Frida Kahlo’s “Frida’s Plaster Corset with Hammer and Sickle (and unborn baby),” painted by the Mexican artist while convalescing after an accident.

Frida Kahlo’s “Frida’s Plaster Corset with Hammer and Sickle (and unborn baby),” painted by the Mexican artist while convalescing after an accident.
What’s so great about the art Monet, Picasso, Warhol or so many of the other so-called “masters”?
No need to take the experts’ word for it when you can pop by Heather James Fine Art, on South Center Street, and judge for yourself.
The Jackson gallery recently finished hanging a new collection that represents 400 years of art history, Heather James Senior Director Andrea Rico-Dahlin said.
“A key point we like to make is the educational aspect of the gallery,” she said, a value founders Heather Sacre and Jim Carona built into the gallery from the start 25 years ago.
“A lot of galleries are snobby and stuffy,” Rico-Dahlin said. Unless you’re there to buy, you’re likely not to get much attention. “But we want people to come in and have an art experience. What we have is so unique for our area and region.”
That’s for sure. While some homes might have a Warhol or maybe even a Monet hanging on the walls, Heather James has several works by the premiere Pop Art practitioner and the impressionistic master. Of the former, one wall in the gallery displays a couple of his famous soup cans and a few images from his cowboys and Indians series. And of course there’s a Marilyn Monroe image — a rare “reverse print” that, while maybe not as valuable as the Warhol Monroe that recent went for $195 million at auction, is unusual and, as with most works at Heather James, one of a kind.
“We like to emphasize Warhol in the summer,” Rico-Dahlin said. “Everyone is familiar with his work.”
At the other end of the historical spectrum are golden-hued paintings from 17th-century Netherlands, the “golden age” of Dutch painting, Rico-Dahlin said, which depict people of that time living their lives amid windmills and watercraft.
These “blue chip” artworks hang in a space that also contains several drawings by Picasso and Chagall, as well as a couple of those Monet paintings mentioned. On one hand there’s “L’Ancienne Rue de la Chaussee, Argenteuil,” an 1872 oil that captures a street scene that could have taken place anytime over the previous 500 years; and on the other there’s “Coup de Vent,” from 1881, which shows how Monet’s impressionist eye has developed over the past 10 years, with quick dabs of paint evoking the gusts of wind that sweeps over trees and bushes and, in the distance, the English Channel.
The easternmost reaches of Heather James has its own trove of riches, including a plaster cast of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s abdomen that she decorated with provocative and highly symbolic images while she was convalescing in 1925, after having been involved in a collision between a bus and a streetcar. It’s as much an artifact as a work of art, a relic of a female artist who has achieved near sainthood in some art circles. Nearby is a large painting by Kahlo’s husband Diego Rivera, a portrait of a high-class Mexican woman done in the style of traditional hagiographic iconography, with a banner floating above her and symbols of her station and significance integrated into the composition.
Opposite these wonders is a 1941 Georgia O’Keeffe painting of cottonwood trees outside her retreat near Abiquiu, New Mexico, a soft and billowy frame that blends abstraction and representation and that also manages to convey something of the arid dryness of the environment, and a rather whimsical, rhythmic painting by American painter Marsden Hartley, “Bach Preludes et Fugues No. 1,” which attempts to depict the music of the baroque master through rhythmically arranged shapes and colors.
There are paintings by N.C. Wyeth, the father of Andrew and grandfather of Jamie, whose work illustrated many a popular magazine and book in the early 1900s; an Edgar Payne canvas that is noteworthy for depicting a scene from the Alps, as opposed to his more typical Western United States landscapes; as well as canvasses by Thomas Moran, Edward Hopper and California impressionist William Wendt.
A huge tapestry by South African artist William Kentridge occupies one of the walls at 170 S. Center Street, with a couple of smaller “spirit totem” sculptures by trumpet player-cum-artist Herb Alpert, similar to what is on display outside the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Tucked back are etchings, prints and originals by Salvador Dali, Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Harring, Alex Katzz and Ed Ruscha, while elsewhere in the gallery are works by Marc Chagall, Penelope Gottlieb, Joan Miro and a splashy “Woman in a Rowboat” by Willem de Kooning.
That is, as they say, just a sampling. It’s easy to spend a good hour or two taking it all in, especially should you avail yourself of the touch screen kiosk that accesses tons of notes and stories about each individual work or use your cellphone to read the QR code on some signage. You also are likely to get a personal tour with Rico-Dahlin, whose education includes a stint with Christie’s prestigious graduate school program in New York City, or from one of the other knowledgable Heather James associates. 
Contact Richard Anderson at 732-7078 or rich@jhnewsandguide.com.
Heather James Fine Art
172 Center St., Suite 101
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and by appointment
307-200-6090
HeatherJames.com
Since moving to Jackson Hole in 1992, Richard has covered everything from local government and criminal justice to sports and features. He currently concentrates on arts and entertainment, heading up the Scene section.
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