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Sketches and Final Works Set to Sell

September 4, 2018

Tom Hallberg
September 4, 2018

Get out your pocketbook. Or, for those river rats with a refined taste in art, your credit card.

It’s time for Western Visions, the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Brobdingnagian art show and sale.

“It’s the museum’s largest and longest-running fundraiser,” said Amy Goicoechea, the museum’s director of programs and events.

The show and sale is returning for its 31st year. It started the year the museum opened, making the show part of its fabric. Though the sale is ostensibly a way to make money, as all fundraisers are, it is intrinsically tied to the museum’s mission.

“It is beneficial for us, as we are still collecting fine art,” Goicoechea said. “It’s also an opportunity for visitors to experience the museum in a new and different way.”

The sale’s structure makes it inviting to everyone, not merely those ready to shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for a piece. First, it is not closed to those unwilling to purchase, hence the “show” in the title. The works stay up from Saturday, Sept. 8 until Sunday, Oct. 7, even if they have been sold.

And the works aren’t just from any artist off the street. The show is an invitational. Goicoechea and a committee sifted through about 175 artists’ works to decide on the 107 featured this year. Each was invited to submit two works — one sketch and one finished piece — though some contributed only one.

So even if you go only to peruse the art, you’ll have the chance to see the work of renowned artists, both national and local. You’ll also see something that ends up in the museum’s permanent collection. The board of trustees chooses one artist for the coveted Trustees Purchase Award, and the museum buys that person’s work.

Last year the trustees purchased “Sky,” a painting of a sandhill crane by Jackson artist Kathryn Mapes Turner, whose work “One O’clock Fox” is featured in the 2018 show’s catalog. Being part of the museum’s collection is a dream come true for the painter.

“I’m pinching myself because I hold the museum in such high regard and high esteem,” Turner said.

Every piece is sold at a fixed price — no bidding — and the final decision on who takes it home is left to Fortune’s wheel. The intent-to-purchase, or random-draw, sale means that interested parties, both those who bought tickets and those who bid remotely, put their names into the proverbial hat, and one person’s name is drawn.

“We did it this way for years, then experimented with a digital platform of the auction,” Goicoechea said. “We’re returning to the familiar beloved practice, getting rid of digital online device-based bidding.”

The switch back is due to popular demand and its “successful history,” she said.

Though the museum does have free events throughout Fall Arts Festival, the show and sale is not one of them. Tickets are required, and both single-night and combination tickets are available. Goicoechea encouraged people to attend both nights.

“There’s incentive to come to both nights,” she said. “In previous years the auction was just Friday night. This year we’re going to do drawings for sketches Thursday and the rest of the show on Friday night.”

River rats, come both nights, but be prepared to buy at the artists’ party the night of Sept. 13. Sketches will priced as low as $250, but the prices will rise considerably for the main sale Sept. 14, when pieces could go for as much as $50,000.


See the full article on Jackson Hole News & Guide here.

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