HIGH ART: Art Association celebrates 50 years with gala, after-party

By on October 1, 2013

100213highart1JACKSON HOLE, WYO – It was the winter of “elk and crackers,” or so local legend says.

Each winter people gathered in Georgie Morgan’s kitchen, creating art and making crafts to sell. Sometime in the 1950s, during a period of low employment, they asked the question: “What if there was a way to develop arts and craft skills in Jackson to help people supplement their wages in the summer?”

That became known as the “winter of elk and crackers,” so named for the snacks they ate at the gatherings. The idea became known as the Art Association of Jackson Hole, said Nona Yehia, a member of the Art Association’s board of directors. Few are left who remember exactly how it happened, but most agree the idea started at Morgan’s home.

It would be a few years before the Art Association actually took form and this year it celebrates its 50th anniversary with a masquerade ball, dubbed Revelry.

The Art Association started small in 1963. It hosted its first art fair in 1966 on the lawn of St. John’s Episcopal Church, explained board member Barbara Gentry. Along with Yehia, Gentry will co-chair the anniversary event.

In 1985, 25 classes were offered that served 300 students. Today, 300 classes and workshops reach more than 2,000 people, Gentry said, serving both those dabbling in art as a hobby and professional artists.

“The mission is to touch as many people as we can and introduce them to art and creativity,” Yehia said. “The impact of art in people’s lives is hard to quantify, but it’s very important. It’s transformative. It usually changes lives in some way.”

That idea of art transforming people is a central concept for the anniversary celebration.

Local artists ranging from elementary age students to well-known professionals have designed masks people can purchase for the masquerade ball. More than 100 artists contributed masks for sale online and at the party. Proceeds go to the Art Association.

There are masks with flowers, feathers, fur and screens. Some are painted with animal prints. Some are constructed from objects found in nature, like twigs and moss and leaves. All have the power to transform.

“When you wear a mask, you become somebody else,” Gentry said.

The party begins at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby by the Center Theater at the Center for the Arts with festivities beginning immediately.

“This not the party to be fashionably late to,” Gentry said.

At 7 p.m. the party moves to the theater.

“The party is also a performance of which the attendees become a part,” Yehia said. “When you walk into the theater, the stage will look one way and when you leave, it will look different.”

The party is an evening-long experience with food provided by Café Genevieve. Contemporary Dance Wyoming will play a role in the spectacle.

“We’re celebrating not just 50 years of the Art Association, but 50 years of collaboration and creativity,” Yehia said.

Gentry added: “We’re showing people what art can do … we’re making the people part of the performance and part of the art.”

The Art Association’s 50th anniversary masquerade ball, Revelry is 6:30 p.m., Friday, at Center for the Arts. Tickets are $100 and the event is anticipated to sell out. The after-party, Illuminate, runs from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., in the Center Theater lobby at the Center for the Arts. Tickets are $30.

Buy a mask

Visit www.artassociation.org to bid on or buy a mask, or check them out in person at the Art Association office. Prices range from $25 to $750.

About Kelsey Dayton

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