Jackson Hole owes its cultural vibrancy not only to those who paint the pictures we hang on our walls, play the music we dance to on Friday nights or act out their scripted roles on our various stages.
There’s a whole other layer of activity we rarely see or think about: that of organizer, collaborator, advocate, activist.
It’s these people the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole seeks to honor with the Award for Creativity — people like veteran Art Association staffer Emily Boespflug and musical pedagogue and producer Laura Huckin, winners of this year’s Rising Star and Creative Legacy awards, respectively.
“I’m super honored,” Boespflug said. “It means a lot to me. It’s really big. I put so much into the Art Association. ... A lot of it is behind the scenes.”
“I was rather shocked,” Huckin said of getting a phone call from Caryn Flanagan, the cultural council coordinator. “I thought she was calling about grants I had submitted for Arts for All. ... I’m quite surprised and really honored.”
She observed that only a few musicians have been recognized with the award since it was created in 1994.
“Part of the excitement of receiving this is I guess the awareness, the acknowledgement of music on the community level,” she said.
Both artists practice their disciplines. Boespflug is a remarkable painter who is currently showing at Pearl Street Bagels.
“It was an unplanned show,” she said, “just junk I have laying around.”
Huckin plays piano in the pit of many a local theater production, puts in hours of rehearsal with individual actors and casts, and also directs the Cathedral Voices Chamber Choir and all-woman Treble Voices and accompanies the Jackson Community Chorale.
But it is not for their own artistic pursuits that they were recognized. The Award for Creativity is presented “to recognize individuals who are enhancing the creativity of Jackson,” as the council puts it.
Boespflug, then, was nominated by co-workers, a council statement said, “for her substantial contributions to outreach programs and her creative approach to curriculum development.”
Huckin’s Creative Legacy award is for a decade-plus as music director in countless theater projects involving hundreds of children and adults.
“She has this impact without even realizing it,” Flanagan said. “When she walks into the room, people learn so much from her, from her process ... they can’t help but learn.”
Boespflug has worked for the Art Association for about nine years and began coordinating programs about seven years ago. She and co-worker Tasha Cronk started a summer camp program for the youngest groups and over the years grew it so it now reaches middle schoolers. In doing so, Boespflug said, they “pioneered collaborations with other organizations” in the Center for the Arts and throughout the community, “taking outreach classes to another level.”
In addition, she has made it a goal to bring art programs to whatever group wants them.
“Anything from the seniors at the living center to about every preschool in town,” she said, “and pulling in groups like Mountain House and other places people haven’t branched out to.”
All of that requires coordination, fundraising and relationship building that generally goes unseen by the public.
Similarly, the great bulk of Huckin’s work goes largely unnoticed. While summer is relatively quiet — she worked with Off Square Theatre Company on some musical theater camps, but had little in the way of public performances — it’s a time she uses to plan, prepare and raise money for the fall and winter.
In the coming weeks that means teaching piano, resuming rehearsals with Cathedral Voices, Treble Voices and the Jackson Hole Chorale, restarting her Singing in the Schools program (in which vocal coaches work with the 170 or so students in middle and high school choirs) and beginning to think about Off Square’s annual youth musical, set this year for February.
She also recently joined the Center for the Arts board as a resident representative, works with Gina Feliccia on her Big City Broadway program, and has a 2-year-old daughter to care for.
“It’s like waiting tables,” she said. “Someone is always just sitting down, someone is getting served, someone is paying their bill and getting ready to leave.”
But she doesn’t do it alone, and that’s one of the things she’s most grateful for.
“There are so many great musicians and artists I’ve come to know, and the organizations they are affiliated with,” she said. “Going solo is a very lonely approach. For me as a musician, performing and collaborating and working with many individuals and larger groups, being able to share this experience with others is what I find most rewarding.”
Boespflug and Huckin will be honored and formally presented with their awards at a public event in October, Flanagan said, though the exact date and details have yet to be set.