Everyday Art from New West
How the founder of a Jackson Hole-based knife company became a champion for new talent on the rise
2020 was indeed a challenging year. But for the folks at New West KnifeWorks, it was a brilliant opportunity to double down on their commitment to doing what they do best: making fine functional art for everyday life.
Creator, designer and owner Corey Milligan has a passion for bringing new things into existence. From his humble beginnings as a white water rafting instructor and line cook to owner of one of the country’s leading purveyors of world-class tools for the culinary artist, New West KnifeWorks, he has built an unparalleled reputation for turning fine tools into functional art.
From hand-crafted knives to stunning rock blocks and resin magnets, these one-of-a-kind pieces are the essence of fine art crafted for everyday use.
At the end of 2020, Milligan expanded his mission by building a state-of-the-art Custom Forge at the NWKW factory in Idaho to highlight the work of 19 year-old knife making prodigy Jack Rellstab, New West KnifeWork’s first in-house custom Damascus knife maker. Jack creates exquisite, intricately patterned custom knives, each entirely unique and with a story of their own. “Making them takes persistence and a dedication that doesn’t come from time or money,” says Rellstab, “It comes from striving to make these knives as perfectly as we can for the sake of making them better.”
And this year, Milligan opened New West Fine Art, a stunning gallery space with a rugged yet refined aesthetic and a distinctly Wyoming flavor in Jackson. Anchoring the space is the work of rising star of contemporary Western art, Connor Liljestrom. Pensive, introspective and a fierce rugby player to boot, this warrior poet’s large format abstract scenes of the West painted in broad strokes of bold, vibrant hues resonate with a passion for the beauty and wildness of the west. “I create from a desire to alter and curate the spaces that we live in and interact with,” says Liljestrom, “a physical interaction of my world in a somewhat bolder way.”
Alongside Liljestrom’s paintings, New West ArtWorks will, of course, feature NWKW’a custom knives and hand-carved rock blocks, “Our main goal,” says Milligan, “is to focus on doing things that other people aren’t doing yet…we don’t want any limits on creativity.”
Content for this article provided by New West Fine Art.