Jackson Hole Public Art curates the only rotating public art installation in the valley – the ArtSpot. It is a high-visibility installation passed by more than 30,000 dailyd rivers commuting to and from the town of Jackson.
Eleven years ago, the Center of Wonder funded Bland Hoke in creating the first edition of the ArtSpot, which was a repurposed gas station sign, “It was covered in black plastic and an eyesore” said artist Bland Hoke. He contacted the owner to use it for art installations and began starting to create art installations with his friends Olaus Linn commented on his collaborative installation with Camille Davis in 2008, “It’s such an interesting thing to explore doing work at a scale that is almost too big to fathom when you’re putting brush to canvas. Suddenly individual brushstrokes cease to matter and the work becomes about big blocks of color and line to produce form.” Many artists work on two canvases, one for each side, that are 10 feet by 6 feet wide.
Eventually, the gas station sign left, providing Bland an opportunity to improve upon the ArtSpot design. “I wanted to build a structure that folded over on the side so loading it would be easier and safer” Bland said. “I used a chairlift tower donated from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and carved intricate designs on the sides. The hinge needed to be super strong and luckily I found an old bank vault and torched off the hinge. The counter-weights on the arm are snowplow scraper blades and it raises and lowers with a car battery.” Bland said, “At the time I envisioned the ArtSpot as a stepping stone for artists to create public art pieces for the community while building their competitive resumes for public art commissions.” One lesson learned was that while the ArtSpot is a box able to hold art, other artists respond by thinking outside of the frame.
Many in the Jackson Hole community remember the Charlie Brown sweater installation created by Suzanne Morlock. She used large rolls of scrap material from a sequin factory where they were making shiny dots for clothes. The epitome of exotic waste. She knit the rolls onto a form to create her installation, which at one point traveled to the Charles M. Schultz Museum. Over the years, many local artists have created installations, including: Suzanne Morlock, John Frechette, Ben Roth, Doris Florig, Jenny & Sam Dowd, JH Wild – faces of JH, Cal Brackin, Wilson 5th Grade art class, Camille Davis, Olaus Linn, Cary Tijerina, Erin Ashlee Smith, and Wendell Field.
The Director of JH Public Art, Carrie Geraci is excited to develop new opportunities and ways to enhance the ArtSpot. One dream is to work with local businesses who commission large scale artwork for their property, but who are willing to first share it with the public on the ArtSpot. For example, Danny Shervin’s gunpowder art installation, General Sherman, will find a new home on the facade of Mike’s Body Shop. Geraci said, “We are eager to set this trend of rehanging installations after their turn on the ArtSpot, so spread the word that installations are also opportunities to acquire big art!”