CULTURE FRONT: Winter art season takes flight

By on November 18, 2014
Two Cupcakes, 12 x 14 inches, oil on canvas by Mike Piggott. TAYLOE PIGGOTT GALLERY

Two Cupcakes, 12 x 14 inches, oil on canvas by Mike Piggott. TAYLOE PIGGOTT GALLERY

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – A crush of people. A blush of pink. The hush of newly fallen snow. The winter art season launched with a spontaneous burst on Friday with three opening receptions for shows by three stellar local artists.

My friends and I started the night at Center for the Arts, where Camille Davis has transformed the Theatre Gallery into a passageway of ethereal wonder. Her exhibit, “By and By,” which runs through November 30, investigates the delicate loveliness and otherworldly symbolism of owl wings. The simple exhibit of six drawings and one large mural, all done in meticulous silverpoint, has a tremulous, veil-between-worlds effect.

The reception party for By and By, however, could not have been more opposite the mood of the art as it was crowded, boisterous and well-attended by the snowboarder contingent, whose eagerness for fresh powder was palpable. Center director Martha Bancroft said it was the biggest crowd ever for an art opening in the Theatre Gallery.

There’s something quintessentially Jackson about our nimble ability to throw a raucous, rock star party to celebrate delicate, serene artwork. Clad in a romantic white blouse and long black skirt, Davis was deservedly beaming all night.

The By and By party was perfect preparation for Eat a Cupcake in the Woods, as the title of Mike Piggott’s new exhibit instructs. On exhibit through December 14 at Tayloe Piggott Gallery, the show combines Piggot’s Theibaud-esque paintings of frosted cupcakes with his silhouetted landscapes of forests and trees.

A prolific and passionate artist, Mike Piggott has a command of color and shape, as well as shadow and light. His contemporary style – expressionistic rather than bland representation – always includes just the right amount of detail, like a lone, shadowy cross-country skier cutting a line in front of a long stand of trees in To the Woods. Or a glisten of pink in the caramel frosting of a cupcake.

The reception included a table of mini cupcakes, which is where I found Piggott, appropriately enough. Donning a plaid lumberjack shirt (without irony, compared to some of the plaid-clad and bearded younger art viewers we saw that night), the artist welcomed friends and humbly avoided the limelight.

Finally, we slipped and slid over to Cowboy Coffee – the warmer air and fresh snow made for slick walking – to see Todd Kosharek’s latest landscape paintings. Four years ago, Kosharek encountered the paintings of Icelandic artist Johannes S. Kjarval, which Kosharek says, “have a poetic and emotional approach to paint application, color layering and composition.” Kosharek has since explored a similar approach to the landscapes of the Jackson area.

These latest paintings feel like the work of an artist in full command of his medium. Layer upon layer of half circle paint strokes make up the skies – blue, white, yellow, green. Light pulses from the surface of the painting; the canvases vibrate with mood and resonance. Kosharek has achieved that magic of showing the viewer how he sees, and welcoming the viewer into his emotion.

For me, a lasting impact of the suite of openings was a deepened appreciation for how Jackson fine artists offer viewers intricate and expanded ways of seeing our familiar surroundings. At the end of the evening, I felt grateful for their dedication and singular talents, and fortunate to live here now so I can experience these particular artists’ impressive work.

Full disclosure: In my other life, I represent Camille’s work, and will soon welcome Todd to Daly Artist Representation. And Mike is a dear friend. But, hey, it’s Jackson, where subjectivity rules and 2 degrees of separation is the norm.

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