During the post-holiday winter months, I often find myself seeking inspiration. And I frequently find it in Cody’s art.
Ranging from a bold and richly detailed mural showing the history of the region’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) community to a whimsical painting of bare-bottomed cowgirls, the art that can be found in Cody reflects our wild Western town’s collective attitude of independence, ambition and respect for tradition and history. As a life-long student of history, I also enjoy that many of the town’s most famous pieces of art come with an interesting and sometimes quirky back story.
Here are a few of the places I visited on a recent free weekend.
The Cody Mural/Historic Site. A great example of artistic story-telling, the Cody Mural Historic Site is located in the rotunda of the LDS Church in downtown Cody, this ambitious painting by Chicago artist Edward Grigware depicts the beginning of the church and experiences of early members during their exodus from the East to Utah. The artist was not a member of the church so he spent nearly a year studying the history of the church and their expansion into the West, and his stunning interpretation draws visitors of all faiths from around the world. The historic site is about to get a $3.5 million upgrade that will greatly enhance the visitor experience.
Bottoms Up. Inspiration sometimes comes when you least expect it. The Bottoms Up Lounge in the Cody Holiday Inn is known for more than offering a great gathering place for drinks and conversation. On the wall is a fun and slightly risqué painting of four britches-less cowgirls gathered on and around a fence. The painting was created by Edward T. Grigware – the same artist behind the epic Cody Mural – and commissioned by an acquaintance of Quintin Blair, the patriarch of the family that owns the Blair Hotels, comprised of the Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn and the Buffalo Bill Village all located here in Cody.
Pioneer Museum. A stop to see the Cody Mural should also include a walk through the Pioneer Museum on the same site. The museum includes commissioned pieces as well as works by local artists. These original creations also help tell the story of the LDS pioneers. One of my favorites is a framed wood carving by artist Dee Flagg that was inspired by Western furniture designer Thomas Molesworth. And for those of us who can’t get enough of Molesworth, there’s also a display of miniature Molesworth furniture in the museum.
Whitney Western Art Museum. Talk about back stories. This world-class museum, one of five museums under the roof of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, was started with a single striking piece of art – a massive sculpture of Buffalo Bill – The Scout created by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and dedicated in 1924, seven years after Buffalo Bill’s death. The museum itself was established in 1959, and it includes historic and incredibly valuable paintings, sculptures and prints created by artists such as Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell and Thomas Moran. I can spend hours here.
Galleries of Cody. There’s a reason Cody has so much fine art. It’s because artists for generations have been finding inspiration for their creations in this rugged, history-rich region in northwestern Wyoming. Many of the town’s art galleries are located within walking distance of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. They display paintings, sculptures, jewelry and other original pieces created by local and regional artists. Most of my favorite pieces of art in my home have been acquired at one of these galleries.
Cody Country Art League. Just across the street from the Center of the West, the Country Art League is dedicated to the promotion of art and artists, and it has a variety of displays and artist shows housed in the original Buffalo Bill Museum, now on the National Register of Historic Places.
While the museums and galleries in town are open year-round, the quiet months of winter are a great time to explore the fine art of Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.
Until next time, I’m lovin’ live and seeking inspiration in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone