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The Brinton Museum is hosting an event featuring an area painter and illustrator

Brinton Museum
Facilities at the Brinton Museum in Sheridan County.

The Brinton Museum in Sheridan County is hosting artist and illustrator Ted Waddell for a reception on March 7 as part of their 18th Illustrator Show. Originally scheduled for March 2020, Waddell’s visit had to be postponed due to the pandemic. His works have been on display at the Brinton’s S.K. Johnston, Jr. Family Gallery since Feb. 10 and will be available for public viewing through April 23.

“We felt that we had a missed opportunity to showcase Ted and his illustrations, which are just absolutely beautiful and charming, and tell the story in a way that I don't think any other artists can do,” said Barbara McNab, curator of exhibitions at the Brinton Museum. “A couple years went by, and I said to Ted, ‘We're doing another illustrator show.’ We do [one] each year [and] this will be the 18th Illustrators Show, would he consider a repeat, so to speak because we missed the opportunity to showcase him before. And he agreed.”

Waddell was born in Billings, Montana and spent his childhood in nearby Laurel, Montana. He received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Montana College and Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture and printmaking from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 1968. He has painted and illustrated for over six decades, and has been a part of the Sheridan area community as well.

The museum’s show this year includes 28 pieces of Waddell’s artwork from four children’s books, including from the “Tucker the Bernese Mountain Dog” series and a selection of illustrations from his 2015 book “Memories of Childhood.” Many of the books he has provided illustrations for have been written by his wife, Lynn Campion.

“I'm known as a painter and I've been involved [in painting for] 64 years, and these books are an offshoot of the way I live,” Waddell said. “We live with four Bernese Mountain Dogs, and we've had them forever, and the books came out of living with the dogs.”

The inspiration taken from the dogs and their behaviors was the driving force behind Waddell and Campion’s most recent book in the series.

“The illustrations came out of being around our dogs who are pretty amazing Bernese Mountain dogs, and they're totally goofy and all they want to do is be where you are and sit on your foot,” Waddell said. “This book is about golf and aging. And it's called “Tucker Plays the Back Nine.” And there will be one more book, maybe more, but there'll be one more book called, “Tucker is in Heaven,” because we're losing a dog.”

Waddell has also drawn inspiration from his former work as a cattle rancher and from livestock more generally.

“I ran cattle for 30 years and so I have been informed by angus cattle, buffalo, horses, sheep, all kinds of animals and landscape[s],” he said.

The Brinton Museum also brought Waddell in to speak to local schoolchildren and introduce them to different kinds of art.

“That's one of the reasons we offer the illustrators show is to engage children to come here to the museums, to make art and to learn about painting and art and illustration,” McNab said. “That's why, despite our horrible weather and icy roads, Ted and Lynn made the trip here.”

A few school groups have already stopped by with several more set to come on March 7. Poor road conditions, however, have kept some students from being able to visit.

“It is always a delight to have the schoolchildren here, particularly the younger elementary children because they're like sponges, they take it all in,” she said.

The reception, which includes a book signing, will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is free to the public.

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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