Category Archives: Smart Growth

As Art and Seasons Turn

"The Connoisseur," by Norman Rockwell.

“The Connoisseur,” by Norman Rockwell. The work appears on American Art Review’s October cover.

Ahhh. It’s Fall. Lovely.

Soon I’ll be returning to Jackson, and for almost everyone this season is a time of reflection. It’s also a time of “buckling down to work” and transition.

When I’m not reading or writing about Jackson Hole’s art scene, I’m often reading about art in other corners of the world, and quite a bit about art across the country. This entry, I’d like to offer up a few stories that recently caught my eye.

The first concerns plein air painting, and a show about a collection of artists, now deceased, whose works were, in their time, considered excellent. But as their lives came to an end, so did their visibility as artists. The show is “Variations on a Theme: American Painters (1850-2000), opening next month at the Rockport Art Association and Museum in Rockport, Massachusetts.

“It is an unfortunate fact that unless an artist has a gallery or family to keep their name in the forefront of the art world, the bulk of their work can be lost in the mists of time,” writes Judith A. Curtis in the latest edition of “American Art Review.” 

Alexander Bower (1875-1952), Cottage on the River

Alexander Bower (1875-1952), Cottage on the River

This is not currently a big problem for Jackson artists~~(housing is another matter)~~a number of artists who didn’t have representation or were faced with a gallery scene refusing to show their work are now front and center. This is incredible, and perhaps because we, collectively, are the polar opposite of the small New England town’s plight, the article spoke to me.

The Rockport’s mission is to feature local painters who are not only considered excellent, but have been “the mainstay of the Association in its fledgling days.” To sum up Curtis’ point, the museum would never have survived without intense dedication, talent, and a consistent “forward momentum.” Until last year, when the Rockport mounted an all-women’s art show  and expanded its reach, the museum was unable to produce a show like “Variations.” In the article about the show (if you can find a hard copy~~I can’t find the article on line) you can read about a number of New England plein air painters who, despite their great talents and breadth of subjects, faded from view. It’s a touching look from a knowing and careful perspective.

Stanley George, proprietor, closing a gate decorated by Jessica Blowers at Stanley’s Pharmacy on Ludlow Street. Credit Santiago Mejia/The New York Times

Stanley George, proprietor, closing a gate decorated by Jessica Blowers at Stanley’s Pharmacy on Ludlow Street. Credit Santiago Mejia/The New York Times

Don’t hurt me, NYT! I loved this article. And I hope that we in Jackson Hole can figure out something like the Lower East Side’s “100 Gates Project.” 

Tamara Best wrote about a street art project that’s transforming a part of Manhattan’s dingy Lower East Side. Although we in Jackson don’t pull down metal doors when we close up for the day, we could paint some fabulous large-scale works and use them as promotion for our local artists. What about that idea for the Public Art Spot, the snaggly “banner” space that juts out over West Broadway? That needs upgrading, up-thinking. 

Or, we could place art on the streets themselves. And create/paint/build/light up huge arrows pointing to the Art Association! Once visitors arrive at the Art Association, they’d find so much affordable local art that they couldn’t help but bring some back home.

Our public art is fabulous, but I feel more thoughtful placement of work is possible. Let’s not crowd small spaces without offering a place to rest, without offering nature and true assimilation of place and object.

I’m in favor of making the Art Association more “public,” a retail operation that draws more tourism dollars. Tourists rarely, if ever, visit and we need a fresh audience. I’m in favor of another project I recently read about, and Jackson has already started: displaying local art, with prices, in every lodging location possible, AND add an artist studio space directly into the lodging structure itself. The artist is always in residence.

Read Best’s article HERE. 

sothebys7-28-16My mom gets newsletters from the Hollis Taggart Gallery in NYC. The gallery sends out an Art Market Report much like our Jackson Hole Real Estate Report. A summation of the latest report says that there has been a “rising tide” of gallery sales and an “ebb in momentum” for auction houses. People are consigning, not selling, in an erratic market. Feels safer, more control.

As the gallery went to press with their newsletter, the SEC reported a 65% reduction in Steve Cohen’s Sotheby’s stockAlmost immediately a Chinese insurer “China Guardian” bought up a 13.5% position in Sotheby’s. And now it’s Sotheby’s largest shareholder…….

“No doubt China Guardian was quietly buying Steve Cohen’s stock position!” exclaims the Report.

Invest in, support and love your local artists. We are a family. An Association.

unnamed

Because I do not wish to finish on a “corporate” note, I offer some these observations on the passing of time and transition:

We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” ~Albert Einstein

“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity.”~Thich Nhat Hanh

Sandbox Center for the Arts; Traveling Tintype Studio

Walter Hood

Walter Hood outlines the Sandbox Project at Jackson’s Center for the Arts. ~ T. Christel

“We’ll talk about its capacity, trees, theaters, animals, water, earth, habitat, the mountains and about the community, all within this setting.”  ~~ Walter Hood

Launching February 14th, 2014: www.sandbox.jhcenterforthearts.org! That’s where the public gets the chance to chime in on how the Center for the Arts’ ambitious back lawn landscape design project might evolve. Nationally noted urban landscape designer Walter Hood, overseeing the project in partnership with Steve Dynia, gave Jacksonites a chance to play in the sand three nights in a row; participants used specially constructed sandboxes and props to define what they envision for the open space.

“We’ll look primarily at the expanded architectural program with Steve Dynia; the sandboxes are about the landscape,” said Hood. “This is a landscape, not a park, or a garden. It’s open. We also understand that the cadence, how you move through Jackson, is a grid. This is a very urban place. We have a lot of houses, a lot of cars, a lot of parking, a lot of these issues. One of the things we hope we can do…is make the space more successful for people moving through the neighborhood. We do think Snow King can come down to us by taking back the streets and the alleys. The alleys are really important. As you move north and south through the alleys, they are beautiful. As you can see here, the alleys have been largely erased. So how can we bring back a lot of this (structural) morphology?”

Hood asked the group to consider a long list of factors as they went about their designs. The first was that this space is NOT Jackson’s Town Square, and duplicating the Square is not on the agenda. But what kind of a landscape can this open space become?

A detail of Walter Hood's landscape design for the deYoung Museum - photo by T. Christel

A detail of Walter Hood’s landscape design for the deYoung Museum – photo by T. Christel

“The Center really needs to think about its building program, its architecture. It would be great to have artists come here 24/7, to have studios where they can make art. Where would you put the building?  If I put it out there in the landscape, it’s going to have a consequence on the landscape. We’ll see how we can use architecture to make something really powerful. Some ideas are a clubhouse where people can meet, an exhibition space, a multipurpose place. We think this will be a hybrid place, with things nested in one another,” said Hood. “Cafes, other permanent and temporal spaces within the building envelope. [In the West and Jackson] there exist successful pieces of architecture that elucidate the landscape. Steve is very talented — just being down one story, look how that mountain comes out and the middle ground disappears, a beautiful thing.  How can we expand upon that?”

Ideally, artists (who aren’t already) would be inspired to make work here. Sculptural landscape is a “yes.” Programmed landscape, a “no.”  Building upon the idea of an outdoor theater, Greek or Roman, embracing or inscribing, are interesting. Multi-purpose uses that might change with the seasons, be temporary or permanent, should be considered; Hood recalled Candra Day’s constructing yurts on the lawn.

photo-2One could look at a land form and see a lot of things, Hood remarked. A child may see a playhouse, an artist a place to bang steel, a dancer a natural stage. Forms can inspire and begin to say something about the landscape—inspiring, even in mud season.

“Can we do things like add trees, and then take them away, like a clear-cut,” Hood  asked. “Think about when the snow is here, when it’s not here. Can you do something in the wintertime? It might be ice skating, it might be mud wrestling! But whatever it is, it should embrace the landscape. We also know there are residential areas on our perimeter, and when events happen some elements may have to be mitigated, like noise. Do we want to make walls, edges?”

Lastly, said Hood, how do we bring our urban grid into this space? Again, the alleys are important, as they allow possible connections to the nearby church, the mountain, and other points immediately around the Center.

In a brief Q&A, it was confirmed that the Town of Jackson owns the land and is providing the Center a long-term lease; the Town, said one representative, is “very open” to this project. When asked about how the Center might draw people from Jackson’s Town Square to the new Center space, Hood responded that the idea is in the hopper, and brainstorming was the point of these workshops.

“We’re not looking for scheme A, B or C; we simply want to draw on ideas, so we can begin to think about the space and the Center,” emphasized Hood. All ideas are great ideas!”  www.jhcenterforthearts.org

(PS: I hope Mark Berry is smiling!)

Snake River Reverse Project, adjacent to J.H. Center for the Arts Lawn - photo & art courtesy Bland Hoke

Snake River Reverse Project, adjacent to J.H. Center for the Arts Lawn – photo & art courtesy Bland Hoke

ross photo 9

Event: Lindsey Ross’s Traveling Tintype Studio

Place: The Rose/Pink Garter Theatre

Date: Thursday Jan 23, 5-10pm

Bonus: Family portraits: 5-7pm

From Lyndsay McCandless: Lindsey Ross singular, tintype portraits are the real deal: 19th century technology wet plate collodion, a photographic process popular from 1850’s-1880’s, that documented the American Civil War and America’s Western expansion. Ross uses raw materials to create the photographic emulsion on an aluminum plate. While the emulsion is still wet, Ross exposes the plate to the subject using a century old camera and prolonged exposure times. Ross develops the image in a darkroom on site; portraits appear within a minute.

Tintypes are archivally stable, so they create an instant heirloom and art object. Because the exposures are long, subjects are encouraged to relax, be still and be present as their image is made,” says McCandless. “The slow process often brings out subtle, expressive similarities between family members. Come experience this historic and beautiful process!”  For information on print prices, email lyndsayrowan@gmail.com.

ross photo

 

CSA Jackson Hole = Community Supported Art; JHHS Time Off

alissa-davies-pods-02Check a map laying out national densities of community supported agricultural (CSA) gardens, and you’ll see our country’s East and Central regions blanketed in green. The West coast is catching up, as is the Intermountain West. Why are CSAs so in demand? Personal choice; control over what you are eating and the satisfaction of developing a relationship with growers.

Now, Jackson artist Alissa Davies has picked up the concept of communal support and linked it to local art. Community Supported Art (CSA), in its inaugural season, is looking for local (Teton County) artists working in all mediums to apply for CSA Jackson Hole. The project’s goal, says Davies, is to monetarily support artists creating new work AND to build a strong, interwoven community of supporters of art in Teton County. CSA “strives to connect local artists with collectors and to bring more visibility to the creative landscape of our community.”

How will it work?

“Selected artists will receive a commission to create 40 “shares” for the program. Interested collectors will purchase a share and in return receive crates of locally produced artwork at three ‘pick-up parties’ during the summer of 2014,” explains Davies. “Featured works could include anything from a run of screen-prints, a series of small tea cups, photographs, tickets to upcoming intimate performances or events, letterpress editions of a poem or small, original paintings. Each shareholder will receive one piece from each of the nine CSA artists over the course of the summer. Pick-up parties take place at local businesses and organizations and will feature music, food, and the opportunity to meet that evenings’ featured artists and view their work.”

springboardarts-51_600

Davies notes that Springboard for the Arts is the original program, affecting both urban and rural economies. A few years ago Davies read about CSA in a food and wine magazine, and the idea stayed in her head. With so many Jackson area artists, Davies imagined this program would be a great fit. Jackson arts peeps Carter Cox and Carrie Richer will help with marketing, producing short videos on the artists and remind the community about the project during off seasons. Davies hopes to schedule a Q&A session later this fall so artists can find out more about the project.

Davies is also a new mom. Her son, Sam, has helped many of Davies’ creative impulses surface.

“Sam is a huge catalyst for so many ideas; I want to the best person possible as an example for him,” says Davies. “I want to be as good a person as I can; as a mother, that’s of the utmost importance.”

Local artists can and should apply immediately. During the summer of 2014, nine artists will be chosen and their names announced in January, 2014. Seasonal member shares are priced at $350. Shares go on sale February 3, 2014. You may purchase shares directly from Alissa Davies. Contact Davies by phoning 307.690.4757 or by emailing csajacksonhole@gmail.com.

Go, Alissa! Something tells me you’ve done your homework on this one! Your idea is beautifully reflective of your own delicate, delightful artwork.

impressionism-vincent-van-gogh-starry-night-paintings-art-689755  Continue reading

Blank Pages – Women & the Unspoken; Arts Connected; Art Solidarity

image

“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.”  www.dca.guam.gov

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.  www.nasaa-arts.org.

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.  

 

 

Rural Arts Realities: An Interview with NASAA’s Jonathan Katz

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.

Continue reading