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Cheyenne artist launches virtual and social distancing-friendly fundraising gallery
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Cheyenne artist launches virtual and social distancing-friendly fundraising gallery

From the Our coronavirus coverage is free to read. Find it here. series

Pronghorns with their fawn, a wolf with pups and an owl and chick in their nest are some of the animal families depicted in bold brushstrokes of earth-tones and blue that fill a new art gallery in downtown Cheyenne that can be enjoyed during social distancing.

The temporary gallery in the Array School of Design and Technology in downtown Cheyenne displays wildlife artist Bria Hammock’s “It Takes a Village” show through the building’s window façade.

People can experience the gallery from their homes with a 360-degree virtual tour on her website or locals “are invited to take a solitary, social-distancing-friendly stroll (or drive) past The Array Building, where they can view originals from the gallery in the building’s first-floor windows,” according to a press release from the artist.

Originals and prints are for sale at her website or through QR codes on the windows. All proceeds will go toward the local nonprofit Support Our Students, which supports low-income families with school-age children.

The artist came up with the idea after the coronavirus pandemic put on hold plans for her April show opening at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens.

Hammock, who entered the professional art realm about four years ago, has always wanted to use her art to benefit others, she said.

“But it was kind of waiting for what that was, I guess,” she said. “And so this just ended up being one of those things where it felt right. It felt like a time where I could actually use what I love to do, to give back to the community. Because obviously I’m a graphic designer by trade. So I am not at the front lines; I’m not a medical professional; I don’t know how to sew and make masks and all that kind of stuff. So this really felt like how I could use my talents, I guess, to give back.”

Hammock of Hammock Fine Art is the owner of Wyoming lifestyle brand Go Slo and an adjunct design professor at Array. The gallery project started when she borrowed the new walls of the Array building’s fourth floor under renovation, where she hung and shot the pieces with a 360 camera. The artist aimed for an immersive experience so online viewers feel as much as possible like they’re walking around the space and viewing each piece, she said. Online visitors can maneuver through two rooms in a similar way to Google Map’s street view and click to see pieces up close.

The project evolved into the gallery display in the first floor space, where people walking or driving by can see the pieces displayed against the windows of the ground level floor.

Hammock has worked as a professional graphic designer in New York and Cheyenne, and currently works full time as creative director for Big Horn Design Studio. She’s a board member of Art 321 in Casper, which showed her work in December.

This show celebrating bonds between parents and children happens to dovetail well with the fundraiser for an organization that helps families in need, during a time when it’s especially crucial for people to band together and help one another, she said.

She and her husband are fortunate to still have their full-time jobs to support their two children, and parents with financial struggles have been on her mind, she said. So she decided to donate the proceeds from sales to Support Our Students.

“I just wanted to give back to an organization that helps specifically families with school-aged kiddos, make sure that they have everything they need during this time,” Hammock said.

Some originals have already sold, she said.

Hammock’s art has become more purposeful in the past month; it’s become even more important for her to create and share her work with others.

“It has always been my outlet,” she said. ”But I feel like so many you know, the viewers these days — whether it be fine art or movies, films, those types of things — I feel like people are really realizing the benefits of art for us as human beings, kind of as a distraction piece. And it’s something to enjoy during a period of, kind of darkness, I guess.”

The virtual gallery shows the fourth floor of the building Array moved into about a year ago as construction nears competition for school space with classrooms, office and co-working space, she said. The view shows her art in the unfinished space with boxes, scaffolding and tools.

“And I really love the juxtaposition of the imagery of having fine art in there hanging on the walls with this space,” Hammock said. “You know, it really just screams like, ‘Do what you can with what you have right now’, which I feel like is such, you know, kind of way that we’re having to operate these days.”

Follow arts & culture reporter Elysia Conner on twitter @erconner

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