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Article: Roanoke Times Visits Jackson Hole

Roanoke Times Visits Jackson Hole
Ben Folds

Roanoke Times Visits Jackson Hole

MADE's owner John Frechette gets mentioned in the Roanoke Times for his work on Public art sculpture STRANDS.


Sensational views on and off the ski slopes in Wyoming's Grand Teton Area


Ben Folds rocked a packed house with his piano-playing, singing, amusing lyrics and taking requests submitted by paper airplanes. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a comedy that won the Tony Award for Best Play, cast a spell in the intimate black box theater. Author David Sedaris brought his humorous essays to life. An artist talk made “Bird by Bird,” an exhibit of avian paintings and sketches, even more captivating. Ski-film pioneer Warren Miller’s new movie premiered. The Laff Staff shook the house with zany improv comedy, and Dancers’ Workshop rehearsed for its original production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

These are just some of the events that took place in a couple of weeks’ time at the Center for the Arts, a hub for the artistic, cultural and creative activity that has been snowballing in Jackson, a town in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole valley. The Center’s like-new campus, near the foot of Snow King Mountain, is shared by 19 local, regional and state non-profit organizations.

Jackson Hole, one of the world’s best ski areas, offers terrific vistas year-round thanks to its location between the supernaturally pointy Teton Mountain Range and gently rolling Gros Ventre Range. Now more than ever, there are sensational things to see off the slopes, too.

Wildlife art

The works of “Bird by Bird” use myth, legend, and poetry to explore flight and migration. Wyoming artist Shannon Troxler, who grinds her own pigments and makes her own charcoal, is one of many remarkable talents of the contemporary Western art movement. They are rivaling Jackson Hole’s ethereal mountain beauty for eyeballs.
Troxler’s works have also been displayed at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which, like the Center for the Arts, belongs on visitors’ checklists. The museum’s low-profile rock-faced building is built into a mountainside two minutes from downtown Jackson. The surprisingly cavernous space displays large-scale sculptures and paintings of rugged landscapes, animals and Native Americans. The artists span rising stars to 19th-century masters like Thomas Moran, whose paintings of nearby Yellowstone helped persuade Congress to preserve that area as the world’s first national park.
The museum’s exhibitions include Andy Warhol screenprints of endangered species and regional artists’ illustrations of animals featured in 25 Aesop’s fables. Jenny Dowd, for example, portrayed the smart crow who dropped pebbles in a pitcher to boost the water level high enough to drink it. Dowd creates memorable ceramics as well; sets of her tableware are used at restaurants in the valley.

Kathryn Mapes Turner is another local artist whose works are exhibited at the museum as well as in-town galleries such as Trio Fine Art . She grew up on Triangle X Ranch, which her family has operated since 1926 in Grand Teton National Park. Some of her paintings interpret late-1920s photos of her grandmother and her horse Diablo.
At the recently renovated Jackson Hole airport, which is seven miles from Jackson, I met Jeff Wilcox, who runs Wilcox Gallery in town. The gallery features works by his father, a plein air painter who has several spectacular photographs exhibited inside the airport, and other locally based artists. A new sculpture looms in the front of the airport: Bart Walter’s 15-foot-tall bronze of a rider who appears ready to fly off the back of a bucking bronco. The work, named “A Battle of Wills,” was inspired by a real-life stallion name Steamboat. Walter also sculpted the elk herd that stands at the entrance to the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

Art around town

Bike racks around town with bear, wolf and other animal motifs were made by locally based Ben Roth. An interactive illuminated sculpture by John Fleming marks an intersection. John Frechette, owner of MADE, integrated the DNA code of bison and elk hair into glass bricks embedded on the welcome center facade. On the edge of Jackson, a hike-bike path underpass features uplifting public art such as Don Rambadt’s flock of flying metal birds.

Town blocks are accented with artist-made benches, trash cans and tree surrounds, and four corners of the public square are anchored with arches made from hundreds of shed elk antlers. Shed elk antlers also are used in light fixtures and other decor at Jackson’s beautiful, iconic and art-filled hotel, the Rusty Parrot Lodge. This family-run 32-room lodge optimizes views on its third-floor deck, where a steaming hot tub and couches, warmed by fire pits, face the mountains.

Teton County Library’s Jackson branch displays intriguing works such as “Filament Mind,” a ceiling-mounted interactive high-tech sculpture powered by three miles of fiber optics. Much of the memorable public art is overseen by Jackson Hole Public Art’s artist-in-residence, Bland Hoke. JHPA director Carrie Geraci said the nonprofit has also developed a “Public Art and Placemaking Toolkit” to help other communities.

Tasty views

You’ll also find appealing views at the growing number of restaurants specializing in affordable gourmet fare. In downtown Jackson, choices include Cafe Genevieve, which serves upscale comfort food in a log cabin; Gather, which creates mouthwatering dishes with unexpected ingredients; The Rose, a hideaway whose crafty chef draws on his German roots; and Four Diamond award-winner Wild Sage at the Rusty Parrot. Then there’s Snake River Brewery, where casual organic-driven eats are as good as the award-winning and humorously named craft beers.

Be sure to leave plenty of time to explore Grand Teton National Park. On the way there, watch for the National Elk Refuge. And get plenty of sleep. With so much to see, you won’t want to blink.



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