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The Sheridan County arts scene was recently featured on a TV show

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Bob Beck
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Wyoming Public Radio

The Sheridan arts scene was recently featured on the Tubi streaming service show The Story of Art in America. The show premiered earlier this year and features artists and the arts scenes of several cities and towns across the country.

Though the Sheridan focused episode only recently aired, there are high hopes that it will bring about more notoriety to the arts scene that Sheridan offers.

“I think we’re already seeing some returns, again it’s early, the show just came out, but we’re already hearing from some of the artists themselves anecdotally that they’ve sold some paintings,” said Shawn Parker, Executive Director of Sheridan County Travel and Tourism (SCTT). “For us, it’s more of the exposure, using this as a tool.”

The number of viewers is unknown, and Parker admitted he doesn’t know if he will ever see the viewing numbers, but he’s keeping tabs on whether those numbers will eventually find their way out. Parker said getting to this moment had been several years in the making.

“I met Pierre Gervois [the executive producer] of The Story of Art in America at a trade show,” he said. “We got to chatting and of course my job is to pitch Sheridan, Sheridan County and all the great things to do and that Sheridan would make a pretty great destination and that we should stay in touch, and over the next couple of years that’s what we did.”

Several local artists in Sheridan County were featured in the half hour episode, including Aaron Odom. The self-proclaimed owner, managing and artistic director of the Trident Theatre in Sheridan said his involvement with the show began when WYO Theater Director Erin Butler submitted him for consideration to SCTT, who in turn submitted it to the show’s producers. Odom said there was initially a list of 20 to 50 local artists that were up for consideration, though the episode featured less than that.

“It ranged from everybody [from] painters and leather workers and metalsmiths [included on the show],” he said. “I was humbled and honored to be honest [as] it was a show that’s probably going to go on Amazon first and we’ll see where it goes from there. You have this great opportunity to represent your town and represent the artistic tradition that has almost become kind of a birthright of the town—it’s an absolute characteristic now, it’s an arts community.”

The exposure that a show such as this can provide has Odom excited and optimistic about what the future holds for Sheridan’s art community.

“I would love to see a lot more of a growth in the world from a global perspective,” he said. “Like people very interested in coming to stay here and creating something of a more vibrant arts economy here. So much of the world can be done through online, we can have things that say, ‘Made in Sheridan,’ but from a theater perspective, that’s a little bit difficult to do.”

Stefanie Wilkerson is another one of the artists that were featured in the episode. A metalsmith, jewelry maker, and owner of Archetype Collective in Sheridan, her involvement with the show began when she was contacted by Shawn Parker, the Executive Director of Sheridan County Travel and Tourism.

“We had done a few other arts segments locally that I had been a part of and featured with him, so when the show came into town, he actually gave them my name and I was able to be a part of it that way, which is really cool to just have another opportunity to share my art,” she said.

Much of Wilkerson’s artwork often involves creating unique jewelry, something that she’s become known for.

These include rings, earrings, and necklaces that she said are conversation starters. The episode includes Wilkerson working on some of her creations. Once located downtown, her business has relocated to her basement for the time being. But despite where her workspace is, she is glad to have had the opportunity for herself and for the broader Sheridan arts community to be featured to a larger audience.

“I think it will help our individual traffic and just awareness of us in general but as a whole, I think it had a really positive spin on Sheridan in general,” she said. “I think it’s always good to have a little bit of a broader audience, even if it just brings awareness and attention to how diverse and cultural Sheridan is as a whole."

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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