Major Bison makes a move

Jackson, Wyo. — The large, bright red bison sculpture that has proudly stood along the Moose Wilson Road is moving to Teton Village.

The sculpture is the work of John Simms, a legendary local artist, skier, and entrepreneur. Simms collaborated with the Teton Village Association and Diehl Gallery to move the “Major Bison” to its new home in the green field along McCollister Drive.

The move helps advance Teton Village Association’s public art initiative, which aims to activate and beautify vital spaces throughout the year.

Simms’ piece is to be the perfect fit for its new home. Major Bison will “roam” the green space throughout the summer and be a pop of color in a field of winter white for the rest of the year.

Simms creates metal sculptures that play on his background in geometry. “My work took a definite leap into the mathematical and geometric,” Simms said. “I am fascinated by the possibilities inherent in the most basic forms—the circle, triangle, and rectangle. I am aware of the negative spaces only after construction of the piece, and consider them as serendipitous aftereffects. There is so much more to the piece than its structure. Much of the beauty is in the shadows cast and the changing organic negative spaces.”

John Simmons poses with his masterpiece. Photo: JH Public Art

Simms moved to Jackson Hole in the early ‘60s before the ski area was developed. His unique history with Teton Village was solidified when he and Charlie Sands, two local legends and former ski patrollers, first dropped into what would be named S&S Couloir after them. They have never revealed who took the plunge first, but the run is so tough that to this day you still have to make special arrangements with Ski Patrol to ski the route.

Simms’s love for skiing and the backcountry led to a new mission to help outfit backcountry skiers with the right safety equipment. He started creating tools for avalanche forecasting, devices that he ultimately sold all over the world. He then went on to develop fly-fishing gear and started the well-known company, Simms Fishing Products. Simms has held a long career as an inventor, artist, and local legend.

Simms was recently named the featured sculptor of the 2019 Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, which is celebrated its 35th anniversary.

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