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arts and culture

Hillsdale’s Brody Cress in it to win it at NFR, but always supporting Wyoming

in arts and culture
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Brody Cress of Hillsdale, Wyoming is in it to win it at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this week.

The Team Wyoming Saddle Bronc rider currently leads the aggregate standings. But the big stage doesn’t stop him from supporting Wyoming kids.

On Sunday he was part of a contingent of NFR cowboys and cowgirls that had lunch at Southpoint Hotel sharing activities with more than 20 kids battling cancer as well as other life-threatening illnesses.

The ‘Golden Circle of Champions’ group attended the fourth-round performance Sunday night in Las Vegas and Cress tied a gold scarf to his vest showing support for the children he’d spent time with earlier in the day.

The Hillsdale, Wyoming saddle bronc rider is having a great finals with more than $50,000 banked, placing in every round, but he says meeting the golden circle children put into perspective what really matters in life

Wyoming Suffrage to be commemorated through music

in arts and culture
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned an original work from rising American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming and the 100th anniversary of suffrage in the United States.

One hundred fifty years ago, Wyoming led the nation in women’s suffrage by giving women the right to vote with the passage of the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869.

WSO Executive Director Rachel Bailey led the search for just the right composer to capture the essence of the historic event. It was at the suggestion of Music Director Christopher Dragon that the WSO reached out to Boyd. 

“Her music is very poetic and she also deals with women’s themes, which really fit into what we were doing,” said Bailey. “The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will debut this commissioned pieceon April 18. It will be a very exciting day for us and Wyoming as a whole as they celebrate thisreally historic anniversary.”

Visiting Wyoming for the first time Dec. 6-9, Boyd gathered inspiration for her forthcoming musical composition to celebrate the moment in the Cowboy State’s history. 

“Wyoming, of course, put through women’s suffrage about 50 years before everybody else, and so we’re taking the inspiration of that, and the stories of the women that were instrumental in that, and writing a piece about them, but also writing essentially a 25-minute minute love letter to Wyoming.” Boyd said.

A first draft of the composition should be ready by the end of this year. 

“I usually compose pretty fast, so usually I work about a month on a piece like this, but again that’s like a seven-hour a day sort of thing,” Boyd said. “I call myself a melodist because melody is the most important thing to me, but audiences will find that my work is very emotional and very exciting to listen to.”

Boyd expressed her gratitude at being a part of the commemoration of suffrage through performing arts.

“It’s an incredible honor,” she said. “I know that Christopher Dragon has admired my music for some time but being able to write for an orchestra, and an orchestra like this, is really a special and beautiful opportunity for me and I’m pleased that I get to help tell this story of Wyoming.”

The performance will be in Casper’s John F. Welsh Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now, and those interested in attending are advised to buy tickets early, since a sellout is expected.

Tickets can be purchased at the WSO website.

Casper photographer named PRCA Photographer of the Year

in Agriculture/arts and culture/News
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By Mike McCrimmon

A Casper photographer has been named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association photographer of the year for a third time.

Dan Hubbell, owner of Hubbell Rodeo Photos, was named the winner of the award during ceremonies at the PRCA Awards Banquet in Las Vegas on Dec. 4.

Hubbell first won the award in 2000, its inaugural year, and again in 2018.

Hubbell’s rodeo photos today are known throughout the world, but he admitted that in his early days, he had a lot to learn.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “A guy (would be) riding a bucking horse and I’d just pull the trigger. I didn’t have any idea about timing or anything.”

Other rodeo photos provided the inspiration that led him to sharpen his skills, he said.

“Going into it after looking at images that you thought had impressed you, you kind of had an idea of what they liked,” he said. “For instance, of the calf roper roping a calf and then he’s stepping off, hanging in that stirrup and that horse is in the ground. You knew a bronc had to be stretched out. It was easier said than done sometimes.”

Helping Hubbell figure out what photos cowboys might like to see is Hubbell’s wife Linda, who runs the photography business.

“I enjoy meeting the contestants, talking to contestants, seeing what they like,” Linda said. “They tell me what kind of pictures they like, what they don’t like and I pass it on to him.”

The Hubbells are now taking pictures of rodeo cowboys whose parents were photographed competing in rodeos in past years, Linda said.

“You see the guys who he took pictures of and you start to see the kids come along,” she said. “And they think that’s pretty neat. They’re like ‘My dad had Hubbell photos on the wall and now I finally get a Hubbell photo.”

Hubbell’s photos are also popular with rodeo competitors who like to see shots of their past performances, she added.

“You have world champions who never bought a picture, they went to the (National Finals Rodeo” five or six times and never bought a picture,” she said. “Now all of a sudden, they’re at the end of their career and those pictures mean something.”

“You’ll have a buckle or a trophy here and there and a saddle, but the images, you can say ‘That’s the way I rode right there,’” Dan said.

Hubbell believes his interest in photography might have stemmed from his mother.

“Mom took pictures, a lot of them,” he said. “So that might be where it really started.”

West brings opera rehearsal to Cody High School

in arts and culture
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Music students at Cody High School got a glimpse into the world of professional music in November when Kanye West brought the cast of his new opera to Cody for rehearsal.

West’s opera, “Nebuchadnezzar,” was performed Nov. 24 at the Hollywood Bowl after rehearsals by dancers and musicians at Cody High School on Nov. 21.

“They had about 50-plus dancers in there, plus over 100 in the choir and then they had the soloists,” said Wade French, Cody High School’s band teacher. “They were just writing the opera as they were performing it, as they were rehearsing it.”

West, who this year bought a ranch near Cody and has moved the headquarters for his clothing and shoe business to the city, contacted the high school when he needed rehearsal space, French said.

One of French’s students who got the chance to play saxophone with West’s group said the experience has convinced her to pursue music in her future.

“They know what it’s all about,” said senior Kate Beardall. “They know what the music industry is about. And they really just opened my eyes to what I want to do.”

The opera, according to a news release, tells the story of an ancient Babylonian king and his “transition from wicked, imperious, self-declared ruler to a true believer who finds salvation in his faith.”

French said the experience of watching professional musicians practice and put their own spin on the material was interesting.

“It was the music that was very impressive,” he said. “We got to see that first-hand. We got to see those artists and those musicians creating it and really just tweaking it. Making it their own.”

Wandering Weavers works to keep weaving alive

in arts and culture
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A group of women in northwestern Wyoming are working to keep the art of weaving alive.

Members of The Wandering Weavers work with hand-operated looms to create beautiful works of textile art.

Recently, the group took part in a workshop led by Carolyn Wostenberg, a master weaver from Worland.

Wostenberg said she began weaving after growing tired of other forms of fabric art such as knitting, quilting and sewing.

“And so once I got started in weaving, it was just something that there’s always new things to learn,” she said.

Wostenberg said she enjoys teaching weaving because it is constantly evolving.

“With the technology that’s there, it’s just amazing how much they’ve incorporated that,” she said. “It isn’t just an ancient craft.”

The workshop was held at Cody’s By Western Hands, a non-profit  organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of western design.

Kristin Fong, director of By Western Hands, said it made sense for the group to host the workshop because of its dedication to preserving traditional crafts.

“Part of that includes weaving, but it also includes furniture design, saddle making, beadwork,” she said. “I think a wider net can be cast to include a wider variety of craft.”

“Wyoming through The Lens” Facebook group displays Wyoming’s glory

in arts and culture/Community
Wyoming Through the Lens
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Ever since Lorri Lang came to northeast Wyoming more than 30 years ago, she’s been in awe of the state’s natural beauty. 

There are the obvious choices to check out beautiful scenery, like heading to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park or trekking to Devil’s Tower. While Lang loves those sites, she also wanted people to understand how absolutely gorgeous other areas of the state are. 

“My family lives here up near the Big Horns, so we travel a lot in that area,” Lang said. “But I haven’t been able to travel the rest of the state as much. So this group was a chance for me and other people to get a different glimpse of Wyoming.” 

Around five years ago, Lang was inspired by a Facebook page she followed, “Nebraska through the Lens,” to create a similar page. As a Nebraska native, she loved seeing photographers from all over the state, whether amateur or professional, take images that captured what life was like in her home state. 

She thought a similar page focusing on Wyoming would provide a great chance to show current and former Wyoming residents, people who had come through the state to vacation and people who love gorgeous photography, a chance to see a unique side of the state. 

She didn’t think it would be a big group. Maybe some friends would join it. They could even possibly get some of their friends added to it. 

Quickly, Lang saw that she had more member requests than she could have ever expected. More and more people wanted to check out “Wyoming through The Lens.” 

Since its inception, the group has garnered more than 111,000 members, trailing not too far behind the Nebraska page that inspired it, which boasts around 188,000 users. 

“I think people have this idea of Wyoming that’s centered around coal and oil,” Lang said. “But there is so much more to it than that. I love Wyoming and I think this page is important because they can see what it’s really like.”

The group is technically private, requiring a Facebook user to answer a few questions (such as why they want to join) to gain entry. Being a Wyoming resident (either current or former) isn’t a requirement, because Lang hopes people all over the country will come to the group to see the glory of Wyoming. 

The cover photo of “Wyoming through The Lens” features a herd of bison lightly covered in snow. It has generated around 1,000 likes or reactions, three dozen comments and more than 60 shares. All of the comments praise the image for how perfectly it defines Wyoming, with some people even inquiring on how to purchase the photo. 

The next post a member will see when scrolling through the page is arguably its most important: the rules. These include staying drama-free, telling members to not use the page to sell photography equipment, letting members know that all photos submitted should be taken in Wyoming and a number of other restrictions. Mainly, Lang reiterates that people in the group should be kind to each other and that political or religious intolerance won’t be tolerated. 

Since the group’s inception, Lang discovered that running a popular Facebook page will show people not getting along. The political posts and comments have become more and more frequent, causing some stress for Lang and even other members. She’s not alone in running the page anymore, though, bringing on another administrator and a few moderators a couple years into the page’s life. 

“At first, there weren’t a lot of political posts,” she said. “But in the last few years, they really gained traction. I don’t like when name-calling occurs, and it definitely has happened.” 

She cited examples such as photos of the Trump family plane landing in Cheyenne and images of dead animals from hunting expeditions as pictures that brought in numerous political comments. But sometimes, people just bring up politics when a photo has nothing to do with anything in the political realm. 

Sometimes comments on posts get turned off if members break the rules, such as a man who posted an image of his living room, trying to subtly show off his custom-made log furniture. One of the moderators called him out, saying “You can’t advertise your business here, even though you gave it a shot of disguising it.” 

Mostly though, people show off just glimpses of their lives. From a woman showing that she was sweeping snow off of her porch in a pair of shorts to a man taking a picture of his Christmas light display. And these are the people who keep Lang running the page. 

Even if the political comments can be a headache, Lang will run “Wyoming through The Lens” as long as people keep wanting to see Wyoming photography. 

“I just want people to get along and not nitpick each other,” she said. “This page is totally worth it to me because I love Wyoming and so many other people do too.”

Wyoming rodeo stock company named PRCA’s top stock contractor

in Agriculture/arts and culture/Community
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A rodeo stock company based near Riverton has been recognized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for providing consistently high quality bucking stock.

Powder River Rodeo recently won the PRCA’s Polaris Ranger Remuda Awards.

“It’s our ninth time for being nominated for stock contractor of the year,” said Lori Franzen, who founded the business with her husband Hank 35 years ago. “Which to me is one of the nicest honors you can get because you’re going against about 90 other contractors across the nation and to have the people vote you as one of the top five contractors is a huge honor.”

Powder River Rodeo has grown into a family operation from a two-person company.

“It was just us working from the beginning,” Franzen said. “We’d go out and round up pastures and haul in the cattle and the horses and the livestock to the rodeo (with) me timing and helping secretary and Hank running all ends of it. It’s just come to a culmination of now it is a huge family operation. We’re very proud of the fact that after 35 years, we have what we have.”

Powder River Rodeo is taking nine bucking horses and five bulls to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December.

Buffalo Bill Center exhibition celebrates Wyoming women

in arts and culture/Community
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An exhibition designed to celebrate the women in Wyoming and the barriers they break will be on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West for the several months.

The “Women in Wyoming” exhibit, timed to coincide with the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in both Wyoming and the United States, features photographs by exhibit creator Lindsay Linton Buk, a noted portrait photographer.

The exhibit features the photographs of Buk, originally a Powell resident who now has a studio in Jackson and worked for a time in New York.

The exhibit is a little different from traditional displays, said Rebecca West, head of the Plains Indian Museum and director of curatorial education and museum services at the Buffalo Bill Center.

“When we think of arts, photography exhibitions, a lot of time it provides an escape,” West said. “this one is somewhere between an escape and a challenge. When you look at all the women in here, what they’re doing is they’re taking on these challenges and trying to fix things, trying to find solutions.”

Women visiting the exhibition will also have an opportunity to tell their own stories through special “leave a message” telephones at the exhibit or by visiting Buk’s website, West said.

The exhibition opened this year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in Wyoming and will remain up into 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage nationally, said Karen McWhorter, the Scarlett curator of Western art for the Whitney Museum of Western Art.

“So it was critical that we had a longer tenure of this exhibition,” said McWhorter, who worked with West and Buk to design the display.

The exhibit may change how people view Wyoming, West said.

“We’re the Cowboy State and this exhibition shows we’re a lot deeper than just being known as the Cowboy State,” she said.

Midwest rancher recognized for years of rodeo

in Agriculture/arts and culture/Community
2384

A Midwest rancher and longtime rodeo cowboy has been inducted into the Rodeo Historical Society’s Hall of Fame.

Frank Shepperson, who capped his years in the rodeo with a world championship steer wrestling title in 1975, was inducted in ceremonies held Nov. 8 and 9 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Shepperson said he got involved in the rodeo while working on his family’s ranch.

“When you live on a ranch and you break horses for a living and you’re trying to get a little extra money, it just is natural,” he said. “My father also rodeoed.”

In his school years, Shepperson claimed the national high school title for bronc riding and went on to be a member of the University of Wyoming rodeo team in 1961, when the team won the national college championship.

Shepperson said it was his mother who encouraged him to compete in as many rodeo events as possible.

“When I was a freshman in high school, I filled out my (rodeo) entry form and showed it to my mother,” he said. “The high school rodeo was in Gillette, 90 miles away. She said ‘If we’re driving 90 miles for a damn rodeo, you better get in the bullriding, too.’ That’s the only thing I hadn’t entered.”

Shepperson said he was flattered to have been selected for induction into the Hall of Fame.

“I’m humbled and honored to join a lot of my friends and family and heroes that are already in this,” he said.

Art important to the world, says NEA chair

in arts and culture/Community/News
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Making art a part of people’s daily lives is very important to the future, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts said during a visit to Cheyenne.

Mary Anne Carter visited Cheyenne on Friday for the Wyoming Arts Summit, hosted by the Wyoming Arts Council.

During her appearance, Carter said the arts unite people by bringing members of different cultures and political beliefs together.

“What we’re finding more and more is arts are a big part of healing and health and well being,” she said. “So for the future of the nation and the world, making sure arts are integrated into our everyday lives is really important.”

Art is also a good tool for economic development, said Brian Harrington, an artist and member of Laramie’s city council.

Harrington pointed as an example to Laramie’s Mural Project, a space where artists can join forces to create large-scale murals.

“When you see these things start to build community spaces, you see them strengthen communities and provide a space where we can all get together and sort of move on from there,” he said. “We can gather and collaborate and do things we weren’t necessarily anticipating doing before.”

Carter said the arts played a major role in the women’s suffrage movement in Wyoming. To commemorate that fact, the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned a female composer to write a piece in honor of the 150th anniversary of Wyoming giving women the right to vote.

“I think that just goes to show how critical women are to Wyoming, economic development, the arts, just in general and making sure they are well represented is very important,” said Ryan McConnaughey, president of the orchestra’s executive committee.

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