By Jim Stanford on February 10, 2012
Situated in the old Huckleberry Mountain Candy factory on Gregory Lane, the artists’ enclave had become a hive of creative activity and occasional social hub. The run-down, industrial feel and labyrinthine layout were part of the charm but also caught the attention of the fire marshal, who flagged the building for numerous violations, including lack of fire exit signs.
Photographer David Stubbs made this short video when Factory Studios celebrated its first birthday last month. In a town still dominated by traditional Western art (read: animal portraits, cowboys and Indians) Stubbs was drawn to a contemporary scene tucked out of sight, reminiscent of New York City warehouses in the 1980s, he said.
Artlab’s Walker wrote on Facebook, “After 16 months, the Teton Artlab has decided to bring the Factory Studios project to a close. The landlords have decided not to bring it up to code as directed by the building’s fire inspectors last week. Because of this, we have decided to pursue other options rather than invest any more into their property.” He invited anyone with leads on a new space to contact him at 307-699-0836 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not all of the artists are moving out. Metalworker Ben Roth and Igneous Skis, for instance, had pre-existing leases and occupy “private, light industrial work spaces,” which are subject to less stringent regulations than public gathering places, Roth said.
“It’s really sad the lab is leaving, and it’s a huge shame,” Roth said. “I’m going to miss the environment of having a bunch of artists around. What a hive it felt like, and how productive it was. The quality of art being made now is so exciting.”
While Teton Artlab is looking for another space to house collective studios, it likely won’t be in a factory, as Huckleberry Mountain might be the last such facility in Jackson Hole. Roth said it’s tough to find an industrial space that fits artists’ budgets and also meets code. “I thought we had it there,” he said.
Although Center for the Arts was designed to bring Jackson’s arts community under one roof, Roth said it’s not in the business of renting studio space to individual artists for a few hundred bucks a month, available 24 hours a day. Teton Artlab formerly operated in the center, but after disputes with the Art Association left for the factory.
Still, Roth expressed hope that the collective will find another suitable space to thrive. “It will happen again,” he said.
(Music by Jesus and Mary Chain, available on iTunes)