Planning the Intermountain West; McCandless Directs New Gallery; Bad Reviews

“Planning in the West,” the second annual conference on the topic of Intermountain West development, takes place in Boise, Idaho, June 2-3, 2010. The conference is billed as featuring “leading planners, policy-makers, architects, developers, and landscape architects from around the Rockies….to track planning and development trends, showcase best practices, and understand how thoughtful and place-inspired planning can help us shape our region in the most positive possible ways.”

Planning in the West’s keynote speaker is Mark Muro, of the Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C. based public policy think tank with a mission to  “conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that advance three broad goals:

  • Strengthen American democracy;
  • Foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans and
  • Secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.”

Muro studies intermountain economic trends; you can find “Mountain Monitor – Tracking Economic Recession and Recovery in the Intermountain West’s Metropolitan Areas” when you do a search on the Brookings Institute website.  The study tracks trends through the fourth quarter of 2009.  It looks at large metropolitan regions (Denver, Boise, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque), and smaller areas (Reno, Fort Collins, Las Cruces, Boulder); but transpose Muro’s larger points on intermountain real estate booms, education, and diversity of economic base to Jackson’s profile, and you will get a pretty good idea of the pace of economic recovery Teton County might expect, and why.

exteriornightSoft Opening for Heather James Gallery

Heather James Fine Art opens its doors at 172 Center Street, Suite 200, next door to Altamira Fine Art, in April.  This month’s opening is soft.  Lyndsay McCandless has been hired as the gallery’s director.

“We welcome our new neighbors, Heather James Fine Art, to the Center Street art district,” says Altamira Executive Director Mark Tarrant. “This is an important addition to the Jackson art market, providing the quality of fine art that people expect when visiting Jackson.  We are working with the gallery’s director, Lyndsay McCandless, and planning cooperative events that will set the pace for the Jackson experience.”

Based in Palm Desert, California, the gallery “represents a world-class spectrum of art-bridging genres including Impressionist and Modern, Classical Post-War and Contemporary, American and Latin American, Old Masters, design, cutting-edge contemporary and photography.”

A partial list of artists the gallery represents includes American artists Marion Kavanagh Wachtel, Oscar Bluemner and Irving Norman; Latin American artists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Francisco Zuniga, Naum Knop and Marta Minujin; and Impressionist/Modern masters Berthe Morisot and Alberto Giacometti.

lifeinhell2003A friend passed along a recent local art “review” —perhaps “commentary” is a better word — concerning the closing of the Oswald Gallery.

I’ve been criticized for some of my own commentary, and I know the sting of having someone in our close Jackson community express strong negative feelings about what I’ve written.   I also believe that the First Amendment is one of our most precious charges.  Thou shalt not shoot the messenger.

The piece I’m referring to was particularly bizarre.  Is the writer trying to be facetious?  If so, the effort fails.  (Sign up for Satire:101)  Here’s why:   The writer, an artist, should know better than to characterize all art galleries as a whorl of  “…musicians, models, artists, writers, homosexuals, and wealthy patrons milling around in unbearable hipness…….

(Dude.  You have a show about rap artists interpreted as holy gospel singers.   Which isn’t such a stretch, but it’s certainly hip-hoppity.)

If, in fact, he’s pretending not to know about the gallery business, he did a good job.   If he really knew, and his writing was up to par (not saying mine is, I know my limits) we’d read his piece and think, “What a great skewering of the art scene!  Brilliant!”

That didn’t happen, so I’m going forward with this post taking the position he really doesn’t know.  If he does know, he should build himself a much, MUCH bigger platform before venturing out into such territory.   Think Woody Allen.   Or Colbert.  Or Tracy Morgan.   Or Mike Bressler!  Catch the Shouts & Murmurs “Cursing Mommy” column sometime.

The writer goes on:  “There would always be plenty of blow and smack at hand and somehow the entire enterprise makes money and garners international acclaim.”

Are you a kid?  Or are you just brain dead from your early days spent snorting and writhing around on the floor at Studio 54? Stuff happens, but this ain’t the 80’s.  I understand Leya is fond of you, and she may share some of your views, and you are lucky to have someone as professional and savvy as Leya in your corner.    But for those not in on your “inside” stuff, what you write is not cutting it.

If any of you vultures reading this article want to save 25 to 50 percent on some really nice picture frames, now is the time.

How much will your art be worth in a few years?  If your stuff doesn’t sell, by what method will you toss the carrion into the yard? Maybe you’ll go “Ebay.”

We are in a Great Recession.  Not a mild recession, a GREAT RECESSION.   Picassos are selling.  Big stuff.  Because people with that kind of money can buy as much as they like, and are.   Many galleries are having their artists size down their work, to make it more affordable.  And we’re talking about all levels of artists, all genres.   Travis Walker does a great job of coming up with innovative ways for his artists to sell, and new collectors to collect.

There’s quite a bit of information on the art market out there.  Why don’t you read some of it?

I won’t touch the Wilson/butlers in the basement bit.

“Leya looks great in black, and I did not imagine anything beyond that was necessary for success in the art world.”

Perhaps you should apply for a gallery intern job this summer.   You will be lucky to get hired, even for free, but give it a shot.

bison_d“We are still surrounded by landscape paintings, of moose in front of the Tetons or Indians painted by white people.  So obviously Americans prefer art that does not make us think but rather reinforces stereotypes and clichés.”

By that logic, people would be buying landscapes and wildlife art in SoHo.

Why are YOU here in Jackson Hole?  It can’t be because of intense city energy, urban infrastructure and sounds, interstate highways and their traffic, or cultural diversity.

Maybe you’re here to snowboard?    On big mountains, surrounded by wildlife?

Can you name the photographers Oswald has carried since the day they opened?  Lots of landscape shooters……and damn, they’re hip!  One of Leya’s favorite photographers, Nine Francois, is largely about portraits of animals from the wild.  They aren’t in the wild, I don’t believe, when Francois takes her photos, but they are, at their core, wildlife.   I mean, this is the West.  If we were in Key West, what would you see?   Santa Fe?  Cape Cod?  San Antonio?  Art is a reflection of place.

What do you imagine people visiting Jackson Hole and the Parks want to think about while they are here?   What do you think they want to take back with them, and why?  I don’t have statistics, but my experience tells me that wealthy locals, many with several homes and access to all art markets, buy much of Jackson’s contemporary art.   We certainly need our contemporary arts in order to thrive.  I adore them.  I even like your work, but I’ve deleted my story about it because I feel what you are writing for your newspaper is toxic, bitter and scary; it may even foreshadow some violent act.   I hope your newspaper takes heed.

Most visitors buy art here for reasons having to do with the unmatched experiences they have in Wyoming.  And many collectors buy  representational and abstract or contemporary art.    Because it all has value.

Pop quiz: Who was Edward Curtis?


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