Joan Didion wrote that an artist’s creations reveal telling information about his or her identity.
“The painting was the painter as the poem is the poet,” she wrote in her short essay on Georgia O’Keeffe. “Every brush stroke laid or not laid down — betrayed one’s character. Style is character.”
Didion’s theory will be tested Thursday when the Art Association of Jackson Hole’s annual “Whodunnit? Anonymous Art Show and Sale” goes up for viewing at the Center for the Arts. The small works of art will be hung without their makers’ names, leaving the audience to match the pieces to their creators.
The popular Art Association fundraiser will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Feb. 25. For those who have health concerns or are out of town, the works can also be seen online.
“In the past the patrons have been 99% locals because we haven’t had an online presence before,” Art Association Director of Communications Anika Youcha said. “This will be the first time that it is open to a wider audience.”
Participating artists include professionals such as Fred Kingwill, Kathryn Turner, Katy Ann Fox, Pamela Gibson, Lee Riddell, Natalie Connell and Youcha. Others are student artists or artists from outside the valley who submitted 6-by-6-inch canvases. All of the larger 18-by-18-inch works are by artists who live in Jackson Hole.
This year, Youcha said, all of the artists have put more thought, time and detail into their work.
“The main thread I’m seeing is the caliber and the quality of the work, from professional artists to the youngest of kids,” she said. “I can’t even tell some of the work has been done by youth participants.”
Lisa Walker has been a regular contributor to the show over the years. She specializes in wearable art, and “Whodunnit?” is an opportunity for her to expand her creative range by producing two-dimensional works.
“It’s a challenge I look forward to every year,” Walker said.
The Art Association is a critical part of Walker’s business: The staff and studios are essential to her printmaking work. Consequently, the importance of the fundraiser hits especially close to home.
“I definitely felt like there was more pressure to do something even higher quality this year so that the Art Association can fundraise more,” Walker said.
Proceeds from the works will go directly to Art Association programs and spaces. Recently the organization added a woodworking shop to one of its studios. One of the “Whodunnit?” works — an 18-by-18 piece made up of one-inch charred wood blocks in different metallic shades — illuminates the possibilities a woodworking shop can bring.
“You can make pieces of art, furniture, anything in the studios,” Youcha said. “It was really exciting to be able to add another medium into our lineup of equipment.”
The end of the viewing period will be marked with a virtual event at 5 p.m. Feb. 25, when people will be able to buy meals from Genevieve Catering and donated wine from Vine Connections, two “Whodunnit?” sponsors.
Once the digital gathering ends at 6 p.m., bidding and buying will begin. For the first time, people will be able to purchase works over several days.
The smallest pieces will be sold via a first-come, first-serve basis. Prices range from $49 for youth work to $99 for adult work. Larger, 12-by-12 works will also be sold first-come, first-serve for $299.
The largest items will be sold via silent auction, with bids starting at $400 and increasing in increments of $200. The winners of the auctions will be announced at the end of the bidding period on March 4.
For information on the show, visit Art- Association.org. ￼