By Peggy DePersia, Guest Blogger
“Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam and the skies are not cloudy all day….”
It’s called “BIg Sky” country and you only need experience it to understand why. Traveling over roads sparingly traversed by other motor vehicles in parts of Montana and Wyoming, one quickly gets a sense of the vastness of the western sky unfurling over the undulating hills and horizontally moving bands of mountains, buttes, and plateaus that command the plains leading to and encircling the home land of an icon of the western frontier, Buffalo Bill Cody.
Cody, Wyoming, a city of about 10,000 people, a repository of western culture and lore, is nestled in an extraordinary ‘wild west’ sort of landscape that offers some of the best hunting and fishing in the U.S. along with a frontier mystique that includes cowboys, rodeos, saloons, and general ‘rough housing’ of all sorts. It looks like a landscape right out of a Larry McMurtry novel with characters from ‘Lonesome Dove’ loping up the road a piece.
The Absaroka Mountain Range provides a meaningful backdrop for the abundance and variety of sportsmen’s activities from fishing in the literally ice cold waters of mountain streams and the rivers they feed to hunting the high peaks of the Absaroka’s or trailing the pathways leading to and from the sky. The area is a sportsman’s paradise; wild and beautiful.
Cody, Wyoming celebrates its roots and history in many ways. If you want to witness a bona fide rodeo, just visit over the 4th of July holiday weekend and the thrill is all yours.
Our experience was another kind of ‘round-up’. The city of Cody hosts an annual fundraiser for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West called the ‘Rendezvous’. Visitors come from all over the U.S. for the opportunity to bid on art works, including drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures, by some of the finest artists and artisans in America who specialize in the western scene.
Landscapes, Cowboys, Buffalo, Native Americans, romanticized images from our wild west lore….nothing is too grand or humble to be excluded from the vast array of subjects that populate our imaginations and wild west sensibilities.
As I viewed the art work paraded before me for auction, my own mind was flooded with memories from childhood of my first six-shooter, my ‘fringed’ cowgirl outfit and my very own portrait of me sitting on a pony behind my younger sister on the street in front of our house in Indianapolis, Indiana. (somehow appropriate that it would be Indianapolis, Indiana, don’t you think?)
One of the highlights of the celebratory event is the ‘Quickdraw’. The morning after the live auction, working artists are set up in a ring…kind of like a corral….in a meadow and, at the firing of a gun, are given one hour to complete a work of art that will be auctioned to the highest bidder immediately following it’s execution (so to speak).
Art works of excellent quality are completed, framed and ready for bid in an astonishingly short period of time. All participants, artists and patrons alike, are in high spirits and eager to share in the mythology of our shared history. A kind of romance rules the day and the Buffalo Bill Historical Society reaps the benefits.
And, in the end, so do we as the Cody Museum or Buffalo Bill Center of the West is one of the finest of its kind in the country.
Peggy DePersia is a retired high school art teacher who devotes her time to teaching at Kendall College of Art and Design, living creatively and enjoying her darling grandson Oliver.
She shares her interest in travel and art with her husband, Jerry DePersia. They both take photos for her guest blogs.