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A Casper arts organization kicks off its new season with an array of events


ARTCORE is a Casper-based arts organization that has provided opportunities for artists in a variety of disciplines to showcase their skills. It recently began its season, which runs through next year. Wyoming Public Radio’s Hugh Cook spoke with ARTCORE executive director Carolyn Deuel about what to expect.

The following transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. 

Carolyn Deuel: ARTCORE was founded in 1978, and actually [the] music and poetry was about a year older than Charles Levendosky, [a former poet laureate, journalist, and one of the organization’s founders]. One of our poet laureates [Levendosky] had started that when he was working with the [Wyoming] Arts Council, so we've kept the name. People can read prose also, but we've kept to music and poetry title. We pair musicians and writers and have a coffeehouse series for five Mondays in the summer in July and August. This one is at the Bluebird, and that way people can have refreshments, too.

Hugh Cook: Who are the people who participate in ARTCORE activities each year?

CD: We have a mix. We always champion local artists, and we bring in people from around the state and nationally touring groups. Of course, the one dance company is from Ireland, and we have a string trio from Italy. So the participants then are the community members.

And we do as much school outreach as we can. We bring the elementary schools together on buses to come to see live performances and see about attending concerts. And then in the secondary schools where the schedules aren't so flexible, then we'll send Masakazu Ito – a classical guitarist. He'll do an outreach program at Casper College and he'll also go to one of the high schools for some outreach, and then always the evening event. We also include the assisted living folks in coming to the school programs during the day.

When we take the surveys [at] the end of the season, we find that we have people who only come to the locals. We have people who are so intently interested in dance – those are the ones that come, too.

Our music, it's going to include a tribute to Roy Orbison. We have Hank and his Honky Tonk Heroes with Jason Petty, who has performed as Hank Williams on Broadway. We have the classical guitarist that I mentioned. Then we have a group called [The] Vinyl Stripes and they do 50s and 60s music, [and we bring in] some of the local groups like Prairie Wildfire – a group of girls from Buffalo who have performed for us one other time. And then locally we have Quinn McDaniel and Amy Gieske. [We] have a program with Daniel Quintana from Opera Wyoming, but he is performing as Byron Grey, the magician. So it's magic and music. We have a huge variety and our audience is also varied, so there's some people that come to a lot of things then there are others who come to their own special interest.

HC: Are there any new events, new shows or performances that you are presenting this year?

CD: It is whatever the person is writing. So we may hear part of a novel. We may hear poetry. We may hear [a] story and then some poetry. We give each of the writers two 20-minute sections to read their works, and also the musicians have two 20-minute segments to perform. And we kind of sandwich the poetry or the writing with the music and then have a break in the middle for people to visit.

HC: Since ARTCORE’s inception back in the late 1970s, have things expanded to include other art forms?

CD: Tremendously. And for a few years, we had one music, one dance and one theater production. Casper is so full of wonderful theater – with the Stage Three and Casper Theatre Company, the Children's Theatre, wonderful productions at the secondary schools and Casper College – that we are more likely to bring someone in like Frankie Ambrosio who's coming in September. He played the Phantom [of the Opera] 2,100 times on Broadway and in San Francisco, and so he can do a masterclass and perform and give us a wonderful, dramatic person without [us] doing a production, which would be in competition with the school shows and the community shows. We also have Opera Wyoming, so there's a lot of theater in Casper.

Then [our] trademark always is to have dance. Again, in the early days, we had about three events, and then we expanded to six. One day, we had set our season and I was being asked if someone could come and perform, and I was so tired of turning people down that I said, ‘What if you played for 80 percent of the ticket sales and we mounted the show?’ And they said yes, and so the local and state performers perform on that basis – as does anyone who comes along that we have an opportunity with after the season is set. We have about 36 performances in a year now.

HC: Where are your performances held?

CD: Kind of all over. Music and poetry is at the Bluebird Cafe, which used to be the Cheese Barrel. And then for the larger performances, we are sometimes at Restoration Church, sometimes Highland Park Church [and sometimes] at The Lyric downtown across from David Street Station. The more chamber-music type [is] at our Savior's Lutheran Church, [and] First United Methodist is hosting four of our shows this year. So we don't have a house.

HC: What does ARTCORE mean to the Casper community?

CD: We bring the variety of performances that no one else does. We always have the dance. We have the latitude by having a chance for artists to perform for 80 percent of the proceeds to have a very expansive program. Some people who have moved in from other places tell us that they are amazed at the excellence of our programs, the variety of them and the accessibility – because you can get it someplace in 15 minutes in Casper.

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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