The first art gallery in Jackson Hole wasn’t in the Town Square but in a tent on the shore of Jenny Lake in what today is Grand Teton National Park.
It was a seasonal set-up, with canvases painted by Idaho artist Olaf Mollar hanging from a clothesline. Long before it had a skiing or climbing culture, Jackson Hole had art culture. A 1939 article in the Salt Lake Tribune wrote, “Jackson Hole is outstanding in its scenic values and the mecca of numerous artists during the summer season. An artist with his easel, by the roadside, in front of the Teton Range, is no uncommon sight.”
This area inspires artists whose creations range from steel sculptures to stand-up comedy and even symphonies. Home to more than 20 art-related nonprofits and a 500-seat theater, the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts is the heart of the valley’s cultural scene, but like the wildlife, the culture here knows no bounds. One of the most popular local bands (and the originators of “ski bum” music) plays regular concerts in the winter at the base of the Bridger Gondola at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Other venues include museums; local green spaces, Walk Festival Hall, the home of the Grand Teton Music Festival; the Jackson Hole Playhouse, the longest-running dinner theater in the state; and, yes, the Jackson Hole Rodeo.
Experience the Local Art Scene
When the first art gallery was getting ready to open in the Town Square in the early 1960s, one of the very last things its owner, Dick Flood Senior, did was put up its name, Trailside Galleries. “I knew people would think I was crazy as soon as they saw I was opening an art gallery,” he later told the Jackson Hole News. Hindsight shows us he wasn’t at all crazy but prescient. Today Jackson Hole is home to dozens of art galleries. Join one of the weekly (summer and fall) or monthly (winter) gallery walks organized by the Jackson Hole Gallery Association and you might see works by the most famous names in Western and wildlife art, including Frederick Remington, Albert Bierstadt, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso; contemporary artists who also exhibit in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Miami; and Jackson Hole-based artists.
If it’s a Sunday night and you hear a local say they’re off to church, it’s not what you think. They’re off to swing dance to the music of the Stagecoach Band, which has held Sunday “Church” at the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson since February 1969. Believed to be the longest continuously running house band still performing in the U.S., until the pandemic the only Sunday nights the band missed were those that coincided with Christmas.
Of course, the best souvenir is one you can come back to, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the hunt for something to take home.Explore
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