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Group Land Art Exhibition Opens at Ucross Foundation Art Gallery

Group Land Art Exhibition Opens at Ucross Foundation Art Gallery

“UCROSS: A PORTRAIT IN PLACE”  Click to downoad the press release

Public Reception on Tuesday, June 30 With Special Workshops on Wednesday, July 1

Ucross, Wyoming – June 15, 2015 – A special place-based group exhibition, “Ucross: A Portrait in Place,” will open at the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery on Tuesday, June 30, with a public reception from 6:00-8:00 p.m., featuring brief talks by the seven participants. Several land art workshops will take place on the following day, Wednesday, July 1, beginning at 9 a.m. Both the reception and the workshops are open to the public at no charge. The exhibition will be on view through October 9.

From origami inspired by buffalo to photographs of plant seeds and husks printed via a 19th century process to acoustic recordings of local bird song, the exhibition displays a trans-disciplinary approach to place and community. The exhibition includes six members who have been affiliated with the University of New Mexico’s prestigious Land Art of the American West program: Cynthia Brinich-Langlois, Bill Gilbert, Jeanette Hart-Mann, Yoshimi Hayashi, Joseph Mougel, and Cedra Wood. All have spent time in residence at Ucross, during the past two years. Also participating is Charlie Bettigole, co-director of the Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative, a collaborative project of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Acclaimed author Verlyn Klinkenborg, also a past Ucross resident, will write an exhibition essay for the catalog, which will be available in August.

“Land art is an artistic movement in which there is a dialog between artist and place,” states Bill Gilbert, lead artist of the exhibition. “In the practice of land art, the land becomes both the subject and the site of the work. It is often created using natural materials such as soil, rock, or wood, and elements such as water, wind, and sunlight. Land art is frequently ephemeral, finding a parallel life as documentation or representation in a gallery context.”

During residencies at Ucross in 2013 and 2014, the group of artists engaged in a series of site-responsive works focused on the unique combination of environmental and social conditions at Ucross. The exhibition weaves together the perspectives of the various artists to create a tapestry of place. Each of the artists will speak for five minutes at opening reception about their work:

Charlie Bettigole, a wildlife biologist, presents work focused on the avian soundscape found in every-day life at Ucross. Collecting audio data with autonomous recording units at two Ucross locations throughout the year, his work will highlight the birds of the Clear Creek valley, from resident bald eagles to a myriad of transitory migrant species. Additionally, Charlie has provided cartographic support to a number of other participants, and derivatives of his maps can be seen in the works of Bill Gilbert and Jeanette Hart-Mann.

Cynthia Brinich-Langlois is interested in the “changing conditions of illumination throughout the day and night,” and their relation to memory and imagination. She has created a number of “books of hours,” each drawn from a unique location on the Ucross ranch. The motif of a circle has guided the selection of sites; the initial book was drawn from within a tipi circle on the ranch, with additional books mapping the landscape from the perimeters of tire troughs and other man-made constructions.

• Over the past decade, Bill Gilbert has completed a series of walking-based map projects, in which he has roamed across land free of trails or roads in an effort to focus on what is in front of him: the animals, plants, geologies and human communities. For his Ucross work, he has turned his attention to the relationship desert peoples have with the night sky. In Celestial/Terrestrial Navigations, he has walked constellations Eridanus (The River), and Orion, on the range and bottomlands, documenting the plant species to add plant ecology to the Ucross portrait.

Jeanette Hart-Mann’s video piece, Without soil there is no color, focuses on soil samples of Ucross–including dirt, land, mud, rock, clay, sand, sediment, dust, and more—based on her explorations of trekking 30 miles of the Ucross ranch. She used video, audio, photography, and the sensory experience of these spaces to produce the work, along with Soil Surveys generated by Charlie Bettigole of the Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative. As she notes, “soil is one of the most essential resources of life on earth and literally grounds in time and place.”

• The work of Yoshimi Hayashi combines the folded paper (origami) traditions of his immigrant Japanese background, with the disappearance of the migratory buffalo. He has installed them in small towns with abandoned storefronts, where youth migrate to large cities for better opportunities; and on the plains with the intent to honor the lives and people that worked and are still harvesting the land. “The Japanese fold origami cranes in hopes that a loved one will recover from illness or to ward off bad luck,” notes Hayashi. “My gesture of folding the buffalo touches upon these hopes for the place.”

Joseph Mougel has studied the evolution of grasses tied to human civilization. His work focuses on photographs of seeds and husks that capture the diversity within the varieties of uncultivated grasses growing on the pasture ranges of Wyoming. The photographs are reminiscent of early photographs of snowflakes – each image portraying subtle variations even within a single plant. Accompanying the images are a series of videos depicting wind blowing through the grasses of the area.

• Noting the abundant plant life at Ucross, Cedra Wood has referenced clothing patterns from the late 1800s to create homestead-era costumes, using hand-gathered plant materials ranging from grasses to cottonwood fluff to leafy spurge. With nods to history, fantasy, and utility, her work required her to become familiar with these species, their cycles, their needs and their surroundings – an overall metaphor for the ways in which we approach unfamiliar places. Collaborators then wore the costumes in an allegorical pageant of migration, resulting in a series of paintings, studies, and garments.

Ucross: A Portrait in Place has been supported in part by The Laura Jane Musser Fund, The Tucker Foundation, BNSF Railway Foundation, the Louis L. Borick Foundation and the Wyoming Arts Council. The Ucross Foundation Art Gallery is located ½ mile east of the intersection of Highways 14 and 16 in Ucross. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30-4:00 p.m. On summer Saturdays between July 11 and Labor Day the gallery is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and will be closed on July 4. Special hours and group arrangements are available upon request.

For further information about the July 1 workshops, or to RSVP, please contact Ucross Foundation at (307) 737-2291 or info@ucross.org. Workshops will begin at 9 a.m. and will include lunch.