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UW Receives Gift of Artwork from Wyoming Artist

April 28, 2016
abstract painting with lots of orange and red and yellow
“Sounds of Sorcery” is one of two paintings recently given to the University of Wyoming by Wyoming artist Neltje. A dedication ceremony for the artwork is planned Friday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts. (Neltje)

A recent gift of artwork to the University of Wyoming has been permanently installed in the east lobby of the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts. A dedication ceremony is planned Friday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m.

Wyoming artist Neltje provided the gift to honor former UW President Tom Buchanan, namesake of the Performing Arts Center, and his wife, Jacque.

The two paintings by Neltje are “Follies and Foolishness” (2005) and “Sounds of Sorcery” (2015). The first, a composition of color and brush marks on a near-white canvas, is minimal and pure. The second, a monumental work that measures 10 feet by 30 feet, is a densely painted, energetic work that embodies dance and music. The composition was created specifically for the Performing Arts Center.

Neltje’s gift to the university resulted from conversations among Marsha Knight, UW Department of Theatre and Dance professor; Susan Moldenhauer, UW Art Museum director and chief curator; Jacque Buchanan; and Neltje following last October’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the expanded Performing Arts Center.

“I was looking around at the crowd while Tom (Buchanan) was speaking quite passionately about the importance of the arts, of his view that the Performing Arts Center is among the most important that UW will ever build, and that a commitment to ‘strength in the arts is a prerequisite to calling yourself a good university.’ Looking in the direction of Neltje, it seemed a perfect fit to request her ‘presence’ in the new building,” Knight says. 

“It is thrilling to see Neltje’s paintings grace the walls of the exquisite new lobby of the Performing Arts Center,” Moldenhauer says. “The works transform the space in a duet of color, movement and style. They are an exquisite addition to the art in public places on UW’s campus.”

About Neltje

Neltje was born in New York City and raised in Oyster Bay, Long Island. From 1979-80 she took a few classes at the Art Students League in New York, N.Y., and, in 1980, she took a few classes at the New York Studio School of Drawing. She is essentially self-taught. Neltje is a prolific abstract expressionist painter whose works have been described as an “exploration of making the sensed visible.”

In 2005, she received the Governor’s Arts Award that recognizes Wyoming's preeminent artists. She received an honorary degree from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., and is the founder and benefactor of the Neltje Blanchan Literary Award in memory of her grandmother. She served on the board of the Wyoming Arts Council from 1985-88. In 2010, Neltje made the largest estate gift in UW’s history.

Neltje's work has been featured in collections at the Smithsonian, the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Mont., the IBM Corp. in Denver and the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, among others. Additionally, her work is in private collections in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. In 2013, the UW Art Museum presented a major survey exhibition of her work, “Neltje. Painting. 1990-2012.”

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