I seem to get to know the iconic red barns of Wilson more and more each year that I work at the Land Trust, like a growing friendship. I first learned about the history of the Hardeman Barns and its conservation when working on the TravelStorysGPS app – out of the stories along Highway 22 featured on the Land Trust route, the story of the Barns and its characters are among my favorite. This year, I had the chance to see them in a new light yet again, through two creative projects: the history of the Barns brought to life in JenTen Production’s film, A Treasure Hidden in Plain Sight: the Mosely/Hardeman Barn, and our View22 plein air painting session there.
Three new artists joined the project this year, which for me meant the privilege of getting to know Kay, Lee and Travis as I had done with Kathryn, Jen and Bill last year – and occasionally finding an excuse to join them for a painting session or two on a fine summer afternoon. On this day in late August, 5 of the 6 View22 artists were at the Barns for a special plein air painting demonstration open to the community. Bill, Kay, and Kathryn set up on the south and east sides of the parking lot, painting the classic view of the Barns with the mountains in the background. Travis and Lee opted for a less traditional spot on the north side of the big barn, painting closeups of the “Bunkhouse”, a low, red-sided building. We had refreshments and information about View22 set up outside of the Teton Raptor Center’s offices, to share with community members that stopped by to interact with the painters in action – and to celebrate another successful summer of View22. At the end of the two hour session, it was once again fascinating to see the different styles of each artist depicting the Barns in all their vibrant red glory.
Just over three weeks later, these works were up on display at the Center for the Arts in downtown Jackson, part of a celebration dubbed the “BARN BASH” which kicked off Jackson’s Centennial Celebration with a fine art display, film premiere, panel discussion and live music and dance. The event was a collaboration among the Jackson Hole Land Trust, Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum, and Teton Raptor Center, with the Hardeman Barns as the muse for the evening. Seeing four finished View22 paintings of the Hardeman Barns, side by side, piqued the audience’s interest in the project and this December’s exhibit at the Museum. The other art works on display, representing many different media and artists, reinforced how much the Barns are part of the visual identity of Wilson. JenTen’s film on the big screen highlighted the story of the Barns in a new way that was both entertaining and inspiring – leaving us all with the renewed belief that these Barns are a community icon worthy of preservation.
— Leslie Steen