This summer the northeast corner of Town Square went through quite a metamorphosis. New West KnifeWorks - known for their award-winning knives that are also pieces of art – opened a formal art gallery--New West Fine Art. Founder of both, Corey Milligan explains that the gallery “specializes in the curation and sale of contemporary art referencing the American West.”
For its first year New West Fine Art is featuring Connor Liljestrom, whose work “references mythologies, Hollywood and pop culture, natural history, colonialism, and the canon of Western-centric art history.” His pieces are colorful, bright, and span from the floor all the way up to the ceiling.
Connor was born and raised in Jackson and grew up taking classes at the nonprofit Art Association of Jackson Hole. He speaks highly of their instructors Greg Houda and Tom Woodhouse who would sketch on Snake River Brew Pub drink coasters.
With so many pieces that draw the eye, I asked Connor to tell me about ONE. He chose “The Twitty Brothers,” which are actually two pieces, a pair: “A Lover with an Easy Touch” and “A Man with a Slow Hand.” (Scroll back up to see Connor standing in front of the duo at the top of the page.)
Immediately before I was going to ask Connor to tell me about the pieces he said, “Often I find viewers ask me what a piece means. I think it's kind of a shame because they're kind of short-changing themselves of the experience of looking at the piece for themselves.”
He did share that the pieces were inspired by the song “Slow Hand” by the singer Conway Tweety. I promised to listen to the song. So, before reading on, I ask you to press play below so you can experience the piece for yourself.
We’re not going to share “his answer” immediately. Have you listened to the song yet? What we will share now are two of his tips:
- FAVORITE THING TO DO IN THE SUMMER: “Go to the river. Just get in that that water. I firmly believe that you would be hard-pressed to find something more healing and good for your spirit than getting in cold mountain water.”
- LOCAL’S TIP: “When you're looking at the view of the Tetons, spin 180 degrees and check out what's going on in the other side of the valley. This whole place is as magical.”
Now, have you listened to “Slow Hand” song yet? We hope so. Connor explains them as:
“The Twitty Brothers are a diptych…It’s referencing the Conway Twitty song, “Slow Hand”, that for me was a pensive song about what kind of intimate partner I would want to be for someone. This is a diptych that has been kicking around in the back of my mind for a few years. Since I initially thought of it while listening to that song in the studio, it seemed to me I needed the juxtaposition of guns and flowers, two ends of the spectrum of the same person. They can be one and the same - the very hard side of a person and the very soft side of a person. I wanted to have both of these figures similarly configured. They’re different but having them visually illustrate the opposing sides of a very masculine, independent figure, you can manifest the flowers and guns and what both are saying. I think it’s important for a man to have both sides and be willing and able to portray that harder side and also share the more tender side. Although it’s a bit cliché, I do find that the visual illustration of this does address what I’m trying to say. Both are equally relevant in terms of the type of person you embody as you move through the world.”
Stop by New West Art to view the pieces up close. You can enter from Town Square at 98 Center Street or from this view of their side entrance on Deloney.
Thank you for sharing your work with us Connor. We admit we’ve been listening to quite a bit of Conway Twitty.
This story is a part of our #humansofjhchamber campaign, which focuses on the faces of our local businesses and nonprofits. Learn about their inspirations, why started in their industry and more! Find the Chamber on Instagram at @jhchamber. For information about the program, please contact Communications Manager, Andi Gollwitzer, firstname.lastname@example.org.