CULTURE FRONT: ‘Banjostand’ to exude temporary tunes

By on September 24, 2014

Bland Hoke’s ‘Banjostand’ was designed to augment a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh at the World of Bluegrass festival in Raleigh, North Carolina. Image courtesy Bland Hoke.


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – It’s true that anywhere you turn here in the great “Montropolis” of Jackson Hole you can hit an artist with a snowball.

Just as legit is how many places in the country – and the world – you can travel and find public art by a Jackson artist. From Suzanne Morlock’s woven fishing nets in Iceland to Amy Ringholz’s spray-painted owl in a Park City alley to Ben Roth’s bronze gate in Vail, Jackson-based artists have found exhibition opportunities far outside Teton County in recent years.

Add to that list Bland Hoke, valley native and public artist extraordinaire. Hoke’s latest public art creation was commissioned by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission for the annual World of Bluegrass festival, September 30 to October 4 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The festival wanted a temporary structure in which roaming musicians could stop and jam.

Hoke calls his project “Banjostand,” a hybrid title combining “bandstand” and “banjo.” The actual structure also is a hybrid comprised of steel and banjo parts. An 18-feet tall arch made of banjo pots attached to a steel pipe is coupled with an elegant backdrop of four 18-feet “feathers” made of steel pipe and banjo necks. Attached to a ballast and raised stage, Banjostand becomes a social space perfect for impromptu performances and random jam sessions.

The visual effect of the structure is by design part whimsy, part Old World elegance. Banjostand originally was to be erected around a life-size bronze sculpture of famed 16th century English colonizer and tobacco smoker Sir Walter Raleigh. The banjo pot arch resembles a neck ruff (popular in the olden days.) The feathery, curved backdrop echoes the feather in Raleigh’s explorer’s hat.

You may have caught sight of a version of Banjostand at last month’s POP Deloney Street event. There, the scaffolding of Banjostand provided a space for Contemporary Dance Wyoming performances. Built of hundreds of banjo parts that didn’t meet manufacturing standards, Banjostand fulfills a central goal of Hoke’s: lifecycle thinking.

“My team is driven to inspire social and environmental responsibility through the use of materials that would otherwise be discarded,” Hoke said. “Additionally, we make every attempt to plan for the lifecycle and potential reconfiguration or reuse of the materials and ideas.”

Banjostand will only stand for a few days at the bluegrass fest, but Hoke has arranged for the structure to have additional lives in the future, at other festivals or even the factory where the parts were sourced.

Hoke leaves for Raleigh next week to install the work. He hopes the structure will inspire festivalgoers and the public at large. “Banjostand navigates the margins of wonder and pragmatism, chance and durability,” Hoke said. “It can spark the imagination of anyone and everyone.


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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