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 and curator Keith Davis of Sheridan, Wyoming; 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.