The art scene in Gillette is continuing to expand and thrive; boasting educational classes, fine art galleries, and art exhibitions featuring local artists.

With summer fast approaching, there is plenty to do and see within Gillette’s art community. Whether you are searching for an art class for you and your kids or are looking to be a collector of fine art, Gillette offers an array of opportunities in a blooming art culture.

THE GOOD PARTS

Art is an ever-changing story. In Gillette, this story is getting to the good parts.

As school lets out and the air is changing to that warm heat we Wyoming natives relish, we start to go out and explore. Art makes for a great outlet to connect with others and with ourselves. Whether it is taking a class with your best friends, or visiting a gallery downtown, you can find those special moments where art bridges gaps and brings inspiration to the mind and soul. Enjoy creating with your kids while documenting lasting memories with art.

To kick off my summer, I love visiting artwork, and I’ve explored where you can find what is currently exhibiting at the galleries in the 82717. While art shows happen quite often in Gillette, May and June are rich with outstanding work by local artists. Proving art is ever-changing, these galleries are on top of their game—finding the best local artists to display. If you are not already investing in artwork, now is your chance.

Along with investigating where you can buy the best art around, I’ve also found where you can create your very own art collection. And no, you don’t have to be Rembrandt to go paint with your best pals. It’s all about the fun and adventure of creating with your closest confidants. Nothing beats a long work week like gathering your clan to enjoy an evening out painting and becoming one with your inner Picasso just before you start your weekend.

I’ve compiled the to-dos to get your summer started on an artistic foot and get your creative juices flowing.

SOCIAL GATHERINGS

Summer evenings allow time for play, and the nightlife of art can be found in a couple locations. More and more, small businesses are encouraging patrons to engage in fun social art projects, such as sip and paint classes. Big Lost Meadery, located on Gillette Avenue downtown, is one of many businesses hosting paint nights, which provide a fun atmosphere to create. Their next event is happening at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 17th.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY ART HAPPENINGS

You can wander down Gillette Avenue to Hands On Pottery with your family and enjoy a variety of classes focused on painting, candle and jewelry making, ceramics, and more. They provide the supplies and a welcoming environment where you can dabble in the arts. You can find a complete list of their classes online at placefull.com/hands-on-pottery. My favorite thing about going into this quaint shop is the friendly atmosphere and the huge number of projects to choose from. I love picking out a special piece from the shelf and putting my own artistic flare on it. I can create one-of-a- kind gifts for my friends and family that are useful and feature my artwork. With the ever-expanding inventory at Hands On Pottery, you will surely find a project to get your spirits in the creative mode.

Another option for exploring your artistic side can be found at the AVA Community Art Center, located on the corner of 4-J and Second Street. This family-friendly venue offers classes and exhibitions throughout the year. A full list of upcoming classes, including a Summer Camp Program, can be found on their website, avacenter.org. Along with a variety of classes, AVA also focuses on featuring local up-and-coming artists.

Included in the lineup of monthly exhibitions at AVA, is featured artist of the month for June, Jordan Hall. A Wyoming native, Jordan is the program coordinator at AVA and works primarily in 3D art. His art will be featured in the small gallery which greets you upon entering AVA, and the show will present approximately twenty ceramic creations in Jordan’s unique style. Jordan is very passionate about helping others and expanding the pottery program at AVA. With his warm and inviting character, you will feel right at home creating your own works of art. As a non-profit, AVA celebrates the artist in us all and provides a multi-functional platform for any level of artist to create.

June is also known for Gillette’s annual Donkey Creek Festival, an event filled with art culture. Beginning June 22nd at the Gillette College Tech Center with the Avenues of Art Reception, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Curated by the Mayor’s Art Council, Avenues of Art is a juried art show which is displayed around Gillette. The new chosen works will be on exhibit Saturday, June 23rd from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Accompanying the Avenues of Art are art activities provided by AVA, art vendors, and two days of live music by a plethora of talented bands and musicians, stationed on the Gillette College lawn. To be an artist vendor, you can apply at donkeycreekfestival.com. The festival celebrates art and music in one venue for the community to partake in for free.

GET YOUR SUMMER GROOVE ON

This is how to get your summer groove on: with art, music and a whole lot of fun. If you are in search of some of the gallery hot spots in Gillette this summer (and beyond), I encourage you to try visiting the following galleries. Put visiting the Cam-Plex Heritage Center Gallery at the top of your list in May. In the gallery, featured artist Darren Anderson will showcase his “Splendid Blender” show through May 25th. This electric exhibit will feature handsome, hardcore, industrial graffiti and expressionistic works which encapsulate Darren’s love of the ocean, his family, and the inspiring street art he admires. Darren has been practicing art for as long as he can remember, and says he finds the challenge of painting to be his driving force for creating art. With graffiti flare and a “no rules needed” attitude, Darren creates a show styled around bold colors and an illustrative style. Each piece jumps out at you and tells the artist’s story of his life celebrating his favorite things. Go see this show! It will wake you up and leave you screaming for more!

Next on our gallery tour, stop into (my store) Rapport, Gillette’s newest art gallery/bookstore located downtown on Gillette Avenue. Featured in the gallery May through July are three extremely talented Wyoming artists: local Joan Sowada, Nick Thornburg of Lander, and Favian Hernandez of Laramie.

82717’s own Joan Sowada is a textile artist, utilizing fabric as her medium and creating lifelike images that demand attention and ask the viewer to look for the deeper meaning. Joan derives her inspiration from the times we are in and the people who influence her life. She carefully selects patterned fabrics to recreate images that come to life with high contrasting colors and shades.

Accompanying her in the gallery are artists Nick Thornburg of Lander and Favian Hernandez of Laramie. Nick’s work takes western art to another degree, celebrating all the best aspects. He primarily focuses on the wildlife of our great state and depicts his creations in a modern style. Favian has worked in Paris, California, and now in Wyoming, and his work is a playful, unexpected treat. As an illustrator and sculptor, Favian’s focus is bringing a fun, human aspect to his carnal animal creations.

All artists’ featured works at the Rapport gallery are available for purchase, and can be taken with you the day they’re viewed! In addition to the featured artists, Rapport has a variety of art classes and art events happening often throughout summer. You can find a complete schedule of events online at therapportstore.com.

Rapport also plays host to the local art group ART TALK, established in 2015 for the sole purpose of allowing for a safe environment where artists can share their work and ideas. ART TALK meets once monthly to discuss all things art. If you want to attend, find the group on Facebook or stop by the store to learn when the next ART TALK is. Here’s a hint, there’s one on June 7th at 6 p.m. It’s free to attend, and all levels of artists are welcome.

To round out the art district downtown, Wyoming Art & Frame has a selection of local artists featured in their gallery, including western and cinematic artist Gabe Leonard, abstract artist Christopher Amend, and other heavy-hitters who are well known in the local fine arts community. These too, can be taken home day of for all you art collectors out there!

A QUICK RECAP

I’ve enjoyed taking you on this quick trip through the art happenings of the month, filled with classes, art shows, and cultural events you can do and see this May and June. You now have a map to journey through the next couple of months in the local art community.

I appreciate the many artistic outlets Gillette has to offer; this community is fortunate to have so many art supporters. So, if you are a longtime resident or a first-time visitor who has never explored our art community, I encourage you to get involved. Take a class, see an art show, become an art collector.

There are so many reasons to go check out the local and talented artists and countless art offerings and artsy opportunities: The best being it is an investment in your family and yourself. For more from me on Gillette’s art scene nab the next issue of 82717 Life Magazine, or stop by Rapport!

By: Sarah Ferguson for 82717

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