Monday, July 18, 2011

Fellowship curator hits the road. First stops at Alpine & Jackson

Wyomingarts is on the road with Nancy Bowen, the Wyoming Arts Council's curator for the 2011 biennial fellowship exhibit.

First stop was Jenny Dowd's home studio in Alpine. Alpine is just down the road from Jackson on Hwy. 89, the site of the road-clogging avalanche in the spring. Quite a few Jackson commuters have moved to Lincoln County, which is served by Teton County's START Bus system. They had to take the long road to work via Idaho and Teton Pass during avalanche season.

Jenny's upstairs studio features samples of the work that led to a 2011 visual arts fellowship from the WAC. In the studio are ceramic tiles which make up furniture groupings. Over the her bedroom are the life-size sculptures of furniture complete with rows of ceramic teeth. Also on display are Jenny's fanciful "Tooth Fairy" ceramics that harken back to those childhood days when we all wondered what the Tooth Fairy did with all of those darn teeth, anyhow. You can also ask Jenny about her obsession with cicadas.

Back in Jackson, Jenny showed us around the Arts Center Gallery where the show will debut on Nov. 4. Right now the gallery is exhibiting "Sweatermen," the work of Mark Newport, fiber artist and super-hero. Here's a short description of Mark's work: "Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman and the Rawhide Kid. These characters are childhood memories of the ultimate man – the Dad every boy wants, the man every boy wants to grow up to be. Mark Newport’s hand knit acrylic re-creations of these heroes’ costumes combine their heroic, protective, ultra masculine, yet vulnerable personas with the protective gestures of his mother. The costumes are life-size, wearable objects that hang limply on hangers challenging the standard muscular form of the hero and offering the space for the viewer to imagine themselves wearing the costume, becoming the hero. Artist and educator Mark Newport is the Artist-in-Residence and Head of Fiber at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan."

The WAC fellowship exhibit will be on display at the Art Association's main gallery at the Arts Center Nov. 4 through the end of December. As always, the Arts Center was abuzz with a number of summer workshops for children and adults.

We then drove out to Factory Studios to view the work of Abbie Miller. Abbie, a Jackson native who went off to UW and returned home to practice her art -- and make a living at it -- has a studio at the Factory. She makes big sculptures incorporating fabric and zippers. She also designs a distinctive fashion line, showcasing her fashion at a July 8 event at The Factory (see poster below).

When touring the Factory, Wyomingarts picked up waves of creative vibes from the many artists and artisans and sculptors and filmmakers who have found a home there. The big building once manufactured wooden skis (remember them?) and had fallen on some hard times before local young trailblazers moved in. Much of the equipment in the studios was donated by local organizations and businesses. The artists have put in some sweat equity to install walls for offices and studios. Plumbing, too. A repair crew was patching the roof.

While we were there, Travis said he had just heard that the Teton ArtLab, sponsor of Factory Studios,  received its WAC Operating Support Grant. He seemed visibly relieved by the news. Congrats, Travis.
While Factory Studios is in an old building in Jackson's industrial district south of town, it seems to be the epicenter for exciting work by young artists who are determined to make their mark on the Jackson art scene.

Act locally, create locally, live locally.

Think big!

Photos (top to bottom):
1. Jenny Dowd shows off some of her "Tooth Fairy" ceramics to fellowship biennial curator Nancy Bowen of Brooklyn, N.Y.
2. Travis Walker (left), Teton ArtLab, Abbie Miller (center) and Nancy Bowen pose for a shot in one of the studios at The Factory in Jackson.
3. Poster for The Factory Festival held July 8 in Jackson.

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