Ho! Ho! Ho! Oh! Noooooo! The holiday red and green decorations are coming down and already being swapped out for Valentine red in some of the stores.

A bit of a procrastinator, I’m still pondering my list of New Year’s resolutions. This year, I am trying a different plan of attack.  

Rather than a negative or the ‘giving up’ approach, I am jumping in with full energy and positive resolve. 

Honestly, how much fun is it to apply so much effort to self deprivation? Come on and admit that you enjoy those holiday eats and treats as much as I do, but onward to the real task at hand. If you slacked on resolutions so far, I am happy to share mine with you. I am all for cultural binging in the months ahead!

Since moving here some years ago, I continue to marvel at the cultural resources available in our community.  Where to start?

A family jaunt to The Brinton Museum and up the stairs to the American Indian gallery is guaranteed to instill an appreciation for the quiet beauty of the handmade for every use and ceremonial purpose. Lectures about the collection throughout the year provide educational entertainment about our history and the artists, who continue to record and interpret.

The Whitney Center for the Arts, the newest treasure added to the Sheridan College campus, offers a monthly art exhibition by a nationally recognized artist.  Don’t forget to wander upstairs to see art work by emerging artists in the Neltje Student Art Gallery.  The hallways may also feature artwork from various courses along with an informative description of the project. 

WCA is also home to the music department plus a stellar concert hall, so acoustically amazing it changes the way you experience sound (Did I see you at the Messiah? Oh my gosh golly!).

Check the WCA website for a full range of performances and lectures.  I still am thinking about the evening I spent at an exhibition of the Whitney Collection of E. William Gollings followed by a lecture expanding on the life and contributions of the painter.

The Ucross Foundation offers the bonus of a beautiful drive out for an opening reception or for an afternoon visit to art exhibitions scheduled in the Big Red Barn.  Gallery talks by exhibiting artists offer insight into the artwork and the artist’s imagination.

In the new year, the Sagebrush Community Art Center takes its place in the burgeoning cultural district on Main Street.  An active program of art classes, workshops and exhibitions will carry over into the new space and larger facilities. 

Actually I would be thrilled to see you at the Sagebrush Community Art Center for Jentel Presents on the first Tuesday of the month from 5:30-7 p.m.  The four visual artists in residence make short presentations about their creative process and show images of finished artwork and sometimes bring actual pieces they may be creating. 

Two writers present short readings from their novels, creative nonfiction, essays or poems.  Audience members ask questions or make comments during the evening, plus small group conversations develop after the session ends.  

Since the length of studio practice, involvement in an art career, age and background vary widely, each evening offers a bit of a look into the ideas and expressions that contemporary artists are exploring.  Audience members leave with more of an understanding of new technical processes, how ideas develop, what stimulates the imagination, and how much refinement may be involved before an art work or poem is finished.  The artists, primarily urban dwellers, come from all over the country and some from abroad. The intense beauty of our landscape and small town living is new to many of them. Since they share living spaces and conversations throughout the month, ideas may converge or a common thread may connect the work in its developmental stages.  A moving passage skillfully delivered by the writer, drawings of our landscape interpreted by someone new to the expansive landscape of Wyoming or sculptures beautifully transforming the detritus of ranching life may offer thoughtful reflection during the week or an energetic exchange the next day over coffee.

Whether you seek relief from cabin fever or a break from work and errands during the week, these cultural institutions are just a few in our community that provide a variety of opportunities to pique your curiosity, increase your knowledge or reignite the sense of awe and wonder you experienced as a child.  Go as a family. Take the grandchildren and listen to what they may have to share with you. Sign up for a workshop at Sagebrush or The Brinton to discover how your senses, emotions and thinking may be engaged in art making. Sign up for a studio or art history class at the college to tease you out of familiar routines and your comfort zone. Find a lecture or a gallery walk with an artist to shake up your grey matter.

Yep! That’s my New Year’s resolution for 2017. Indulge in the creative life of the community. Sample the delectable offerings week after week. Develop a palette for different tastes in contemporary expression. Become a gourmet and refine your senses. Feed your spirit. Fuel your thoughts. A cultural binge! Join me?  


Mary Jane Edwards |