CULTURE KLASH: Futuristic Finesse

By on July 26, 2016

An artist’s return and a gallery’s move help signal the arrival of a neighborhood art hub.

A collage by Abbie Miller using the 1915 painting by Kazimir Malevich, ‘Dynamic Suprematism.’ The vest will be for sale at Miller’s trunk show Thursday. (Photo: Abbie Miller)

A collage by Abbie Miller using the 1915 painting by Kazimir Malevich, ‘Dynamic Suprematism.’ The vest will be for sale at Miller’s trunk show Thursday. (Photo: Abbie Miller)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Abbie Miller’s intent with the clothing she designs is nothing short of revolutionary. “Like the design movements in Futurism, this set of clothing or ‘ideals’ that I’m proposing is a reaction to the chaos and disturbing violence we are facing in our country,” she said.

Miller returns to Jackson this week for “Wearable Geometries,” a trunk show of her latest clothing creations. Hosted by Glenda Lawrence at the interior design studio Matterhouse, Miller says the event features designs based on Russian Futurism.

An artistic movement birthed in the early part of the 20th century, Futurism rejected traditional forms in order to embrace new technologies. Miller says she believes clothing has the potential to transform and to be a reflection of change.

“These pieces are reflexive of a desire to inhabit the world in a different way,” she said. “I think the shapes and forms of each garment exemplify this ideology.”

Miller was a long time resident of Jackson and recently moved to Portland, Ore., to pursue her career in art. Current projects include a lecture on a subject the artist knows well: The intersection of fashion and sculpture. Fans of Miller’s giant zipper sculptures will be able to see one on permanent display in a modern glass building in Portland, opening in 2018. More details on this to come.

Miller says clothing has been an integral way of establishing herself in her new home.

“Moving to a new city, clothing has been my biggest ally to meet others, to identify myself, to feel at home, to express my point of view,” she said.

Miller hopes wearers of her clothing experience something similar.

“Because my clothes are strong in color and shape, not overtly feminine, but more sculptural, the women that wear them often get stopped or noticed. I think it’s a lovely ideal that a piece of clothing could become a catalyst for a larger conversation and, at the least, connect strangers or people that might not have had interacted before.”

Miller’s show coincides with a cultural boom in the Scott Lane area. Glenda Lawrence and Matterhouse have been there two and a half years. Atelier Ortega is right around the corner. Penny Lane Cooperative recently opened across the street. And soon, Asymbol Gallery will move in next door to Matterhouse.

In addition to selling mid-century furniture and art, Matterhouse offers custom upholstery design. Lawrence and Miller have collaborated in the past and they share an aesthetic sensibility. Miller says Matterhouse feels like her second home.

“To display the clothing we have talked about integrating the garments into the shop, pairing clothing with furniture,” Miller said. “I imagine a lifestyle aesthetic that conjures Modernist, Bohemian think tanks and creative get togethers … a space where visionary writers, thinkers and makers meet to socialize and inspire.”

With The Grove apartment complex just up the street and the Pine Box Lofts a block away, this little section of Scott Lane is poised to be a local cultural hub conducive to just the kind of gatherings Miller envisions.

Alex Hillinger, co-owner of Asymbol, is excited to be part of the neighborhood’s creative blossoming.

“As the neighborhood happens, we will be part of the happening,” he said.

The iconic adventure sports gallery and print shop will leave its current location in the Pink Garter Plaza and reopen at 150 Scott Lane, Unit E, in early August. An unexpected rent hike instigated the move, but Hillinger says a new location will help the gallery refine its mission.

“It gives us an opportunity to reimagine what Asymbol’s retail gallery space can be,” he said. “We want to be more of a resource to our local community.”

In its new incarnation Asymbol will highlight its fine art printing services. Hillinger says the gallery’s space on town square does not tell the whole story.

“A lot of people walk into the current gallery and they think we are just an art gallery. But we are working with artists from start to finish. We make the prints.”

Asymbol has always thought of itself as a crew of makers, Hillinger noted, which echoes Lawrence’s impression of the unique character of the Scott Lane cultural hub.

“People are producing here,” she said. “I started my business because I like working with my hands.”

Anyone who has visited Atelier Ortega knows about the pastries and chocolates made on site. Penny Lane Cooperative is a collective of makers of fine art, clothing, and jewelry. The effect of having a clutch of businesses bumping up against one another like this is a kind of anarchic synergy, where Russian Futurism hangs out with mid-century modern, snowboard luminaries nibble gourmet Mexican chocolate, and hand-blown glass sculpture hangs delicately next to ripped jeans. Town may be heart, but Scott Lane is poised to be Jackson’s soulful inspiration. PJH

Wearable Geometries and Other Idealisms trunk show by Abbie Miller 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28 at Matterhouse, 150 Scott Lane.

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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