Jackson Hole artist and Teton Art Lab gallery owner Travis Walker will host what will be the shop’s last opening, this Friday evening, December 5, 6-8:00 p.m. The gallery, converted to non-profit status with a mission to exhibit and nurture emerging contemporary artists, recently completed all the paperwork necessary to convert to non-profit, only to learn that crucial funding will likely no longer be available after year’s end.
“Wallpaper,” a show featuring the works of over 30 artists–many recruited by sculptor Abby Miller–will showcase unframed, affordable art imported from New York City and other east coast locations, as well as work by local artists. The works will literally paper the walls, and the evening presents a rare opportunity to see and purchase works by artists exposed to the most innovative trends and techniques.
Walker’s exhibitions are beautiful and edgy…he explores every opportunity to support and grow new Jackson Hole art traditions; he’s an arts pioneer for today.
“We need to regroup and downsize,” says Walker, who has financed the gallery with his own savings, and that of his wife. When she lost her job and benefits, the couple worried. Now, their web design jobs are evaporating; with additional funding losses looming, the couple may be looking to move to a larger urban venue where graphics work is still relatively plentiful.
“Everything we’ve worked for over the past five years disappeared,” says Walker. “But I couldn’t ask more of Jackson Hole than I’ve been given. It’s been amazing on so many levels.”
A fractured economy and a dearth of alternate venues threaten Teton Art Lab’s future. But, as Walker says, “Take time to look around and you will see some very special work.”
The following is a forward I wrote for Walker’s summer exhibition “Views of Jackson.” This essay is not just about Walker’s work; it’s also about the Western spirit we value, the spirit that brings us here. I hope you read this, and I hope you pay a visit to the gallery. Located at 135 N. Cache, it’s next to Teton Thai. 307-699-0836. – Tammy Christel
Travis Walker’s Long Look
“Everywhere I’ve ever been, my art has been about that place. I remember most powerfully the places I’ve painted and drawn. The act of recording them makes me remember.” – Travis Walker
Stories of the frontier spirit’s death are premature. Alive in our contemporary art movement, it brings Jackson’s transient arts subculture to new creative levels. If and when artists leave, they take away inspiration drawn from western space and consciousness.
“Views of Jackson” is painter Travis Walker’s plain and simple title for a collection mining deep emotional turf. A child of the military, Walker is well acquainted with transience. As a result, he recognizes that just as the first settlers ventured into unfamiliar territory, Jackson’s new artists drop all trepidation. The east coast’s cultural cacophony is silenced, and a singular natural process takes over.
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.
“I want my paintings to be like windows, points of light that brighten a room,” he says.
Trailers are Walker’s most current symbol of the transient west. Manifestations of contradictory words, “mobile” and “home,” trailers epitomized the American dream. Paraphrasing writer Bruce Caron, Walker notes it is difficult to travel more than five miles in the west without seeing trailers. They’re everywhere. Where did they come from, seemingly plopped down from nowhere? Built for transit but stuck to the earth, these bodies are hunkered down like hermit crabs.
“Now trailers are extra sleeping space and repositories for junk,” says Walker. “They represent paradise lost, the decayed American ideal value. We’ve come back to earth as a society; we put our faults on display on reality television.”
Walker believes small town dialog is stronger than that of a large city.
“The benefits outweigh childish tendencies to avoid someone because you’ve had an argument. I’ll take the exchange of ideas—we’re all tapping from the same well, this western idea of space and color. Our art is unique; you won’t find work like it anywhere else unless it’s in a European context or another mountain town. Take time to look around, and you will see some very special work.”
In the end, inspiration is everywhere, even in trailers. “I paint them for the same reason I paint other things,” says Walker. “I think they are beautiful.”