Local triumph for public arts program

By Sarah Pridgeon

Three bronze sculptures were unveiled during a dedication ceremony at the Northeast Wyoming Welcome Center on Friday. Depicting a mountain lion and two young fawns, the sculptures are the sixth project to be completed under the State of Wyoming’s Art in Public Buildings “1% for Arts” program.

Among the speakers at the ceremony were Representative Mark Semleck from Moorcroft, who commented that the new sculptures enhance the Welcome Center and that he was pleased to have the project in his district, and Alan Dubberly, Deputy Director of the Wyoming Office of Travel and Tourism, who spoke of the appropriateness of the mountain lion to the specific location and revealed that another project is in progress under the “1% for Arts” program at the Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center, near Cheyenne.

Rita Basom, Wyoming Arts Council Manager, spoke further about the “1% for Art” program, which was passed into law in 1991 and provides 1 percent of the total design and construction cost of new, state-funded buildings, to a maximum of $100,000, to include works of art that are accessible to the public. Previous projects include Wyoming Boys’ School in Worland, Evanston State Hospital, Honor Farm in Riverton and the State Fairgrounds in Douglas.

Several other projects are expected to be completed within the next year. These include the Medium Security Corrections Facility in Torrington and the Military Readiness Facility and Game and Fish Center in Cheyenne.

Other speakers at the ceremony included David Nelson, the artist; Lee Anne Ackerman, Welcome Center Supervisor; Mary Hawkins, State Parks and Cultural Resources Commissioner from Devils Tower; and Ila Miller, Wyoming Arts Council Board member from Aladdin. Attendees included Rocky Corchaine, Director of the Crook County Museum, David Newell, Art Curator for the Wyoming State Museum, and representatives from the Devils Tower and Vore Buffalo Jump.
The mountain lion and fawn sculptures were created by David Nelson, part-time of Lander. His work was selected from a pool of Wyoming artist submissions by an Art in Public Buildings Selection Committee.

Nelson specializes in sculptures of wildlife and the human form, as well as contemporary life-size and monumental sculpture. He has been commissioned over his 26-year career to create site-specific works for corporations, public art programs and private owners.

The life-size bronze mountain lion was chosen to honor an elusive feline visitor to the Welcome Center, whose tracks were spotted at the site during groundbreaking and throughout the construction phase. Deer are also frequent guests at the center.

To see more of David Nelson’s work, visit www.davidnelsonsculptures.com

(Sarah Pridgeon photos)