JACKSON, Wyo. — A new gallery on Town Square is now open! The New West Fine Art Gallery welcomes both potential buyers and appreciators of art to enjoy featured artist Connor Liljestrom’s large format, abstract scenes of the West. The gallery recently opened in June with a solo exhibition of Liljestrom’s work, “The Last of the Old West.”
The same rugged yet refined aesthetic you’ve come to expect from New West KnifeWorks and Mountain Man Toy Shop will be reflected by the gallery’s artwork in its laid back, uniquely Wyoming attitude.
“It is my belief that Connor (Liljestrom) will be the most renowned western Contemporary artist in the United States, and our gallery will support that,” says New West KnifeWorks owner and founder Corey Milligan.
“The gallery will feature Connor’s art alongside custom knives and hand carved rock blocks. Of course, we are paying attention to what other galleries do and have done, but our main goal is to focus on doing things that other people aren’t doing yet.”
Liljestrom almost never became an artist at all. The Jackson Hole native began as a history major at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and didn’t switch his major to fine art until his third year of school. Art had always been Liljestrom’s inclination and passion, but the prospect of building a career as an artist was married to an overwhelming fear of failure.
“I was met with success early on in high school through scholarships and awards,” Liljestrom explains. “But there was some sense of being a big fish in a pretty small pond. I reasoned that if I didn’t try at the next level, I wouldn’t fail at the next level. Ego-wise, I had a level of fear about that. That fear was a wonderful thing to confront and overcome because you will most definitely fail if you don’t try.”
As soon as he made the initial leap “to the big leagues” by switching his major to fine art, Liljestrom realized he wanted to fully commit to making a living as a studio artist. His professors encouraged him to figure out what exactly he wanted to add to the fine art conversation.
“I thought about what it meant to be raised in Jackson, and the many formative experiences I’ve had, and how I could express that through things I find beautiful, moving and relevant,” said Liljestrom.
Liljestrom’s current exhibition, “The Last of the Old West,” reflects this narrative: it opens a dialogue between the lore of the West and the Hollywood portrayal of that mythology, combined with Liljestrom’s own experience of growing up in Jackson — “a space that sees both… the authentic and the not so much.”
While Liljestom’s subject matter currently centers around Western themes, he is always committed to honesty in his art, whatever the subject matter. “My job as an artist,” Liljestrom explains, “isn’t just to paint. It is to think about the dialogue I’m having through my work.”
In a recent interview, Liljestrom and Milligan described their vision for the New West Fine Art Gallery and how they brought together an unorthodox collaboration between fine art and knives.
A sampling of Liljestrom’s work can be found on the New West Fine Art Gallery website. To view Liljestrom’s pieces at the New West Fine Art Gallery, stop by in person at 98 Center St., Unit C on the Town Square or make an appointment for a private showing by contacting: (307) 201-5029 or email@example.com.