With spring biking season underway, pathway users will find they are joined by a menagerie of characters when they move through the underpass located near the intersection of highways 22 and 390.
“Cruising Critters,” a mural by Jackson artist Marco Miller featuring wildlife pedaling on bikes of their own, was recently installed in the highly trafficked underpass. The work is one of the latest projects from Jackson Hole Public Art.
“Any time there is massive infrastructure that has a huge amount of public interface, we’re always hoping to integrate public art,” said Carrie Geraci, executive director at Jackson Hole Public Art.
The organization issued a call for local artists to submit proposals, and a selection panel then invited a few finalists to create a site-specific concept. The panel selected Miller’s project from that final pool.
Miller’s selected work features a variety of wildlife such as a moose, a bear, a magpie, and a pronghorn, pedaling bikes.
“It playfully incorporates pathway use by depicting all these kinds of bicycles, and it incorporates our love of wildlife here,” Geraci said.
Miller, an experiential/creative event producer, fabrication designer and artist now based in Jackson, took inspiration from his days as a bike messenger in Chicago. The mural is meant to inspire alternative transportation and increase pathway use. Miller logs hundreds of miles each month on Teton County’s pathways, using the system to traverse the valley and commute to work.
“I hope that the public looks at the mural and sees that it’s both silly and happy, and that we should all ride bikes more often as a mode of transportation,” Miller said in an artist statement.
Each animal is hand-drawn in a whimsical but lifelike style. The images are painted on plywood and mirrored on both sides of the pathway. The design is thoughtful, elegant and perfect for the location, Geraci said.
“I personally love the artist’s use of negative space,” she said. “It really works since people are viewing it in motion.”
The mural is just one of many projects Jackson Hole Public Art has helped foster in the community since its inception 10 years ago. The organization has continued to expand its reach each year.
“We’re just getting more and more community involvement from in-kind support from responses from artists to business support and that has really helped us grow through the years,” Geraci said. “It’s really about the people and the public.”
The organization’s next big public art project, called “WildWalls,” will feature eight temporary murals, and one permanent piece, that will transform Jackson’s alleys into an open-air gallery from June through September. The project melds science and art by depicting a scientific topic in each mural, such as research relating to pikas, glaciers, wildfire and migrations, Geraci said.
The event opens at the end of June and will include maps for self-guided tours. ￼