CULTURE FRONT: Asymbol goes analog

By on July 23, 2014

‘Charakusa’ by Jimmy Chin.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – When Asymbol opens its gallery doors at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, downtown Jackson will get a much-needed injection of contemporary culture. An online gallery since its inception in 2009, Asymbol is putting down physical roots in the Pink Garter Plaza.

A pioneer in the online art gallery world, Asymbol is poised to follow up on their international success with a unique physical gallery. The level of professionalism and creativity coming from the company is impressive, but they’ve had a low profile locally, even though the company was founded by local snowboarding icon Travis Rice and snowboarder/artist Mike Parillo. Representing artists from board sports subculture, Asymbol has developed a broad market for their artists’ photography, prints, and paintings.


‘Stomper’ by Jamie Lynn.

In Jackson, however, they have flown mostly under the radar – until now.

Partnering with the snowboard shop The Treehouse, Asymbol will round out the progressive transformation of this downtown enclave to a contemporary and youth-oriented environment. Combined with Dom Gagliardi’s music and art programming at The Rose and the Pink Garter Theatre, Pinky G’s Pizzeria and Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters on the first floor, and snowboarder Rob Kingwill’s new public art installation throughout the plaza, 50 West Broadway is a don’t-miss destination for the young and the progressive-minded.

“We found the perfect spot in Jackson,” said Alex Hillinger, Asymbol’s director. “We want people to understand that Asymbol is a brand that says something about our world and culture. Our artists are manifesting that worldview.”

Hillinger says that when people walk in the gallery, they will have an immersive experience. “We want them to have an art experience with our flavor of art. Our culture has its roots in board sports, especially surfing and snowboarding. They are expression-type sports that are very personal and connect to nature.”

What this looks and feels like has yet to be seen. At press time, Asymbol was still putting finishing touches on interior construction and design. Hillinger said they have been obsessive about the details, consulting with Asymbol founders Rice and Parillo, as well as L.A. gallerist Carl E. Smith and local architect Vera Iconica.

A key aspect of the new gallery is the partnership with The Treehouse snowboard shop, which will occupy the storefront closest to Broadway. “Our collaboration with Treehouse is unique,” Hillinger said. “We are creating an experience that combines an action sports company with an art gallery.”

The open floor plan between the two businesses allows customers to easily meander from one space to the other. Asymbol art will occupy some wall space in The Treehouse. However, the two businesses will maintain their distinct identities. The total impact speaks to the primacy of snowboarding and other board sports in the lives of its aficionados.

“These sports are spiritual to people,” Hillinger said. “They define people’s identities. You construct your life around the sport.”

Compared to most art galleries in Jackson, prices are moderate, with nothing more than $1,500. Also for sale will be Asymbol merchandise such as hats and sweatshirts.

Hillinger said the company is committed to green building and sustainability, and tried to use those elements in the construction of the space wherever possible. He cited Asymbol’s motto: “Respect the Earth. Ride Waves. Empower Artists.”

Asymbol’s vision is one that prizes individual freedom and expression while passionately engaging in the natural world. In that respect, it taps into a long tradition of subcultures drawn to and borne out of the Tetons, from climbing to skiing, hunting to rodeo. What’s new is an energized, urban aesthetic that recognizes Jackson as a place in the world, rather than an escape.

An Asymbol/ Treehouse opening party happens 4 p.m., next Wednesday, July 30  at the Pink Garter Plaza.

About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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