The other day a friend texted that she’d heard a piece on NPR — Wyoming Public Radio in our listening area — on the recent Jackson Hole Fine Art Fair (JHFAF) and our community’s response to its presence. At this writing I can’t find that piece, but it goes to show our ears remained pricked for news of a JHFAF comeback.
AND it also goes to show that whenever a story or event is subject to squelching, stifling, censorship or the like, that event or action just becomes more powerful as a topic.
My latest update from the Fair is that the group is awaiting feedback on alternate dates for next year. However, dates ARE noted on their website: September 10-13th, 2020.
In conversations around town (and everyone is talking “fair,” rather than FAF) the majority of folks who I spoke with who attended the fair loved it. As an arts outing, in our area it was exciting. I didn’t expect the quality and I didn’t expect such flawless presentation. I didn’t expect to learn anything that meant something special, but I was wrong about that, too. The fair was like a mini-museum.
The fair’s participating galleries didn’t, in my opinion, threaten individual local artists. They may have posed a threat to some galleries. It definitely poses a threat to the Jackson Hole Art Auction and Western Visions. Unless your art is consistently selling at $2K or higher, you’re in the clear. I did not see many, if any, local artists with representation here represented at the fair unless the artist was spotlighted at the fair. Some galleries here carry artists as second market inventory; in that case they had competition, too.
Another wise friend and artist with a dog in the locals art fight said this: Just because we are based here does not give us the exclusive right to sell art in Jackson. If the world acted that way, we’d have no art markets. Did Conrad Schwiering, this person points out, arguably the father of Jackson’s art scene, freak out when Trailside opened?
People, Jackson’s overhead is crazy! And we, as locals, need to find more ways to diversify into other markets.
Since the advent of the Jackson Hole Art Auction, many galleries say they now experience a big drop in post-Quick Draw sales during Fall Arts. Attendees of the Quick Draw, a wildly popular event, now go off to the auction instead of perusing galleries after Quick Draw.
I doubt the auction is going to change its time slot; but why not change the time slot for Quick Draw? Have it early on during Fall Arts, the pep rally before the big game. Maybe we’ll bring back some wonderful artists who used to be on the Square for QD; they won’t be exhausted from the previous ten days of FAF. And, it gives galleries more time to gain sales as a result of QD, rather than at the very end of Fall Arts. I love the auction; I don’t want to feel guilty for going. I love QD, it’s my fave! I don’t want to miss any of it!
Trying to sell the same artwork to the same audience over and over again can’t continue indefinitely, no matter how great the artists and art. And WE get old. Kids today, when shown a land line phone, have no idea what it is. They’ve never experienced it. We may love land lines for their design and tactile delights, but kids don’t care. For them, that Princess phone is a relic, a mystery. They love phones, just not THAT phone.
Depending on who you hear it from JHFAF either did very well or didn’t do very well. As one arts consultant told me, galleries usually give fairs a couple of chances to succeed before they decide whether to return as a vendor. As we’ve mentioned before, the fair owners make their money before the fair even opens. Their pay comes from those vendor booth fees. After that, they need to attract people to the fair so those people will buy art from the vendors. Fair organizers have to be able to find territory hungry for new art, and there has to be a critical mass population to “feed” the fair. If vendors are successful, they return. If they are not, they don’t. No matter the size of the fair, that’s how it works.
If we talk with each other non-aggressively, even when we disagree, maybe we can figure out a way to even out the arts benefits in Teton County.
“I didn’t think I could make a living just doing that. It took several more years…and I finished high school.” ~ Kim Martindale
Art Dealer Diaries, a podcast produced by Medicine Man Gallery’s Dr. Mark Sublette, recently ran a piece featuring art show producer Kim Martindale. It’s a great interview, lasting about 80 minutes. When Martindale was only 16 years old, he helped coordinate and implement the original and influential Santa Fe Antique American Indian Art Show notes his website, Objects of Art. Martindale traces his life story, the story of a kid who, at a very early age, was drawn to Indian arts and trading. Give a listen, it’s wonderful insight into how a young man’s consistent exploration of what he loved became his life work, despite a pile of difficult setbacks.
I’d kill to be up in Yellowstone with Tammy Callens, Jen Hoffman, Kathryn Mapes Turner, John Potter and all the other amazing artists participating in Yellowstone Forever’s Plein Air Paint Out. The event, now in its second year, has already gained a great profile. Plein air is still what it’s all about here in Jackson. Goosebumps. Yellowstone Forever Institute introduces thousands of folks to the park’s natural wonders. Programs range from one day to three weeks in length, says the website, and highlight the park’s amazing wildlife, geothermal areas, rich history and awe-inspiring wilderness. Dang! Our group is up there right now, bringing it home. https://www.yellowstone.org/experience/yellowstone-forever-institute/
Now on exhibition at Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, new works by Rocky Hawkins. A spiritual person, Hawkins’ latest works are ever more abstract and channel the artist’s immediate feelings and sensations as they relate to myth, legends, medicine and other ancient societal customs. He is a painter’s painter~~one art connoisseur told me that if they painted, they’d want to paint like Hawkins. View the artist’s works here: https://www.altamiraart.com/artists/1-rocky-hawkins/works/