Teton Artlab is giving the West a new look.
At least that’s the contention behind West Weird, the gallery and exhibition space ArtLab is opening this month at 105 E. Broadway. The nonprofit’s new space, which will share a building with a new Visions West Contemporary gallery, is intended to give residents of Artlab’s former studio in the yellow house at 130 S. Jackson St. a place to show their work.
But Travis Walker, Artlab’s founder and executive director, said West Weird, a temporary project that will run from June 1 until May 31, 2020 won’t stop there. It will also host new residents who will both show work and install immersive, tactile and experiential art pieces. Walker said he hopes that will help “redefine the character of downtown.”
“It’s more of a community building thing,” Walker said, comparing it to Artlab’s former space, which was off the beaten path compared to the new Broadway location.
“We’d like to help people think about the West and think about the eccentricities of the Western landscape and the Western cultures,” he said.
“I wanted [West Weird] to be atypical to what you see in Jackson.”
The first resident is already lined up. California artist Josh Short will install “The Speed Trials Arcade,” a collection of driving simulators based on arcade games from the 1980s. The exhibit will be up in July and August.
An international call for residents who will install work after Short will also open soon. Residencies will last from two to four weeks throughout winter and spring of 2020 and provide artists with housing, private studio space and a $250 weekly stipend.
In the more immediate future West Weird will open with an exhibition of artwork by past residents. “Welcome to West Weird” will open June 20 and run until July 13, featuring Walker, Jave Yoshimoto, Erick Nelson, Taryn Boals, Katy Ann Fox, David Buckley Borden, Jack Holmer, June Glasson, Carly Glovinksi and Ben Roth.
West Weird is also a for-profit, nonprofit partnership of sorts. Boals will oversee both West Weird and Visions West Contemporary, a for-profit gallery that also has locations in Denver and Bozeman, Montana. The two galleries will share some staff, and, though they will have separate entrances, movement between the galleries inside will be possible.
Boals said the organizations’ new partnership was in the works for years because a number of Artlab’s recent residents have shown work at Visions West and elsewhere. She said that was due in part to the vision Artlab and Visions West share of highlighting and displaying art that reevaluates conceptions of the West.
“Our partnership is all about people having fresh takes on the American West,” Boals said. “I think that’s something both of our entities strive to do.”
Now that Teton Artlab has moved on to curating West Weird, its sixth space, its former location on South Jackson Street will be managed independently by Shana Stegman and her husband. The space has a new name, Yellow House Collective, but Stegman said its purpose will not change. It will remain a space for artist residencies, and the artists who are leasing space in the building will not have to relocate unless they choose to.
“It’s a second home to them,” Stegman said. “They’re the ones who keep the building going.”
Other than making a few small changes — Stegman will open a storefront, which she hopes will be used for art shows and a few gatherings here and there — the only alterations the space’s new owners will make will be ones that improve the space in the way the artists want.
“It’s pretty much all the same for the artists,” Stegman said.
She and her husband, she said, still hope to “get people more involved in the building and the space.”
Handing off the space to be managed independently was part of the plan all along. The new Yellow House Collective was the fifth property Artlab managed. The previous four spaces have all been passed on to other owners, usually former residents.
“Our projects are always centered around space,” Walker said. “Like a cockroach or a hermit crab, we’ve had to move into every nook and cranny in town to keep our projects going.
“It’s produced some incredible stuff.” ￼