Western Design Exhibit + Sale Taps into Universal Appeal
Historical romance of the West with its cowboy mystique and wide-open freedom are part of the draw for visitors from around the world to Jackson Hole's September event
The historical romance of the West with its cowboy mystique and wide-open freedom is part of the draw for visitors from around the world to the Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale. This annual four-day event, September 7 – 10, 2023, returns to the Snow King Event Center in Jackson Hole for its 31st year. Nearly 100 new and returning artists from 28 states across the country have been accepted to show and sell their handcrafted creations in furniture, home décor, fashionable apparel, jewelry, and art to attendees to purchase directly from artists. Executive Director Allison Merritt says, “The comfort of Western design feels like home; people feel a connection to a Western sensibility because of its handmade heritage. The show is like a big family who throws a celebratory reunion each year.”
The Mountain West’s universal appeal is also in the comfortable blend of modern and historic elements incorporated in the Western Design Conference artists’ work in all genres. In fashion, leather, or jewelry, a statement turquoise necklace is worn with a modern outfit; leather fringe, a Western favorite, is shown both on traditional cowboy garb and contemporary urban fashion. For interiors, integrating modern glass and steel with traditional soft fabrics, leathers, and furs creates understated luxury that speaks to both the past and present. In woodworking, the WDC artists honor and enhance the natural beauty of the wood, creating one-of-a-kind functional pieces.
Merritt adds, “Whether as part of a wardrobe or a home, it’s the mix of heirloom and modern with its uniqueness and customization that draws people in. My mother who lives in Richmond, Virginia, gets stopped every time she wears her JW Bennett custom hat to shade herself from the sun’s rays. It’s beautiful and useful; it’s functional art that can be appreciated anywhere in the world.”
Each year the WDC appoints five judges with a wide range of expertise to award nearly $20,000 for excellence in design. This year one of the judges is Jeffrey Dungan, a nationally recognized architect from Alabama. The WDC awards artists for their dedication to traditional methods and materials and their constant innovation and inspiration. This is an event where both new and returning artists share ideas and collaborate, renew old friendships and make new ones, and attendees are all welcome to be part of the WDC family.
WDC tickets are $30 for an Exhibit + Sale Day-Pass to the Snow King showroom from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., including complimentary daily Happy Hour. VIP Early Entry at 5:30 p.m. with Reserved Seating for the Preview Party + Fashion Show is available for $175 per person. General Admission to the Preview Party + Fashion Show is $100, 6 -10 p.m.; both include an Open Bar and Catering.