Visions West Contemporary started in Jackson as an experiment. A space opened in the house once occupied by the Teton Artlab, a nonprofit that, among other things, provides subsidized studio space for artists.
The founder of the Artlab, Travis Walker, is represented by Visions West at the gallery’s locations in Denver, and Bozeman and Livingston, Montana, and helped the gallery open its Jackson pop-up in 2016.
Now, with Visions West in its fourth summer, owner Nikki Todd admitted, “We can’t really call ourselves a pop-up anymore.”
For the Fall Arts Festival, Visions West will hang a group show, “The Wild Bunch.”
It’s a compilation of new pieces by Visions West artists who also have work in the National Museum of Wildlife Art: Wendy Klemperer, Robert McCauley, Troy Abbott, Julie Buffalohead, Adonna Khare, Shelley Reed, William Sweetlove and Brad Rude. That’s an impressively large roster considering that Visions West typically hangs some of Jackson’s most contemporary takes on Western art.
With four locations in the Rocky Mountain region, Visions West represents artists who create not so much Western art as art about the West. Call it “new West,” or “new new West,” Visions West is decidedly contemporary, fueled by a passion to push artistic boundaries in the Rockies and use art to speak on nature, animals and the environment.
“The Wild Bunch” follows suit.
“This show will examine how animals have always been an underlying theme in art,” Todd said. “Whether artists have used them literally or figuratively, with or without human subjects, they somehow command the composition and make meaning in ways previously unimaginable.”
With the underlying theme of animals, the show will include works in a variety of mediums — from Khare’s large graphite pencil drawings, which are both masterful and whimsical, to Abbott’s digital sculptures of birds in cages. Never shying away from the opportunity to be critical — or simply ask critical questions — many of the Visions West artists play with bold juxtapositions and surrealist elements to call attention to the complicated relationship people have with nature and other animals.
“Throughout art history, animals have served as vessels for happiness, distress, environmental issues, gender studies and more,” Todd said.
“The Wild Bunch” will include at least one new piece from each of the eight artists.
On a less serious note, Visions West will host a Champagne and doughnuts soiree with Khare in celebration of her wildly popular adult coloring book. It’s from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13. Khare will also work in the studio throughout the week.
If you have visited Visions West in its first location, the Stable, note that the gallery moved in June from its funky digs on Jackson Street to a bigger space on East Broadway.
The gallery kept its ties with the Teton Artlab, which also opened its new space, WestWeird, in the same building. Read more about WestWeird in section D, page 4.
“There’s always been this fun relationship with the Artlab,” Todd said. “We share a common vision and aesthetic.”
With Visions West now in a more prominent location closer to Town Square, Todd hopes to share its contemporary vision with a greater audience.
“We’re hoping this will springboard us into something more permanent here, maybe even a bigger space,” Todd said. ￼