thanks giving

Jackson Pollack, "Mural" (1943)

Jackson Pollack, “Mural” (1943)


This Thanksgiving, I am thinking, as I often do this time of year, about the past, what has been gained and lost throughout the year, and also memories of people and time and experiences that have passed away. It’s such a potent time of year, moody and dark, slightly ominous. Yet it’s also the time in the year, in this country, that we set aside for giving thanks. I believe gratitude is necessary for a rich daily life, but I’m just as happy to heap on the thanks on gratitude’s special day.

I wanted to begin my thanks-giving by paying homage to Jackson Pollack, perhaps the most famous artist to hail from Wyoming. He was born in Cody in 1912. He didn’t live here long; his family moved to Arizona and then California. I don’t know of any evidence that he was named after our town, but I like the serendipity. I am grateful that this groundbreaking artist, one of the most influential Abstract Expressionists, could trace his roots to our corner of Wyoming. To me, Pollack represents a harbinger of the kind of nontraditional art we see being made by artists in Wyoming today. Since the 1950s, the towns of Jackson and Cody have defined themselves as being western and wildlife art towns, so much so that artists working in other veins have been pushed out of the spotlight. As tourism has grown, so too has the need to define Wyoming as a western place where you can see traditional western things.

Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate our western heritage. I grew up in a horse family in Wilson, Wyoming. Some of my favorite smells are horse sweat and hay. I also acknowledge that “The West” is a cultural construction, and it is constantly in flux, whether or not Wyoming residents want it to be. So I am just as interested in what happens in the margins of Wyoming culture, in the art being made by skiers and snowboarders, environmentalists and urban refugees. These so-called newcomers to Jackson often have energetic, revealing, beautiful, and valid perspectives to share through their art. Their visions sometimes reflect the West through new and compelling lenses. Let’s face it, most of us are relative newcomers in the larger scheme of things. Even native Americans shied away from trying to live in this valley. The real old timers are the bears and moose and Whitebark Pine.

Anyway, this is all a long way of saying I’m grateful that, as Culture Front tries to create forums to honor, celebrate, investigate, and critique Jackson area contemporary and avant garde artists, we have Jackson Pollack to point to: He came from Cody. And he exploded notions of what art was, and could be.


In the here and now, I’d also like to publicly thank the following people who have generously helped Culture Front find its footing in its very first year:

  • Gary and Veronica Silberberg and the C3 Initiative
  • Sue Mortensen
  • Lisa Miller
  • Ben Roth
  • Suzanne Morlock
  • Amy Fulwyler
  • Alissa Davies
  • John Frechette
  • Pamela Gibson
  • Whitney Royster
  • Ben Read
  • Kimberly Kernan
  • Ben Carlson
  • Christina Cartier
  • Mark Llinares
  • Hole Dance Films
  • Ed and Jane Lavino


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