Ucross and Cave Canem have joined forces to present a literary fellowship that provides creative support to Black poets. The 2022 Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross has been awarded to interdisciplinary poet S. Erin Batiste of Brooklyn, New York.
Presented once a year to an emerging or mid-career poet, the fellowship offers a four-week residency, which consists of uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the experience of the majestic High Plains on Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. The award also includes a $1,000 cash prize and a $1,000 Ucross stipend to defray travel costs.
“Ucross is deeply honored to work with Cave Canem to expand support to Black poets,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “We look forward to sharing the gift of uninterrupted time and space with S. Erin Batiste this fall through the Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross.”
The fellowship is named for the award-winning writer Toi Derricotte, who was a Ucross Fellow in 1995 and went on to cofound Cave Canem with Cornelius Eady in 1996. Over the past 25 years, Cave Canem has nurtured nearly 500 Black poets who have gone on to publish acclaimed works, win prestigious awards, and become valued educators throughout the nation.
“Cave Canem is delighted to be in partnership with Ucross to offer this residency opportunity to its Fellowship, created in honor of our beloved cofounder Toi Derricotte,” said Cave Canem Executive Director Lisa Willis. “We are excited that Batiste has been selected and will be able to further cultivate her poetic craft as a result of this valuable experience.”
Batiste is the author of the chapbook Glory to All Fleeting Things. She is a 2022 Tin House Debut 40 Writer in Residence and SWWIM Writer in Residence. Her work has been nominated for Pushcart, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net awards; it has been exhibited in New York, is anthologized, and appears in Interim, Magma, Michigan Quarterly Review and wildness, among other decorated journals. She is also a reader for The Rumpus.
Batiste is the third poet to receive the Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross, which launched with a pilot program in 2020.
“Ucross makes room for the wild silence we all need in order to live more courageously into our voices,” said inaugural Fellow Karma Mayet Johnson, an acclaimed writer and performer.
"I'm thankful for the partnership between Ucross and Cave Canem,” said Darrel Alejandro Holnes, the 2021 Fellow, whose book, Stepmotherland, has received many accolades since its publication in February. “(Cave Canem) is a home for Black poetry, and I'm so grateful that the home space includes the beautiful Ucross Foundation.”
In recognition of the centennial anniversary of its late founder, Raymond Plank, Ucross will host its inaugural Ucross Founder’s Day event for the public on Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The community is invited to tour the artist residency campus, get a behind-the-scenes look at the studio spaces, meet artists, and enjoy a picnic outside of the historic Big Red Ranch House. The event will conclude with a tribute to Plank; a preview of the Ucross Art Gallery, which is currently undergoing renovation; and a major announcement about Ucross’s 40th Anniversary plans.
“This is a rare opportunity to explore Ucross’s artist studio spaces and the grounds of the campus,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “We hope the community will join us for a fun afternoon that will honor Raymond Plank’s legacy and celebrate our vision for the future.”
Plank, born on May 29, 1922, grew up on his family farm in Minnesota. He entered Yale University in September 1940 but left just three months later, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserves. During World War II, he piloted B-24 bombers, completed 40 combat missions, and earned numerous commendations. After the war, Plank went on to graduate from Yale; form an accounting and tax service; and eventually co-found and become chairman and CEO of Apache Corporation, which was based in Minneapolis and is now based in Houston, Texas.
In 1981, Plank founded Ucross Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and the residency program welcomed its first artists in 1983. In the four decades since, the program has developed into one of the most respected artist communities in the nation. More than 2,500 visual artists, writers, choreographers, and composers have been to Ucross, benefiting from its uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and meals by a professional chef, as well as the experience of the majestic High Plains. Many alumni have gone on to earn national recognition, including 11 Pulitzer Prizes, nine MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, nine National Book Awards, nine Tony Awards, two Academy Awards, and more.
Passionate about Wyoming, its land, and its strong sense of community, Plank maintained and cherished his home in Ucross for more than 40 years. He led the Ucross board to establish a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy on more than half of the 20,000-acre Ucross Ranch and spearheaded the creation of The Park at Ucross, which includes the interdenominational Ucross Chapel, the Johansen Memorial Gardens, and the Raymond Plank Center. Plank passed away in November 2018 at age 96.
During Ucross Founder’s Day, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the community will be able to visit the studios of composer Anahita Abbasi of San Diego, California; photographer Michael Kolster of Brunswick, Maine; and poet Adele Williams of Houston, Texas. Ucross will also open the doors to the Big Red Ranch House, built in the late 19th century. One of the oldest standing structures in Sheridan County, the Ranch House is included in the National Registry of Historic Places and now houses staff offices.
The Sheridan-based food truck Stoked will be onsite slinging wood-fired pizzas, or guests are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn outside of the Ranch House.
At 1 p.m., attendees will gather outside of the Big Red Barn, which houses the Ucross Art Gallery, to honor Plank’s legacy and be the first to hear a major announcement about the organization’s future.
Parking is limited, and carpooling is encouraged. Tickets are free, open to all and available here.
Ucross, a renowned artist residency program and creative laboratory for the arts in Wyoming, and The Blank Theatre, a Los Angeles institution celebrating 31 years of imaginative theatre, today announced the winner of the second annual Ucross + The Blank Theatre Future of Playwriting Prize, a one-of-a-kind award for early-career playwrights nationwide. Ucross and The Blank are partnering to showcase the importance of emerging artists across the country and to celebrate the innovative work that is asking questions and evolving theatre as we know it.
The 2022 winner is Katherine Gwynn. Two additional finalists, Andrew Siañez-De La O and Gage Tarlton, will each receive a $500 cash prize. The winner and cash prize finalists were chosen by The Blank Jury (Tamadhur Al-Aqeel, Boni B. Alvarez, Ryan Bergmann, Beth Bigler, Jose Casas, Michelle Flowers-Taylor, Prince Gomolvilas, Sigrid Gilmer, Daniel Henning, Joshua Lamont, Amir Levi, Penelope Lowder, Annie McGrath, Angela Oh, Bree Pavey, Zander Pryor, Lee Sherman, Tamika Simpkins, Cece Tio, Jamila Webb, Jennie Webb, Betsy Zajko, and Prize Program Director Kila Kitu), in consultation with representatives of Ucross, funders Deb and Ed Koehler and the Raymond N. Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Gwynn will receive a cash award of $5,000, a professionally produced staged reading in The Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series (a new play development program), and a two-week residency at Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.
Gwynn (they/she) is a queer CODA Midwestern playwright, dramaturg, teaching artist, and producer who writes at the intersections of gender, queerness, disability, faith, and tenderness. They won the 2015 Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award and finished in second place for the EMOS Ecodrama Playwrights Festival (2022). Their work has been developed and produced by The New Coordinates, The Great Plains Theatre Conference, Terra Femina Collective, Commission Theatre, The Fishtank, and Rockhurst University. Finalist for Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (2021), Playwrights Realm Scratchpad Series (2021), Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2018), Parity Productions Commission (2020), New Works Festival at Kitchen Dog Theater (twice), and LezPlay (2019). Three-time semi-finalist for Bay Area Playwrights Festival; semi-finalist for Story Theatre Resident Playwright, Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship (2019), and Ashland Play Festival (2019). Gwynn was a two-time invitee for Submission to the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Their play All I Wanna Do is Be Pretty Like You is currently being developed by The New Coordinates, and they are a playwright for the Jackalope Theatre’s Living Newspaper Festival (2022). Born in Kansas City, Gwynn now lives in Chicago.
Andrew Siañez-De La O (he/they) is a Mexican American stage and audio dramatist from El Paso, Texas. Blending magic and science fiction, his stage work often centers on his borderland culture, whether as a more whimsical examination of border heritages and indigenous roots (The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home, Pipeline Theatre Company, NYC) or a darker, more pointed examination of a separation policy’s effect on children (Borderline, Echo Theater Company, LA). His work has explored the pressure placed on first-and-second-generation children of immigrants (Sangre Mía, Playwrights Realm, NYC). His writing has been developed across the country at Stages Houston, Fresh Ink Theatre, Milagro Theatre, Company One, and others. He is a committee member for the WGA Audio Alliance, helping to build a more equitable future for creators of audio drama. He is a scriptwriter for the Latinx children’s fiction podcast Timestorm with Cocotazo Media, and his play The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home is currently being adapted for audio in partnership with Stormfire Productions. He has also begun work on his first young adult fantasy novel.
Gage Tarlton is a queer Gen Z theatre writer and artist, originally from North Carolina and now living in Brooklyn, NY. He holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. His plays include exercise your demons: a play on the trauma of a gay male body (Victory Gardens Ignition New Play Festival), sons that wear dresses and mothers that love sweet potatoes (PlayMakers Repertory Company's Making Tracks Reading Series, The Kennedy Center Playwriting Workshop, finalist for The Parsnip Ship Season Six: Queer Theater, semifinalist for the 2020 O'Neill’s NPC and 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Distinguished Achievement from KCACTF), and XXPonyBoyDerekXX. His first short film The Homiesexuals: a social media tragedy will be released in 2022. He is also a co-writer of the Broadway virtual experiences Our Offering and its sequel A Christmas Offering, both created by Sis. He is a 2019 Kennedy Center Playwriting Fellow, a 2021 finalist for Art House Productions' INKubator New Play Program, and a 2020 finalist and 2021 semi-finalist for the Echo Theater Company’s National Young Playwrights in Residence.
At Ucross, artists in residence experience an inspiring combination of solitude and community, with expansive time for private work, as well as lively exchanges at group dinners with fellow artists. Facilities include visual arts studios, writers’ studios, and composers’ studios, and a large space suitable for dance and theatre collaborations.
Ucross first began welcoming artists in 1983. Over the past four decades, Ucross has provided more than 2,500 residencies to established and emerging artists. Ucross provides a platform that nurtures and supports artists, many on the eve of major career breakouts. Ucross has been home to 11 Pulitzer Prizes, nine MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, nine National Book Awards, nine Tony Awards, two Academy Awards, and more. Alumni include Billy Porter, Colson Whitehead, Yaa Gyasi, Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Adam Guettel.
The Blank was founded in 1990 by Daniel Henning, and the theatre’s over 70 mainstage productions have won 13 LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, eight LA Weekly Awards, five LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, four NAACP Awards, 20 Back Stage Garland Awards, four BroadwayWorld Awards, and hundreds of other nominations. Named "One of the Best Theatre Companies in America" by the Drama League, The Blank was honored by the LA City Council and won the Hollywood Arts Council's Award “for pursuing artistic excellence and nurturing the next generation of playwrights.”
Ucross + The Blank Theatre Future of Playwriting Prize is made possible by Deb and Ed Koehler and the Raymond N. Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Ucross’s spring session is in full swing. From February 7 through June 3, 56 artists from a variety of disciplines will be in residence at the historic 20,000-acre ranch in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming.
“We are always energized when artists arrive on campus,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “It’s an honor to support these accomplished individuals in their creative work and to introduce many of them to our vast Wyoming landscape.”
Notable Ucross Fellows this session include award-winning poet Victoria Chang of Torrance, California; PEN/Hemingway Award-winner Kawai Strong Washburn of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Laurie Lewis of Berkeley, California; acclaimed experimental choreographer Sam Kim of Brooklyn, New York; and animator and filmmaker Kelly Sears of Denver, Colorado, whose films have been screened at Sundance, South by Southwest, American Film Institute, Los Angeles Film Festival, and MoMA.
Residencies range from two to six weeks, with 10 artists in residence at one time. Ucross Fellows receive uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the unparalleled experience of the majestic High Plains. To increase access to the program, Ucross provides fellows with a $1,000 stipend to defray the cost of travel and other expenses.
“My time at Ucross has deeply nourished me — the land, the well-appointed spaces, the scrumptious food, the brilliant community of artists, and the long days with nothing to do but write,” said author Amy Hassinger. “Totally transformative.”
This session’s artists will travel to Wyoming from across the United States, as well as Toronto, Canada, and London, England. The roster includes general Ucross residents who applied through the open call for artists; recipients of the Ucross Fellowships for Native American Visual Artists and Writers; and residents joining the program through partnerships with the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Sundance Institute, and University of Houston’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.
The Spring 2022 Ucross Fellows are:
Since Ucross’s first residencies were awarded in 1983, more than 2,500 artists have received the gift of time and space. Distinguished Fellows include Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, Bill Morrison, Theaster Gates, Anthony Hernandez, and Tayari Jones. Recent National Book Award winners Susan Choi, Sigrid Nunez, and Sarah M. Broom have been residents, as have Academy Award and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Emmy Award winner Billy Porter, recent Pulitzer Prize winners Michael R. Jackson and Colson Whitehead, and current United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.
Ucross ushered in a new era of leadership this month. On April 1, William Belcher took the helm as President, and he has appointed Vickie Abbott as Managing Director. Ensuring a smooth transition, former Ucross President Sharon Dynak will continue with the organization part-time as a Creative Advisor.
Belcher has dedicated his career to working with cultural organizations that support artists and the creation of new work. He served as Ucross’s Director of Development and External Relations for four years and brings more than 20 years of experience in art administration with high-level positions in development.
“Over the last four years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Sharon and the Ucross team, and of course, I’ve had the honor of working with so many amazing Ucross artists,” Belcher said. “It’s a special place, and I’m honored to take on this leadership role at such an important and exciting time in the organization’s history.”
Prior to Ucross, Belcher served as Director of Development at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and Director of External Affairs at The Hyde Collection. As a consultant, he helped dozens of arts organizations with strategic planning, campaign planning, grant writing, fundraising, institutional messaging, and board development. His clients have included the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Skidmore College, Collar Works (Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency Program), and others. He has served on the boards of Caffe Lena, a historic folk music venue, and Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, a community art center. Belcher is also a published novelist whose debut novel, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, was released by Other Press in 2016.
To oversee the day-to-day operations, Belcher has appointed Vickie Abbott as the Managing Director. A longtime friend of the organization, Abbott managed the neighboring guest ranch, the Ranch at UCross, for the past 14 years with her husband, Eric Wilhelm. Previously, Abbott taught in public schools for 22 years — including a stint in Western Australia. She also served on the board of the Park County Arts Council to bring the arts to rural Wyoming schools.
“Born and raised on a Wyoming ranch and having spent most of my life living and working in rural Wyoming, I’ve come to value the solace and the simple and clear thinking that come from spending time in wide open spaces,” Abbott said. “I’m looking forward to combining my skills and passions and sharing this wild, fragile vastness of the west with the artists who will spend time on our Wyoming ranch.”
Over the past three months, Belcher and Abbott worked closely with the previous Ucross President, Sharon Dynak, to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. In her position as Creative Advisor, Dynak aims to support Belcher, Abbott, and the staff.
“We thank Sharon for her many years of leadership, her dedication, and her vision. Her leadership was inspiring, and we’re grateful that she’ll continue to serve Ucross as Creative advisor,” Belcher said. “Also, I want to welcome Vickie, and I look forward to working with her and the staff to ensure Ucross’s continued success.”
Ucross, the prestigious artist residency program in northern Wyoming, welcomed on Monday the recipients of the Spring 2022 Fellowships for Native American Visual Artists and Writers. Acclaimed visual artist Savannah LeCornu and former Montana Co-Poet Laureate M.L. Smoker will be in residence for the next two weeks, receiving uninterrupted time and space on Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.
LeCornu is a visual artist and theatre maker originally from Ketchikan, Alaska, who resides in Bellingham, Washington. She is part of the Tsimshian (Wolf Clan), Haida, Athabascan, and Nez Perce tribes and First Nations Nisga’a. LeCornu primarily draws and paints in both traditional and digital formats; her art is centered on representing indigenous people and art forms.
A poet, Smoker is Nakoda, Dakota, and Lakota from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. She served as Co-Poet Laureate for the state of Montana from 2019-2021, alongside Ucross alumna Melissa Kwasny. In 2021, Smoker was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow.
As part of their Ucross Fellowships, LeCornu and Smoker will each receive a residency that includes a studio, living accommodations, and meals by a professional chef. Ucross will also present each artist with a $2,000 award and a stipend to defray travel costs, as well as the opportunity to present their work publicly.
LeCornu’s work will be featured in a future exhibition at the Ucross Art Gallery. Smoker already presented her work: On March 25, she gave a reading at a dedicated Ucross Uninterrupted reception at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Presented biannually, the awards represent Ucross’s commitment to supporting contemporary Native American art and voices.
“We are pleased to welcome Savannah LeCornu and M.L. Smoker to our ranch and facilities, and we are honored to provide them with uninterrupted time and space to focus on their creative work,” said Ucross President William Belcher.
LeCornu is best known for her Still Here series, which highlights the perseverance of contemporary indigenous peoples, as well as her Indigenize Series, which returns indigenous names to stolen land.
Smoker’s first collection of poems, Another Attempt at Rescue, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2005. In 2009, she co-edited an anthology of human rights poetry with Kwasny entitled, I Go to the Ruined Place. She received a regional Emmy award for her work as a writer/consultant on the PBS documentary Indian Relay. A children’s graphic novel that she co-wrote will be published at the end of April.
In 2022 and 2023, the recipients of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists and Writers are funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The next call for applications for the Ucross Native American Fellowships for Visual Artists and Writers will begin June 1.
UCROSS TO RECEIVE $100,000 GRANT FROM NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS AS PART OF THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
Ucross is pleased to announce that the nonprofit has been approved to receive an American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help the arts and cultural sector recover from the pandemic.
Ucross is recommended to receive $100,000 to support the residency program’s operations, program staff salaries, and artist stipends.
“Our nation’s arts sector has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Endowment for the Arts’ American Rescue Plan funding will help arts organizations, such as Ucross Foundation, rebuild and reopen,” said Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, Chair of the NEA. “The arts are crucial in helping America’s communities heal, unite, and inspire, as well as essential to our nation’s economic recovery.”
“We’re thrilled that the NEA recognizes that Ucross is an important resource for artists, as well as an important piece of the creative economy in Wyoming and beyond,” said William Belcher, Ucross’s Director of Development and External Relations. “This funding will allow us to maintain the hard-fought momentum we’ve built over the last few years.”
Typically, each year, Ucross welcomes 100 artists to its historic Wyoming ranch for residencies, which comprise of uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the experience of the majestic High Plains. The nonprofit also runs an art gallery, hosts events to champion its alumni, and provides stewardship for its land.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Ucross abruptly closed its artist residency program and gallery mid-session, while swiftly helping artists-in-residence return home safely. The organization remained closed for several months before gradually reopening with precautions in place, including a reduced number of artists in the residency program, an adjusted gallery schedule, and an online event series featuring alumni artists.
“Ucross is very grateful for this generous $100,000 award to support our program,” said Ucross President Sharon Dynak. “The American Rescue Plan grant will directly assist us in our mission to foster creativity in deeply committed artists across the U.S., while serving as responsible stewards of our land in northern Wyoming.”
This marks the second NEA grant bestowed upon Ucross in 2022; earlier in January, the organization announced that Ucross was approved for a $30,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support its artist residency program with an emphasis on increasing support for underserved artists, including Native American visual artists and writers.
The American Rescue Plan was signed into law in March 2021, when the NEA was provided $135 million for the arts sector. The funding for organizations is the third installment providing more than $57.7 million for arts organizations. In April 2021, the NEA announced $52 million (40 percent) in ARP funding would be allocated to 62 state, jurisdictional, and regional arts organizations for regranting through their respective programs. The second installment in November 2021 allocated $20.2 million to 66 local arts agencies for subgranting to local artists and art organizations. In total, the NEA will award grants totaling $57,750,000 to 567 arts organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC.
For more information on the NEA’s American Rescue Plan grants, including the full list of arts organizations funded in this announcement, visit arts.gov.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has announced that Ucross will be awarded a $47,000 grant in support of the Ucross Native American Art Curatorial Convening (NAACC).
Presented through the Foundation’s Curatorial Research Fellowships program, the grant will support the next phase of Ucross’s three-year project, which brings together many of the nation’s leading curators of Native art from institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Dartmouth College, and more.
“The Ucross Foundation has embarked on an important initiative that tackles a critical issue facing arts organizations large and small,” said Rachel Bers, Program Director of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “Namely, developing strategies to promote meaningful inclusion of Indigenous perspectives at the organizational and programmatic level. The Warhol Foundation is pleased to support its efforts to increase Native representation at the junior and senior levels in the visual arts field and to collaboratively set new standards for responsible institutional practices."
In June 2021, Ucross hosted the first NAACC, a historic gathering that convened many of the nation’s leading curators of Native art. Led by heather ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw Nation), Senior Curator at First Americans Museum, and John Lukavic, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Art at the Denver Art Museum, this impressive group of participants included leaders and visionaries in the field, including Jill Ahlberg Yohe, Associate Curator of Native American Art at Minneapolis Institute of Art; Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo Nation), Curator of Native American Art at Portland Art Museum; Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Director of Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art, Curator of Northwest Native Art at Burke Museum and Associate Professor of Native Art at University of Washington; Christina E. Burke, Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at Philbrook Museum of Art; Karen Kramer, Curator of Native American and Oceanic Art and Culture and Director of Native American Fellowship Program at Peabody Essex Museum; Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha), Associate Curator of Native American Art at Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Jami C. Powell (Osage Nation), Curator of Indigenous Art at Hood Museum of Art and Dartmouth College.
Ucross Trustee Scott Manning Stevens (Akwesasne Mohawk), Director of Syracuse University's Native American and Indigenous Studies program, is the NAACC board liaison and was onsite for the first year of the program.
“This particular group of curators of Indigenous art has never had the opportunity to come together, at Ucross or elsewhere," Stevens said. “Questions are finally being considered, such as, ‘Why is the Native American art usually part of natural history or ethnography — why not display it with Thomas Cole or Winslow Homer?’ In the next two years of the NAACC, we look forward to observing how the group addresses systemic issues concerning Native American art and lays out the groundwork for museum best practices from a Native perspective.”
Aided in part by this generous grant for the NAACC, Ucross will continue to provide Native American art curators with travel stipends, meeting space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, staff support, and an atmosphere conducive to intense, productive work sessions.
“We are honored to be among the 49 arts organizations in the U.S. to receive a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in this cycle,” said Ucross President Sharon Dynak. “It is a meaningful vote of confidence for the future of the NAACC.”
The Ucross NAACC was born from the success of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists, created in 2017. In its early stages, the fellowship was also funded, in part, by the Andy Warhol Foundation of the Visual Arts, and it expanded to include writers in 2020.
ABOUT THE ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION FOR THE VISUAL ARTS
In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, the mission of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is the advancement of the visual arts. The Foundation manages an innovative and flexible grants program while also preserving Warhol’s legacy through creative and responsible licensing policies and extensive scholarly research for ongoing catalogue raisonné projects.
To date, the Foundation has given more than $250 million in cash grants to more than 1,000 arts organizations in 49 states and abroad and has donated 52,786 works of art to 322 institutions worldwide.
Ucross announced today the publication of The Ucross Cookbook: Cooking for Artists on a Wyoming Ranch. The Ucross Cookbook is available at ucross.org, as well as select independent bookstores, galleries, and shops in the Mountain West.
The book features the most popular recipes of longtime Ucross Chef Cindy Brooks, written with Ucross alumna Cree LeFavour, a novelist; memoirist; and author of several cookbooks, including the James Beard Award finalist Fish.
“Cree’s joyful presentation of Cindy’s enticing recipes and entertaining stories from her 12 years of cooking for artists would be satisfying enough,” Ucross President Sharon Dynak said. “But this goes beyond the ordinary cookbook.”
Interspersed among the dishes are creative passages by award-winning Ucross alumni and sweeping seasonal landscape photographs of Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch by alumna Martirene Alcántara.
“We wanted to give the reader a taste of the Ucross experience, and Cindy’s beautiful food and our majestic landscape are key ingredients,” Dynak explained. “Every evening, after spending the day in the studio, the ten Ucross artists-in-residence gather around the dinner table, passing plates, and sharing stories. So, we asked 10 of our alumni — writers, composers, visual artists, and choreographers — to contribute to our book.”
The resulting pieces range from a poem to a stream-of-consciousness story to a personal essay and more. Contributing Ucross artist-alumni include author Sigrid Nunez, composer and playwright Michael R. Jackson, visual artist Munson Hunt, choreographer Ann Carlson, playwright and screenwriter Doug Wright, writer and former chef Brendan Basham, multi-disciplinary performer and writer Karma Mayet Johnson, operatic baritone Nathan Gunn, novelist and investigative journalist Suki Kim and novelist and nonfiction writer Judith Freeman.
The Ucross Cookbook was funded in part by several donors, as well as a successful campaign on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform for creative projects, which raised $44,179 from 261 backers. One hundred percent of the book’s proceeds will benefit Ucross.
“We are grateful to all who helped make this project a reality,” Dynak said. “Our cookbook is a wonderful addition to bookshelves for longtime Ucross friends and those new to our nonprofit.”
ABOUT THE UCROSS COOKBOOK CONTRIBUTORS
Coauthor Cindy Brooks is a California native who owned her own restaurant in Bozeman, Montana, before she brought her culinary prowess to Ucross in 2009.
Coauthor Cree LeFavour is the author of the memoir Lights On, Rats Out, the novel Private Means, and several cookbooks, including the James Beard Award finalist Fish.
Martirene Alcántara is an accomplished visual artist whose work is found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Sigrid Nunez is the author of eight acclaimed novels, most recently What Are You Going Through and the National Book Award-winning The Friend. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag.
Michael R. Jackson is a composer who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his musical A Strange Loop. In 2021, he was awarded the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize in Drama.
Playwright, librettist, and screenwriter Doug Wright received the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for his play I Am My Own Wife. His other acclaimed works include the play Quills and the book for the musical Grey Gardens.
Judith Freeman is a novelist, critic, and essayist whose most recent novel is MacArthur Park; she is also the author of a memoir, The Latter Days. Judith and her husband, award-winning photographer Anthony Hernandez, were the first couple to be in residence at Ucross together.
Munson Hunt’s sculpture, prints, and drawings have been shown nationally and internationally for over 30 years. The scale of her work, raw material (often reclaimed wood) and simple form are both elemental and mysterious.
Multidisciplinary performer and writer Karma Mayet Johnson has worked with renowned directors Robert Wilson and Bill T. Jones, and musicians Martha Redbone, Burnt Sugar, Toshi Reagon, Lizz Wright, Vernon Reid, Meshell Ndegeocello, and The Roots. She is composer/librettist of Indigo, a Blues opera, and her poems have appeared in Nocturnes, Cave Canem’s Gathering Ground, and elsewhere. Her newest play, Race Card, was called “powerful” by The New York Times.
Suki Kim is an award-winning novelist, an investigative journalist and the only writer ever to have lived undercover in North Korea for immersive journalism, which formed the basis for her New York Times bestselling book Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite.
Baritone Nathan Gunn has performed many of opera and musical theatre’s greatest roles on the world’s most prestigious stages. He has also been seen and heard on television, radio, video and live simulcast performances, including the first Met in HD broadcast, The Magic Flute, in which he sang Papageno, one of his signature roles.
Brendan Shay Basham (Diné), awarded the inaugural Ucross Native American Writing Fellowship, is a fiction writer, poet, and former chef. His first novel, Swim Home to the Vanished, is forthcoming from Harper.
Ann Carlson is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, with an emphasis on choreography and performance. Her work borrows from dance, theater, visual, and conceptual art and has been seen around the world.
After 25 years at Ucross, the prestigious artist residency program in Wyoming, Sharon Dynak has announced her retirement, effective April 2022. William (Bill) Belcher, an experienced arts professional and Ucross’s current Director of Development and External Relations, has been named the next President of the organization. Dynak will continue to serve Ucross for several months afterward in an advisory capacity, ensuring a seamless transition.
Dynak moved from New York City to Wyoming in 1996 to join Ucross as Residency Program Director. She was appointed Executive Director of the organization in 2005 and President in 2007.
“It has been a long and exciting adventure and a great honor to work on behalf of contemporary writers, artists, composers, and choreographers — as well as scientists, curators, educators, and others,” said Dynak. “I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside so many creative and dedicated trustees, staff, and other advisors — all of whom have been instrumental in the success of Ucross.”
Prior to Ucross, Dynak spent 15 years in the publicity department of the book publisher Scribner. She was introduced to the organization by award-winning author Annie Proulx, who had spent time as a Ucross resident and is a former Ucross trustee.
During her tenure, Ucross has grown into one of the nation’s most distinguished and distinctive artist residency programs, offering uninterrupted time and studio space to approximately 100 individuals each year. (The organization was founded in 1981 by Raymond Plank, and the residency program welcomed its first artists in 1983.)
The residency experience, expertly stewarded by Dynak since she arrived, is known for its attention to detail, its hospitality, and its artist-centric support, as well as its breathtaking location, sweeping views, and connection to the vast Wyoming landscape. Under Dynak’s leadership, Ucross has helped hundreds of individual artists — from emerging to highly acclaimed — focus on the creation of original work amid this inspiring landscape.
A key program expansion directed by Dynak was the development of numerous national partnerships with prominent national organizations, such as the Sundance Institute, PEN/Hemingway Awards, Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Aura Estrada Prize, the Marion International Fellowship, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Alley Theatre, and The Ford Family Foundation, among others. In recent years, new partnerships have begun with Cave Canem; the University of Houston’s MFA Program in Creative Writing; Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music; and Yale University’s Schools of Music, Drama, and Visual Art. Regional partnerships with the Wyoming Girls School, the WYO Theater, and the University of Wyoming have also taken place.
Dynak was also instrumental in the vision and creation of the Ucross Fellowships for Native American Visual Artists and Writers, which have provided increased support and program opportunities for Indigenous artists at Ucross.
The Ucross property looks different, too, thanks to Dynak’s participation in various capital projects and improvements during her time, including the creation of two composer studios, a community park with public gardens, a nondenominational chapel, and the Raymond Plank Center. An art gallery in the historic Big Red Barn at Ucross is currently undergoing a renovation to be completed later this year, and ground has been broken for a new dedicated dance studio.
Dynak helped lead the way for the Ucross ranch to be designated an Important Bird Area by the Bighorn Audubon Society, and she has worked closely with the Wyoming Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. During her tenure, Ucross was awarded the Wyoming Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. She currently serves on the board of the Wyoming Arts Council.
The Ucross Board of Trustees has named William Belcher the next President. Belcher has served as Ucross’s Director of Development and External Relations since 2017 and has more than 20 years of experience in art administration with high level positions in development. He has dedicated his career to working with cultural organizations that support artists and the creation of new work.
“As a founding member of the foundation, I can say that Sharon has had a tremendous impact on the organization,” said Jim Nelson, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Having worked with Bill over the last four years, I’m confident that he will build on our past successes and position Ucross for a bright future. Not only does he bring a proven track record of successful fundraising in the arts, but he also brings a refreshing level of directness, strategic thinking, and professionalism to Ucross. We are excited and pleased that he accepted the role of president at this pivotal moment in our history.”
Prior to Ucross, Belcher served as Director of Development at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and Director of External Affairs at The Hyde Collection. As a consultant, he has helped dozens of arts organizations with strategic planning, campaign planning, grant writing, fundraising, institutional messaging and board development. His clients have included the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Skidmore College, Collar Works (Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency Program), and others. He has served on the boards of Caffe Lena, a historic folk music venue, and Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, a community art center. Belcher is also a published novelist whose debut novel, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, was released by Other Press in 2016.
“Ucross is a rare and remarkable place. As Director of Development and External Relations, I’ve had the benefit of working alongside the board, staff and Sharon for more than four years,” Belcher noted. “It’s an honor to be named the next President of this renowned artist residency program, and I look forward to preserving the Ucross experience, championing its alumni artists, and strengthening the organization so that it can continue to serve artists and the community in its awe-inspiring setting for years to come.”
Dynak and Belcher will work together between January and April to implement a thorough transition plan, designed to provide continuity and maintain excellence, as well as continue Ucross’s momentum heading into its 40th anniversary in 2023.