Modern Shape, Western Substance at WRJ Design Associates

WRJ Design - Ashley Tutor

WRJ Design Principal Rush Jenkins and artist Ashley Tudor

What sets the aesthetic of the Jackson Hole homeowner apart? It wells from the setting: a love of rustic Western textures melded with the contemporary. Sleek, sharp lines that simultaneously pay tribute to the legacy of place and the outside world.

This blend of collectors with a discerning eye for the au courant alongside a reverence for the wilderness led San Francisco based artist and author Ashley Tudor to mark a mental bull’s eye over the town of Jackson as she considered where next to place her work. A contact connected her to WRJ Design Associates and its dynamic collecting and design team of Rush Jenkins and Klaus Baer – turns out, the admiration was mutual. Both parties knew her work would be a perfect fit for, in Tudor’s words, WRJ’s “modern rustic chic aesthetic.”

Tudor specializes in bronze European game mounts that fuse stylized contours and a high gloss finish with the time-honored tradition of interior display. At home in a show room that also features trophy antlers from the collection of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Tudor’s mounts provide a new twist on a classic collector’s object. More importantly, she hopes her work adds to an ongoing conversation between man and nature, and provokes examination of our participation in a food chain that has become increasingly mechanized.

Ashley Tudor poses with an attendee of the WRJ Design Associates opening

Ashley Tudor poses with an attendee of the opening and one of her pieces — a bronze impala.

During the Wednesday night reception hosted by WRJ, Tudor described her own evolution from consumer to active participant in the system of supply and demand. Galvanized by her first elk hunt in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness, Tudor says she “became connected to [her] food in a new way.” A field-to-table chef as well as the author of two books on the benefits of a paleo diet, Tudor views her art as a means to honor the creatures that quite literally add to our lives. “More than pretty pieces that hang on the wall,” the elk, deer, and even African impala that she memorializes in bronze casts are intended to impart just a little of the “soul of pieces and where they came from,” even as they reflect the viewer, caught in the lustrous glow of a high art skull.

The process of turning harvested game into the mounts pictured here is an arduous one to say the least. Beginning with a stripped skull, Tudor adds braces for the original horns before creating a lost-cast wax mold, adding several layers of plaster, and finally dipping the skull in molten bronze. At this point, the individual bronze pieces are painstakingly welded back together before Tudor polishes them manually with pass after pass of a polishing wheel. Then, the animal’s natural horns are re-attached, and Viola! A mount is born.
Elk_Ashley_Tudor

The materials of each mount are an appropriate metaphor for this “collaboration between man and nature.” Bronze and modern metallurgy sinuously curve over nature’s silhouette – rather than overpower nature with ornate decoration, the spare, radiant pieces exhibit “a beauty that magnifies both.” Jackson Hole’s own focus on sharing space with wildlife and gamesmanship means that many a local collector’s interest is likely to be piqued by the thought of introducing a Tudor piece into the intimate exhibition space of the home.

How best to feature a work of art such as Tudor’s? Blair Friedeman of WRJ Design Associates sees the mounts as “very impacting” on their own, and a fantastic focal point for a wall or table space. Tudor also suggests them as accent pieces above the fireplace—a nod to the custom of European mount display—and has even seen homeowners get creative and feature her smaller works as bookends.

A Tudor elk mount affixed over a fireplace at WRJ Design Associates Showroom in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

A Tudor elk mount affixed over a fireplace.

She takes commissions from avid hunters hoping to venerate their trophies in more unique ways, and is scheming to create new whitetail deer and ram’s head pieces for exhibition at WRJ. As has become customary for Tudor, the new works would be a nod to the rootedness of place, an inescapable aspect of owning property in a valley as breathtaking as our own.

Whatever their placement within an interior space, Ashley’s work stands out as an arbiter of the interior style favored by WRJ Design Associates and the Jackson homeowner at large. The mounts’ blend of sophisticated styling within a tradition that honors the great outdoors means objects that are, indeed, much more than a pretty face.

For inquiries on Ashley’s pieces, please contact WRJ Design Associates at 307.200.4881 or http://www.wrjassociates.com.

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