According to a nationwide study, we have one of the country’s most vibrant arts communities.

Since the National Center for Arts Research began measuring arts vibrancy in every U.S. county in 2015, it’s rated in the index’s top 10 for small to medium-size cities. In 2016, Jackson Hole even ranked #1, ahead of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Santa Fe, NM, Breckenridge, Colorado, and Edwards, Colorado. The index, on a per capita basis, measures supply, demand, and public support for arts and culture. Visual arts are the backbone of our art and culture scene, but we’ve got performing arts too, from a symphony orchestra to Wyoming’s only professional dance company.

Contemporary Western Art at the Diehl Gallery

1. “One big change in the valley’s gallery scene is the increasingly varied tastes of collectors,” says Kiera Wakeman, the president of the Jackson Hole Gallery Association, a group of around 30 galleries that work together to promote the valley’s visual art scene, and Sales Manager at Diehl Gallery. “Over the past six years that I’ve worked in a gallery, I’ve seen an increase in the number of collectors looking for more contemporary/abstract work.”

2. “The valley’s art scene is fascinating because it is such a mix,” JH Gallery Association president and Diehl Gallery Sales Manager Kiera Wakeman says. “We have amazing local artists and a range of spaces that display their work, from the Art Association to cafes. And then there is a wide selection of art at our galleries—from superb Western art (traditional and contemporary) to more contemporary non-Western art, or even blue chip artists. There is something for every art collector in Jackson.”

The Jackson Hole Hootenanny at the Center for the Arts
The Center for the Arts

Two blocks from the Town Square is the heart of Jackson Hole’s performing arts community, the Center for the Arts. The 78,000-square-foot building houses the offices of groups from the Art Association to Dancers’ Workshop, Center of Wonder, and Jackson Community Chorale. The Center has several performance spaces, from the 500-seat Center Theater to the more intimate Black Box Theater. The former has hosted performers from Reggie Watts to Rufus Wainwright, Ira Glass, Bela Fleck &The Flecktones, The Met: Live, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Local groups like Laff Staff, an improv comedy troup, perform in the Black Box theater.

Dancers Workshop

Dancers’ Workshop produces one of the valley’s most popular annual performances, the student winter show, and teaches dance and movement classes to all ages. (Around Halloween DW does a Thriller workshop in which participants learn the choreography from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.) Dancers’ Workshop is also home to Contemporary Dance Wyoming, the state’s only professional dance company, and brings in resident dance companies and guest artists like DIAVOLO Architecture in Motion®, David Dorfman Dance, New York City Ballet Moves, Savion Glover, and Stars of American Ballet.

Ceramics Class at the Art Association

The Art Association of Jackson Hole was founded the same year the first art gallery opened in the valley (Trailside Galleries): 1963. Last year the nonprofit organization provided visual art experiences from painting and drawing to ceramics, mixed media, and blacksmithing to over 21,000 people. Its gallery hosts about seven shows every year showcasing work by local, regional, national, and international artists.

1. Founded in 1987 as the Museum of the American West in a 5,000-square-foot rented space on the Town Square, the museum’s original permanent collection was the personal collection of locals Joffa and Bill Kerr. Approximately 220 pieces of art were on exhibit. The museum moved to its current space, a building inspired by a sixteenth-century Scottish castle, and changed its name in 1994. Today it has a permanent collection of more than 5,000 objects, from 2500 BC Native American birdstones to work by Thomas Moran, Carl Rungius, Albert Bierstadt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Maynard Dixon, Andy Warhol, and Paul Manship. In 2008, Congress voted to recognize the museum as the “National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States.”

2. In 2015, the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s sculpture trail, designed by Oakland, California-based landscape architect Walter Hood, hosted Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads. (Other museums that were part of the Zodiac Heads world tour were Prague’s National Gallery, Tuileries Garden in Paris, and the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.) The Zodiac Heads exhibit is gone, but the sculpture trail has more than 14 permanent sculptures to enjoy.

A Bierstadt piece at the Jackson Hole Art Auction
Jackson Hole Art Auction

Founded in 2007, the Jackson Hole Art Auction (JHAA) has become one of the premiere events of the Fall Arts Festival, and one of the West’s premiere auctions. Since its founding, JHAA sales have totaled more than $88 million and more than 140 world auction records have been established. The auction’s record sales year was 2014, when it sold $11.3 million of art. The 12th annual Jackson Hole Art Auction was September 14-15, 2018 at the Center for the Arts.

The Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra
Grand Teton Music Festival

Orchestra musicians from New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minnesota, San Francisco, and dozens of other cities from across North America convene in Jackson Hole every July and August for the Grand Teton Music Festival. Under the baton of Music Director Donald Runnicles, the Festival Orchestra plays Friday and Saturday evenings at Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village. Other nights, smaller ensembles present chamber music and “Spotlight” concerts featuring jazz, world music, and cross-over performers.

A Jackson Hole Chamber Music Festival Concert
Jackson Hole Chamber Music

The JH Chamber Music Festival presents a three-part series of innovative and immersive concerts every September at the stunning Antelope Trail Ranch. The nonprofit’s goal is to “transcend the typical concert format by creating cross-genre collaborations that will attract and inspire both new audiences and seasoned classical music lovers.” Past festival concerts have included pieces by Boccherini, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, and even a world premiere by its own composer-in-residence, Nathan Lincoln de Cusatis.