“These are all landscapes, I made them on the spot, off the highway, during my drive from Portland, Oregon to Jackson,” says Jackson Hole artist and purveyor of arts supplies Mark Nowlin. Last Sunday, Knowlin took his turn showing and creating art at the new Teton County Library, where—lest you live in a cave—you know that Filament Mind, the huge art installation by conceptual artist Brian Brush has just been completed.
Under the filament tent, a fine cross-section of Jackson’s local artists brought their work to the library. “Stumble on Art in the Afternoons” began by hosting Travis Walker, who blipped on his Facebook page that “the best art I’ve ever seen in Jackson is at the Teton County Library.” Catch any sass, Travis? (I’m teasing…)
Nowlin, so well known in our arts community, is a great proponent of contemporary art. He owns and operates Master’s Studio, a Jackson arts supply and framing store. His creativity and knowledge of art history, perspective on Jackson’s art scene and where it might be trending and the region’s arts influences, are topics you should talk to him about sometime.
Nowlin does not exhibit often, but he should. Each of his compositions I viewed last week were dynamic, swinging with motion, affected by place, and wholly recognizable even as they embraced abstraction. Nowlin lined up dozens of works, a visual diary of his travels.
Nowlin moves between the joyful and the mysterious. His abstract landscapes are at once exploratory and conscious. Some explode with vivid color and curvilinear motion; beautiful, minimalist brushstrokes of blue, transluscent greens, sunlight yellows and poppy-reds dance around Nowlin’s paper surfaces, and though these works are abstract, I imagine true-to-life landscapes and bits of nature he’s captured.
“Interesting that landscape has such feminine qualities,” mused Nowlin.
Other works are forceful, blackened dynamic diagonals and smears—mysterious, a tad ominous, intriguing and reminiscent of man’s first drawings. Inky squids, impressions of organic structure. Nowlin is showing us he knows representational essence; if he did not, he’d not be able to merge that essence with Kandinsky-like abstraction and color.
The library’s week of artists on site swept by; by the time this is posted artists Bobbi Miller, Kay Stratman, Valerie Seaberg and Community School student artist Hanna Todd will have been on hand, easily “stumbled upon” by library visitors. The library’s gleaming, streamlined lobby is a fine arts venue and reminds me of New York’s hidden garden oases tucked in and around that city. There is that towering, slightly nuclear-looking sculpture at TCLIB’s lobby center, but think of it as a learning tree, “interfacing with with the library’s own “mind,” the Wyoming State Library catalog.” When its lights go on, the spectacle should be mesmerizing.
“Each time a library user throughout Wyoming searches a person, place, idea or book, a bundle of fiber optic threads fire a glowing light or color related to the library subject category returned from that search,” says TCLIB. “In this way, Filament Mind resembles a luminous “connectome,” or map, of synaptic brain activity, firing away the thoughts of people extended through the mind of the library.”