Keep Jackson’s Art Fires Burning

Courtesy Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Great news from J.H. Public Art came last week:  “On Monday, November 19th, the Town of Jackson approved the final draft of the public art guidelines, completing a two-year effort and securing a bright future for public art in Jackson Hole. A huge thank you to senior staff and the Mayor and Town Council.”  Yay!

Last week I wrote to Jackson’s elected officials regarding the Town of Jackson’s supporting of public art guidelines. I’m recreating the message here; while my message was meant to be positive, at least one town official interpreted it negatively. Remaining aware of chances we might miss, we’re less inclined to miss them.

Everyone is talking about change. The Snaz is changing-leaving. Jackson’s art is changing-diversifying. This sand castle will wash out to sea. The Jackson Hole News & Guide sent out an e-survey, reflecting the possibility they may change. Obama is staying, Teton County’s elected officials roster is changing.  At a the dinner party I attended last night, guests were well-stoked with wine and discussing changing their own lives. BTW, what’s good writing? It shines light on the obvious that, for whatever reason, has not crystallized in our consciousness.

Criticism is a form of patriotism, as well as a form of deep love. Did you hear Colleen Thompson speak about Wyoming’s health care on NPR last week? She keeps an eye on health issues because she cares about her family and community.

Here’s my letter, written prior to last week’s vote:

I hope elected officials vote positively on a resolution to accept public art guidelines. I forward research and my deep belief that supporting public art to a reasonable degree is, as I’ve been advocating for years, very wise:

“As cities and municipalities invest in infrastructure, public services and needed resources, it’s always important to remember how the arts can add to the benefits being accrued. A city with no culture, no life, and no sense of vitality is vulnerable to losing out on the same kind of economic benefits that were desired when public officials decided how to spend resources in the first place. Investing in roads, schools and infrastructure is absolutely essential to an area’s long term economic growth; however, without a vibrant and committed arts scene, the desire of residents and tourists to experience the best of what the area has to offer will be diminished.”

Just about everything around us springs from creativity. We ARE creativity.  I believe designing  “walking art paths” through and around Jackson would help tourists find galleries and “art hot spots” they may otherwise pass by. Self-guided tours are fun for families and individuals; they encourage shy visitors to engage with the arts.

Establish a permanent place for children visiting the Town of Jackson—somewhere central to Town Square—to create art. Just to draw, paint what they’ve seen or experienced here, and give them a place to decompress and bring back a home-made Jackson Hole memory. In my role as facilitator and moderator for “Artists in the Environment,” I’ve witnessed so many young people excited to engage in making art on the spot. Partnering with the Art Association and one or two supportive galleries or museums may expedite this process.

We have worked hard to come together as a united arts community, and though we’ve hurdles to clear and problems to fix, the arts have arguably made greater progress and displayed more innovation in the face of recession than any other Jackson economic sector. 

Thanks to all the electeds for your support of public art to date!



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