CODY, WYO. — With its rich history as a wellspring of Western design, Cody, is once again hosting a premier exhibition of unique, handmade furniture, crafts, textiles and other works. By Western Hands, which had its inaugural show last September at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, will return to that venue for this year’s show.
A newly formed successor to previous design shows in Cody, By Western Hands showcases original works by local and national artists who create one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect the land, life and labor of the West.
By Western Hands director Bryant Hall said the reaction to last year’s exhibition was overwhelmingly positive, and momentum was already building for an expanded event in September.
“We benefited from such a high level of talented artisans participating last year, and having the Buffalo Bill Center of the West host the show allowed us to put together something really special,” Hall said.
Getting an early start on planning this year will help make the 2016 show even better, he said.
Many of last year’s participants have been longtime members in the Western design movement, and are committed to being a part of By Western Hands.
“All of us working in Western decorative arts recognize Cody as the birthplace and enduring axis of our craft,” said Anne Beard, an award-winning designer and fabric artisan from Oregon.
“The By Western Hands exhibition continues to define and celebrate the very best of Western design, providing today’s artisans with a venue in which to showcase their masterworks,” she said.
Hall said having the show hosted by the Center for the West was an important part of the event’s success. And the exhibition, in turn, was part of what helped make Rendezvous Royale a big week in Cody. The annual celebration of the arts has traditionally been a significant draw for tourism, and has featured a major art sale, a fundraiser gala and a Western design exhibition.
“The museum is pleased to have By Western Hands at the Center during the Rendezvous Royale Week,” said Bruce Eldredge, executive director of the Center of the West. “It is a great way to help the local and regional artisans reach a large audience to display their work, and we are happy to have them on the museum grounds again this year.”
Despite the buzz around building an enduring design show for Cody each fall, the nonprofit By Western Hands group has additional long-term goals focused on fostering and supporting Western artisans in new and innovative ways.
By Western Hands is building an organization consisting of local and regional artisans, and all of the participants in last year’s exhibition will have an opportunity to be charter members.
“Our mission is to: ‘promote and support artisans, events and activities, that sustain the creation of handmade decorative and functional art using designs and techniques of the American West,’” Hall said.
“So we’re looking for charter members, as well as community members who want to help.
“It has always been the local volunteers who have made this event and others like it a success, and we’re grateful for their work,” he said. “I encourage anyone who is interested in exhibiting or volunteering for By Western Hands to get in touch.”