(October 17-19, 2014) The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway (SJSB) sponsored their 4th annual ‘Follow the Rails Art Trail’ tour October 17 to 19. This self-guided art tour on the 272 miles of NE highway 2 is dedicated to highlight the artistic talents of the region between Grand Island on the east to Alliance on the west. This year besides the portal communities of the afore mentioned cities, other communities on the tour included Mason City, Broken Bow, Merna, Thedford, Seneca, Ashby. Within these nine communities, 17 locations had special displays including paintings, pottery, photography, jewelry, and so many more mediums.
Fabric art was seen at the Custer Co. Historical Society Museum in Broken Bow, one of six sights in that community. 92 quilts dating from the late 1800s to those completed earlier this year were interspersed amidst the historical artifacts of Custer County. Also at the museum on the 19th, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Nebraska Humanities speaker, discussed the historical significance quilts hold for us.
Another special event during the tour included watercolor workshop at the Wild Rose Gallery in Broken Bow by Utah artist, Lester Lee.
Grand Island art sites included Bartenbach’s Gallery and Prairie Winds Art Center. The French Table, formerly in Broken Bow now in Mason City, highlighted pottery and art not seen elsewhere in rural Nebraska. Besides the Museum in Broken Bow, other sites there included the SJSB Visitor Center on the east edge of the community while the other sites could be considered a walking art tour as Chapin’s Furniture, the Museum, Ortello Dale, Prairie Grounds Café and Gifts and the Wild Rose Gallery are downtown on the square or close to.
Merna was the site where Gary Cole and his wife, Beth have their studio, which was on the tour for the first time. Gary’s primary medium is metal, while Beth’s is painting and both had their photography also on display.
Thedford Art Gallery had over 20 artist’s works, while Seneca had Nancy Isom autographing her latest book, the second she has written, “Elements of Death”. Also in Seneca, Jackie Sevier’s Northern Plains Studio highlighted this self -taught artist who incorporates her Native American culture in her art. Dan Brost’s photography was also on display.
Several artists were at the Lariat Auditorium in Mullen. Owner of CaLinda’s Pot Shop and Art Gallery in Ashby, Linda Lacy, invited visitors to not only view her pottery and paintings but to get their hands dirty by ‘throwing a pot’ if they wanted to. In Alliance, Steph’s Studio and Carnegie Arts Center highlighted several artists of Box Butte County and the region.
Add to the man-made art, the natural wonders of the fall foliage along the 272 mile route made one realize rural Nebraska is full of art, be it inside or out.