Tag Archives: National Endowment for the Arts

Altamira Presents Travis Walker; $8.39 Million at JHAA

Travis Walker - Ski Fence

Travis Walker – Ski Fence

I’ve been rooting for Travis Walker and Altamira Fine Art to find each other on “ArtMatch.com” 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. www.altamiraart.com 

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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Walker Cake; Mountain Trails; Artists in the Environment

"Cruise" by Travis Walker

“Cruise” by Travis Walker

“Stability is something we all seek. That’s why we’ve built things up. You can find amazing classes to take, but carving out your own space is another story. We don’t have a central place for that, and that’s the demand.” ~ Travis Walker

Now for that cake. This interview reflects Travis Walker’s views developed from years of working independently and otherwise in Jackson’s art scene.

“The way we’ve built our arts scene, it hasn’t been community based,” says Jackson Hole artist and newest NEA grant reviewer Travis Walker. “We have a great commodity. Galleries are lined with paintings and artwork. But when we built the Center, we forgot about the cake. The cake is artists. Without them, nothing works. If you don’t have people in classes, if you can’t afford to live here, you’re not invested, and you have to move. We’re finite, and we deal with the same people.”

(Insertion: The Center for the Arts and the Art Association are two different entities. As you’ll see, Walker realizes that the expense of real estate is a heavy mantle for arts groups here. Classes represent grass roots efforts, touch countless lives, create indelible memories, and are highly formative for Jackson’s young people, as well as adults. The point is there are many currents at work; every class listing represents vast numbers of people of all ages either making, observing or leading a class.)

studioPeople of means who can afford studio space or industrious, hard-working people like John Frechette, whose business is expanding, are doing well. But real estate is a big problem, says Walker. We need to make space affordable—it’s difficult, yet very desireable to be here. The only way to attract people is to create affordable space, and now we’re back in a situation where decent space is hard to find.

Walker believes the way to start anything is to create work space.

The Factory was a place for artists to work, the rent was cheap, and people —kids, too—could come in and see how art was made. We did have to shut down, but for reasons unrelated to this core need. We all had a common goal,” he says. “At this stage in my career I don’t need classes. But now what? Artists who know their craft like classes, but not every month. The demand for affordable studio space, though—that’s something artists pay for every month. It’s steady income for the building occupied.”

Walker is giving away his plan. Is he ok with that? Yes.


“You have to know how to approach all sorts of people, and I’m not sure that is something you can learn in school. Things change. Our Latino citizens are, as of the 2010 census, almost 30% of our population. Those kids are in my classes. It’s organic; we have to change. I’ve changed. People have not known what the hell I was doing; we were all fluctuating violently in reaction to our crashing local economy. We’re still seeing the fallout.”

Maybe THAT will change. The desire is present. Arts work together.


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Travis Walker’s Keys to Art’s Kingdom


Jackson Hole artist, entrepreneur and mover-shaker Travis Walker spends as much time searching out opportunities to house artists as he does creating his own art. It’s a driving mission, and now Walker may have been handed, as he says, “the keys to the kingdom.”

Walker is one of only five artists in the country chosen by the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) “ARTIST COMMUNITIES: Art Work” program to review, score and make in-depth comments on 56 projects submitted for NEA grant money. He has three weeks.

shot_1313720245080-300x300Walker is the “new kid on the block,” reviewing requests that could receive as much as $250,000 from the NEA, the largest arts funding group in the country.  An incredible opportunity says Walker; these projects are the best applications from the best development teams in the country. It’s a gift to review, understand and learn from them, as well as a starting point for Walker to submit his own requests. If he were ever chosen to receive such a grant, the NEA needs to know, down to the tiniest detail, what Walker’s project would be.

“After we score all the applicants there will be a review panel held in Washington DC in June,” Walker explains. “I’ll be with senior panelists and two NEA specialists work with us. They contacted me; I did not request to be considered. The NEA must have found me on line; they were looking for someone from Wyoming, which is validating, and the NEA picks panelists they want to encourage to apply for grants themselves at a later date. Going through this process will teach me the process, I’ll learn so much about how national organizations like this one work.  If I were successful, it would be an awesome cornerstone to start building something—for the Art Lab to build something.”


It’s also important, says Walker, that NEA panelists don’t have a whiff of conflict of interest when reviewing projects, ruling out many major artist communities. (There are federal laws about that for non-profits, and you can read them—just click on that link up there.) Walker took part in a conference call with the other panelists so they could introduce themselves to one another. The call gave Walker a chance to ask questions about the system. And away they go!

Walker’s excitement is understandable.

“I have a waiting list of artists that’s so long I can barely keep track of it; and no space to give them. Right now we pay our landlord rent. We have to raise about $20K every year to balance out our rent budget,” says Walker. “Five years ago I didn’t think I’d see people pay $800 to rent studio space, let alone $300; but people are doing better jobs of trying to make their businesses work. I don’t know yet where we’d build a new space, but I know I could raise the money.

"Snow King" - Travis Walker

“Snow King” – Travis Walker

I think what this kind of grant does, it gives people living where studio space is difficult to afford a place to work. That takes significant public funding. Every year I have to go out and ask for grant money to subsidize these projects. What I should be doing is getting money to build something that is rent controlled; we own it. It’s an asset, we’re not paying into it every month.

cherry-birthday-cake-300x450If something cost, say, only a $1,000,000, a plan could go forward. I wouldn’t have to wait for a ton of public approval and appropriations. I’ll start with the cake. I notice that even with the concerts and things we’ve been doing, momentum isn’t building because we still don’t have the cake. We don’t have it built correctly yet. What’s missing is a real artists community. A place that’s only about artists studios, where they work and interact with each other, do the work they want, have time and space to do it.”

The cake. More about Walker’s take on cake soon.  www.nea.gov










Mangelsen Repeats NMWA Talk; Art Works WY Grants; Mayer at C.M. Russell

mangelsenWildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen’s October presentation at the National Museum of Wildlife Art was so packed, they had to send people away.  So, Mangelsen is generously presenting his program again–at NMWA–on Thursday, November 19th, at 7:00 p.m.  Mangelsen will talk about his nature photography, specifically the work now on view at the Museum.  That exhibition, “The Natural World: Photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen,” is on display through April 25th, 2009.

I can make this one, yay!   By the way, the last post on Mangelsen’s show was Twittered about, out in the enviromental-creative universe….proof we’re all connected.  Proof that Wyoming’s artists are among the best in the world when it comes to representing this powerful place.

For information, give NMWA a call at 307.733.5771 or log on to www.wildlifeart.org.

Item #2:  Repeat Arts Grant Opportunities

105146656_ef525ed9b0_oA second deadline has been added to receive grant money from Art Works of Wyoming (AWW), a Wyoming Arts Council program.  Funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Timeline is as follows:

  • December 11, 2009 2nd deadline to apply for AWW funds.
  • February 11-12, 2010 WAC Board meeting and 2nd Art Works for Wyoming Panel.
  • February 19, 2010 Award letters for second funding deadline issued.

For full details and guidelines, log onto the Wyoming Arts website here.

Item #3:

download3Colorado landscape painter David W. Mayer’s paintings “Autumn at String Lake” and “Spring Runoff” are to be included in the C.M. Russell Art Auction, in Great Falls, Montana next Spring.  The auction takes place March 17-20.

Mayer, a colleague of painters Scott Christensen, T. Allen Lawson and other painters; he is an acolyte of such writers and artists as Richard Schmid, Edgar Payne, Joaquin Sorolla and the California Impressionists.

The C.M. Russell Art Auction is juried.

Wyoming Arts: NEA Update

nealogotaglinecolorThe National Endowment for the Arts is in the process of reviewing the applications that were received for Recovery Act funds.  The NEA received approximately 2,400 applications requesting support for projects that focus on the preservation of jobs in the arts, now under review.  The amount of money requested by applicants far exceeds the nearly $30 million available for grants.

For Wyoming this means that, if an application is denied, applicants can look to other possible NEA sources:

•    Wyoming’s state arts agency deadline has passed, but there may be a second deadline January 15, 2010, depending on funding.

•    A designated local arts agency that receives Recovery Act funding. (See the list of state arts agencies and regional arts organizations on the NEA Web site; a list of local arts agencies that receive Recovery Act funding will be available in July.)

Applicants are encouraged to consider the NEA’s traditional funding opportunities: the Access to Artistic Excellence category deadline is August 13. The NEA Chairman will make final decisions on Recovery Act funding following the meeting of the National Council on the Arts at the end of June. Applicants will be informed of funding in July. In the meantime, check the “Recovery” section of the NEA web site for the most up to date information on all aspects of the NEA’s Recovery Act program.    http://www.arts.gov/