Well, that headline isn’t entirely true. Unlike some of the paintings on display, the three-man art show held last Sunday evening at a local church was not exactly invitation-only.
However, not too many outsiders are likely to turn up at an art show in Dubois this time of year, as you can see from this picture I took the following Friday morning in the Cowboy Cafe.
We’re hoping someday to see those tables just as occupied in the early spring as they will be a few months later, when we’re lucky to get a seat.
Meanwhile, feast your eyes below on a poor rendition of one of the paintings I saw last Sunday. Artist Greg Beecham calls the painting “Tween Dreams and Waking.”
That’s a good metaphor for the vision some local people have about the future of this equally beautiful valley. Things have turned down since the 2008 recession, but I think they’re looking up these days.
This swan is one of four wildlife paintings by Beecham that will be featured this summer in the invitation-only Prix de West exhibition at the National Cowboy Heritage and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. All four (including a grizzly, a wolf, and a falcon) were on view last Sunday.
This is the third year that Greg has sponsored an exhibition of works by local painters in April, the quietest month in Dubois. They call it a gift to the community. It’s a chance for us to see some of the best art by our neighbors, up close and personal, at at time when we’re not all going loopy trying to serve the needs of our visitors.
Starting in about a month, the town will explode with returning “snowbirds,” many of whom are fine amateur or professional artists. But quite a few, like Greg, have chosen to live in Dubois year-round. He and his family have been here for 20 years.
He told me that he and his wife Lu (who is the business manager for the local schools) “kept moving farther and farther away from the hubbub” in western Washington state two decades ago, but the hubbub kept chasing them. At a local art show in Ellensburg WA, he asked the husband of an artist from Casper where they could find a place in Wyoming that was not too crowded, had a good school for the kids, wasn’t too cold, and was beautiful.
Without hesitation, the man replied, “Dubois.”
They looked first in Colorado, because his parents came from Grand Junction. But even back then, he said, there were still too many people in Colorado.
So they detoured back through Dubois “to see if what the guy had said was true.” Within a few weeks, they had bought property in town.
Last weekend’s art show also featured works by Jerry Antolik and Tom Lucas. Antolik lives in the tiny nearby hamlet of Hudson, where he focuses his efforts on murals. But his portraits are also excellent, and as you see here he also does fine wildlife paintings.Antolik told me he was up on Union Pass quietly working beside this pond full of lily pads when the moose suddenly emerged with her calf.
Tom Lucas, who grew up nearby in Lander, is as much a historian as a painter. He’s well known locally for his monumental effort to research and recreate the methods by which the ancient Shoshone treated the horns of bighorn sheep, to craft the legendarily strong and supple bows that allowed them to be master hunters.
One of his bows was on display last Sunday, along with several of his masterful paintings of native crafts. As part of learning to paint them, as you can see from the beaded bag in this picture, he also recreates them.
Tom, whom I consider a good friend, told me he began to paint as a young lad because he was inspired by the work of Charlie Russell. “I never thought I could get to be that good,” he said, “and maybe I’m not.” But you can see how far he has come in that direction.
He also said that he hoped the show might inspire the same dream for some of its young visitors. If it does, they’re in a good place to find living mentors.
© Lois Wingerson, 2016
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