ART FEATURE: Daly Projects delivers new energy

By on February 17, 2015
‘Camp’ by Mark Morgan Dunstan.

‘Camp’ by Mark Morgan Dunstan.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – A little off the main tourist path around Town Square, away from the galleries featuring wildlife bronzes and cowboy paintings, is one of those places Meg Daly hopes people will seek out as one of Jackson’s “hidden gems.”

At 125 E. Pearl is Daly’s new gallery, Daly Projects, featuring the contemporary work of artists with ties to Jackson.

“We have an exceptional wealth of creative people in this town,” Daly said. “I think in part, it’s because this place is powerful, beautiful, stimulating and inspiring.”

Daly began representing four artists in the fall. She now works with 11 talented local artists producing excellent work but struggling to break into galleries. While coffee shops offer rotating exhibits, there wasn’t a permanent place for the artists to showcase their work, nor are coffee shops venues where art is the primary focus.

“These were artists ready to graduate from the coffee shop walls,” Daly said.

Daly wanted to be able to showcase and invest in artists and a gallery was always part of her plan when she started representing artists. In fact, it had been a dream since she moved back to Jackson, where she grew up, after 20 years of living elsewhere. But at that time there were other galleries like Lyndsey McCandless Contemporary, filling the small contemporary art niche in town.

 ‘Gros Ventre’ by Todd Kosharek.

‘Gros Ventre’ by Todd Kosharek.

Daly immersed herself in the art community in different ways, including starting Culture Front, which not only offered critiques and commentary on valley art happenings, but also worked to support artists through funding opportunities. Daly also worked at Altimara gallery, learning the trade from the inside. The day she started her own gallery came sooner than expected when she discovered a spot she could afford.

“People will be able to experience contemporary art that is somehow coming out of, or influenced by, this valley,” she said.

There will be some landscapes and Teton images, but Daly’s goal is to feature an eclectic mix of artists. “I want to show the breadth and diversity and the seriousness of the work getting produced here in the valley,” she said.

Daly isn’t the first to try a contemporary gallery in Jackson. Others have come and gone, but Daly feels like each has helped create a larger base of contemporary art appreciators.

“I see myself and the gallery as part of a progression,” she said. “My hope is that the time is right and with this set of artists we’ll be able to galvanize a set of dedicated collectors that are going to support our efforts here.”

Daly is celebrating the opening of the gallery with an exhibition called “Frontiers” featuring the work of Abbie Miller, Katy Ann Fox, Mark Morgan Dunstan and Todd Kosharek.

‘Just a Direction I Guess’ by Katy Fox.

‘Just a Direction I Guess’ by Katy Fox.

There is a sense of exploration and wildness in all the work, even though it varies vastly, Daly said, from Fox’s abandoned buildings done in an impressionist style that capture the loneliness of the West to Dunstan’s shore series that reflects a sense of impending disaster and beauty to Kosharek’s landscapes that feel almost dreamlike.

Kosharek sold his first piece of art at 13 years old and has been painting ever since. He moved to Jackson in 2000 and last year sold 17 paintings on his own.

“But the amount of time I had to put into getting that business really hindered the amount of work I did,” Kosharek said.

That’s where Daly came in. The gallery provides a place to display his work instead of directing buyers to a website or even inviting them into his home.

The timing for a new contemporary art gallery is right, he said.

“Art in this valley keeps getting better and better,” he said. “And people want to see an art scene here. There’s such an excitement in the valley that these things are here.”

A diptych by Abbie Miller entitled ‘With What We Carry.’ This is one of several digital prints Miller is showing, along with a sculptural installation to accompany the prints.

A diptych by Abbie Miller entitled ‘With What We Carry.’ This is one of several digital prints Miller is showing, along with a sculptural installation to accompany the prints.

Kosharek also has seen a shift in collectors. Wealthy people are coming to the valley not just for the cowboy culture, but the relaxed nature of the town. And with them they bring different tastes. That exposes people to different types of art.

“There’s so much going on outside of the traditional landscape per se,” Kosharek said. “The audience is accepting so much diversity because there isn’t that intimidation. Those walls are coming down.”

What’s special about Daly’s gallery is the diversity in the work of the artists she represents, despite all being inspired somehow by Jackson.

“I don’t live here to mountain bike or ski,” Kosharek said. “I want to feel what it’s like to be in a landscape. I like that idea that a painting can be more than that split second of a photo. Nature changes in such a different time frame than we do.”

After all, since Daly came back to Jackson the mountains have stayed the same, but the art scene has changed.  PJH

“Frontiers,” a group show at Daly Projects featuring the work of Abbie Miller, Todd Kosharek, Katy Ann Fox and Mark Morgan Dunstan, opens 5 to 8 p.m., Thursday at 125 E. Pearl Avenue. Show hangs through March 23. 

About Kelsey Dayton

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