Western Art & Architecture

Summer/Fall 2011
Authors: Dina Mishev

...Though locals have always agreed September can bring some of the valley’s most beautiful weather, it was a secret they guarded fairly closely. When the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival was founded 27 years ago, visitors began thinking autumn wasn’t a bad time to visit this high, alpine valley at the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park. This year’s Fall Arts Festival is September 8 – 18.

Attending the Fall Arts Festival today — whether all 10 days of it or just an event or two — it’s difficult to believe Jackson hasn’t always had the artistic assets that now define this mountain town. When Dick Flood opened Jackson’s first gallery in 1963, he hid what he was doing, lest friends think him crazy and try to intervene. (Flood instructed the painter hired to do his gallery’s awning to paint the business’ name a la “Wheel of Fortune” to keep his secret as long as possible.)

“...there are some visitors who just want to inundate themselves with art,” says Murphy. “They really could care less that Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are nearby.” If you count yourself among this group, go for The Wort Hotel (pronounced “Wirt” in proper Jacksonese), just a block off Jackson’s Town Square. The only National Historic Hotel of America in the valley, The Wort opened in 1941 when downtown’s streets were still dirt. The dirt is long gone, but little else has changed on the hotel’s exterior, including the red rock trim the Wort brothers quarried themselves in the Gros Ventre (Jacksonese: “Gro Vont”) Mountains on the east side of Jackson Hole. The interior is another story, though. The hotel has a permanent art collection with nearly 100 original pieces by Western and wildlife artists, with additional art on loan from West Lives On Gallery, located just across Glenwood Street. Some might argue the double pillow-top mattresses are art of another form.

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