Talk about a party! Here in Jackson, we’re proud to know our cultural treasure, the National Museum of Wildlife Art (NMWA), is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
“From a private collector’s dream and a rented Jackson Hole storefront to a landmark building, national museum designation, and more than 5,000 artworks boasting familiar names from Audubon to Warhol, the National Museum of Wildlife Art has come a long way in 25 years,” says the museum. “In addition to its quarter-century anniversary, 2012 also marks the fall completion of the museum’s new Walter Hood-designed Sculpture Trail and the spearheading of a national exhibition providing a visual record of the American West as seen through the eyes of National Geographic’s legendary photographers opening in October.”
The museum’s collection began inauspiciously in 1962 with a small painting titled “Favorite Panfish” by Les Kouba given to Bill Kerr by his wife, Joffa. Two years later the couple bought a Carl Rungius piece, “Wanderers Above Timberline” on layaway, and by 1987 they had amassed one of the finest collections of wildlife and sporting art in the country. Together with several others, on May 17, 1987, they opened the then “Wildlife of the American West Art Museum” in a 5,000-square-foot space on Jackson’s Town Square.
NMWA’s May Mix’d Media takes place Thursday, May 10th, from 7-10 p.m. That evening, a new exhibition of never-before-seen studies by the great wildlife artist Bob Kuhn will open. Bob Kuhn: Drawing on Instinct, will be on exhibit through August 19, 2012. The exhibition spotlights a selection of Kuhn’s masterpieces, particularly Kuhn’s sketches–preparation for his finished works. Early drawings from Kuhn’s youthful days at the Buffalo Zoo are accompanied by landscape studies and the conté gesture sketches that represent him at the apex of his drawing power.
In keeping with the 25-year anniversary of the museum’s original opening, this special Mix’d Media night includes free admission to anyone 25 years old, a free drink for every 25th person through the door, prizes, and more. Assistant Curator of Art Bronwyn Minton will direct a series of intriguing exercises that promise to alter artistic perception. Be ready to draw blindfolded, while looking in a mirror and with a pencil attached to a long stick. Participants will then be challenged to come up with creative titles for their artwork, “a la Kuhn,” who was known for his interesting title choices. DJ Cut la Whut spins tunes and local artist Aaron Wallis plans to present silk screen demos of his latest work. Cover charge for Mix’d Media is $5.
BTW, NMWA is offering free admission to all who “Like” their Facebook page, May 7-12th. Come to the museum, say you “liked” the page, and you’ll gain free admission. Honor system here, folks! The offer includes the events Sneak Peek and Mix’d Media.
A quarter century after it opened, the museum—officially named the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States by virtue of an act of Congress–- is now housed in an architecturally significant stone building on a butte overlooking the National Elk Refuge. The museum has established itself as the world’s premier collector, exhibitor and interpreter of wildlife art. www.wildlifeart.org