December 20, 2021
By Melanie Hoefle
I spent a chilly winter afternoon at the “Art of Home” exhibition, an annual show at the Lander Art Center. I walked through the gallery, took photos and spoke with Doug Spriggs, Executive Director of the Center. The “Art of Home” exhibit features artwork from more than a dozen artists from the Wind River Indian Reservation, from intricate beadwork to colorful portraits to passionate photographs.
In the gallery, there are area rugs, couches, even a TV and entertainment center set up to look like a living room. Curated by Patti Baldes, “Art of Home” is designed to uniquely stage what it would be like to be at home. In a Coffee Time chat with 1330 KOVE AM / 107.7 FM’s host, Vince Tropea, Patti explained her intentions with the “Art of Home” exhibition setting: to bring a warm, welcome and cozy feel to the space, while also providing a sense of being in a safe place.
“This exhibit is such a beautiful representation of the Native American community,” said Doug, “seeing pieces that aren’t traditional or associated with traditional native culture highlights the beauty of not only the culture, but the idea that we’re all in sync and in union.” My eyes wandered across the gallery from one unique piece to the next as endlessly vibrant colors danced around the room. Doug continued, “The purpose is to bring more awareness and to highlight indigenous artists from the Wind River Indian Reservation. The Lander Art Center not only strives to recognize those artists, but also to build a community that is inclusive of these lifestyles.”
I brought a few questions along to ask Doug, one of which was, “What are the greatest challenges in putting together an exhibition?” I assumed it would be something logistical, considering all of the moving parts in creating an exhibition—the planning and preparations, the call for artists, designing the space, artwork placement and much more. When asked about the greatest challenges, Doug answered, “Part of it is putting your faith in those around you that come on board to help with shows. When you do that, you see a lot of gifts and talents from people and how they rise to the occasion to pull off a fabulous show. I look at challenges as opportunities for growth. The beautiful part is letting go and watching people who are intricately involved do their best, and they shine every time.”
The Lander Art Center hosts exhibitions featuring a wide variety of mediums and techniques, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography and more. Exhibitions rotate approximately every six weeks. Each show has an individual atmosphere and feel to it. “Artists bring different cultural expressions to the table, specifically with the ‘Art of Home,’” said Doug, “Art is a mode to communicate people, the beauty of people and what those people have to offer. You’ll get a different reaction to each show, depending on what the artists have brought forward and what their work says.”
Even though the “Art of Home” just concluded, it will return next winter with another round of incredible pieces from local artists. There is also a multitude of art that can be seen at various new exhibitions at the center between now and the end of next year.
The next exhibit coming to the Lander Art Center is the Audubon Show, opening Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The Audubon Show has a focus on birds, flora and fauna that are indigenous to Wyoming. Each artist can submit three pieces of work to the show. The Student Select Show, starting March 11, will feature the creative and talented work of students throughout the Fremont County community.
The Lander Art Center is always looking for new ways to add more opportunities for artists. They are exploring the possibility of shortening their exhibitions to make room for more showings in 2023.
Not only does the center showcase local artists’ work, but it shows visitors what locals love about living in Wind River Country. In addition, it offers a wide variety of opportunities to both residents and visitors through exhibits, events and education. While each exhibit may seem to have a different theme, the purpose of the Lander Art Center remains the same—to bring the Fremont County community together.
This blog was written by Melanie Hoefle, the Wind River Visitors Council’s Community Engagement Manager.
Melanie has a strong passion for art throughout the Fremont Community.