The 2000 Millennium Sculpture
"A Hat Full of History"

A Tale

of a Small Town and a LARGE PROJECT

Once upon a time (four years ago) in the village of Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) one of the folks said “We should do something very, very special for the Millennium. After all it only comes around once every thousand years.” “Oh Yes!” shouted all the other arts workers. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) said “What a great idea, we’ll help!” and thus “Artists and Communities: America Creates for the Millennium was born, a grand scheme to place one artist in residence in each state and U.S. jurisdiction, fifty six in all, during the year 2000. (To see what’s going on in all 56 communities visit

Two years ago the Pinedale Fine Arts Council (PFAC) received a call from the Wyoming Arts Council (WAC). “Are you interested in applying for a long term artist residency for the Millennium year?” The PFAC Board all said, “Of course, sure, sounds like a good idea, no other way we could do it, wouldn’t that be wonderful?” They wrote the grant, sent it off, crossed their fingers and waited. Some time later they were notified that their application was one of three finalists. Again they waited. One fine day the WAC executive director called and said “Guess what, you have received the Millennium Grant for Wyoming!”

When the “OFFICIAL PAPERS OF INSTRUCTION” arrived from the MAAIF they included a long list of artists, 255, who had been juried from an even larger list of over 800 artists. From this list the 56 communities were to choose someone to come work with them. The PFAC Board deliberated over what kind of artist to bring to the community: choreographer, writer, sculptor, painter, actor, composer, filmmaker? A sculptor was finally chosen because the art form was not represented within the community. With that decision made the Board handed David Klaren the title of Project Director, and off he went to Baltimore to look at lots and lots of slides. He brought back examples of 20 different peoples’ work. The Board invited community artists, teachers and elected officials to look at the slides with them and help narrow the field. Finally, two artists were invited to visit Pinedale, to meet the arts council, school personnel and elected officials and to attend a reception advertised in the paper to which the community was invited. Following the visits, everyone who had met the artists voted for the person that they felt would be the best for us.

With the selection completed, the artist, school, town council and PFAC designed a three-part residency that included components for students, community members and Senior Citizens The participants would work with the artist to design the projects once he was here.

In the spring of 2000 a very tall artist, Don Kennell arrived with his very nice wife, Lisa, and his very small daughter, Cayenne in their very elborate art car to take up residence in Pinedale for 6 months. Don was born in Wyoming, moved to Texas when young, returned and received an AA Degree from Casper College, went back to Texas for his BFA from the University of Houston and moved East for his MFA from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He brought lots of skills and experience with him to our community.

April, May and June found Don working with the high school art teacher and her students designing and creating a sculpture for the Pinedale High School grounds. Big and little ideas were proposed, energy began to flow and by mid-June the piece was installed.

In early June the Pinedale Roundup ran a special feature on Don and his past work. Some people thought there would he a large New Jersey Dog in the park and some thought there would be a highly decorated car, and they were not happy! Many letters were written to the newspaper. The community was not in agreement, not an unusual occurrence in Pinedale. Many public meetings were held. Large Mountain Men and beaver and horses and birds and fish were proposed. Abstract and realistic advocates voiced their opinions. Slowly ideas of what represents the area evolved as those who participated in the discussions worked on the problem. Finally a design was decided upon

We set to work. Funders very generously donated money with which to purchase materials and other equally generous individuals created small sculptures. Still others were just ~ generous and donated their labor to fabricate the sculpture. Piece by piece a cowboy silhouette evolved containing “windows,” in which smaller sculptures featuring different aspects of the area rested. The final hurdle was cleared when the County Commissioners granted permission to install the sculpture in the park on Pine Street.

The road was interesting but sometimes graveled. We needed to build a forge so steel could be bent. It wouldn’t heat up to temperature. Scrap aluminum was collected. We never had enough. Sand molds were built to cast the small sculptures. Some of the castings had “bad hair days” and had to go back for a new “do”. The patina wouldn’t “bite” into the copper sheeting to color the skin finish. The weather got cold and hot and rainy and windy and snowy. Everyone pushed forward, gaining slowly.

 In another part of the town the Senior Citizens started the last project in September. When the design of a Seniors “Quilt” wall to which many individual historic ceramic “quilt blocks” would be attached was settled upon, the town council designated a spot on which the piece would reside in the City Park on Fremont St. The work began. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays the seniors diligently pinched and molded clay into designs, painted them with glazes and held their breaths when they were fired. Low and behold the most beautiful tiles began to accumulate, enough to border the large fish pattern planned for the middle of the “quilt”. The block wall is being built in the City Park on which the tiles will be attached for the Seniors “Quilt”. 

Artists of  the cast aluminum sculptures "inside" the cowboy: 
Kristen Boroff - Hay Rake
Charlotte Kaiser - Beaver
David Klaren - Arrowhead Shield
Gary Lankford - Fish
Diane Maclean - Moose
Scott Murdock - Well
Don Kennell - Woman
People who have made tiles for the Senior "Quilt" wall: 
Lisa Adler, Ester Bollinger, Tom Colrock, Donna Dixon, Lois Jensen, Lois Koch, Jeanette Moore, Stella McKinstry, Madge McWilliams, Lynn Oxner, Leona Roberts, Jackie Sea, Kim Shaul, Caroline Sulenta, and Ethelyne Worl. We've also had assistance from Pam Peck and Julie Early and all the staff at the Hi-Country Center. 
A Letter from Resident Artist Don Kennell

Greetings Pinedale!

As the Pinedale Fine Arts Council's millennium residency draws to a close, I want to describe some of the work that has brought the two newest sculptures near completion. You may have noticed the pedestal in the County Park on Pine Street. Soon we will be installing our homage to Pinedale's local history there. The working title for the sculpture is "Hat Full of History." The design for this project came out of a series of six public meetings held last spring. (Those were exciting days when this community was engaged in a lively debate about the nature of public art.) After getting the design finalized through these meetings and with a go ahead from the County Commissioners to site the work in the park, Construction began in July.

The project faced many difficult technical challenges form the beginning. Thanks to contributions from local talents like David Smith, James Bond and Alan Svalberg, we were able to build a turbo-charged forge and bend steel bars into a profile line drawing. With the help of Joe Sondgeroth, we fine-tuned our homemade foundry and cast over 500 pounds of aluminum, all locally donated. The following individuals created the carvings that are that are those wonderful cast aluminum sculptures "inside" the cowboy: Kristen Boroff, Charlotte Kaiser, David Klaren, Gary Lankford, Diane Maclean, and Scott Murdock and myself. Tom Colerick kept a watchful eye over the construction and provided much  needed advice and coffee. Craig Crandall has generously provided space and equipment throughout the project. Justin Jones out at Dew's Lumber helped find materials and services. Thanks to both the city and county shops for providing hydraulic muscle. We have forged and welded steel, galvanized, powder coated, cast concrete and aluminum, cut and assembled parts to make this sculpture. 

None of this would have been possible without the generosity and commitment of DireWolf Studios and David Klaren. David has shared his equipment and space and been there for tall the heavy lifting, the concrete work and whenever I needed a hand. 

In September we started working on the final phase of the residency. This third sculpture is a ceramic tile mosaic which will be installed at the South entrance of the City Park. The mosaic will be placed on a wall being built by Jack Heggert. The tiles that will make up the mosaic are being made by local artists who have been meeting with me three times a week at the Sublette Hi-Country Center. These workshops have been very lively and exciting. Clay has been a very responsive medium for the contributors. For me, these meetings have been very rewarding to see the participants' enthusiasm about making something for the community. It has also been great to hear their stories and jokes. So far, the people who have made tiles are; Lisa Adler, Ester Bollinger, Tom Colrock, Donna Dixon, Lois Jensen, Lois Koch, Jeanette Moore, Stella McKinstry, Madge McWilliams, Lynn Oxner, Leona Roberts, Jackie Sea, Kim Shaul, Caroline Sulenta, and Ethelyne Worl. We've also had assistance from Pam Peck and Julie Early and all the staff at the Hi-Country Center. 

All of the projects have been made possible with the unflagging support of the many fine people who make up Pinedale Fine Arts Council. With all of the projects the effort involved in the making is essential to understanding the art. In the spirit of the up-coming election, let me just say, these projects have been "by the people, of the people and for the people." I look forward to hearing you're your response to our efforts. And I also hope that these projects open the door to more efforts in civic art and development. I hope that public art becomes a part of this community in a positive way, making visible some of the best things that this place has to offer.

Don Kennell

More pictures of installing the sculpture


Pinedale Fine Arts Council Web Page
Artists and the Communities Wyoming Web Page
Wyoming Council for the Humanities
Wyoming Arts Council
Wyoming Council for the HumanitiesWyoming Arts Council

Pinedale Fine Arts Council Web Page,

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