A Private Art Space in Jackson is a Modern Take on Salons

Jackson Hole's Guesthouse is a new private art space that's changing the conversation
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Located in a small and simple building, Guesthouse aims to invigorate a salon culture based on art and ideas instead of sales and commerce. “Through the design and our interests in cultivating a community of creative professionals we respect, the name of the space ‘Guesthouse’ seemed to fit perfectly,” Obering says. | Photo by Cole Buckhart

It may be small, but Guesthouse is a place for big ideas. The private Jackson Hole, Wyoming, studio space, launched in 2019 by husband-and-wife team Camille Obering and Ben Musser, aims to reinvigorate salon culture by inviting artists to create original work and present it to new audiences.

Obering grew up in Jackson Hole and built a successful career as an art advisor and curator in New York, including work at the Whitney Museum and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Musser is a classically trained musician and composer who performs with his folk/rock band, Benyaro. Together, they’re devoted to cultivating ideas and elevating conversations about art.

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An evening event at Guesthouse features a showing of Ati Maier’s “Spacerider” film cycle. Sliding glass doors allow access to a large deck that nearly doubles the size of the private art space. | Photo by Camille Obering

Where did the Guesthouse idea come from?

CAMILLE OBERING: I moved back to Jackson Hole in 2008 because I felt there was an opportunity to bring more modern and contemporary art to this community. I began by curating shows around Jackson Hole at galleries, nonprofits and doing pop-ups. Simultaneously, my husband and I had a desire to build a community of creatives we respect by inviting people to experience the beauty of Jackson Hole and give them the opportunity to show their work.

Guesthouse is an antidote to a society that consumes superficially an immense amount of information—whether that be at art fairs, which happen nearly every month, or social media, whose purpose is to capture one’s attention in seconds before people scroll on. We seek to do a limited amount of programming but have people spend more time with the work and take time to think without distraction.

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Ben Musser and Camille Obering stand together in the Guesthouse exhibition space that they designed, surrounded by works created by artist Matthew Day Jackson for his “Waterfalls and Birds” exhibition. | Photo by Theo Avgerinos

Why do you focus on two shows per year, with visits by appointment only?

CO: It’s a private art space. You must make an appointment to see the art or come when we host an event. We are looking to slow things down by doing less than the average arts organization. Each visitor comes with intention to engage and has a personal conversation with me about the work. We hope to foster thoughtful, engaged conversations and hopefully people leave stimulated.

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Artist Matthew Day Jackson greets visitors to his recent exhibition. Guesthouse provides an opportunity for artists, musicians and filmmakers to share and discuss their work with the Jackson Hole community. “The people that visit the space come with intention to be there and be engaged,” says Obering. | Photo by Lucas Ayoub

Tell us about the design of Guesthouse.

CO: Ben and I designed it so that there was a very small bedroom, bathroom and closet, and the remaining space was clean and empty. There is one long wall facing the Teton Range and a short wall making an L shape. The north wall is a wall of windows/sliding glass doors which open up to the Tetons and a deck which feels like it is floating off the ground. The white walls can serve a small show or a large film. The deck can serve the dual purpose of a stage, for performers and musicians playing to the field in front of us. In the winter we dig out just enough snow for a fire pit so folks can stand outside and admire the art at our events.

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With its spare design and white walls, Guesthouse’s exhibition space allows art to be the main event. Colorado-based artist Anna Tsouhlarakis displayed a series of sculptures and drawings in her exhibition, entitled “Incomplete Drawings of Decolonization.” | Photo by Camille Obering

How do you select the artists you work with?

CO: I look for artists that communicate ideas I think will resonate with people in this community, such as how we experience light and space, the relationship between man and nature, the history of this area and how it has impacted the broader world, the impact of national parks on how we value natural places and cultural sites such as the World Monuments Fund.

What’s next?

CO: Running through January 2023, Julia Bland is presenting “Dream of Falling.” September 17 we will host a benefit for Wyoming Public Media, presenting singer-songwriter Eric Lindell.

Categories: Artists & Artisans