A Jackson art installation structure that showcases local art and greets commuters must move to make way for redevelopment. The ArtSpot will be taken down soon, but Jackson Hole Public Art hopes to bring it back after winter to a new, nearby location, director Carrie Geraci said.
The nonprofit aims to raise $10,000 for the move with its “Save the ArtSpot!” Kickstarter campaign launched Nov. 12 and open through Dec. 31. If the all-or-nothing campaign is successful, the funds will go toward a newly engineered concrete foundation, excavation and maintenance as well as stipends for new art, according to the campaign website.
Local artists are paid to create the installations for the structure, and Jackson Hole Public Art helps with fabrication and installation as well as marketing and promoting the pieces, Geraci said.
“And this is really important, because there aren’t a lot of entry-level public art opportunities for artists in general, and it’s really hard to build up your public art resume,” Geraci said. “So we look at this as a professional development opportunity for artists that we support. And that’s one of the main goals of the ArtSpot. The other big goal is just to bring some joy and creativity to people’s daily commutes. Over 30,000 people on average drive by the ArtSpot daily.”
The ArtSpot holds two- and three-dimensional works of art created by artists in the area. Artist Bland Hoke created ArtSpot from an old chairlift tower from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and carved intricate designs on the sides, according to the Jackson Hole Public Art website. He added a hinge he cut from an old bank vault and counterweights created from snow plow scraper blades.
“So it’s itself a repurposed work of art,” Geraci said, “which is kind of interesting because we do encourage artists to use repurposed materials when they consider an installation.”
ArtSpot began more than a decade ago when Hoke repurposed an old gas station sign for art installations in a previous location. Another organization called the Center of Wonder funded the original project and last year donated ArtSpot to Jackson Hole Public Art.
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The ArtSpot is funded through private donations and grants, and has received funding from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, the Wyoming Arts Council and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, Geraci said.
“But this is primarily locally funded, so we keep the opportunities to within commuting distance from Jackson Hole,” she said.
The nonprofit’s other projects include three permanent installations at the base of the National Museum of Wildlife Art, rotating murals in underpasses created by students and a dry-stack stone masonry sculpture in Wilson’s Rendezvous Park commissioned by the Jackson Hole Land Trust. A celebration of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem Dec. 20 called “GLOW Nights” will feature artists’ lighted installations, Geraci said.
One of ArtSpot’s most popular installations was Suzanne Morlock’s rendition of Charlie Brown’s sweater knitted with six-foot needles from sequin factory scrap material and for a time displayed in the Charles M. Schulz Museum, Geraci said. ArtSpot has displayed glass tiles, gunpowder drawings and a variety of other pieces.
The structure must be taken down as soon as possible and stored until the ground thaws. The Karns, a local family, are planning to display ArtSpot on their property across the street from its current location.
“But that’s adjacent to Broadway, so it would still get really great visibility,” Geraci said.
The installations usually rotate about every six months and change on solstices and equinoxes, she said.
“And it definitely helps bring visibility to artists,” Geraci said. “And really I hear from a lot of people that their children love looking at the ArtSpot when they go by. And, you know, it’s hard to not smile when you look at an installation up there.”
Follow arts & culture reporter Elysia Conner on twitter @erconner