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Posts from ‘National Arts News’

Charles M. Russell (1864–1926) Menu (Cafe Noir) (ca. 1896) watercolor and pencil on paper 6 x 4 (sight) in  Estimate: $40,000–$60,000

Charles M. Russell (1864–1926)
Menu (Cafe Noir) (ca. 1896) watercolor and pencil on paper 6 x 4 (sight) in
Estimate: $40,000–$60,000

This year’s Jackson Hole Art Auction is two months away; time flies. After all, it’s summer and high art season in Jackson, Wyoming. Stay on your toes, keep a daily eye out for new auction lots! Get your consignments in on time~~2015’s deadline opportunity has likely evaporated. So many impressive consignments arrive at auction headquarters, upstairs at Trailside Gallery, that some must be put forward for your consideration.

Whether it’s market confidence or simply a new method of expanding their buying audience, the auction spreads itself over two days this year, with two separate buying events. The auction, a premier venue for Western masterworks, begins September 18th, 2015.

“The ninth annual Jackson Hole Art Auction will begin with Session I held on Friday, September 18th at Trailside Galleries in Jackson, WY. Session I will be a small well-curated sale of lots by highly desirable contemporary and deceased artists. Session II will be held on Saturday, September 19th at the Center for the Arts,” notes the auction. Both events include free, open-to-the-public preview opportunities.

E. Martin Hennings, Untitled. 18.5 x 15 1/4".  Oil $40,000 -$60,000

E. Martin Hennings, Untitled. 18.5 x 15 1/4″. Oil $40,000 -$60,000

So, what’s on the auction menu? It’s impossible to provide a full list in this space, but highlights include historic and contemporary works by Bierstadt, C.M. Russell, Bob Kuhn, Carl Rungius, Howard Terpning, Z.S. Liang, Remington, E. Martin Hennings, Clyde Aspevig, Richard Schmid, Harry JacksonEanger Irving Couse, T. Allen LawsonStanley Meltzoff and William Acheff.

Bob Kuhn (1920–2007) Winter Browse - Mule Deer (1995)

Bob Kuhn (1920–2007) Winter Browse – Mule Deer (1995) Acrylic on Board  14×18″ Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000

Lot estimates range anywhere from four digits to seven.

Though not an official part of Jackson Hole’s famed Fall Arts Festival, the auction is a heady and highly anticipated conclusion to Jackson’s official arts season. Live Western auctions cause attendees and staff to break out in goosebumps. This thing is full of adrenaline~~the auction has become one of the country’s top Western art auctions, each year offering up exquisite paintings, sculptures and artifacts. A co-production of Jackson’s Trailside Galleries and Santa Fe’s Gerald Peters Gallery, the auction is an upscale, professionally organized and thrilling event.

Visit for information, or phone Auction Coordinator Jill Callahan at (866)-549-9276.

Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) Wind River Country Wyoming (ca. 1860) oil on canvas 28 1/4 x 39 1/2 in Estimate: $1,000,000–$2,000,000

Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902)
Wind River Country Wyoming (ca. 1860)
oil on canvas
28 1/4 x 39 1/2 in
Estimate: $1,000,000–$2,000,000




David Grossman - Blossoming Trees - Oil on Linen - 8x10"

David Grossman – Blossoming Trees – Oil on Linen – 8×10″

“No, I said: What kind of bird are YOU?” ~ Sam, to Suzy, upon their first meeting in the film “Moonrise Kingdom.”  

Contemplative, visual poems. Painterly, reminding me of a wistful Childe Hassam; contemporary, like a print; gentle, glowing and linear. Colorado painter David Grossman is one of three new artists signed on to Altamira Fine Art. Grossman is joined by contemporary artists David Michael Slonim and bold trendsetter Thom Ross.

Attribute it to the soft, indecisive changing of our alpine seasons, call it a love of landscape. My heart has been stolen by Grossman’s diminutive oil painting, shown above. He paints, says the gallery, “abstracted visions of forests…melodic in their focus on rhythm and symmetry.” Adds Fine Art Connoisseur: “[Grossman’s paintings] effect the comfort and relief of a ‘visual exhale’ while also leading us into meditative contemplation and thought.”

A few brushstrokes and we are eras away in time, lost in a happy composition. 

Thom Ross - Gunman's Walk - Oil on Canvas 48 x 48"

Thom Ross – Gunman’s Walk – Oil on Canvas
48 x 48″

Have you been around Jackson long enough to remember California born artist Thom Ross’ installation at Snow King’s base? “Custer’s Last Stand” was an erected forest of early American soldiers pitted against Native Americans. We walked through and around the battle, and though that battle is one of the West’s most defining moments, Ross’ style is to portray iconic Americans and events in off-beat (gunmen with tiny heads!), sometimes complex and unexpected ways. He can be sensitive and elegiac; friends own an early Thom Ross painting depicting a solitary dead horse, lying on its side. It’s beautiful.

“Indians playing croquet; General Custer riding off while balancing a table on his head; Sheriff Pat Garrett standing with shotgun in hands bracing against the cold of a wintry New Mexico morning – these are a few of the unique images depicted in Ross’s paintings,” says Altamira. In addition to creating his art, Ross runs his own space, “Due West Gallery,” in Santa Fe.

David Michael Slonim - Fire and Ice-Oil on Canvas-48 x 60"

David Michael Slonim – Fire and Ice-Oil on Canvas- 48 x 60″

They are landscapes; landscapes deconstructed to layered, broad color fields, conveying essence. Contemporary painter David Michael Slonim is the third “new bird” to alight at Altamira. Plein air painting and illustration are part of his professional artistic experience.

Prisms, shards of translucent glass, collage — these I see in the artist’s expressionist works. Slonim is influenced by a bevy of masters, including Diebenkorn, Mitchell, Motherwell, de Kooning, and Cezanne.

“Although my paintings are derived from nature, they are really about color, shape, texture and line for their own sake,” says Slonim. “I started out as a plein air painter. The more I painted and studied, the more fascinated I became with abstraction. Now I am more interested in interpreting nature than representing nature.” 

Kyle Pozin - Mystic Warrior

Kyle Polzin – Mystic Warrior -Oil- 74 x 30″

In case you haven’t heard: April 5th’s Scottsdale Art Auction brought in $12.6 million.

Ecstatic press materials report that Frederic Remington’s “The Thermometer from Ten to Thirty-Three Degrees Below Zero,” an oil estimated between $500,000 – $700,000, sold for $920,000, the top sale of the day. Many deceased and contemporary masters did exceedingly well, but, emphasizes the auction:

“The crowd of almost 500 bidders was stunned when a 40-year-old artist from Texas, Kyle Polzin, took the block with a 74 x 30 inch oil entitled “Mystic Warrior.” Estimated up to $40,000, an extended bidding war ended in a hush, as auctioneer Jason Brooks carefully guided bids to a final total of $287,500.”

The Scottsdale Art Auction has now realized over $100,000,000 in art sales over the course of a decade. For complete results, visit








“A crucial part of a healthy community is having a sense of belonging to that community and experiencing a sense of control over your own life.”  ~ Toolbox.

Joseph Artero-Cameron, President of Chamorro Affairs, leads that island’s initiatives to preserve and promote its root culture, heritage and language. I met Artero-Cameron at 2013’s National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) Leadership Institute that took place earlier this month in Jackson, Wyoming. Whenever I observed Artero-Cameron he confidently offered up insights regarding strategy, arts and cultural tradition. He has a knack for getting to the heart of a matter, providing fresh perspective with a twinkle in his eyes.

Artero-Cameron was attending his first NASAA meeting, but he runs several government agencies in Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Artero-Cameron oversees conservation of corals, fisheries and other ocean matters; he runs the island’s television station, is actively involved with building a new $30 million museum and a new 15,000 square foot art gallery. And those, says Artero-Cameron, are just a few of his duties.

Rendering of Guam's Chamorro Educational Facility & Museum

Rendering of Guam’s Chamorro Educational Facility & Museum

We spoke of the role of women have traditionally taken in forming Guam’s culture; Artero-Cameron had made an observation about plenary speaker Terry Tempest Williams’ mother’s legacy of dozens of blank journals.

“We’ve noticed over the years that it’s not so much what is written or spoken, but the unspoken,” said Artero-Cameron. “And we define the soul on what is NOT said. It’s a very active voice, the soul.”

Historically, women are Guam’s heart and soul.

“My mother and grandmother live with me. This meeting is a wonderful experience, and it’s often said that it’s not what people say, but what they don’t say that matters most. What they do. Coming from a matrilineal society 4,000 years old the Chammurans (Guam’s indigenous people) were basically non-verbal until the Americans came in; then, writing things down was encouraged,” recounted the President of Chamorro Affairs.

How does the unspoken manifest itself?

Guam's Joseph Artero-Cameron

Guam’s Joseph Artero-Cameron

It manifests via non-verbal cues. Artero-Cameron practiced psychotherapy for years and found that it was not so much what his patients said, but their physical cues, movements and words left unsaid that proved most revealing. Non-verbal cues divulge human behavior, why any behavior exists or doesn’t exist.

“It’s not so much what a community as a group thinks of as “normal,” says Artero-Cameron. “It’s quite okay to be neurotic, as long as you know that 2 + 2 = 4!  You may not like the answer, but nonetheless it’s real.”

And what could shelves of blank journals have to tell us? Or any blank surface? Everything has the potential to be a canvas for words or imagery. Women, said Artero-Cameron, hold the key, even though Guam’s male population is attempting to “diversify” culture by defining womens’ roles for them and “making a mess of it.”

In our culture, a matrilineal society, the women have a lot of voice, simply through their actions. Through their actions, they  keep our language, culture and families together. Our spoken language is only one or two words, and those few words create just a phrase, but they communicate volumes.

My grandmother and mother were always communicating silently when I was growing up; the unspoken. But those were the white pages—-they were the most important pages in my life. They are what a woman is truly trying to say.  A woman’s voice, her greatest asset, is her soul.”

Jonathan Katz presents a Shakespeare doll to NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. Courtesy NEA.

Jonathan Katz presents a Shakespeare doll to NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. Courtesy National Endowment for the Arts.

My conversation NASAA’s Jonathan Katz extended a bit further. I was curious as to how an entire country of states’ arts representatives stay connected…how they interact out of session, throughout any given year. How do they influence each other, if at all?

“They connect in a number of ways. There are networks used quite often by the executive directors, the chair and council members, the arts education managers; we have webinars and get suggestions from the members about topics they are interested in,” responded Katz.

images“We discuss different aspects of grant making, different kinds of partnerships with the military, programming, policy issues; somebody has a great project that they want to share—-we have three states doing that—-or someone’s great advocacy success, we talk about how we can see that success replicated. In essence, we’re a year-round learning network; that’s just one thing an association does. I really am an association executive, even though my members are government agencies, and we’re in the arts. What an association does is make leadership and learning possible. The website is an important focus of communication, a lot of our resources go there. Most of our staff are researchers, so it’s really about collecting answers to the questions that our members have.”

Katz went on to explain that if there’s a success in one state, it’s a success for all because the organization learns from it. On the flip side, if a state experiences a challenge or failure, the whole field advances because something is learned from the experience NOT to do, a particular strategy doesn’t work. That conversation, Katz said, will go on all year.

Landscape - Mixed Media on Paper by Mark Nowlin

Landscape – Mixed Media on Paper by Mark Nowlin

Speaking of “connections,” though last weekend’s closure of Master’s Studio felt surreal, the number of people turning out to help was reaffirming. What love and support! What acknowledgement! Despite the day’s circumstances I felt such closeness, community and solidarity; everyone performed a public service. The art gods willing, one day a beautiful new arts supply shop will open in Jackson, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if Master’s Studio’s master was at the helm?

Happily, we can still avail ourselves of Nowlin’s custom framing and matting services. His present East Jackson location is 85 McKean Lane. Phone: 307.733.9387.  




NASAA Logo.png

This year Jackson Hole, Wyoming was the setting for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies’ (NASAA) 2013 Leadership Institute. Top level executives and leaders from all 56 state and juristictional arts agencies attended. NASAA CEO Jonathan Katz, PhD, noted that this year’s meeting focused on optimizing state arts agency public value; to that end, agency leaders must keep abreast of societal trends and sentiments.

For the second time in a week author-activist Terry Tempest Williams presented a keynote speech to arts advocates and representatives here in Jackson, and Wyoming’s Alan K. Simpson delivered a passionate talk at an evening celebration highlighting Wyoming’s arts at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. For several days Jackson received a diverse cultural injections and multiple opportunities to widen our scope of knowledge with regard to strategies and mission.

In an interview, Katz noted that despite Jackson’s geographical isolation, choosing it as this year’s meeting destination wasn’t an extravagant decision. As the organization is an arm of state government, it’s mindful of expense; per-diem costs matter. Jackson’s season had wound down, group rates were attractive and coming to such a beautiful place proved an excellent return on investment.

Jonathan Katz and Terry Tempest Williams at NASAA's Leadership Institute

Jonathan Katz and Terry Tempest Williams at NASAA’s Leadership Institute

We tend to think of Wyoming as a stand-apart state when it comes to a low percentage of people residing in urban areas; but a quick look at 2010’s government census urbanized population map reveals that a massive portion of our county has NO urbanized population. States, with a few exceptions, are primarily rural. I spoke to Katz about the theory that when urban hubs become especially creatively revitalized, rural communities can be emptied out, making it difficult for rural communities to create their own “vibrancy.”

Tammy Christel: One the topics for this year’s conference is “Rural Myths, Realities and Opportunities,” a conversation about rural America’s being shaped by “numerous social, demographic, economic and technological forces, many of which affect the success of state arts agency programs and policies.” When larger cities become especially revitalized, with a lot of great city planning going on, a lot of public art installed, all kinds of initiatives—what happens to rural communities? Are they sucked into an economic black hole?

Jonathan Katz: I directed the Kansas Art Commission for several years, and mine was a rural state. The challenges of rural life are that there are plenty of things to do to take up your time, but there’s not a lot of diversity of resources because there aren’t that many people in any one concentrated area. There aren’t that many industries in the area, so it’s fragile.

But there are offsetting values. Because when something happens in a rural community, you can get a group of people involved—and it can be a small number—who can really make a difference. It’s not uncommon to have an arts event with more people attending than live in the community. They come from other places. They’ll drive. So they think of their community as a wider space.

UA2010_UA_Pop_MapPart of the challenge of rural living is when kids go away to college and immerse themselves in a learning and cultural experience, and their expectations change. They expect that where they’re going to live will be the kind of place with the plentiful resources they’ve now become familiar with. So as they often do, they go to the theater, opera, the symphony, they see foreign movies with independent presses and they get involved themselves in these creative activities, and they want to live in a place and have a career, raise a family and be in business with these amenities.

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Travis Walker - Ski Fence

Travis Walker – Ski Fence

I’ve been rooting for Travis Walker and Altamira Fine Art to find each other on “” and now they have!

Walker is the latest Jackson artist to have a show at Altamira. His exhibition of new works, “In Such an Hour: New Views of Jackson Hole,” runs September 23 – October 6, 2013, and an Opening Reception takes place at Altamira on Friday, September 27th, 5-7:00 pm.

Walker not only makes art; he’s an arts force. If Walker had not landed in Jackson a decade ago, it’s my belief many grass roots arts initiatives would not exist. Artists don’t often take on community leadership roles, but Walker has, and now he’s reaping extraordinary rewards.

“A common subject in my work is the road, which represents our journey through life. We start off staring down the lines of a road, and our entire lives we continue to follow the road to new places. My fascination with roads led me to another symbol in my work: the trailer home,” says Walker. “I have found so many trailers scattered throughout the West that I have come to view them as representations of the American Dream, full of hope, uncertainty, and memory.”

Travis Walker - Saddle Butte (Pink)

Travis Walker – Saddle Butte (Pink)

From the moment he arrived in Jackson Walker began painting it. Most on-location artists (I think we can go ahead and list Walker as a plein air painter—he’s in the “Artists in the Environment” hall of fame and was the first truly non-traditional artist to take part in that program) can be found out in Grand Teton National Park, or anywhere out in nature –and Walker can be found there too. But he also spends much of his time painting the Town of Jackson, essentially creating new iconic images of Jackson. All these subjects entice the artist: an old salon (the former Gai Mode), a decaying house with a fence made of skis (so many have lived there!) and a vintage trailer park.

Walker’s work, notes the gallery, is influenced by American regionalists Edward Hopper and Grant Wood (“American Gothic”), and by Japanese printmaking and German Expressionism.

It often takes years of hard, consistent work to make it in the art world; it’s a challenging, competitive and sometimes heartbreaking life pursuit. But, as we’ve said, arts enthusiasts constantly keep their eyes open, and Altamira director Mark Tarrant has been tracking Walker.

Travis Walker

Travis Walker

“Travis creates very interesting interpretations of local scenes, from his views of Snow King to sweeping views of Flat Creek and the Elk Refuge,” Tarrant observes. “He is a sophisticated painter with a fresh, contemporary palette. We are pleased to present an exhibition of Walker’s work here at the gallery.”

Years ago I wrote a forward for a book about his art that Walker published. Revisiting it, it still feels relevant:

“Walker is a satellite, zooming in and out of our landscapes, freezing vast spaces and solitary formations. We’re light years away from a moment just captured. Flaxen parachutes float forever. Still purple evening shadows never give way to night. These landscapes are our ideal; they’re uninhabited, but histories are embedded. Deserted cabins hold the energy and sadness of generations. Blank windows and headlights, eyes of the universe. Beneath Walker’s surfaces is an extraterrestrial glow he never quite paints down, a light peeking out from behind closed doors.”

Born in Tokyo, Japan and a child of the military, Walker is well acquainted with transience. Place is crucial. Now, at age 37, he’s settled in Jackson with a family of his own. He received his BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University, and he’s had numerous shows and exhibits over the years. Walker is founder of  Teton Artlab, a non-profit providing studio space for artists. As we’ve reported, Walker was a 2013 panelist for the National Endowment for the Art’ Artists Communities Grant and a 2013 Artist in Residence at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. In 2012, he won the “Rising Star Award” from the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole.

And risen he has. 

Martin Grelle - Scouts on the Buffalo Fork, 2013

Martin Grelle – Scouts on the Buffalo Fork, 2013

$8.39 million…

…is the official total sales amount of this year’s Jackson Hole Art Auction (produced by Trailside Galleries and Santa Fe’s Gerald Peters Gallery), held September 14th, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 85% of 284 lots were sold, with 200 phone bidders vigorously participating. The estate of James Grisebaum contributed many important works, and all but one of the 32 works from his estate were sold.

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