Palates and Palettes

Rare Gallery owner Rick Armstrong, left, chats with visitors during last year’s Palates and Palettes. The art walk is one of the most popular social events of the year, bringing hundreds to downtown Jackson to visit open galleries for a few hours of eating, drinking and art viewing.

If you had to describe your ideal art-viewing milieu, what would it be?

Maybe it looks something like this: You’re walking through (insert gallery name here) with (insert drink here) in your left hand and a plate of (insert appetizer here) in your right. After you finish perusing the pieces at whichever gallery you happen to be at, you walk out the door and down the block to another, where you can pick up a new drink and plate of appetizers.

If that description suits you, prepare yourself for Palates and Palettes, the ultimate art walk that features partnerships between your favorite art galleries and your favorite restaurants. Galleries open their doors to everyone and anyone, and they provide complimentary snacks and beverages.

“It’s a great event because it gets a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise come out,” Rare Gallery owner Rick Armstrong said.

Armstrong’s gallery has historically partnered with the neighboring Snake River Grill, though when reached in early August, he hadn’t finalized his plans. He said Palates and Palettes is one event during Fall Arts Festival that can actually get a bit out of hand, just because the crowds are so large. He had 300 to 400 people hanging out at his gallery last year.

If you’re keen on making the most of the deluge of free food, you can head to the National Museum of Wildlife Art around 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, to start the party early. The museum hosts its own version of Palates and Palettes the afternoon before the downtown evening iteration, complete with food from its appropriately named restaurant, Palate.

The museum’s shindig lasts until 5, the same time the event kicks off downtown. The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is the official host of the event, though the action is at the individual galleries.

Chamber of Commerce Special Events Manager Caitlin Colby said 14 galleries participated last year, and often more than 30 galleries stock the food tables for it. Go to for the most up-to-date list.

Though the festival technically starts Wednesday, Sept. 4, Palates and Palettes is sort of the unofficial kickoff.

“People kind of recognize it because it’s been going on for a long time,” Colby said. “Friday is when it really gets going.”

Because the event has history, and is a focal point of the festival for some, galleries and restaurants have built partnerships. Many work together year after year, so even if the food changes the partners don’t.

Ringholz Studios owner Amy Ringholz said she has worked with Local for years.

“They usually pull something great off,” she said in late July. “I have no idea what that is yet, but I’m excited. We’ve probably done this for about five years together.”

No matter if you just pulled into town from Ohio, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Scottsdale, Arizona, or some cowpoke town nobody’s heard of, or if you’re a longtime local, the galleries will have their doors wide open Friday night.

“We’re pretty lucky to have the art scene that we do and to have Fall Arts Festival,” Armstrong said. “Palates and Palettes is different than the rest of the festival, though, because everybody comes out.” 

Contact Tom Hallberg at

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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