artrepreneur Program (MAP) to gain a better understanding of how to grow a sustainable art business.

In addition to a full time job in architecture, James currently maintains a studio at The Foundry, a cooperative studio and gallery space in Bozeman, Montana. His work can be found in a growing number of galleries and shops throughout western Montana.


The Sweet Bitterroot Band

Like the surprise bloom of Montana’s state flower in June, The Sweet Bitterroot Band blossomed into a partnership in harmony from a spontaneous mountaintop jam session outside Yellowstone National Park. Mary Strickroth, Maria Bisso, and Jenny Golding each bring their own musical style to the stage, creating a tender, powerful & evocative vocal blend. Their eclectic sound spans Americana, soul, new-grass, and folk genres, accompanied by six-string guitar, tenor ukulele, and the occasional cheese grater or kazoo.

Park ranger discussing park resources with visitors at West Thumb Geyser Basin

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Last updated: July 11, 2017

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