Applications Now Being Accepted Through April 1st
The Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale, which showcases the latest in Western-inspired contemporary functional art, will return to the Snow King Events Center in Jackson, Wyoming, Sept. 8-11, 2016. The popular Jackson Hole event displays the work for purchase of more than 130 best-of-their-craft artisans, who are selected by a jury of experts to present a variety of hand-crafted innovations in Western furniture, fashion, jewelry, accessories for the home and more.
The 24th annual Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale is a four-day, multimillion-dollar event that brings together craftspeople, collectors, interior designers, architects and fashion designers with a love of the West, sponsored by Mountain Living magazine. The Western Design Conference was founded 24 years ago in Cody, Wyo., as a way to promote contemporary artists working in historical American craft methods. The WDC moved to Jackson in 2007. Allison Merritt, who purchased the WDC in 2014, after seven years acting as event manager, continues the strong commitment to Western arts in Wyoming while expanding the reach of the show. From documented American craft to home design to couture fashion, the show encompasses all aspects of the best of Western design.
While the Exhibit + Sale’s contemporary Western design may take cues from the history and culture of the Old West, “a walk through the exhibit hall dispels the notion that Western furnishings are heavy or rough-hewn,” wrote the Denver Post after a visit to last year’s WDC. The one-of-a-kind pieces on display reflect a high degree of sophistication, creativity and craftsmanship – often with an innovative use of distinctly Western materials. Another aspect that makes the experience special for visitors, explains Merritt in a video capturing the excitement of the WDC, is the direct interaction with the artists for a deeper understanding of their influences and process.
“These are artists creating at the highest levels of contemporary craft,” says Merritt. But beyond the remarkable workmanship, “sometimes it’s hearing the artist’s personal inspiration behind a particular piece that gives it deeper meaning to the buyer, so that when they take it home, it is so much more than just a beautiful object.”
The Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale is the only event of its kind – the preeminent exhibition and sale of Western functional art, from furniture and accessories to fashion and jewelry. The event has also become a cornerstone of the annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival.
Each year the WDC selects a new panel of five nationally recognized judges, awarding artists over $19,000 for excellence in design. “It is with the generosity of local sponsors and art enthusiasts that the WDC is able to offer the opportunity to vie for tens of thousands of dollars in cash prizes annually. The Exhibit + Sale truly unites buyers and artists, taking no percentage of sales,” says Merritt, who continues to grow the event in new directions – including adding a Designer Show House and Retail Row – while drawing record-breaking numbers of visitors.
Kicking off the 2016 Western Design Conference is the Opening Preview Party, a highly anticipated night for visitors and locals alike that last year drew more than 1,500 guests. The party begins at 6 pm. with no shortage of visual entertainment. The work of juried artists and their booths are open for shopping while guests enjoy signature cocktails and delicious catered fare. For this year’s party, the WDC has added more open bars and will feature six food stations with culinary creations by Café Genevieve.
Returning to the WDC is the Western Design Conference Fashion Show presented by Ward + Blake Architects, showcasing innovative couture collections by top fashion designers incorporating Western spirit and tradition into their work. Models strut the catwalk in an energetic performance that surpasses a typical runway event. VIP tickets for the Opening Preview Party sell out quickly, but can be purchased in advance here: http://westerndesignconference.com/events-item/fashion-jewelry-show-vip/.
Also returning this year will be a fresh new Designer Show House, featuring six professionally designed rooms by interior designers demonstrating how to incorporate fine Western design into home interiors. The Designer Show House will be on display through Sunday along with the annual Exhibit + Sale, the WDC’s three-day main event, showcasing the juried museum-quality art by the more than 130 Western-inspired artists. Also featured this year, a bigger-than-ever Retail Row – an entire wing of the Snow King Events Center where guests can shop everything from boots to jewelry to décor and fashion.
Artists interested in participating in the Western Design Conference can apply here: http://westerndesignconference.com/register/. Additional information on the WDC, including schedules and tickets, is available at http://www.westerndesignconference.com and on Facebook and Twitter @WesternDesign.