We’re living in a time Jackson’s earliest settlers could never imagine; or are we?
Isolation was the norm in the latter 1800’s, when Jackson Hole was being populated by its first permanent residents. According to the Jackson Hole Historical Society, (JHHS) after the arrival of John Carnes and John Holland at the southern end of the valley, on land we now know as the National Elk Refuge, Jackson Hole’s population began to explode. By 1920, Jackson Hole’s population count was 1,381 legal residents.
We can assume Jackson was the settlers’ primary residence. By comparison, until just two months ago, we modern-day residents came and went from Jackson almost on a whim. How we’ll look and act when this crisis eases is anyone’s guess. Knowing that the road back is long and arduous, the JHHS founded an archival project to document our stories.
“Making History – Share Your Story in a Time of Corona captures a snapshot in time of Jackson Hole’s resilient community during this challenging time,” says the museum. “Our goal, and mission, is to connect people now and inform generations in the future. We are collecting written stories, journal entries, letters, pictures, photos, and videos; anything that will tell a story about what has changed in your lives and your family’s lives due to COVID-19, the good and the bad.
No matter your walk of life, all are welcome to submit stories using any of the aforementioned media. You may remain anonymous, or not. The museum’s single goal is to document and create a future resource. Contributing can be therapeutic and validating; contribute as often as you like. Ideally, says the museum, contributions will be handwritten, but any format is accepted. To learn more or submit your story visit jacksonholehistory.org/makinghistory.
National art news is filled with stories of top-tier artists donating sale proceeds to charitable Coronavirus-related causes. Most of us aren’t able to do that. If we’re financially comfortable, we might have the convenience to spend much of our days reflecting; most of us can’t.
Covid 19 has turned Jackson artist Todd Kosharek’s family’s life upside down–he’s working to launch a new suite of paintings, There Were Parades. Keep an eye on his website, www.toddkosharek.com. You may also view and purchase his work at Altamira Fine Art.
A deep thinker and true art historian, Kosharek generously describes his process and emotions.
“There Were Parades is a collection of 30 paintings depicting 72 WWII love letters, one per month of the war, painted to resemble origami cranes, an international symbol of peace. Surrounding the cranes will be 160 monarch butterflies, one per 500,000 who perished, as if the butterflies are attracted to the love expressed in the letters. As if love is nectar. My last body of work was titled Nectar. It was a collection of twelve paintings of personal love letters from my wife, family and friends, each surrounded by monarch butterflies — as if the love expressed was the nectar attracting them to the cranes. My father raises monarchs to help rebuild their population, and I was able to hold one right after it emerged from its chrysalis. For forty-five minutes, until it gained strength to fly off, I viewed it from every angle. I could see its eyes, round and black, feel the pinch of its feet. It was a profound moment, that intimacy. I finished the Nectar project and felt the theme of love attracting something as magically rich with symbolism as the monarch butterfly deserved to keep being explored.
I went to swim some laps, sat in the steam room. Like a telegraph, I got an idea, a message—the complete details of Parades. Later, back in my car, I wrote the details down; it all began.”
Jean Dubuffet wrote this about outsider artists and art brut: “We understand by this term works produced by persons unscathed by artistic culture, where mimicry plays little or no part. These artists derive everything from their own depths, and not from the conventions of classical or fashionable art. We are witness here to the completely pure artistic operation, raw, brute, and entirely reinvented in all of its phases solely by means of the artists’ own impulses.”
Sounds a lot like Laramie’s Tad Anderson. Visitors to the Blog might recall our writing about Anderson, a gifted artist based in Laramie, Wyoming. He’s active on Instagram; he’s prolific and has over 5,800 followers. Anderson says his personality keeps him from drilling down into marketing his art; he still considers himself an outsider artist. I first saw his art at Mark Nowlin’s former Jackson arts supply store; Nowlin is close with the Anderson family.
I have always dreamt of being able to sell everything I’ve done to one person. And they could do whatever they want with all that art. ~ Tad Anderson
Anderson’s Instagram posts are so incredible that coming back around to see how he’s faring felt right. A former student at U.W.’s fine arts department, Anderson woke before dawn to go to U.W. studios, practice his art and then go to work as a maintenance man at the university’s science building. Working in a rented studio since last fall and operating a large, used printing press he recently purchased, he’s busy experimenting with drawings (from chalk, markers, oil pastel, paint, paint pens, charcoal).
Does he identify as a Wyoming artist?
“I very much identify myself as a Wyoming citizen, and I feel that my Wyoming-born perception of the world influences my work; but I have never felt comfortable with the appellation ‘artist,’ writes Anderson. “The years I made most of my income from selling art I can count with one hand, and during those years I spent most of my time making art. That period in my life, maybe, I was an artist.”
Clearly, Anderson is an artist. He adds work to his Instagram pages every day, receiving hefty likes and comments no matter how much work he puts out there. Art history is full of examples of creatives considered “outsiders” in their time, but with work that came to be acknowledged as museum-worthy, even historic. They weren’t worried about money, and Anderson says he isn’t, either.
“It’s more about having so much in storage. I always have dreamed of being able to sell everything I’ve made to one person. And, they could do whatever they want with all that art. It wouldn’t cost much money, just the cost of my materials. I have very few organizational and social skills, and I despair at ever doing much with my art besides continuing to make it.”
I guess I think it can only be art if it’s truthful…I find more truth in the artists who never worried about their name being known.
Anderson and his young family are enjoying road tripping around our state, enjoying America’s slower pace and a Wyoming empty of “traveling touronic yahoos.” Camping and traveling take him away from drawing, but not from creative thinking. He wrestles with knowing he’s not yet been able to get his art to pay for itself, and agonizes over whether it’s a waste of time and money.
“I have always really loved art made from religious and spiritual resources. From indigenous art, to the work of the Middle Ages. I guess I think it can only really be art if its truthful. And its hard to express truth when vanity and ego are in the way. So, I find more truth in the artists who never worried about their name being known. Which is some of the reason why I have never put my name on top of a work. I also really like the slightly surreal landscapes of the early 20th century post- impressionists: Braque, Munch, and Klimt. I wish I could draw and paint people like Modigliani and Lautrec.”
Anderson has a scheduled show of his black and white photographs and his “fallapartking” pieces (viewable on Instagram) in May, at Night Heron Books in Laramie. The venue is currently closed, but fingers are crossed for a timely opening. Read more about Tad Anderson in this archival Jackson Hole Art Blog post, Tad Anderson: Art’s Disciple.
I don’t make predictions, but I hope all of us find it within ourselves to treat one another with more empathy and kindness.
“I’m not sure that the coronavirus has changed my life in any big way. Certainly the increased hand washing and social distancing is new for me, as it is for everyone else. As an artist, though, making art is a solitary endeavor. I am not a lonely person, even when I’m alone. I embrace and cherish my solitude, and I need a lot of it to think about, and make my work,” writes Pinedale artist David Klaren. “Much of my art making takes place at night, when the rest of the world sleeps and I can wrap myself in the night, my ideas and my processes. My mind and emotions seem quiet and at peace. Maybe that’s because the planet is taking a long overdue collective deep breath……….The coronavirus has kicked me into a new series of virus-themed sculptures. Initially, I wanted to make virus-like objects just using materials at hand. I went to the second-hand store looking for spherical things and walked out with a bag full of softballs. They aren’t necessarily requisite to the concept, but they’re an easily available foundation upon which to build.
Things in the gallery (Klaren owns and operates Mystery Print Gallery in Pinedale, Wyoming) have tapered off, and it’s likely to stay quiet for months. I’m still open normal hours, but at this point I’m not concerned with people coming in to see the exhibit or placing framing orders. After all, before all this contemporary galleries in Wyoming were already a study in social distancing. I’m working on a commissioned painting and other projects. I don’t make predictions, but I hope all of us find it within ourselves to treat one another with more empathy and kindness.” www.mysteryprintgallery.com
Driggs artist Alison Brush’s days are filled with planning and potentially pivoting July’s Driggs Plein Air event. Brush is executive director of the Downtown Driggs Association, and its refreshed mission in the time of Covid is to support Driggs’ downtown businesses and keep community members engaged.
Participating plein air artists are being surveyed –at this writing 60 have registered to take part–to determine any new priorities relevant to guidelines imposed on gatherings and health concerns. Collectors who regularly travel to Teton County in summer months are being asked if they will be in the area and plan to keep up their collecting practices. If guidelines remain as they are, Driggs Plein Air will be redesigned with online workshops and digital galleries….and sadly, cancellation of 2020’s event is still possible. Decisions should be final by early May. www.driggspleinair.org
Brush’s partner, Driggs painter Dave McNally, was working on two open studio events planned for this summer, but, like most events, they are on hold.
“I have also been painting with an eye toward several international competitions and having some modest success and gaining good exposure,” writes McNally. “One of my recent paintings, December Ice, is a finalist in the current IGOR (International Guild of Realism) Spring Salon Juried Exhibition which can be seen at www.realismguild.com through May. I also had a piece in the IGOR 14th Annual Juried Exhibition held at the Principle Gallery in Washington DC last September. In 2019 I also had two paintings included in the ARC (Art Renewal Center) 14th Annual International Juried Exhibition. ARC is accepting submissions now through August 15 for their 2020 15th Annual Exhibition. It has been both inspiring and humbling to be included in these shows.”
The Jackson Hole Art Blog has become what it perhaps should have been all along–a place where not only Jackson Hole creatives, galleries are represented, but our neighbors are as well. We’re all connected. This forum is now 15 years old. It was Jackson’s first art blog, and the arts website that’s gone the distance. Thank you for belonging, sharing and supporting this room that you’ve helped create with your amazing voices and talent.