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The Ucross Foundation opens its campus to the public during their first Founder’s Day

Bill Megalos
Ucross Foundation

TheUcross Foundation will be holding their first Founder’s Day event, which allows the public access to the grounds and facilities that make up the artist's residency. Events will also consist of a tour of the campus grounds, a behind-the-scenes look at artist’s studio spaces and a preview of the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery, which is currently undergoing a major renovation..

“This is a rare opportunity to explore Ucross’s artist studio spaces and the grounds of the campus,” said Ucross President William Belcher in a press release. “We hope the community will join us for a fun afternoon that will honor Raymond Plank’s [who founded Ucross in 1981] legacy and celebrate our vision for the future.”

The works of residents at Ucross will be featured.Adele Williams is a writer of poetry and non-fiction works. She spent a month at Ucross.

“While I'm here in Wyoming, the poetry is being informed by this landscape, which feels a bit more familiar to actually where I spent much of my adult life which was in western North Carolina,” she said.

Williams is a bit unsure about what she wants to feature for Founder’s Day. But it could be a combination of literary styles.

“I'm trying to decide if I'm going to read some,” she explained. “I mean, my studio space as a writer, I don't have like a large piece of visual art, but I do have the way I work on my manuscript [and it] is visual. I feel like my studio experience would be kind of bearing witness to my process of what my creative space looks like. And I'd like to do some reading.”

Anahita Abbasi is a composer currently residing in New York City. Originally from Iran, she studied in Europe and lived there for a decade. Ucross is her first residency program in the U.S. for a two week stay.

“It's just incredible,” she said of her surroundings at Ucross. “I'm a person who is very much connected to nature. Even in my music, there are a lot of like elements that I use the sounds because I mean, the source of inspiration for me for all the sounds, is everything that's happening around me, including nature.”

Abbasi will offer a glimpse on how the creative process for a composer looks like, which will include some sketches from the ensemble piece, exhibited on the walls of her studio. Musically, she plans to share some fragments of her work.

Another artist whose work will be displayed is Keith F. Davis. He’s a retired art historian and museum curator who is also a writer and photographer. Originally from Sheridan, Davis spent four decades in the Kansas City area in his career. But he had never completed an artist’s residency program until his two-week stay at Ucross. A number of his photographs will be featured on Saturday.

On June 4, The Ucross Foundation announced a five-million-dollar capital campaign. The announcement was made to coincide with the upcoming 40th anniversary of the artist’s residency program during their first Founder’s Day event.

“We are all invested in Ucross’s future and its continued success,” said Jim Nelson, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “For many years, our financial underpinning was supported by our founder, so this is the first official capital campaign without his presence. I’m heartened by the generosity of the trustees and lead donors, but we have a lot of work to do. I hope others will join us by supporting the campaign and celebrating Ucross’s past, present, and future.”

So far, about $2.8 million has been raised that will aid in the construction of two major construction projects. The remaining funds are set to come from individuals and grants over the next 18 to 20 months. Funds will go to the renovation of the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery and the construction of a dance studio and multi-purpose space.

Updated: June 7, 2022 at 2:44 PM MDT
The story has been updated to include the public announcement of a $5 million capital campaign made at Ucross's Founder's Day event on June 4 and a quotation from Jim Nelson, Chairman of Ucross's Board of Trustees.
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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