Matt Thackray was on the Center for the Arts lawn recently admiring the Center’s newest structure, when a couple of kids started playing in it.

The children ran laps through the pavilion, disappearing and reappearing out of view, ducking in front of, and then behind, towering timber slabs that make up the Town Enclosure.

If Thackray had been standing in another spot, maybe just to the south of the structure or up on one of the Center’s balconies, he would have seen that the pavilion offered a completely different perspective.

Which is exactly the point.

“It’s pretty fun and pretty powerful,” said Thackray, an associate at Carney Logan Burke, the architecture firm that designed it. “We’re enamored as well with the shifting views and the opacity and transparency from experiencing it in different ways.”

Creative in Residence project

The creation of the pavilion is part of the Center for the Art’s Creative in Residence program, which grants an individual or group money and space to create an interdisciplinary, impactful work of art.

Last year the Center lawn was taken over by “Observatories,” an art exhibition inspired by August’s solar eclipse. The exhibit brought in artists from around the country to create large-scale works.

This year the lawn is once again activated by sculpture, though this time created by an architecture firm just a few blocks away.

“The thing we liked about it is not only does it show off our local architecture talent but it also is a sculpture itself. [It] activates the park and is another performance venue,” said Carrie Richer, the Center for the Arts’ creative initiatives coordinator.

The sculpture meets the goals of being interdisciplinary, interactive and impactful. The piece was selected from an application and committee process that began last fall.

While “Observatories” was up only for the month of August, the Town Enclosure is expected to have a longer life span.

It’s “available for free for nonprofits and artists to use through next summer, if not longer,” Richer said. “People can think creatively and use it as a new venue and imagine the possibilities.”

From session to sculpture

The idea for the Town Enclosure came from one of Carney Logan Burke’s weekly studio sessions.

Every Thursday the firm stops work early and everyone gathers in the conference room for everything from listening to a guest artist to sharing new techniques they’ve learned to working on a competition entry. It was in one of those free-form sessions that the pavilion started to take shape.

“It was a collective effort and pretty representative of the spirit of what were trying to do,” Thackray said.

The design, he said, has a few inspirations.

There’s a natural shelter below the summit of the Grand Teton, made of slabs, not unlike the ones that make up the pavilion.

There’s Richard Serra, a sculptor who works creates large-scale projects, and then there was the constraints of a small budget and condensed timeline.

It’s a simple design, just a series of timber slabs situated to create a circular enclosure. The slabs are layered to create false walls on two sides, while the other two sides feel almost like hallways, looking out to the rest of the courtyard.

It’s also quite high. When you stand in the middle it feels like everything outside the area is suddenly muted, an acoustic intention of the design.

“The bigger scale was a big part of it,” Thackray said. “That’s something you don’t often get to explore in art, but when you get a chance at public art it’s something we wanted to take advantage of.”

Partnership with Public Art

The Town Enclosure was created through a partnership with Jackson Hole Public Art. The organization had long wanted to work with an entity to create a public art piece that is aesthetically pleasing and functional for the community.

“Public art enriches physical environments and is a tool for civic engagement that builds social capital in communities,” Director Carrie Geraci said.

The pavilion achieves both goals. A violin trio will play at the opening celebration tonight, after a performance by students from Dancers’ Workshop.

In the future there are plans to have local musicians play before Center Presents concerts. Anyone can reserve it to use for whatever they like, free of charge.

“Each time we step into the pavilion it seems like there is a new idea about what to do with the space,” Geraci said.

“We foresee artists hanging temporary art on the panels allowing people to explore and find something new and exciting.,” she said. “Musicians playing music, dancers and performers practicing, but everyone can have a new idea for an activity.”

The pavilion has been up for a few weeks but officially opens today. Now that it’s gone from idea to model to sculpture, Thackray is excited to see what happens with it next.

“So much of what you want to do is make a space for more things to happen, and that’s the beauty of the simplicity of the design,” he said. “It leaves a lot of room for community expression.” 

Contact Isa Jones at 732-7062, entertainment@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGscene.

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