CULTURE KLASH: Anderson’s Odyssey

By on August 31, 2016

Prep for Fall Arts Fest with this ‘alternative’ show at the Art Association.

A self portrait of Tad Anderson (right). The artist’s Wyoming landscapes are soaked in light and full of texture.

A self portrait of Tad Anderson (right). The artist’s Wyoming landscapes are soaked in light and full of texture.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – There’s so much happening around Fall Arts Festival time that no mere mortal of an alternative paper could hope to cover it all. Thus, PJH will provide entirely partial suggestions for what you absolutely must not miss. We’re starting a week early by helping you get looped in on an exciting new art exhibit you should check out now, and then revisit when the artist is in town for Palates & Palettes.

A show at the Art Association gallery celebrates art in its unmediated form. “Tad Anderson: A Journey” presents numerous drawings and a handful of prints by a Wyoming artist whose personal trials and tribulations make for a unique view of the state’s wide-open expanses.

The artist has schizophrenia, and has a history of going on and off his meds. In earlier years he went through bouts of homelessness. Once in a while he might decide to walk from Rawlins to Lander—and do it, drawing all the way. His is a Wyoming full of shimmering light, rich textures and colors, and a quiet not unfriendly loneliness. The world is punctuated by awe as well as softness, his paintings seems to say.

Pinedale artist and gallerista Isabel Rucker showed Anderson’s work in 2011. “The aspect I most enjoy about Tad’s work is his wonderful relationship with color,” Rucker said. “He layers his pastels beautifully and he has a great hand, totally controls the pastels while being able to have really free lively motion. Sometimes his pastels have a sensuous thick feel as if they are oil paints.”

Anderson’s show at the Art Association consists mostly of landscapes as well as several self-portraits. With soft pastel as his primary media, Anderson draws on whatever surface is at hand, from cereal boxes to construction paper to a square of flooring material. Largely self-taught, his style vacillates between impressionism and expressionism, sometimes capturing the immediacy of light on a landscape, other times exaggerating a form or a face to convey emotion.

According to Art Association director Mark Nowlin, who curated the show, Anderson’s vision is his own. “[He draws] whatever strikes his eye, but always true to his vision of the world,” Nowlin wrote in the accompanying text for the show. “A refreshing vision of beauty about western landscapes, life and truth.”

Anderson’s work falls within the genre of Outsider Art, or Art Brut. Essentially, Outsider Art is art by self-taught artists. According to Raw Vision, a magazine devoted to the genre, such artists are “unschooled and uninfluenced by the art world.”

Other definitions point more specifically to psychological disabilities. Author Lyle Rexer (How to Look at Outsider Art) defines the tricky genre as “the work of people who are institutionalized or psychologically compromised according to standard clinical norms.”

Like many outsider artists, Anderson is wildly prolific and makes art for art’s sake. Though the work on view at the Art Association will be for sale, money has never been the artist’s motivation. Nowlin says Anderson draws compulsively simply because he does. Anderson’s father told Nowlin that the artist used to spend hours on the laundry room floor drawing.

Nowlin has known Anderson since he was a child, and he stays in touch with him and his family. Anderson currently lives in Laramie with his wife and two kids. He works as a janitor at the University of Wyoming, and spends much of his free time making art and rock climbing.

Anderson recently broke from his anti-school M.O. and took a lithography class. Several prints are on display in his Jackson show, work which Nowlin calls “aggressively beautiful.”

The other work on display Anderson created in his 20s. According to Nowlin, Anderson’s parents have thousands of his drawings in storage. “They brought us a tub of artwork they thought was nice,” Nowlin said. “We hung them all, because,” he gestured around the room filled with equally compelling drawings, “Which one would you leave out?” PJH

An artist reception for “Tad Anderson: A Journey” happens 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 9 during Palates & Palettes, at the Art Association Gallery. Central Wyoming College’s Culinary Program caters the event. artassociation.org

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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