,In celebration of the artist residency program’s 40th anniversary, Ucross Foundation held its first Wyoming gala at the Ucross Art Gallery on Wednesday, September 27. More than 225 people attended the sold-out event, raising $260,000 in support of the nonprofit organization’s mission to foster the creative spirit of artists and serve as a responsible steward of its 20,000-acre ranch.
The event culminated with an awards ceremony honoring Governor Mark Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon with the Outstanding Patrons of the Arts Award for their generosity and commitment to the arts in Wyoming and longtime Chairman Jim Nelson with the Raymond Plank Award for Visionary Leadership for his vision and unwavering support for Ucross. Craig Johnson, the best-selling author of the Longmire series and a longtime Ucross neighbor, introduced the honorees.
After the ceremony, Governor Gordon issued a proclamation designating October as Wyoming Arts and Humanities Month.
“Let us embrace the power of the arts and humanities to inspire, educate, and unite us, fostering civic participation, mutual understanding, and a thriving cultural landscape that reflects the true spirit of Wyoming,” Governor Gordon said, inspiring a standing ovation. (Watch the video here.)
Throughout the evening, the Governor — a former trustee and ranch manager — emphasized Ucross’s ability to bring people together and the significant role the organization has played in the state and nation’s arts and humanities. Since 1983, Ucross has supported more than 2,600 writers, visual artists, composers, and choreographers. After their time in Ucross, Wyoming, many of these artists have gone on to create works experienced by millions of people across the world.
“There is something really amazing and magical about this place,” Governor Gordon said. “…People need to rest and get a sense of the peace that this state can give you, that these plains can give you.”
“The arts are so important to us, our culture, the things we do out here in the West,” said First Lady Jennie Gordon. “For us as a state, having an artist-in-residence program is so fulfilling to so many people. I think supporting it is so important.”
The Ucross 40th Anniversary Gala also included special recognition of the current and former artists-in-residence in attendance. Attendees explored the work of artist-alumni in the Ucross Art Gallery exhibition, The Shape of Time: 16 Photographers and Their Creative Paths. Later, singer-songwriters Kate Schutt of New York, New York, and Sarah Sample of Sheridan, Wyoming, performed and shared stories of their recent residencies, both highlighting the profound effect that the uninterrupted time and space has had on their work.
“This is why we’re here,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “This is what we — all of us, everyone in this room who has been a part of Ucross’s story — have created, and this is what we must sustain for future generations of artists and those who believe in the power of art and the creative spirit.”
The funds raised during the 40th Anniversary Gala will help Ucross remain a meaningful and relevant resource for artists, the community, and the state of Wyoming. To learn more and support Ucross, click here.
Photos by Wandering Willow Imagery
Selection of Gala Photographs
Complimentary Guest Portraits
Videos by Lance Roth
Ucross 40th Anniversary Gala Video
Governor's Proclamation Video