Fine Arts Fair turns Snow King into mobile museum

JACKSON, Wy. — For four days this week, the Snow King Center will be almost unrecognizable. Far from the usual sporting center and even exhibit room, the space will transform into a world-class fine arts museum.

Jackson’s first Fine Arts Fair begins Thursday, September 12 and features more than 50 of the world’s most renowned galleries and hundreds of artists.

“It’s going to be a shocking experience for everyone that comes,” said Rick Friedman, the owner of Show Hamptons and the guy who runs the show. “We’re working to convert the place into a museum.”

Show Hamptons puts on Fine Arts Fairs across the country, but this is Jackson’s first. It coincides with Fall Arts Festival on purpose, Friedman said — the point is to “augment and enhance” what is already happening, and draw more attention to Jackson as an international arts destination.

“I joke that until recently, there were more art galleries in Jackson than there were restaurants,” Friedman said. “There’s no doubt [Jackson] is an arts mecca … and the art world has taken notice.”

Galleries at the Fine Arts Fair will come from all over the world — London, New York, Los Angeles, Santa Fe. There are also some local names on the list: Tayloe Piggott Gallery and Diehl Gallery will exhibit some of their best pieces.

Sarah Winkler, Metamorphic Dreamscape. Courtesy of K Contemporary.

The galleries were selected for their caliber, but each gallery has free reign to curate its booth. The only directive is to exhibit pieces a Jackson buyer might like. Much of the work is “up-and-coming” — a little more contemporary and forward-thinking. But there are also more classic western and even “world-class Native American” pieces. The point, Friedman said, is to bring art that Jackson has never seen before.

“It’s not a little flea market,” Friedman said. “These are pieces that should be in museums. This is the level we’re working on.”

That also means that the Fine Arts Fair isn’t for the casual art collector, and Friedman is the first to admit it. The lowest-priced piece is around $2,000, and there are pieces priced in the millions. Most fall in the seven-digit price range. This is for serious art collectors with seriously deep pockets.

But anyone is invited to appreciate the art, even if they can’t afford to buy it. As Friedman said, it’s like a museum… but “a museum that accepts major credit cards.”

And even if you don’t like the art, Friedman said, “come for the liquor.” It’ll be flowing all weekend, along with free food.

The fair opens with a VIP “Sneak Peak” (get it? Because it’s at the bottom of Snow King Mountain) Thursday from 3-6 p.m. A “Harvest Moon Art Benefit” on Saturday night will benefit the National Museum of Wildlife Art and celebrate 2019’s Sculptor of the Year, Bart Walter.

Tickets to the Fine Arts Fair are $25 per person per day and include liquor and food.

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