Category Archives: Arts Funding & Grants

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher

“Once there was a boy whose head was filled with ideas. He loved to draw and think.” The Perfect Machine by Lance Letscher. Courtesy the upcoming documentary, “The Secret Life of Lance Letscher.”

“He meticulously organizes and stores these weathered materials, which he later surgically deconstructs and deploys, creating new narratives from shards of past memory.” Excerpt from Lance Letscher’s Bio. 

Lance Letscher, Big Eye

Broke a promise. Said I’d comment on the Tayloe Piggott Gallery Lance Letscher event, and now that the show has only another week on exhibit, I recommend, if you haven’t already, go and see this collection.

Letscher’s show, “Untroubled Mind,” appears to reflect a very troubled mind. A mind sliced, diced, hard-stapled together as to not fall apart, an infinity of dreams and visions swept together in concise, pointy, intricate patterns. Letscher’s collages are reminiscent in style of Hieronymus Bosch’s tumultuous and foreboding paintings, but Letscher’s works don’t convey what Bosch did: Letscher’s works are puzzles, visual crosswords and brilliant colors make them a joy to study. Men’s and women’s shoes, watches, film canisters, a myriad of containers, baby items, body parts, silverware; these are just a few images repeatedly appearing in Letscher’s art. Often he arranges his printed and cut slivers like Japanese paper umbrellas or fans.

Lance Letscher, Tulip Painter

Opening night, attendees took in an edited version of The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, a documentary about the artist. Letscher is shy, but his art speaks volumes.

Take a look: http://www.indiewire.com/2015/11/the-secret-life-of-lance-letscher-goes-inside-the-mind-of-work-of-a-collage-artist-50297/

Tears welled up. Creativity so often springs from grief, memories, the confusions and heartbreak of childhood, loss. Emotional attachments, questions unanswered. Tangled up in our brains, we think of them….but they roll away, hidden under a rug, floating into the air. An artist practicing any form may swear to recall those phantom feelings and use them….but they’re gone. We can’t present them. We can’t organize them and put them out in the open in any sort of orderly way; it’s almost impossible to  hang on to life’s minutia.

But Letscher can, and does.

Lance Letscher. Courtesy Austin Chronicle

That’s his brilliance and his bravery. He did not cotton to that stage, and I think he knew that after seeing the film, questions from the audience would be hard to elicit. What could we say?  It was a huge gift. Letscher has catalogued and dealt with life through his extraordinary art. He’s found a way to create art deeply personal, evocative and startling. And he’s able to EXPLAIN it to us. He’s held on, cut out every sliver of metal and paper, used industrial staples and turned tumult into peace.

And when you have peace, you are untroubled.

www.tayloepiggottgallery.com  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/907172962/the-secret-life-of-lance-letscher-a-documentary-fi

Fresh Lots at J.H. Art Auction; A Kansas Art Tale

Edgar Payne, Navajo Scouting Party, 24×38″ Oil. Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000

Fresh to the art market: no matter how important an artist’s work, if passed around the auction circuit too often, its value tarnishes. Flip city. That’s why the 2017 Jackson Hole Art Auction   elation over works new to the market is understandable: six oils by American illustrator W.H.D. Koerner. The works come straight from a private collection “with direct descent from the artist.”

W.H.D. Koerner (1878–1938) Citizens of the Law (1931) oil on canvas, 30 x 36″  Estimate: $75,000–$125,000

Koerner works include “Citizens of the Law,” shown above, and “New Horizons,” a “classic pioneer scene.” Both works estimate at $75,000 – $125,000. Koerner’s “Fly Fishing,” “The Bullring,” “The Price of the Old Northwest,” and “Indian Territory Demand for Tribute” round out the Koerner lots. Together these works comprise a vivid and compelling profile of the characters, times, challenges and passions of the Old West.

Edgar Payne, Carl Rungius, Robert Bateman, Tucker Smith; you’ll find works by all these iconic Western artists on the Jackson Hole Art Auction website.   No matter where they set up their easels, countless contemporary artists list the great Edgar Payne as a significant influence in their own work. 

The Jackson Hole Art Auction caps Jackson’s annual Fall Arts Festival, and is a co-production of the Gerald Peters and Trailside Galleries. A phenomenal Western Art market success, this will be the auction’s 11th year offering the finest works by living and deceased masters. The auction, now a destination in itself, continues to invite fine art consignments. Once again, the auction takes place over the course of two consecutive days: September 15th and 16th, 2017, at the Center for the Arts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. For information, contact Auction Coordinator Madison Webb, via Tel: 866-549-9278 | Fax: 307-732-1600 or at www.jacksonholeartauction.com.  

Now, a brief “return from vacation” note. If you read the New York Times  Arts Section, you may have seen March 25th’s article “Arts Without Funding? It Can Be Done, Kansas Says.” 

Courtesy Hays Arts Council

Journalist Mitch Smith’s  article tells the story of Kansas’ Hays Arts Council. Its director, Brenda Meder, cuts corners wherever possible in order to save money and funnel cash into the arts. She scrubs the toilets, she makes the reception appetizers, she’s increased membership and organizes quarterly art walks “in the brick-paved downtown, where storefronts transform into makeshift galleries that draw hundreds of spectators from Hays and beyond.”

In Hays, support comes from Democrats and Republicans. It is, says one politically involved citizen, “part of our DNA here. And that’s hard to replicate in other communities.”

This is a story about a Midwest arts community making concessions, but their arts scene remains strong. It’s a great profile. And, man, look at this art! It’s fantastic! Read the story here.

Courtesy Hays Arts Council

Hats Off! It’s “Whodunnit” Number 10!

I know Whodunnit!

What’s so special and enduring about the Art Association’s annual “Whodunnit?” fundraiser? One participating artist, Borbay, immediately piped up with his take on the exhibition:

“Despite being a full-time artist in Manhattan for seven years, I never established a meaningful relationship with an art organization. That changed completely when I moved to Victor, connected with Shari Brownfield, Todd Hanna, Chas Marsh, Mark Nowlin and The Art Association of Jackson Hole. They hosted my first show out West in the Summer of 2016, and since, I’ve witnessed the incredible impact they have made on our community. When the wonderful Jill Callahan mentioned the Whodunnit show, I was happy to contribute. I’m excited to see who ends up with my piece, and, from what I’ve heard, it’s one helluva party!”

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What Has Winter Wrought?

Kathy Wipfler  “Deep Winter – Jackson Hole”   7 x 11″   field study

“Greg McHuron was known to wrestle sheets of plywood through various Ice Ages just so he could stand on them without sinking into the frozen depths. But Greg was part Woolly Mammoth.” ~ Plein air painter Erin C. O’Connor 

This Jackson Hole winter!  Folks have mentioned a craving to chew their legs off. But if you’re an artist the show goes on, and being shut in or facing stupendously challenging weather conditions often leads to improvisation, new creative themes and awakenings of a different sort.

I contacted some legendary badass women artists and asked them how winter has affected their work. This post, we hear from  Kathy Wipfler, Kay Stratman and Erin C. O’Connor.

KATHY WIPFLER

Plein air painter Kathy Wipfler is a true veteran of painting outdoors. Solid and sensible, her practices spring from a lifetime of ranching and hard outdoor work. A long-time member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, she knows a thing or two.

“Having painted on location here in every season for 36 years, I have a few tricks of the trade to stay as warm as possible. Painting a small format is one of them,” writes Wipfler. “Standing on Blue Board keeps the cold from my feet just a little longer than standing directly on the snow, and having the right boots is important. Painting sunlit snow is a passion, but there have been limited sunlit days so far this winter.”

Wipfler says another challenge is simply finding an accessible turnout to set up her easel and park. “Parking on the road’s shoulder is not so smart. I’ve spent time and effort shoveling out spaces whenever it’s feasible.”

Wipfler’s “Deep Winter – Jackson Hole,” pictured above, is so painterly I can almost feel the artist’s rich brushstrokes simply by looking. They convey the weight of this winter, its frigid cold, and a sense of muffled winter beauty. Wipfler’s snowdrifts are a pillow upon which the mountain rests.

Read more about Kathy Wipfler in this Jackson Hole Art Blog post, “Kathy Wipfler & the Boys!” 

KAY STRATMAN

Kay Stratman’s new abstract works are charged with color.

Kay Stratman is experimenting with her “alter studio ego.”

Stratman’s “Natural Abstractions,” comprised of watercolor and wax works, focus on what the artist describes as “amazingly colorful natural occurances that scream for exploration/exploitation/ abstraction.”

Stratman’s work (which she says has always favored essence over traditional form) is focused on subjects ranging from Yellowstone’s brilliant hot springs to “the mysteries of stellar nebula or northern lights.”

“People are familiar with watercolor as a medium and perhaps even encaustic wax,” writes Stratman. “But I combine both media in my work to present an interesting dichotomy. Watercolor and wax shouldn’t even be able to mix, should they? However, each medium becomes obvious upon close inspection, and the view from farther away brings the suggested subject matter to light.  The pieces themselves are splash and poured watercolors on rice paper, infused with encaustic wax (molten beeswax) that makes the paper translucent, allowing me to fuse layers together to create depth of color.”

Erin C. O’Connor – “El Gato Negro.”

Erin C. O’Connor 

“I know an artist who used to work for the phone company; he swiped one of those tents that they put over utility boxes so they can work in inclement weather; now he uses it to paint outside. At 17 below zero, I’d need the tent, the Enormo-Heat-Blaster, and the heated brush handles,” reveals painter Erin C. O’Connor.

I imagine O’Connor’s “Uppity Chick” smile.

Erin C. O’Connor in her studio.

During winter months O’Connor focuses on studio work and brings unfinished “warmer months” paintings to completion. At this time last year O’Connor was in Nicaragua, and she’s “finding welcome refuge in re-exploring those scenes.”

“It all plays back to me like a tape recording ~ the warmth, the humidity, the lyrical conversations, the people I met, all the things I learned,” she says. “Color upon color upon color. This has been my antidote to grey. This has been my rebellion to the cold.”

O’Connor updates her website during winter months, and she’s just been named as the newest member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters Board of Directors. When Plein Air for the Park ” gorgeously unfolds in July, it’s because we’ve thoroughly scrutinized the acrobatics well before summer.”

Next post, we’ll hear from a few more of Jackson’s ultra-talented women artists! All strive to be the best that they can be. Transcending fads and trends, they are wicked strong rungs on Jackson’s art history ladder, and their art endures.

In national art news, it was announced earlier this month that the NEA is in dire straits. Our new administration is strongly considering budget cuts that could eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. If executed, this spells disaster for art interests across the country. Such a step even stands to cancel important exhibitions like SFMOMA’s Matisse-Diebenkorn show.  Read a little about this impending legislation here

 

Rural Violence & Baby Ask: Women, Horses, Mountains, Music & More

“A new year is upon us, marking a time for reflection and anticipation. 2016 was a turbulent year, underscoring the important role art plays in encouraging dialogue between people and reflection upon ourselves.” ~  Art Advisor and Producer Camille Obering 

A heads up: Viewer discretion advised. This clip contains images of a live butchering. I want to post this latest in Obering & Friends “Rural Violence”  film-documented performance piece for the reasons Obering gives, and I’ve reached out to Obering with questions. At post time, the Jackson Hole Art Blog hasn’t received a response.

So I’ll put it to you, readers. The filmmakers wish to address many themes, and here’s the list, directly quoted:

– Death and destruction leading to life and enlightenment.

– Creating awareness that the luxuries many thoughtlessly consume often have a backstory (sic) many reproach (food production, electricity, transportation, cheap anything).

– Humanity’s animalistic (sic) instincts such as dominance, submission, struggle, proliferation, and acknowledging the grey area that exists separating humans from beasts.

– Persecution of the innocent.

– Tension created between what one considers natural verses amoral.

– How sanitized and curated our lives are, and how short our attention spans have become.

– Finding beauty in and meditating on what could be considered brutal.

These are themes we examine constantly; we’re a very aware generation or two; in Jackson alone we have two very fine organic food markets. That’s privilege, and we have a multitude of options when it comes to buying our food. We know that even organic meat gets butchered. How animals live their lives before butchering is most important: are they treated humanely or confined to horrific conditions? What were the circumstances for this animal? How did this creature end up as the “Rural Violence” star? Is it the “innocent?”

Camille Obering on set.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I do question my choices and often think about what took place before I pluck the sanitized package of meat I’ve just bought from the rack. Every day tensions between the haves and have-nots become more visible.  We are a community packed with environmentalists, biologists, forestry experts, wildlife biologists, fishermen, ornithologists and  conservation activists. Many hunt to feed their families.

Yet, for the touring public coming to visit Jackson Hole, any reference to how indigenous cultures survived and hunted are pretty smoothed over. Places you might find full-faced references are the J.H. Historical Societythe Yellowstone and Grand Teton Visitor Centers, the Library, the National Museum of Wildlife Art and National Geographic, just to name a few.

So what is new about these messages? I don’t think the themes are surprising; what’s new is how they’ve been treated in this piece of film. Rather than replicating, how about presenting a true indigenous group carrying out a routine life ritual? Would that get the point across? It’s the conversation I’d have. It’s a question, and raising questions is a primary goal here.

There’s beauty, poetry and reverence in this clip. I’m grateful to receive and share it. Thanks to Planet Jackson Hole and Meg Daly for the link!  www.camilleobering.com

Maddy German

A Song Bird’s “Baby Ask” 

A second locally produced video, “Baby Ask,” is in its final week of fundraising on Kickstarter, looking for dollars to offset costs of a ready-to-roll music video starring local songstress Maddy German. The video premiers at Jackson’s Center for the Arts at 6:00 pm, January 27th. 

German and her Band

Inspired by emotional upheaval, personal growth and, as it turns out, upheaval within the film’s production group and the rupture of German’s relationship with a former beau, the flick has two goals: transferring to film the struggles we experience with our “other selves,” and help launch a larger musical career for German and her crew.

You can catch the “Baby Ask” trailer here:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/497811323/baby-ask-a-music-video-from-wyoming