There are just about two weeks left to see the “Teton Teater” exhibit at the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum. The display documents 50 years of paintings from 20th-century artist Archie Boyd Teater, who visited Jackson nearly every summer throughout his life.
Kirsten Corbett curated the exhibit. She said that when Teater first started painting here, he was interested in more than just the gorgeous landscapes Teton County is famous for.
“So, he painted people in different kinds of social situations on the [town] square and in Teton Village and camping and just in all kinds of different contexts,” Corbett said. “And that makes it really fascinating to me.”
The exhibit features works donated from many local private collectors and businesses, as well as artifacts such as Teater’s original studio signs. The gallery where the Idaho native used to display artwork in Jackson is still in use today as a jewelry store located on Cache Street just behind Jackson Drug. “It is what was probably the earliest gallery or studio gallery in Jackson Hole,” Corbett said.
Visitors to that original gallery would find gorgeous scenes of wilderness areas like Jenny Lake but also Teater’s interpretations of everyday life in the area.
“He’s also even sometimes documenting, like, historical events,” Corbett said, “like the ‘Elk Massacre,’ which is one of the paintings that we have up right now, or even an event that he witnessed on the Town Square.”
Morgan Jaouen, executive director of the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, described Teater’s paintings as “the original postcard” of Jackson Hole. She also said he’s an often-forgotten artist, especially outside of the upper Rockies, even though he painted about 5,000 works of art.
“I describe them almost as, like, ‘Find Waldo’ paintings,” Jaouen said. “He’ll pop in these little images of people or a little scene in the corner. I mean, they’re very layered paintings.”
One scene Teater painted is an homage to the Jackson of old: A chaotic brawl of men spilling out of a saloon. Bar dancers and livestock can also be seen in the corners of the canvas, and the people depicted look almost nothing like what you might see in Teton County today.
“We had a lot of interesting, fun, humorous people here who loved the Tetons but also didn’t take themselves too seriously,” Jaouen said.
“Teton Teater” is on display at through Saturday, April 9. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, and tickets cost $10 for adults who aren’t members of the historical society.