Artistic Vision

Painting “Of Earth and Wind” by local artist Kathryn Mapes Turner, whose work captures the essence of Jackson Hole’s independent spirit.

Painting “Of Earth and Wind” by local artist Kathryn Mapes Turner, whose work captures the essence of Jackson Hole’s independent spirit.

This year’s Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival paints a stunning depiction of the modern American West.

Written by Constance Dunn

Head to the northwest of Wyoming, near the border of Idaho, and one finds Jackson Hole, a place of mythic natural beauty that has attracted artists for decades. Growing up on a ranch in the nearby Grand Teton National park, for instance, artist Kathryn Mapes Turner would experience this epic nightly sight: a herd of nearly 100 horses galloping out to pasture, kicking up the dust as they did. 

Painter Kathryn Mapes Turner

Painter Kathryn Mapes Turner

It’s a scene depicted in her new painting “Of Earth and Wind,” chosen as the featured image for this year’s Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival. “We selected Kathryn’s majestic painting of a galloping horse with a moody Teton backdrop as our featured painting, capturing the independent spirit Jackson Hole is known for,” says Maureen Murphy, director of special events for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.

It’s the 35th year of the festival, started in 1985 as a nod to the town’s robust art scene, and as a way to extend the summer tourist season. This year’s festival runs from September 4-15, and over 12 days there will be events showcasing the gamut of the area’s creative output, from music and cuisine to wine, design and fine art. Local galleries will stay open late for artist receptions, showcasing oil paintings, watercolors and sculptures, including those of Mapes Turner, a fourth-generation resident who is also this year’s featured artist, along with local sculptor John E. Simms. 

One of eight geometric bison sculptures by sculptor John E. Simms to be featured at this year's festival

One of eight geometric bison sculptures by sculptor John E. Simms to be featured at this year's festival

Neatly coinciding with the Arts Festival is the Western Design Conference, whose opening party and fashion show takes place on the second evening of the festival. Guests can shop over-100 artists’ wares—Western-inspired furnishings, fine art, jewelry and fashion, among them—while sipping cocktails and enjoying local catering. 

Taste of the Tetons, a sampling of cuisine from local chefs and restaurants

Taste of the Tetons, a sampling of cuisine from local chefs and restaurants

Meet at the historic Jackson Town Square on Sunday, September 8, for Takin’ It to the Streets, a juried outdoor art fair. While perusing the works of 40 local artists, one can enjoy Taste of the Tetons, a sampling of cuisine from local chefs and restaurants meant to pair nicely with the beers and wines available from concurrent event Sips on the Square. Meanwhile, the Jackson Hole Showcase of Homes on Friday, September 13, opens its doors to attendees to explore standout local homes. The self-guided tour will put participants face-to-face with the homes’ build and design professionals, (such as its architect, builder, interior designer or landscaper, who will share insider stories of how the home was created.  

For Old West aficionados, Historic & Western Ranch Tours includes cowboys and Western entertainment, and culminates with a visit to Triangle X Ranch to watch the nightly running of the horses with the fest’s featured artist Mapes Turner, who grew up on the ranch. Not to miss is a three-part concert series, where Jackson Hole Chamber Music will present major works of Franz Schubert against the woodsy fall backdrop of Antelope Trails Ranch. The festival’s closing weekend culminates in the QuickDraw Art Sale & Auction on Jackson Town Square, where over the span of 90 minutes, festival-goers will watch artists paint and sculpt. The fonal of this affair? An auction of these works, along with the the festival’s featured painting. 

QuickDraw Art Sale & Auction on Jackson Town Square, where over the span of 90 minutes, festival-goers will watch artists paint and sculpt.

QuickDraw Art Sale & Auction on Jackson Town Square, where over the span of 90 minutes, festival-goers will watch artists paint and sculpt.

Also on Friday and Saturday of this weekend (September 13 and 14) is the Jackson Hole Art Auction, the festival’s headlining event. At the town’s Center for the Arts will be the showcase and sale of an esteemed portfolio of masterworks—oil paintings, watercolors and sculptures, most of them—depicting scenes and figures of the American West. Scenes and figures so compelling, mind you, they attract not only collectors from around the globe, but many people who will head off to Jackson Hole in September to immerse themselves in the independent, creative spirit at the heart of the American West.

For more information, visit the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.

JH Chamber tent at FAF.jpg

Photographs courtesy of Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival.