The year 2013 is a triumphant year for Trailside Galleries—it is the gallery’s 50th anniversary, a great milestone, and to mark the occasion Trailside will hold a Gala Reception on Friday, August 23rd, 6-8:00 pm, at its location on East Broadway. A major exhibition of works by Trailside’s phenomenal roster of artists will set the stage, and the show runs August 19th – August 31st.
The celebratory group show will also include special works by artists Ken Carlson, Carl Brenders, and Francois Koch. Works in the show will be sold by draw during the reception.
Managing Partner Maryvonne Leshe notes that if you attended Trailside’s 40th anniversary party, you’ll find it hard to believe that this year’s celebration will top last decade’s. Many gallery artists will be on hand, along with some “specially invited guests,” and I bet it’s tough getting through the doors.
Longtime Trailside artist and Jackson resident Kathy Wipfler frequented all Jackson’s galleries back in the ’80’s, to learn from the top artists of the day. Her goal was being onTrailside’s artist roster. Wipfler watched former owner Christine Mollring and was “amazed by her stellar salesmanship and good taste.” Leshe, says Wipfler, has seen the business through strong markets and tough times with a steady hand. Trailside is still “the top of the heap,” says the artist.
Fifty years ago, Dick Flood founded the gallery in Idaho. Not an easy time for Western art, and Trailside “helped birth the enthusiasm for quality Western art at a time when representational art received little respect from critics across the country.” But Flood and all Trailside’s subsequent owners and managers knew that Western art was a genre that would not only endure, it would flourish. The gallery prides itself on representing the best Western artists, be they deceased, legendary masters or “new talent” bursting on to the Western art scene. Seven years ago Trailside Galleries partnered up with Santa Fe’s prestigious Gerald Peters Gallery to establish what is now one of the West’s gigantic arts events: The Jackson Hole Art Auction.
It’s an understatement to say that Leshe has seen changes in her gallery and the Western art market since starting at Trailside in 1977. Then, if someone wanted to buy art they simply went to a gallery; nowadays, collectors can either visit a gallery, go to an artist directly or go on line; auctions and museums are also players.
“As a gallery it’s made us work harder for the artists in promoting them, doing the job, so they don’t have to work as hard elsewhere. We’ve been in business longer than any other gallery in the state; longer than most Western art galleries anywhere,” says Leshe. “When I first started we were 100% heavy-duty Western—Cowboys and Indians. In the 90’s we began incorporating marvelous wildlife artists, and from 2000 on we brought in Chinese artists like Mian Situ, as well as figurative artists like Morgan Weistling. We’ve kept up with trends, we try to change with clients’ tastes.”
Leshe’s goal has always been great service. Collectors appreciate it. Trailside provides appraisals, jumped into the auction business and continues to bring in new, remarkable artists like Jenness Cortez.
“Dustin Van Wechel came to us via our Miniatures Show–he was the guest artist, and now we’re doing a show for him this September,” Leshe says. “When I first started at Trailside Adam Smith wasn’t even a gleam in his daddy’s eye! It’s been really fun seeing artists like Adam grow up and become terrific fine artists. I represented their dads, and now I represent the sons.”
If you’re enjoying what you’re doing time goes so fast, notes Leshe. She looks back at the great artists she knew in the 70’s, like John Clymer; he and Leshe had a regular ritual of sharing tea and cookies. Western artist organizations have changed through the years, and major shows have disappeared; but Trailside prevails, running strong, building on its distinctive reputation and discovering new artists. Happy 50th, Trailside! www.trailsidegalleries.com