Why the Rugged Tetons and Adventurous Lifestyles Inspire Local Artists to Create
Some of the most celebrated local sculptors, photographers and painters never went to art school. But when they landed in Jackson Hole they took notes from nature, found their inner artist and allowed the adventurous spirits that led them here to soar, capturing the magic of this wild and beautiful landscape.
Ben Roth, a Wyoming native who grew up in Colorado, got bit by the Jackson bug on summer trips here with his parents. Sally and Jim Roth met here in the mid-1960s when Sally owned a candy store on the town square.
“It’s super important to help artists stay here. It drives the culture and keeps life interesting.”
Roth moved here after college to work in the hospitality industry but fell in love with welding when he started working with sheet metal to design his restaurant Terroir. After the restaurant closed he became a full-time artist and never looked back. Now he is commissioned regularly to design sculptures and furniture for private residences and public spaces all over Jackson.
As a board member of the Teton Art Lab, a nonprofit organization that offers studio space and print making to local artists and offers a residency for visiting artists, Roth says Jackson is unique because the community appreciates art and is willing to take risks to help artists find their voice.
“Jackson rewards hard work,” Roth says. “If I was working in Denver I might have thrown in the towel.”
He feels a special responsibility to other artists in the community because of his success. “It’s super important to help artists stay here,” he says. “It drives the culture and keeps life interesting. We help the community to reflect.”
Carlyn Hunter, a self-taught ceramicist and plein air painter, shares space with Roth and five other artists who rent space at Penny Lane, a retail shop on Scott Lane. Her work is inspired by the rugged landscape of the Tetons and hearty wildflowers that grow here.
“I love painting with the group called Teton Plein air painters,” she says. “I was inspired to join by people like Kathy Wipfler who I have known for 30 years and Kathryn Turner who I met more recently.” Hunter began coming to Jackson in 1976 when her mother moved here and has lived in England and San Francisco since then.
Photographer Jacqueline Ra, who first came to Jackson in 2003 and lost the love of her life in a tragic mountain accident, finds solace in capturing wildlife and wild lands around her home just outside Grand Teton National Park. She is not represented by a gallery but sells her work to friends by email.
“When I moved north of town where the views are beautiful every day I took up photographing all the weather patterns, clouds, lighting at morning and sunrise,” she says. “I had to record every interesting moment of it.”
Photographers like Ansel Adams who made Oxbow Bend one of the most photographed places in Grand Teton National Park and Tom Mangelsen, a biologist turned photographer who was named one of the 40 Most Influential Nature Photographers by Outdoor Photograph, who have a strong connection to this place, might agree. Do you?