A heartbreaker. Masters Studio, long Jackson Hole’s sole artists’ supply store (it’s also a framing shop), is closing its doors. This is the store’s 18th year doing business in Jackson.
Owner Mark Nowlin, an artist himself, has until mid-November to vacate his Powderhorn Mall shop. He’s been in this business a total of 32 years. New owners of the building housing Nowlin’s shop—next door to the former Studio 2000, also kicked out—-have notified him he has to go. Nowlin had hoped to remain in his space; he was willing to pay an affordable rent increase. However, this week Nowlin arrived at his shop to find an envelope stuck to his door containing a hand written letter on blank paper. “Scribbled” is a better description. Nowlin taped the letter to his entrance, alerting friends, customers and supporters of Masters Studio’s status. The letter’s message appears below—underlined and bolded text reflect the same emphasis in the original. It reads:
3 October 2013
We are very sorry to tell you that Britt and I have determined that we are going to need the space you currently occupy for our new office. Initially we thought that the salon/spa space was going to work out for us, but after meeting with architects and contractors over the last few weeks we have reached the conclusion that we will also need to occupy your space in order to build the office and medical space to meet our needs. We very much tried to configure an office in the smaller space as we wanted to keep you in the building as a neighbor but we were just unable to do so. In any case we need to have access to the space as soon as possible after closing (October 16) but understand that you will need time to move out/find new space and will give the formal 30 day notice starting on that date for you to move out no later than 16 NOV. We would prefer to get access before 16 NOV if at all possible but understand if this is not possible for you. Thanks.
At the bottom of the page are the words “to start the remodel.” It is signed : Jon and Britt Baker. (I’ll leave off their phone number, though it is included in the letter.)
So there you have it. Another steadfast, beloved and contributing community member displaced (it’s not a business agreement unless an actual choice for both parties exists) and supplanted by a more “lucrative” enterprise…cutting off another slice of Jackson’s “soul.”
Neighborliness, respect, honesty and courage are not marked by stealthily dropped letter bombs; they’re marked by treating people as you would wish to be treated….If, years ago, Walmart had made its way to Jackson, countless local livelihoods would have been eroded. Community disconnect can take the form of a Walmart or it can take the form of individuals taking advantage of others, because they can. The only difference is total elapsed time to accomplish such things.
The Bakers own Teton Dermatology. They diagnose and treat skin diseases and provide Botox and chemical peels. You’d think they’d be thoughtful in their dealings with Mr. Nowlin, to date not able to find new space with a per-square-foot price his arts supply business can support. Sticking a heart-stopping note up on a door, upending a business and a life, is not the sort of action anyone should execute.
This post doesn’t delve into the incalculable contributions and creations Nowlin has provided the Center for the Arts and the Art Association, not to mention the myriad ways he’s supported Jackson’s artists, people he loves and understands. Plein air painters, unable to carry some flammable art supplies on airlines, buy them at Masters Studio once they arrive in Jackson Hole—-now, where will they go? Best case scenario: Mark Nowlin is relocated in a sweet, affordable space before next summer.
In an earlier Jackson Hole Art Blog post we commented: “Nowlin, so well known in our arts community, is a great proponent of contemporary art. 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.”
I don’t know the Bakers, but barring any great revelations I can’t offer much respect. I do have faith and respect for our arts community, and I sense that Nowlin and all he provides will find a new home.
Mark is having a fire sale: everything in the store is 50% off. Shop until you drop. The movement to support Mark’s transition has begun; last Friday a constant stream of customers, friends and supporters came through Masters Studio, buying art supplies and offering suggestions, aid and physical labor. I’ve bought some Christmas gifts! AND I, for one, plan on boycotting these particular dermatologists. I’ll stick with my guy in Idaho Falls.
We love you, Mark! Just you wait and see how much!