Hotel Terra Gets Local

 

+ Story by Jennifer Dorsey

+ Photography by Latham Jenkins

 

With two national parks in the Jackson Hole area, wildlife and ranch animal themes naturally crop up in local art collections. Even so, the Nine Francois photos at Hotel Terra prompt a double take.

Wielding a wide-angle lens, the Texas-based photographer scoots in super-close to her subjects and snaps them from oddly intimate angles. Later, she strips surrounding details from the image until just the animal—be it deer, elk or bison—remains.

“For the viewer, there’s a sense of play, an intimacy in the photos,” says Francois, whose work can be found in Jackson at RARE Gallery. “The plain background lets you concentrate on how beautiful the forms are.”

It’s not surprising that animal photographs with a twist would hang at Hotel Terra. The property’s entire decorative scheme plays on the idea of the unexpected: Materials and shapes associated with Jackson Hole’s rustic side come together in a way that’s sophisticated and contemporary, an apt description of the valley as a whole.

A chandelier’s shape, for example, reminds of the elk-antler variety but is made of steel. Sleekly luxurious bathroom countertops have humble beginnings as recycled glass. And reclaimed timber beams look more urban than log cabin.

“We took materials in a mountain setting and used them in an unexpected way,” says Shelley Holland, a co-developer of the hotel.

Francois epitomizes this aesthetic. “She’s taken wildlife and portrayed it in a more innovative fashion,” Holland said. So, too, has September Vhay, an artist living in Jackson Hole, whose animal paintings adorn hotel guest rooms. “They’re very clean, very contemporary, simple yet elegant,” Holland said.

All the artwork reflects another aspect of Hotel Terra: its environmental ethos. Opened in 2007, it is sustainably built and operated. Yet it is also upscale and comfortable—proof, Holland says, that “sustainability and luxury aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Of course, fine art is the height of luxury, and examples abound. One is a gangly bronze moose sculpted by Jim Budish in his distinctive minimalist style. Positioned at the reception desk, the critter exudes a vibe so friendly that the patina on its nose has been worn away by an adoring public.

“If I make someone smile, my purpose is accomplished,” said Budish, who lives in Illinois and is represented locally by Diehl Gallery.

Ben Roth’s lobby wall sculpture, fashioned from reclaimed barn wood and steel, forms a lens shape that is a more abstract take on the hotel’s themes. The Jackson Hole-based artist doesn’t offer single interpretation—“I leave that to the viewer,” he said—but suggests that it invites people to look at the environment through the scope of an eco-conscious hotel and to appreciate local history in the context of manmade objects. For Holland, the materials alone give it a rightful place at Hotel Terra. “It really brings home the sustainability message,” she said.

Upstairs, in the white and pastel interior of the hotel’s Chill Spa, a mixed-media piece by Charlotte Potter, of Vermont, demonstrates that eco-friendly isn’t a synonym for rough-hewn. Boxes crafted from recycled wood chips house delicate vases she blew from molten recycled glass during a stint in Jackson Hole. Each vase contains a sprig of weed collected from roadsides.

“I wanted something local, something indicative of the Western landscape,” said Potter.

Contrasting in tone (but not purpose) with Potter’s pieces are Curtis Olson’s richly toned, mixed-media works in Café Terra. Often incorporating old photographs and pieces of metal, they convey a strong sense of place. “I wanted the work to feel that it was rooted in the Western U.S., but not a mythical romanticized West—the actual modern West,” said the Jackson Hole-based artist, whose work is sold at Diehl. “I think Hotel Terra accomplishes that as well.”

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