Wyoming Arts Council

Wild Spaces, Working Places II

Four years ago, the Ucross Foundation and The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming teamed up to present the work of three Sheridan County artists — Danna Hildebrand, Dani Reel and Dianne Wyatt — who had painted the landscapes of the Wyoming preserves and conservation easements of The Nature Conservancy. More than half of the 20,000-acre Ucross Ranch is held in a conservation easement by The Nature Conservancy, making the collaborative project especially fitting. The excellent response to the exhibition demonstrated the community’s deep appreciation and concern for the health and beauty of Wyoming lands.

Now, on September 28, a second exhibition of new paintings by the three artists, Wild Spaces, Working Places II, will open at the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery and will be on view through December 14, 2007. A public reception for the artists will be held at the art gallery on Friday, Sept. 28, 6-8 p.m.

Hildebrand, Reel and Wyatt traveled over the course of the past two years to create on-site individual interpretations of these protected lands. Painting sites range from preserves to private lands – from Ucross in the Powder River Basin to the Pitchfork Ranch on the eastern slope of the Absarokas – with much focus on the Bighorn Mountains’ eastern watersheds – Crazy Woman, and Clear Creeks, Wolf and Pass Creeks, to name a few.

“This exhibit is a beautiful visual tribute to the land and arts of Wyoming, with participation by three terrific Wyoming painters, The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming, and the Wyoming Arts Council,” says Sharon Dynak, Ucross Foundation President. Sally Morton, Director of the NE Wyoming Program for The Nature Conservancy, states, “We have the good fortune of knowing such talented artists who have a desire to memorialize and celebrate the conservation achievements of the Conservancy’s Wyoming Chapter.”

Through the artists’ direct observation, the paintings document a vital link between art, landscape, ranching, conservation and the environment. The exhibit represents each artist’s personal response to the culture of each place visited and painted. As Danna Hildebrand says, “Color has the greatest impact visually in outdoor painting because light and shadow are fleeting. From the plein air tradition of the French Impressionists to today, color is a key element of painting out-of-doors. Our show demonstrates this wonderful obsession.”

Dianne Wyatt comments, “The three of us have experienced the joys of meeting people and making friends whom we might otherwise have missed knowing and appreciating. We have seen wildlife we might not have gotten to see: a mountain lion, a herd of elk, baby cranes and gigantic owls….I’ve tried to discover ways to paint so the viewer can feel the blazing heat or the coolness of the streamside setting; can smell the new-mown hay and the scent of the pines; can hear the birdsong and the rustle of the leaves.” Dani Reel notes that “plein air painting in the peaceful, quiet, mostly undeveloped Nature Conservancy easements…has allowed me to be aware of my perceptions and feelings toward these pristine lands…The glorious, rich colors of these landscapes have sparked a desire to capture and hold nature’s beauty for others to enjoy.”

A percentage of the sale of these paintings will be donated to The Nature Conservancy, to further the support of conservation throughout the state of Wyoming. The exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For further information about Wild Spaces, Working Places II, contact the Ucross Foundation at (307) 737-2291. The Art Gallery is located at 30 Big Red Lane in Ucross, Wyoming, ½ mile east of the junction of Highways 14 and 16. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

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