Character From the Past: Archie Teater

During their life in Jackson Hole, my grandparents met countless Western eccentrics, but perhaps their favorite was the painter Archie Teater. His first canvas was cut from the covering of a shepherd's wagon. Given that he was a player in so many of their stories of their times in Jackson, it was a little shocking to find out that he was known elsewhere:

"At the time of his death, he was one of the country's best-known western landscape artists. He had had one-man shows in New York City, his paintings had hung in shows in the Metropolitan and other museums, as well as in U.S. Embassies around the world, he had been featured in articles in Better Homes and Gardens, Cosmopolitan, Flair, Ideals, Look, and Quick Magazines ...

... and his paintings were in a number of important private collections, including those of Averill Harriman, Lawrence Rockefeller, Godfrey Rockefeller, George S. Amory, Bennett Cerf, Henry P. Cole, and Mrs. Charles de Rham. Yet, following his death he fell into almost total obscurity, so that today he is largely known only by those who own his paintings and the now rapidly disappearing coterie of people (centered mostly in Boise, Idaho, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming) who knew him and his wife personally."

My grandparents hung theirs over the organ in their living room -- it is large and reassuringly blunt, a thankfully unsentimental view of the Tetons as seen from the banks of the Snake River. Mostly grey, deep black-blue and only faintly green (though more than half the canvas is filled with trees), all held within an exquisitely carved cerused oak frame. My Uncle Tom keeps it in the den of his lake house, and I always visit it when I'm home for the holidays.

Anyway, Teater commissioned a house by Frank Lloyd Wright in Idaho, which is the only house by Wright in the state. I would so love to see it:

I need friends with Frank Lloyd Wright houses; I'd even settle for just one. You'd think having grown up in Chicago I would have at least one FLW association, but no.

I'll end with one last stolen memory: my father and uncles (swept up in the cowboys & indians mania of the '50s) watching in wonder as a vast rolled canvas was unfurled across the floor of my grandmother's living room. It was considered Teater's great masterpiece, an almost monochromatic view of Custer's Last Stand in blue, covering more and more of the moss-green carpeting. I know the exact color, because somewhere my parents have the Dunbar sofa everything was matched to, still covered in its original moss green raw silk.

But I wonder where the blue Custer is?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm blow away by Archie's work. He is a amazing artist. I'd love to see more of his work.

-Zane of ontario honey

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